The Old Playbook’s Last Round

Via the Washington Times, Young conservatives push GOP tolerance on gay marriage, other social issues:

“There are a lot of LGBT people out there who are brilliant small business owners, who hold to the principles of limited government, strong families, fiscal conservatism and strong national security—things that we as Republicans love—but they don’t have a place in the Republican Party right now,” said Jerri Ann Henry, the campaign manager for Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry. “What’s unfortunate is they also clearly do not have a place in the Democratic Party.”

As the article acknowledges, there isn’t likely to be any real alteration in the GOP’s opposition to same-sex marriage during this election cycle. But in future elections, running on a platform in favor of invalidating hundreds of thousands of marriages, and leaving many of the children of these marriages without the security of two married parents, is going to be viewed as unacceptably extreme beyond the confines of Iowa’s Republican caucuses. And that will have costs. Whether the GOP can change before those costs are exacted remains to be seen.

Ireland: Economic Liberalization Yields Gay Equality

James Peron, writing at the Huffington Post, explains The Seismic Shift in Irish Values, and One Reason It Happened. He writes:

Historically, the more market-oriented the economy, the more the well-being of LGBT people increases. Politicized markets require political power, something sexual minorities rarely have, but depoliticized economies only need an entrepreneur willing to cater to a minority. …

It was the Financial Times that noted the role of material wealth on social liberalism. They wrote, “Ireland’s apparent willingness to embrace gay marriage is therefore as much a product of the Celtic Tiger years as it is a reflection of the decline of the Church’s influence.” With rising prosperity, Irish voters started embracing socially liberal reforms, matching the economically liberal reforms of a few years earlier: deregulation and more individual choice.

Peron comments, “Similar seismic shifts in cultural values occurred in other nations following periods of economic boom. The relative prosperity of the 1950s in America gave way to the social turbulence of the ’60s, which saw the culmination of not only the civil rights movement but the movements for women’s liberation and, of course, gay liberation.”

He concludes:

With the rise of individualism, it becomes harder and harder to damn those “not like us.” There is no “us” anymore, just many individuals, each with different values and priorities. Depoliticized markets ought to terrify [social] conservatives, for in them social change is born.

I’d add that in the U.S., the term “liberalism” has been co-opted by advocates of statist social engineering, but in much of the world “liberalism” still connotes opposition to economic regulation. Perhaps one reason for America’s polarization between the statist left and the social right—both opposed to individual freedom from government—is the Orwellian corruption of our political language.

More. Tweeted British Prime Minister David Cameron, head of Britain’s Conservative Party: “Congratulations to the people of Ireland, after voting for same-sex marriage, making clear you are equal if you are straight or gay.”

The West vs. The Rest

The Irish have voted overwhelmingly in favor of same-sex marriage, making Ireland “the world’s first nation to approve same-sex marriage by a popular vote” which “would have been unthinkable just a few years ago in what traditionally had been a Roman Catholic stronghold,” reports the New York Times.

And from the Irish Times, Ireland becomes first country to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote.


The victory for marriage equality shows that with some remaining exceptions (hopefully soon to be remedied), same-sex marriage is or will shortly be the cultural norm in Western Europe and North America, also in New Zealand, and again hopefully, before too long in Australia, the last major English-speaking holdout (Northern Ireland also doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages).

What we shouldn’t forgot, however, is the West is different from the rest. Not only in the Islamic world, but in much of Christian Africa gay people face life-threatening persecution (South Africa is the one African nation that recognizes same-sex marriages). The lives of LGBT people are also marked by harrowing oppression in Russia and throughout most of Asia, and in much of Eastern Europe conditions range from merely bad to worse.

The struggle on behalf of LGBT rights should focus more on the world (in terms of supporting local efforts), and less on orchestrating overstated outrage to perceived slights against political correctness here at home.

Gallup Says….

As of this month, 60% of Americans now support same-sex marriage, up from 55% last year, and the highest Gallup has found on the question since it was first asked in 1996.

Regarding political affiliation, the breakdown is Democrats at 76% support, independents at 64% and Republicans at 37%. However:

Those who are opposed to gay marriage are a good deal more likely to say that a candidate’s stance on the issue can make or break whether that candidate receives their vote (37%) than those who are supportive of gay marriage (21%). And both are more likely to say the issue is a defining factor than they have been in the past.

On both ends of the political spectrum, this could make same-sex marriage a more salient issue in the 2016 election than it has been previously. While pro-gay marriage voters are more likely to hold a political candidate’s feet to the fire than in the past, there is an even larger bloc of anti-gay marriage voters who could reject a candidate for espousing marriage equality.

Gallup concludes:

While an anti-same-sex marriage position should not present a challenge for GOP candidates in the primary, it could be more challenging in a general election setting given majority support among all Americans.

I’d add that GOP presidential candidates who talk adamantly about marriage being a 2,000 institution that apparently has never changed and must not be altered by the judiciary (some would allow by popular vote) are going for the base, and in all likelihood never going to be president.

But they’ll carry the hardcore religious right vote.

Boy Scouts May Do the Right Thing

The Boy Scouts of America, according to its national president Robert Gates, the former defense secretary, seems to be recognizing that its longstanding ban on participation by openly gay adults is no longer feasible. “The status quo in our movement’s membership standards cannot be sustained,” Gates told the Scouts’ national annual meeting in Atlanta.

It’s a good thing for a bedrock national organization to stop discriminating. In this case, the courts have recognized that scouting is a private organization that is free to choose its voluntary troop leaders. But the scouts are responding to the changing times, and the increasingly common view that their policy is intolerant and mean spirited.

But if you read the comments to the AP story (why do we read the comments!), you realize how strong the antipathy/animus remains, and how unrelenting is the belief that gay men just want to be in scouting for the opportunity to sexually abuse boys.

Again here, as elsewhere, our opponents are making excellent use of the heavy handed and, yes, also mean-spirited attempts to force bakers, florists and photographers (and pizza shops) to provide services in celebration of same-sex weddings. If for no other reason than the sheer tactical stupidity of these lawsuits and mob mobilizations against small working-class vendors with traditional religious beliefs, they should not be supported.


Aaron Hicklin writes at Out:

All minorities are acutely sensitive to being belittled and disparaged, and rightly so, but in the febrile world of the Web, it’s easy to take umbrage at every passing slight. We begin to care too much about whether our pasta is too conservative, or if a pizza maker will cater a hypothetical wedding in a state that until just recently didn’t even have marriage equality. We act like petty tyrants exploding in anger whenever someone says something that falls foul of approved policy.

Increasingly, of course, the targets of that anger are other LGBT people, because that is the way tyranny works…

The dismissive snark in the comments to Hicklin’s article on the Out site prove his point.

More. Of course there is and has forever been zealotry on the right, and the anti-gay right (and left) has had state power to use against LGBT people from time immemorial. Now, that’s shifting. The use of the term “zealatry” as applied to those who view themselves as progressives is intentional—why do you want to be like them? And targeting the small working-class vendor with religious-based qualms about gay marriage, with all the rage built up against the forces of intolerance and persecution, is sheer scapegoating. And its ugly. And those who spur on the mob and participate themselves should be ashamed. You are not the force of progressive light; you, too, have a shadow-side. Confront it.

Furthermore. The case of The Tolerant Jeweler Who Harbored an Impure Opinion of Same-Sex Marriage. Also noted by Rod Dreher here:

This Christian jeweler agreed to custom-make engagement rings for a lesbian couple, knowing that they were a couple, and treated them politely. But when they found out what he really believed about same-sex marriage, even though the man gave them polite service, and agreed to sell them what they asked for, the lesbian couple balked, and demanded their money back — and the mob threatened the business if they didn’t yield. Which, of course, he did.

And yes, Dreher is no supporter of gay rights. But our media advocates don’t report on this, do they? Wouldn’t make their readers feel all warm and superior and full of self-righteousness.

The Iowa Factor?

Jeb Bush, facing campaign headwinds, takes a somewhat stronger stance against same-sex marriage (although the New York Times may be overstating what is essentially a change in tone).

All the GOP contenders are competing to the right in the primaries (and particularly in the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses, dominated by the religious right). But it will haunt the eventual nominee in the general election, and even goes against the shifting views of GOP voters overall.

Post-Marriage Battles Loom

LGBT activists are saying that after (hopefully) the freedom to marry throughout the U.S. is recognized by the Supreme Court, other battles await. For many, the fight for strong anti-discrimination protections looms large; for some, it’s the perennial goal of even more closely embedding LGBT activism within the broader progressive agenda of redistribution and regulation.

But as the Washington Post reports, evangelical and Catholic religious groups, including charities and universities, fear that they will find themselves targeted in the battles ahead:

Leaders of religious institutions, including colleges, hospitals and nonprofits, are waiting to see how the case might affect issues like accreditation, government funding and tax exemption. Organizations have worked on issues related to poverty for the past 50 to 100 years, including Catholic Charities and World Vision, receive government aid for their services, aid that some fear could be challenged….

InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, an evangelical campus ministry, which has corralled hundreds of thousands of students to work on issues such as poverty, was denied recognition on several California campuses because of it did not sign a nondiscrimination statement.

“Setting aside the overblown rhetoric in all directions, there does seem to be a real difference for the framing of ‘religious liberty and the American culture wars’ when the battle lines move from issues like school prayer and vouchers—or even cake bakers and florists—to questions of whether religious student groups can be on public university campuses, whether religious colleges should be accredited, and whether local school systems should accept volunteer support from churches and ministries,” [John Inazu of Washington University School of Law] said.

The hope that we might achieve legal equality under the law, including the right to marry, but that no one should be forced by the state to provide services or otherwise participate in same-sex marriages, and that religious groups might be afforded reasonable tolerance to abide by their own traditions, is likely not going to happen. Zealots on both sides have too much invested in maintaining the culture wars.

20 Years from DP Benefits to Marriage

As the Cato Institute’s David Boaz and I both predicted 20 years ago(!), domestic partner benefits may be left behind in an era when all couples can get married. David’s May 13 blog post at the Cato at Liberty blog takes note of the long road from then to now. He also links to both recent Wall Street Journal coverage on this development (“Firms Tell Gay Couples: Wed or Lose Your Benefits“), and my January blog post (“Domestic Partner Benefits Are (Almost) Passé“).

For the historically minded, two decades ago David addressed the issue here, among other places, and I did so here.

‘ Gay Identity’  Post-Marriage

A rather extensive analysis over at Slate by J. Bryan Lowder, What Was Gay? provides an update on the long-running debate between unique gay identity versus gay assimilation into the mainstream. That cultural conflict has been heightened by marriage equality (we tend to forget how opposed gay liberationists were, and some “queer theorists” remain, to the idea of same-sex marriage).

Lowder looks back at the rise of “gayness” as a “quasi-ethnic group.” He argues “the price of equality shouldn’t be conformity, ” and it’s hard to argue in favor of “conformity,” although subcultures can also fall prey to their own suffocating orthodoxies.

Lowder concludes:

I still think gay is good, though making that argument in a world in which identity is becoming both more complex and more contested will be difficult. But gay is also resilient, and it has a way of thriving best when welcomed least. Future gayness will undoubtedly be different from what it was—but then, isn’t reinvention the essence of good style? I, for one, can’t wait to see what gayness will become.

Post-marriage, that will be interesting to see.