Fissures and Alliances

At the conservative Washington Examiner, Philip Klein predicts Social Conservatives and Libertarians Will Get Married:

Perhaps fiercer than any of these fights is the long-standing conflict between social conservatives and libertarians. But when the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage last month, they created an opening for a wedding between these two groups, which could benefit the Republican Party ahead of the 2016 election. . . .

But as the dust settles on the Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage, it’s becoming clearer that the debate over the issue is going to shift to one of religious freedom. And on that issue, there’s much more of an opening for libertarians and social conservatives to get along. . . .

But with gay marriage legal, the cultural debate has been moving to issues such as: Should a religiously observant baker or photographer be forced to participate in gay weddings? Or, should a Catholic Church be forced to perform gay marriages?

Whatever their differences on the underlying issue of homosexuality and gay marriage, it will be hard for many libertarians to justify any sort of government coercion forcing individuals to violate their deeply held beliefs. As a result, they’ll find themselves increasingly — and begrudgingly — on the same side as social conservatives on many of the looming debates.

Over at the libertarian, Scott Shakeford strikes a similar note, in Is This Where Libertarians and the Gay Community Part Ways?:

But just because libertarians and gay citizens were aligned in the pursuit of ending government mistreatment, that doesn’t mean other goals line up. Libertarians draw that bright, hard line between government behavior and private behavior. Others often do not, and what many gay activists see as justice and equality in the private sector, libertarians see as inappropriate government coercion.

Highlighting some of these contentions, William McGurn in the Wall Street Journal (A Win on Marriage: Now Protect Faith) addresses whether, for instance, religiously affiliated schools should be denied tax-exempt status for refusing to extend campus housing benefits given to opposite-sex married couples to same-sex spouses:

As part of a reasonable compromise that includes solid antidiscrimination provisions in education and housing, supporters of same-sex marriage should accept legislative language that prohibits the federal government from withholding or withdrawing tax exemptions from institutions solely on the basis of their opposition to Obergefell.

Underlying these specific issues—and others that will be even harder to resolve—is an urgent question: How can people with fundamentally different views peacefully coexist within the same political community? Except when confronted by pure evil, a generous pluralism is almost always the best course, as is magnanimity in victory.

I think most LGBT people, as opposed to LGBT activists and ideologues (whether beltway professionals, regional zealots, or correct-line-upholding blog commenters) are fine with live and let live, and don’t particularly wish to find and punish the tiny number of small service providers that have religious objections to gay weddings, or force religious schools to violate their faith principles. But activists need a mission. If they are intent on declaring religious freedom and dissent unacceptable hate behavior that must be rectified by the state, then this will, indeed, be a cause unacceptable to those who respect individual liberty.

More. Progressives clap and cheer dictates such as this awful ruling. Worse, not only were the bakers fined $135,000 for refusing to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian wedding, but the government has ordered them to “cease and desist” from speaking publicly about not being willing to bake cakes for same-sex weddings based on their religious beliefs, or face further fines. This is why defenders of individual rights and liberty are now at odds with the LGBT left.

Furthermore. More about the “cease and desist” order which is directed at preventing the bakery (now reduced to an online business) or, by extension, others, from stating that their services do not include same-sex weddings. Along with the extreme damages levied against the Kleins, it represents a further assault on their First Amendment rights.

Polygamy Steps Up

Now on the horizon:

  • The AP reports that “A Montana man said Wednesday that he was inspired by last week’s U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage to apply for a marriage license so that he can legally wed his second wife.”
  • A commentary in Politico by Fredrik deBoer aruges “It’s Time to Legalize Polygamy, with the subhead: “Why group marriage is the next horizon of social liberalism.”
  • Jonathan Rauch responds (also in Politico) No, Polygamy Isn’t the Next Gay Marriage.
  • Similarly, Cathy Young writes at Time Polygamy Is Not Next.
  • In response, a commentary in by Charles C.W. Cooke at National Review asks Is Polygamy on the Right Side of History?, contending that Rauch and Young are naïve if they think that the polygamous marriage movement isn’t going to ride the same emotional appeal as same-sex marriage.

That’s a lot of focus in the week following the Supreme Court’s landmark gay marriage ruling!

While there are far fewer polygamy advocates than gay people who wanted to marry, it’s clear that the polyamorous are now making the same kinds of arguments that advocates of same-sex marriage equality advanced. I have no idea how this will play out, but the debate is clearly gaining prominence.

More. The Washington Post chimes in with Is polygamy next in the marriage debate?:

Chief Justice John G. Roberts’s dissenting opinion raised the question of whether the court’s rationale could be used to legalize plural marriage down the road.

“Although the majority randomly inserts the adjective ‘two’ in various places, it offers no reason at all why the two-person element of the core definition of marriage may be preserved while the man-woman element may not,” Roberts wrote. “Indeed, from the standpoint of history and tradition, a leap from opposite-sex marriage to same-sex marriage is much greater than one from a two-person union to plural unions, which have deep roots in some cultures around the world.”

Some are now using Roberts’s arguments to revisit the idea of legalized polygamy.

Well, Roberts seems to have opened the door.

Outsiders No More?

Via the New York Times, Historic Day for Gays, but Twinge of Loss for an Outsider Culture:

“There is something wonderful about being part of an oppressed community,” [gay historian Eric Marcus] said. But he warned against too much nostalgia. The most vocal gay rights activists may have celebrated being outsiders, but the vast majority of gay people just wanted “what everyone else had,” he said — the ability to fall in love, have families, pursue their careers and “just live their lives.”

I think the overwhelming majority of gay people are happy to trade outsider culture and community for legal equality and social inclusion. But the conflict between those who would celebrate transgressiveness and those who aspire to assimilation goes back a long way, and one of the milestones in favor of assimilation and inclusion was our friend Bruce Bawer’s seminal A Place at the Table.

A New Day

A friend remarked that his facebook feed looks like an explosion in a skittles factory (rainbow hues all round). In the aftermath of an historic day, there has been much, much said. I’ll simply point out that our good friend Jonathan Rauch has posted The Supreme Court weds gay marriage to family values and also a look back Here’s how 9 predictions about gay marriage turned out. Both are worth reading.

And because I’m a compulsive GOP watcher, I’ll also note that the Wall Street Journal offers a roundup of responses from GOP presidential wanabees. Jeb Bush comes out best: “I believe the Supreme Court should have allowed the states to make this decision,” but “I also believe that we should love our neighbor and respect others, including those making lifetime commitments. In a country as diverse as ours, good people who have opposing views should be able to live side by side. It is now crucial that as a country we protect religious freedom and the right of conscience and also not discriminate.”

Scott Walker, shamefully, doubled down on his call for an anti-gay-marriage constitutional amendment.

More. Some addition thoughts from Andrew Sullivan, shared with the New York Times. From one of the first and strongest intellectual advocates of same-sex marriage (along with Jonathan Rauch and Bruce Bawer), two points that go against the grain of the current LGBT progressive narrative but are spot on:

The movement succeeded because it made a conservative argument as much as a liberal one. It was crucial to be able to make it in a way that didn’t pigeonhole it as a left-wing issue — in fact, for the first 15 years or so, it was seen as a right-wing issue, particularly in the gay community. It was important to reach out to people like moderate Catholics, who could see what was truly conservative and reformist about this, as opposed to radical and revolutionary. …

I think the main issue now will be protection of religious liberty. Many of us have no problem allowing religious institutions to run their own organizations as they see fit, as long as they are sincere and in good faith. I don’t think they have anything to fear. What we need to express at this point is magnanimity. We’ve got to let people who genuinely find [same-sex marriage] disconcerting the space and time to deal with it. That’s what I would caution and urge.

Victory for Marriage!

Truly an historic day.

A 5-4 decision, with the majority opinion by Justice Kennedy. Chief Justice Roberts joined the dissenters (Scalia, Alito, Thomas).

Holding: Fourteenth Amendment requires a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex. Sixth Circuit is reversed.

Here’s the opinion. Excerpt:

The history of marriage is one of both continuity and change. Changes, such as the decline of arranged marriages and the abandonment of the law of coverture, have worked deep transformations in the structure of marriage, affecting aspects of marriage once viewed as essential. These new insights have strengthened, not weakened, the institution. Changed understandings of marriage are characteristic of a Nation where new dimensions of freedom become apparent to new generations.

This dynamic can be seen in the Nation’s experience with gay and lesbian rights. …

The fundamental liberties protected by the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process clause extend to certain personal choices central to individual dignity and autonomy, including intimate choices defining personal identity and beliefs. … Courts must exercise reasoned judgment in identifying interests of the person so fundamental that the State must accord them its respect. History and tradition guide and discipline the inquiry but do not set its outer boundaries. When new insight reveals discord between the Constitution’s central protections and a received legal stricture, a claim to liberty must be addressed.

Justice Kennedy concludes:

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. … [The challengers] ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.

More. OK, enough celebrating. Let the political acrimony begin. From The Hill

That partisan divide could complicate the calculus for Republicans ahead of the 2016 election. Hillary Clinton, the current Democratic front-runner, has already incorporated the issue into her campaign, which she launched with a video that included a brief appearance by a same-sex couple.

But every GOP candidate has spoken out against granting a national right to same-sex marriage, so all eyes will be on how the party reconciles that stance with the court decision.

The party and its presidential contenders will have to decide whether to punt on the issue and remove it from the electoral conversation, or to dig in and fight back with a proposal for a constitutional amendment to overrule the court, as Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas) and Gov. Scott Walker (Wis.) have supported.

By November 2016, a GOP nominee who campaigns in favor of voiding hundreds of thousands of legal marriages and leaving the children of these unions with far fewer family protections is going to seem very extreme, I suspect.

Furthermore. Andrew Sullivan: It Is Accomplished. He recalls:

Much of the gay left was deeply suspicious of this conservative-sounding reform; two thirds of the country were opposed; the religious right saw in the issue a unique opportunity for political leverage – and over time, they put state constitutional amendments against marriage equality on the ballot in countless states, and won every time. Our allies deserted us. The Clintons embraced the Defense of Marriage Act, and their Justice Department declared that DOMA was in no way unconstitutional the morning some of us were testifying against it on Capitol Hill. For his part, president George W. Bush subsequently went even further and embraced the Federal Marriage Amendment to permanently ensure second-class citizenship for gay people in America. Those were dark, dark days.

He concludes, “Know hope.”

And this. The front page of the New York Times for Saturday, June 27.

Waiting, Waiting…

In the meantime, the Washington Post looks at, in quite a reversal, How kids became the strongest argument for same-sex marriage:

As the Supreme Court prepares to hand down what may be a historic decision on whether gay couples have a constitutional right to marry, the children of these couples have been at the heart of the debate. Gay rights activists have turned old arguments on their heads, putting the more than 210,000 American children being raised in same-sex-couple households at the core of their closing arguments.

Advocates have seized on the words of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who in striking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act two years ago wrote that the law “humiliates tens of thousands of children” being raised by gay parents. Taking the cue, groups have put these children’s stories front and center in campaign ads, on rally stages and in legal briefs.

Save the children.

More. David Boaz reminds that Libertarians Have Long Led the Way on Marriage.

While on the libertarian angle (yes, I know it’s a tangent), there’s this: gay Libertarian Party members denied a booth and barred from attending Washington State’s 25th anniversary Capital City Pride festival (held in Olympia) for supporting Second Amendment rights.

GOP Shows Signs of Change and Resistance

The Cato Institute’s David Boaz argues that the GOP’s gay marriage silence speaks louder than words:

Republican candidates and their advisers know that opposition to same-sex marriage remains strong in their base, but that more than two-thirds of young voters support it. Campaigning against gay marriage is a good way to make the Democratic advantage among young people permanent.

Sometimes social change happens when people announce a change of heart. Sometimes you know it’s happening when one side tries to change the subject. That sound you don’t hear right now, of major Republican candidates making gay marriage a key issue in their campaigns? That’s the sound of social change happening.

A counter argument might point out that Ted Cruz introduced legislation to establish a constitutional amendment shielding states that define marriage as between one woman and one man from legal action, and Scott Walker indicated he would support the amendment if the Supreme Court rules in favor of marriage equality. Also, there’s no doubt about the opposition to same-sex marriage by Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum.

But that may be missing the forest for the trees. Given the likelihood of a Supreme Court decision in favor of marriage equality, the fact that the GOP leading contenders have not made the campaign against same-sex marriage central to their efforts is a sign of progress.

One point that should be addressed in the debate over whether the GOP is actually changing is the meme repeated by the LGBT left that voicing support for religious liberty is nothing but code for anti-gay discrimination. For instance, the Washington Blade reports as evidence, in their view, that Bush is “doubling down on opposition to anti-gay marriage” the following:

“This conscience should also be respected in people of faith who want to take a stand for traditional marriage,” Bush said [at the Faith & Freedom Coalition conference in D.C.]. “In a country like ours, we should recognize the power of a man and a woman loving their children with all their heart and soul as a good thing, as something that is positive and helpful for children to live a successful life.”

The phrase “traditional marriage” is often used by conservatives and especially by Bush to mean opposition to same-sex marriage.

And yet….

Bush didn’t articulate any policy measure by which he would seek to oppose same-sex marriage. He hasn’t yet spoken this campaign cycle on whether he’d back a U.S. constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage — an idea that GOP hopefuls Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal and Scott Walker have endorsed.

Hardly seemed like “doubling down”; more like tossing the religious right a bone.

Elsewhere the Blade informs us:

Bush didn’t mention LGBT issues during his [campaign annoucement] speech per se, but criticized Clinton for what he said was her failure to stand up for religious freedom, which many observers read as code for anti-LGBT discrimination.

“These have been rough years for religious charities and their right of conscience, and the leading Democratic candidate basically hinted at more trouble to come,” Bush said. “Secretary Clinton insists that when the progressive agenda encounters religious beliefs to their contrary, those beliefs quote, ‘have to be changed.’ That’s what she said. That’s what she said, and I guess we should at least thank her for the warning.”

If you believe that the future of LGBT Americans lies in ensuring no religious exemptions from anti-discrimination law for religiously affiliated charities and schools, and that independent small vendors with religious-conscience objections must be forced to rectify their thinking by accepting gigs celebrating same-sex weddings or else suffer exorbitant fines and be driven out of business by the state, then I suppose religious freedom would be something you would favor stamping out.

More. John Ward writes, perceptively, at Yahoo! Politics:

Bush has done the most work, by far, of any 2016 Republican presidential candidate to lay out an intellectual framework from which to argue that a compromise can be reached between the LGBT community and religious conservatives. “I think we’re a big enough country and a tolerant enough country to allow for both to exist. I don’t believe we should discriminate against people,” Bush said in New Hampshire. “But I certainly don’t think we should push aside the big and caring hearts that people — when they act on their faith — to be able to make a difference in the lives of people.” …

On the question of gay marriage, Bush has said he personally believes marriage is between a man and a woman and that he does not think gay marriage is a constitutional right. But … Bush’s communications director is openly gay, and some of his closest aides are supporters of gay marriage.

For these and other reasons, Christian conservatives have so far tended to be lukewarm about Bush. But if he continues to make a robust defense of their point of view in the debate over religious freedom, that could change, especially if other Republicans steer clear of the issue except when it’s the focus of controversy and they’re put on the spot.

The religious right is pulling back to a defensive position around freedom of conscience for religious conservatives. The progressive left feels it’s now occupying the commanding heights and is rejecting what were recently seen as common-sense compromises (i.e., religious exemptions from anti-discrimination laws).


The Rachel Dolezal cisracial/transracial meme isn’t doing the fight for transgender acceptance and equality any favors. While some social conservatives are warning of a slippery slope and suggesting that transracialism will allow self-identification with other races in a way that opens an entitlement floodgate, some progressives seem to be, gingerly, starting to question whether the appropriate social justice warrior position might be to defend transracial identity:

MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry entertained the notion on her show today with kind of a huge question. “Is it possible that she might actually be black?”

While not wanting to make the transgender comparison, Harris-Perry questioned whether one can be “cisblack and transblack,” and whether there’s a way to describe “the achievement of blackness despite one’s parentage.”

Alyson Hobbs, who literally wrote the book on “racial passing,” said there’s “certainly a chance that she identifies as a black woman and there could be authenticity to that.”

Here’s a wrap-up of others willing to entertain the idea that racial self-identification can be more “authentic” than one’s birth race.

Cry Wolf

If there are Christian tattoo artists, we may have the next wave of anti-anti-discrimination cases.

I can’t say I find Mr. Bythewood’s argument for not providing the tattoo particularly convincing (is there really a “traditional tattoo honor code?”) but that’s the point. I don’t have to.  It’s his business, and unless I’m very mistaken, he’s not the only tattoo artist in New York.

Anti-discrimination laws, including those based on gender, were most needed when discrimination was extensive, unregenerate and unlocalized.  Since the 1950s, America has switched the defaults, and marginalized the kinds of discrimination that were taken for granted: based on race, gender, and now even sexual orientation.  There will never be no discrimination unless someone has finally figured out a way to make a utopia work when its inhabitants will be human beings endowed with liberty.  The best a free society can hope for is to stand, as a whole, for individual liberty, draw clear enough lines about what is truly out-of-bounds, and leave the gray areas for people to negotiate.

Getting a tattoo, ordering a cake for your wedding, arranging for a photographer to document your happiness; these are perfectly respectable gray areas where there are choices pretty much anywhere in this country.  Those choices will not always be ideal ones everywhere, but unless the rule we are seeking is that everyone must have ideal choices everywhere, every time, we have to consider what the appropriate limits on government power must be.

I don’t want my government demanding that I can get a tattoo or a cake from anyone I want.  As an un-inked American, I could no more have gotten a tattoo from Mr. Bythewood than Jane Marie could.  Going somewhere else is one of the calamities I must live with as someone who values a free society.

Bythewood is partly right that Jane Marie trivializes the tradition of feminism with her overstated “wolf cry.”  But that kind of self-dramatizing is becoming endemic.  As true discrimination has diminished, it takes more effort to play the victim.  Histrionics are practically necessary.

This does not just trivialize the profoundly important movements that got us to today, it trivializes government itself.  There are vitally important things that we should expect of our government.  But policing an infinite number of daily commercial and personal transactions is not among them.

The DeMaio Lie

What some of us could see all along; the smear campaign against openly gay San Diego congressional candidate Carol DeMaio a Republican, was all a lie, and one that cost him the election (he had been leading in the polls against his Democratic opponent before the smear was unleashed; he lost by a razor-thin margin). So, in a campaign characterized by the LGBT left’s vehement opposition to DeMaio, partisan dirty tricks cost us an openly gay GOP congressman.

As I’ve said before, because it’s true, the worst nightmare of LGBT progressives is that the GOP should become less anti-gay.