It Was 45 Years Ago Today

by Stephen H. Miller on June 28, 2014

On the 45th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, let’s revisit this essay David Boaz penned a few years back placing Stonewall in context as resistance against oppression by the state.

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It’s Not History, It’s HBO

by Stephen H. Miller on June 25, 2014

HBO’s documentary on the legal fight to overturn California’s Proposition 8, “The Case Against 8,” is undeniably a moving piece of TV. It will surely, among those who see it, reinforce their commitment to marriage equality.

But when you step back, it suffers from the same faults as journalist Jo Becker’s book on the case, Forcing the Spring—it’s as if the fight for gay marriage has no previous history, and the momentous fight in the case against Prop. 8, Hollingsworth v. Perry, was a world-changing victory won through the heroic efforts of three men, LGBT activist leader Chad Griffin (now president of the Human Rights Campaign) and superstar lawyers Republican Ted Olson and Democrat David Boies.

What’s most egregious, however, is that short shrift is given to the case that actually is leading to national marriage equality, United States vs. Windsor, decided by the Supreme Court on the same day. In only the briefest of mentions in the HBO documentary do we hear about this case, and its plaintiff Edith Windsor and her lawyer, Roberta “Robbie” Kaplan, go unheralded.

Hollingsworth may have sought to establish a nationwide right to same-sex marriage, but had the far more limited outcome of restoring marriage equality in California, and it did so on the exceedingly narrow grounds that the opponents to the lower court ruling against Prop. 8 lacked standing to bring the appeal (since the current governor, Jerry Brown, declined to do so). As Hank Stuever writes in his Washington Post review, the HBO documentary is “fascinating for all the wrong reasons.”

James Kirchick suggests in his Wall Street Journal review of Becker’s book (and a similarly themed book by Olson and Boies), Hollingsworth will be just a footnote in the history of marriage equality; Windsor is the decision that’s changing everything. Writes Kirchick:

Not only did the victory [in Windsor] grant federal recognition to every gay marriage registered in a state that recognizes such unions, but the decision has since been cited by multiple state courts in striking same-sex marriage bans from the books. Hollingsworth reversed Proposition 8—no small feat considering that California is the country’s most populous state but hardly the sort of victory that merits the mantle of “revolution”…

A similar point is also driven home by Alyssa Rosenberg in her Washington Post commentary.

Clearly, it’s Windsor that courts across the country are relying on as they grant gay and lesbian couples the freedom to marry, including the 10th Circuit’s historic ruling. Thank you, Edie Windsor and Robbie Kaplan. Too bad you lack the PR machinery of Griffin, Olson and Boies.

More. The Cato Institute’s David Boaz reminded us back in 2010, when district court judge Vaughn Walker struck down Prop. 8 (the ruling eventually allowed to stand by the U.S. Supreme Court), that when Walker was nominated by Ronald Reagan to the federal bench:

…such groups as the NAACP, the National Organization for Women, the Human Rights Campaign, the Lambda Legal Defense Fund, and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force worked to block the nomination.

In other words, this “liberal San Francisco judge” was recommended by Ed Meese, appointed by Ronald Reagan, and opposed by Alan Cranston, Nancy Pelosi, Edward Kennedy, and the leading gay activist groups. It’s a good thing for advocates of marriage equality that those forces were only able to block Walker twice.

In the HBO documentary, Griffin jokes that if the chairman of the Cato Institute supports marriage equality, maybe he should rethink his position, demonstrating a lack of awareness about libertarians versus conservatives. (Cato’s chairman Robert A. Levy discusses Griffin’s remarks here.)

Furthermore. More on libertarians and gay marriage from Cato’s David Boaz, via (and with commentary from) Richard J. Rosendall, president of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance (GLAA) of D.C.

And Dale Carpenter adds: “Rarely have so few overlooked so many to claim so much based on so little.

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The Divide

by Stephen H. Miller on June 22, 2014

A revealing article about politics today (hat tip: Walter Olson):

Fisher says he has friends who usually vote Democratic but are thinking about switching sides because “they’re really unhappy about the situation they’re in,” with too much of their paycheck going to the government.

He, too, chafes at high taxes. He sticks with the Democrats mainly because of their liberal social agenda — mindful of his aunt, a lesbian, who has “come out of her shell more” as states have legalized same-sex marriage. He would consider crossing the aisle if Maryland Republicans took a more libertarian approach to social issues, taking the government out of people’s personal lives.

“It would be very cool to see a Republican who says, ‘I’m for gay marriage,’” Fisher says. “If the Republicans got on board with that, it would be a really difficult decision for me.”

Which is what frightens LGBT Democratic partisans. They much prefer their Republicans like this.

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The Long-Delayed Executive Order

by Stephen H. Miller on June 17, 2014

I’d welcome an executive order prohibiting LGBT discrimination by federal contractors. Those who contract with the government (and are paid with taxpayers’ dollars) agree to abide by its rules, or they shouldn’t take the work. This is different from private companies in general, including individual proprietorships, who should have an expectation of greater freedom in how they choose to conduct their business, including the hiring, promotion, firing, and payment of their employees and the jobs they chose to accept or reject (rights greatly curtailed by the regulatory state, and which progressives would virtually eliminate*). As government expands and its prohibitions and dictates mount, liberty within civil society recedes.

It’s also worth noting that after news of an upcoming executive order was announced, as MSNBC notes, “Obama effectively painted a bull’s eye, inviting Republican apoplexy. And yet, crickets.”

The order’s timing was intended to galvanize the base before November’s congressional elections by inciting reaction from GOP office seekers. But the times are changing.

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*Pay equity theorists on the left, for instance, advocate legislation to limit allowable private-sector pay determination to nonsubjective factors such as education levels, job descriptions and years of service (restrictions that currently apply when determining compensation for public school teachers and often for other unionized government employees), since taking into consideration job performance as a pay factor is always, in their view, subject to bias. (Some of this thinking has made its way into the proposed Paycheck Fairness Act.)

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San Francisco Shame

by Stephen H. Miller on June 15, 2014

National Guard Not Welcome at San Francisco LGBT Pride Weekend:

Organizers of San Francisco’s pride weekend festivities have yanked the welcome mat away from the National Guard, voting to ban the Guard from setting up a booth at the festival. … Last year, the National Guard had a booth at Pride Weekend for the first time – staffed by gay soldiers – following the repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy.

They’re showing the Texas GOP that they don’t have a monopoly on exclusionary booth denial!

And there’s icing on the politically correct cake:

The decision comes at the same time Pride organizers are allowing a controversial Army private who leaked military secrets to be honorary grand marshal.

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The GOP’s Cultural Contradictions

by Stephen H. Miller on June 15, 2014

Karen Tumulty and Dan Balz of the Washington Post report:

Another new, unpredictable element is the increasing influence of the libertarian movement, say many senior Republicans. It has infused the party with energy and has genuine appeal for many young people but has also interjected into the dialogue propositions that many traditional Republican activists reject, such as drug legalization.

“There is a loud libertarian faction,” agreed South Carolina [GOP] strategist Katon Dawson. “Libertarianism has moved into the Republican Party and is trying to hijack it.”

But David Boaz, executive vice president of the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, insisted that social issues aside, there is far more common ground than conflict in the GOP.

“I think the Republican Party is more uniformly anti-big-government than it was before, and that is not the same thing as conservative,” Boaz said. “It is more anti-tax, anti-spending, anti-Washington, which in a sense is where conservatism and libertarian views overlap.”

One source of confusion is that many in the GOP (including some, not all, in the tea party movement) who call themselves “libertarians” remain social conservatives. Whether genuine libertarians can convince them you can’t favor liberty from government on economic matters and then champion government to restrict liberty by blocking the right to marry or enforcing drug prohibition is another matter.

Jonathan Rauch touches on some similar themes at the liberal Daily Beast site, writing:

Evangelicals are, and will remain, a large and critical element of the Republican base. Three-quarters of them supported Romney in 2012. No wonder the GOP is having so much trouble with gay marriage: opposing it alienates younger voters, but supporting it angers evangelicals. Until that equation tips, individual Republicans may break ranks on gay rights, but the party remains a countercultural [anti-gay rights] bastion.

I disagree, however, on the “shrewdness” of the Human Rights Campaign’s initiative to foster dialogue in the South aimed at “changing hearts and minds in Alabama, Arkansas, and Mississippi, three of the country’s reddest states,” given HRC’s primary role fundraising for progressive Democrats and its opposition to electing openly gay conservative Republicans (such as Carl DeMaio). You can’t have it both ways (i.e., “we’re from the leftwing of the Democratic party, and we’d like to talk to you about gay equality”).

I’d also argue that, although some of the state initiatives on religious exemptions were poorly worded and supported by anti-gay evangelicals, allowing faith-based exemptions so that small business owners aren’t forced to perform artistic services celebrating same-sex weddings is the pro-liberty position.

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Hillary’s Pique

by Stephen H. Miller on June 13, 2014

Obviously, Hillary Clinton will run on a strong gay rights/marriage equality platform, but it’s interesting to note how her views changed with the shifting political winds (a phenom that’s ubiquitous in politics). Of course, the rolling disaster of the Obama administration’s foreign policy might be more pertinent to her campaign.

More. Yes, ubiquitous. Wisconsin’s GOP governor (and presidential wannabe) Scott Walker puts his finger to the wind.

Furthermore. Andrew Sullivan observes about Clinton, “the idea that she has ever risked an iota of her own power to back the equality of gays and lesbians is preposterous.”

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Milking Victimhood for Fun and Profit

by Stephen H. Miller on June 13, 2014

This is certainly not Lambda Legal’s finest hour, and it reveals a corrupt mindset that puts creating controversy for self-promotion—and perpetuating victimhood—above all else. Money quotes:

Even after being told how the restaurant handled the situation, Lambda isn’t backing down from the campaign. Instead the organization has dug in its heels. … Lambda is urging their followers to damage the reputation of a company that is recognized as an LGBT-friendly spot and hasn’t been proven guilty of any wrongdoing. …

“Lambda Legal has no obligation to investigate the allegations before doing media work or filling a case. That’s up to the [human rights] commission to decide,” said Dru Levasseur, Lambda Legal Transgender Rights Project Director. “The business’ reputation is not our concern.”

More. Mark Lees asks in the Washington Blade, “Can a business undo damage done by gay zealots?”

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Brat’s Win and GOP Factionalism

by Stephen H. Miller on June 11, 2014

There’s one point of interest, even with the limited information we have, regarding David Brat and his Virginia congressional primary win over GOP House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. What we do know about Brat and gays is that he’s not a foamer. The New York Times says that in a paper Brat authored a few years back:

Mr. Brat attacked the conservative right for championing individual liberty but campaigning against abortion rights, gambling and homosexuality. He criticized the left too, for being too coercive with social programs. “What is the root word for liberalism? (Answer: Liberty),” he wrote.

That passage was curious, since Mr. Brat ran on an unswerving anti-abortion position. I’m not sure how he feels now about gambling, and we’re looking for his position on gay marriage.

Brat has not used anti-gay bombast in his campaign, following the pattern of many other Republicans who might have been expected to do so. The tea party isn’t the religious right, although the religious right is represented among tea party activists. There’s a libertarian strain in the tea party that could be helpful in redirecting the GOP away from its dominance by the religious right, a fact obscured in by the media’s equation of the two in the service of progressivism.

Still, there’s no doubt that anti-immigration positions dominated Brat’s attacks on Cantor and are common among tea party activists. Many are saying (with some justification) that illegal immigrants have now replaced gays as the boogiepeople for the Republican right.

Except in Texas, of course, where gays remain as big or bigger a scapegoat as immigrants crossing the border without documentation. [And then there's Gov. Rick Perry.] But as James Kirchick writes (in an article quoting former Log Cabin Republican leader Rich Tafel):

The longer Texas Republicans keep acting like Neanderthals, the greater the chances that the politically unthinkable might happen. “As state after state embraces marriage equality, the Texas GOP resembles the George Wallace Democrats’ response to racial equality in the 1960s, grabbing harder onto their bigotry based in the fear of America’s growing inclusion,” Tafel says. “Their right-wing bigotry is single-handedly doing what Democrats have been unable to do—move Texas from a red state to a blue state.”

More. David Boaz on Big Business Vs. Libertarians in the GOP, and why tea party candidates’ critique of crony capitalism is resonating with voters.

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Calls to Ban ‘Hate Speech’ Spiral On

by Stephen H. Miller on June 6, 2014

The LGBT campus ultra PC left versus the LGBT left, as a University of Chicago speech by Dan Savage is denounced as transphobic “hate speech” that should be banned.

Leftism continually mutates into more extreme forms, which then attack the previous standard as insufficiently purist.

More. Savage, it goes without saying, has nothing but contempt for gay Republicans. Elsewhere, he’s called them “house faggots.” That’s his real hate speech, not that it should be banned.

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