University of Missouri law professor Thom Lambert takes aim at the claim by University of Pennsylvania law professor Tobias Wolff (writing at the Huffington Post) that gays should support labor union stances (or, as Wolff puts it, “Pushing back against the current assault on American workers should be one of the highest priorities of the LGBT community today—fully on a par with the effort to secure employment discrimination protections or relationship rights”).
Prof. Lambert responds:
If an expression of support for gay rights and the provision of benefits to gays were enough to create a “reciprocal obligation” to provide support, gay people would have to spend all their time pushing causes!
Which might be fine with Prof. Wolff, as long as they were progressive causes (Lambert notes that Wolfe is not demanding that gays endorse a BP plan to limit liability for oil spills, although BP is on the Human Rights Campaign’s list of “top businesses that support equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees”).
So, if you’re a gay person and you think collective bargaining by public sector unions is bankrupting state and local governments while fattening the civil service class, go gripe about it to your Republican neighbor over a beer. In doing so, you’ll be promoting the sort of social change that will ensure real equality for gay people in the future.
More. Dale Carpenter blogs:
Wolff’s argument comes from a long political tradition, going back at least to the 1950s, which maintains that gay rights are inextricably tied to a host of causes supported by self-styled progressives—everything from abortion rights to various left-wing revolutionary movements. Lambert is part of an emerging group of dissenters from the dominant progressive tradition in gay politics. It includes people who support gay rights but also support the rights of the unborn, oppose gun-control legislation, want taxes kept low, think social welfare programs are wasteful and counter-productive, doubt the value of national healthcare programs, and so on. They may be wrong about any or all of these things, but it is hardly obvious that sexual orientation—either as a matter of principle or as a matter of political strategy—should dictate the stands they take.