Politics as Usual

Via the Washington Post, Paul Ryan is in another fight he doesn’t want, this time over LGBT rights:

Republican leaders have tried to steer lawmakers away from wading into the hot-button debate. But with LGBT issues already boiling in the states, social conservatives seem eager to take up the cause by seeking to attach an array of religious-exemption measures to must-pass spending bills, a move that could seriously gum up the budget process.

Earlier this week, House leaders cautioned Republicans at a closed-door session that Democrats were likely to keep trying to force them into uncomfortable votes on LGBT discrimination, according to aides and members who were present.

Unintended Consequences Undermine Gay Rights in Africa

U.S. Support of Gay Rights in Africa May Have Done More Harm Than Good, and that’s the New York Times’ summation.

The paper reports:

After an anti-gay law went into effect last year, many gay Nigerians say they have been subjected to new levels of harassment, even violence. They blame the law, the authorities and broad social intolerance for their troubles. But they also blame an unwavering supporter whose commitment to their cause has been unquestioned and overt across Africa: the United States government.

The U.S. support is making matters worse,” said Mike, 24, a university student studying biology in Minna, a town in central Nigeria who asked that his full name not be used for safety reasons. “There’s more resistance now. It’s triggered people’s defense mechanism.”

And there’s this:

Since 2012, the American government has put more than $700 million into supporting gay rights groups and causes globally. More than half of that money has focused on sub-Saharan Africa. … But tying developmental assistance to gay rights has fueled anger across the continent.

Anti-gay American evangelicals have blood on their hands here, but resistance to liberal America’s attempt to impose its values also is a significant factor.

Good intentions expressed through heavy handed actions by a foreign government can and will backfire. A better strategy would be quiet support by privately funded NGOs backing locally controlled LGBT efforts, rather than the U.S. government throwing money around and issuing ultimatums, even if that’s what U.S. LGBT lobbies want to see.

Totalitarian Jerks

This is why more people are coming to hate the self-righteous PC left: Charity race for children’s hospice where runners dress in drag is ‘a hate crime.’

That the children’s hospice had to grovel to the transgender activists for forgiveness turned my stomach.

Little Robespierres.

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.

Just a Matter of Time

More evidence that conservative support for same-sex marriage is growing:

A 2014 Pew poll found that 61 percent of Republicans under 30 support gay marriage.

According to Data Science polling, 64 percent of self-identifying Evangelical Millennials support same-sex marriage.

And the most recent survey of incoming freshman at UCLA found that 44.3 percent of students who considered themselves “far right” believed same-sex couples should have the right to legally marry, while 56.6 percent of “conservatives” believed the same.

Which may be why anti-gay-marriage activist Maggie Gallagher, in her latest missive, sounds like an alienated and bitter self-outcast.

More. She’s not alone among social conservative activists, of course. The Heritage Foundation seems to be getting even more anti-gay. Their latest: My Father Was Gay. Why I Oppose Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage.. This sentence, in quotation marks, apparently can be found nowhere on the Internet except in articles by this author:

Statements like this are lies: “Permitting same-sex couples (now also throuples) access to the designation of marriage will not deprive anyone of any rights.”

Heritage, it seems, is on a roll. Now they’re claiming that same-sex marriage will cause 900,000 abortions. Desperation tactics.

Furthermore. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a likely GOP presidential contender, may not support same-sex marriage, but he attended the reception when his wife’s cousin was married to her partner. The Walker’ then-19-year-old son, Alex, served as a witness and signed his name to the marriage certificate. Generational change.

Many Lean Libertarian, But Parties Remain Polarized

Pollster Nate Silver finds that 22% of Americans favor gay marriage and oppose income redistribution, indicating libertarian views. He explains:

Why should views on (for example) gay marriage, taxation, and U.S. policy toward Iran have much of anything to do with one another? The answer is that it suits the Democratic Party and Republican Party’s mutual best interest to articulate clear and opposing positions on these issues and to present their platforms as being intellectually coherent. The two-party system can come under threat (as it potentially now is in the United Kingdom) when views on important issues cut across party lines.

And he adds, “the rigidly partisan views of political elites should not be mistaken for the relatively malleable and diverse ones that American voters hold.”

These voters, aside from the small, diehard Libertarian Party folks, generally fall into the independent camp. They swing to the Democrats when the Republicans seem too socially conservative, and to the Republicans when the Democrats seem to be pushing too much big government spending and intrusiveness. Nevertheless, the left/right partisan polarization seems to be getting worse.

David Boaz, author of The Libertarian Mind, shares more thoughts on Silver’s findings .

Libertarians and Religious Freedom

Christian conservatives aren’t the only defenders of religious free-association laws, according to the Wall Street Journal’s William McGurn, in his column Indiana’s Libertarian Moment (it’s behind a firewall so google “Indiana’s Libertarian Moment” site:wsj.com). McGurn notes that:

Today the strongest arguments for protecting the right of, say, an evangelical Christian baker to decline baking a cake for a gay wedding are not coming from religious leaders or social conservatives. They are coming from libertarians, many if not most of whom themselves support same-sex marriage.

Take New York University’s Richard Epstein, who is arguably America’s leading libertarian law professor. Mr. Epstein supports gay marriage on the grounds that, because the government has a monopoly on marriage licenses, it shouldn’t use this monopoly to withhold these licenses from couples who are gay.

But Mr. Epstein doesn’t stop here. He further argues that the same freedom of association requires that the law not be used to coerce those who disagree with gay marriage.

In addition:

Mr. Epstein is not the only libertarian to speak out. … Matt Welch, editor of Reason magazine, puts it this way:

“The bad news, for those of us on the suddenly victorious side of the gay marriage debate, is that too many people are acting like sore winners, not merely content with the revolutionary step of removing state discrimination against same-sex couples in the legal recognition of marriage, but seeking to use state power to punish anyone who refuses to lend their business services to wedding ceremonies they find objectionable.”

McGurn concludes:

For…social conservatives, the question is more fundamental: Will they retain sufficient freedom to live their lives and run their institutions in accord with their faith?

The irony of Indiana suggests that it may be the libertarians who have the strongest arguments for defending them.

Many LGBT people have libertarian inclinations, but the activists who dominate LGBT political lobbies tend to identify as part of the broad progressive-left movement. And activist progressives dominate LGBT media and comment boards, where they can act as enforcers of ideological conformism.

More. On libertarians and the electorate, David Boaz takes on Paul Krugman.

Gay Executions and American Diplomacy

Log Cabin Republicans have taken out a full page ad in Roll Call criticizing the Iran nuclear negotiations, reports the Washington Blade. The ad states: “Right now Iran is executing gay people and people merely suspected of being gay,” and that “Human rights can’t be ignored in these negotiations.”

Despite belittling by LGBT team Obama, raising human rights issues has a long history when negotiating with despots. For instance, Jewish American groups successfully advocated that U.S. diplomats address the repression of Soviet Jews during cold war negotiations with the Soviet Union.

While it’s undoubtedly true that the Log Cabin Republicans wouldn’t have run such as ad with a GOP president, it’s also true that LGBT Democrats won’t make an issue of this with a Democrat in the White House. Partisan? Sure. But also a matter that should be receiving far more attention than it is.

More. Missing in action: American feminists, whose remain overwhelmingly silent on Iran’s repression of women. Related: why Ayaan Hirsi Ali is not a feminist hero.

Non-political Actors: A Theory

I don’t know or care a lot about whether this actor from “Empire” is gay or not.  His non-reaction to a general sense that he is gay seems like a replay of what we went through with Sean Hayes back in the day.

But I have to say I think I can understand the reluctance of some young actors to be publicly and irrevocably identified as homosexual.

It’s not because of the closet — at least not these days.  Whether or not we’ve reached critical mass on gay acceptance, it is clear to most people in Hollywood that it is not only possible to be openly homosexual and have a successful career, it can even get you some favorable press.  In any event, we are long past the days of Rock Hudson.

The bigger challenge for a gay celebrity these days in coming out is the fear of being commandeered by the gay political establishment as the Latest Model.

For the last half century or so, lesbians and gay men have had to live in an artificially politicized world for the simple reason that the laws that were so harmful to us needed to be challenged by someone, and it pretty much had to be us.  Very few heterosexuals worried about having sodomy laws used to blackmail them, and it took a generation of constant effort to get people to see that the lack of legal recognition for our relationships was, in fact, a problem for us.  Those efforts have paid off in record time.

But here’s a fact that a lot of politically active people don’t always understand.  Many people didn’t want to be political, or didn’t have the inclination in that direction.  All those years of yelling, “Out of the bars and into the streets!” were a recognition of that fact.  At lot of people did get out of the bars and into the streets, but it was only because they were persuaded how vitally important that was.

Once established, political activism can become just another bureaucracy fighting for its own continued existence.  That’s perfectly fine for those who live for controversy and grievance.

But what if that’s not your thing?  In a world where sexual orientation is far better understood (though there are notable exceptions), lawyers and postal workers and bakers and nurses have the luxury of leading lives as private as they choose.  For actors or others in the orbit of celebrityhood, though, a certain amount of publicity is their oxygen.  It’s also the oxygen of the activists, who tend to resent the closet because they have to respect it.  Outing has always been controversial because it violated that necessary respect in a context where being openly gay would have the most value.

But we have a more than adequate supply of good, great and even superlative role models who are openly homosexual now.  The almost unbelievable progress we have made in both improving the law and opening the culture has broken through the silence that equalled death and a multitude of other gruesome, painful and noxious consequences.

Which is why I’m willing to give celebrities who want to avoid being coopted by the gay political establishment a break. There are actual gay politicians now, the professionals in this sport.  And there are enough high-profile homosexual celebrities that we don’t need every actor out there to publicly declare and risk conscription.