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Why my initial thoughts on the Obama gay marriage announcement are wrong

Yesterday, Barack Obama declared that his position on gay marriage has evolved, and where once he thought civil unions were sufficient, he’s decided, rightly, that they are not, and has made possibly the clearest and most supportive statement on the matter that any president has ever made.

Critics have contended that civil unions are another way of saying “separate but equal”, only, you know, without the “equal” part. It is effectively a form of soft bigotry to say that one type of life partner contract is allowed to be called “marriage” while this other type is not, for reasons completely unfathomable to anyone but the theists who draw the line in the sand at their personal definition of marriage — a relationship sanctified by a member of their clergy and thus accepted in the eyes of God. There are, of course, legal ramifications as well, but people seem to care more about their precious words.

And while many individual members of many religious organizations would have no problem with declaring that their God has no problem with gays getting married, others obviously find it some sort abomination, owing to their particular readings of the religious traditions they hold dear. The parallels with the religiously-motivated opposition to interracial marriage are obvious and palpable. With good reason — the situations are practically identical.

Despite this good news, my initial reaction — and I suspect many of your initial reactions as well — were deeply cynical.

I was initially irritated that this statement was made very shortly before Obama’s reelection campaign began. It felt like an opening gambit, a sop to pander to the LGBTQ community who, by and large, has felt abandoned by Obama since he took office. I was mad that it hadn’t happened sooner, that it COULD have happened sooner but for Obama’s own position on the matter. I was worried that, with so much riding on keeping outright slavering bigotry out of the Oval Office, that Obama could have done more good by announcing this a year or more ago, having the conversation in advance, making the political climate toxic to bigoted Republicans for this election, and could have done a significant amount more good in the name of equality than he’s managed so far.

But Obama was instrumental in the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the Clinton-era law that ostensibly opened the door for non-heteronormative folks to join the military with impunity — so long as, you know, they hid the fact that they were anything but heterosexual. With Republicans controlling the House for the past two years, and controlling many states’ legislatures, and therefore most of the United States’ political agenda, gays have seen nothing but one ridiculous law after another in one state after another to abridge their rights.

Of course, they’re not alone, as women have had their reproductive rights under siege for the entire duration, but much as misery loves company, people also generally love having boots removed from their throats. Go figure. So the sitting President is, from his bully pulpit, bullying the bullies who have joyfully maintained their boot-on-neck stance. And the pushback against this anti-bully movement is ridiculously transparent, with the anti-gay rhetoric claiming by and large that the Christians and bigots are themselves being bullied, by having their right-to-bully removed.

Sure, Obama has had three and a half years in office to take this potentially controversial stand, and we’re all disappointed that it could have been sooner. But given that only a slim majority of the electorate supports gay marriage, and given the real goals of the Republicans for the past several decades have been geared toward social conservatism (e.g., every regressive policy you can find a Bible verse to support), rather than any sort of fiscal prudence or any other pretension at good governance, it seems the “obvious political calculus” aimed at shoring up numbers in an otherwise demotivated demographic is not so obvious after all. The Republicans still get an unduly large amount of support from the general electorate despite their obvious bigotry, which they wear on their sleeves. So this is actually a really bad, really risky time for Obama to be making this sort of stand, even if it will motivate that otherwise demotivated demographic.

This motion could backfire, drastically. That makes the motion seem all the more genuine. Either that, or Obama’s signalling that he’s going all in this time around, and he’s betting with the unprecedented upswing in support for gay marriage. He could have punted on this til after the election, but he didn’t. And that’s important.

I do wish that Obama had realized much sooner all the parallels between the anti-gay bigots and the anti-miscegenation bigots of yesteryear. I suspect he’s figuring it out now, and if this enlightenment comes because his political handlers are nudging him in that direction, so be it. Better late than never, given the alternative has openly campaigned on maintaining straight male privilege.

I have decided that for me, this is not the time to be cynical. The stakes are always high in any election for the President of the United States, but in this case, my cynicism right now could actually help to undo this positive momentum for human rights, and given how slow we as a race tend to be in fixing injustice, I’d rather not lose that momentum and have to continue having this sort of conversation in a decade. Now’s the time. We’re at the tipping point. Keep pushing.

Comments

  1. Josh, All Up In Your Faux-Liberal Librulism says

    Dammit. Dammit. No. Like so many others you’re not paying attention. Obama said this was a state’s rights issue. He said my civil rights should be decided at the state level.

    Do you understand how horrible this is? No- do not, do NOT tell me how much I should be grateful for his “personal” support of gay marriage, if my state allows it. Listen to why queers are angry about this and acknowledge it please, for the love of all that’s good. Do not tell us how we should feel (I’ve had enough of that from straight “allies” the past 24 hours).

    And please raise your voice to the roof about this cowardly, horrible leaving of our equality to the popular vote. We need you to scream about for us, not just applaud his political posturing!

  2. says

    I’d say my mood is cautiously optimistic. Its a nice step but its just a step. It’ll probably be years yet before our neighbors to the south get with the times.

  3. says

    I am sorry Josh but his actions make it seem like he isnt going to treat it as a state issue. If he speaks out pre election saying that gay marriage is a federal issue he stands to loose all the moderate states rights conservatives he has which could ultimately cost him the election. It is risky enough to do what he has done for gay rights. I hold my cynicism till after the election.

  4. says

    Both reactions are equally valid, Josh.

    He’s very wrong about it being a states rights issue. Canada has had nation-wide gay marriage for years, and the individual provinces (though they’ve tried) haven’t been able to get traction against it.

    But at the same time, the political calculus looks entirely wrong for it being a sop to me.

    Please stop telling me that I’m telling you your reactions are wrong. Because I’m not.

  5. says

    [dislaimer: I'm a straight ally, so you probably don't want to hear this, but whatever...]

    The state’s rights question is an entirely different (but important) issue. He said he was fine with gay marriage. Do you object, Josh, to him saying this? Is it necessary for him to say other things you want him to say at the same exact time or it doesn’t count? The truth is that at the moment there are two teams, and only two teams that count. You can certainly chose to be on neither, but if you want to be part of the process you are going to have to separate these issues a bit. ]

    It does just happen to be the case that there is one federal law and 38 state ones that have to do with gay marriage.

    And please raise your voice to the roof about this cowardly, horrible leaving of our equality to the popular vote.

    I agree with that, but that is not what recognizing the state-level dynamics requires. Saying it is not a state level issue does not stop the states from doing what they are doing; amendments that are proposed at the state level need to be fought at the state level (your argument right now kinda leaves us in Minnesota in the lurch, and that is not appreciated); existing state statutes and amendments have to be fought at the moment at the state level.

    Across the country, in states and at other levels, we are winning court cases and losing at the ballot booth. That is what is happening. Eventually the fight will develop in the courts well enough (one hopes) that it can’t be lost at the federal level. Right now it could be.

    Actually, following this through state and district courts eventually to SCOTUS could lose. Sabbatage Obama, get Romney in there, and wreck the SCOTUS. You’ll have your way with your short term goals but you’ll be fucking the entire movement and everything else that’s gone before in recent times.

  6. Nathair says

    his actions make it seem like he isnt going to treat it as a state issue.

    What actions are you talking about? He was explicit that his support of marriage equality was strictly personal and stressed that he “supports the concept of states deciding the issue on their own”. Josh has this one exactly right.

  7. Nathair says

    Do you object, Josh, to him saying this?

    I object to him saying this now, when it is both politically expedient (opening move in the campaign) and right in line with all the latest polls but actually commits him to doing nothing at all about the problem. I call that scoring points by paying lip service to marriage equality, winning the admiration of you, Greg, while Josh gets a pat on the head and a shrug of the Presidential shoulders.

    Obviously YMMV.

  8. says

    I think WilloNyx has extrapolated out some intent from Obama’s actions that are not borne out by direct evidence. I am happy that Obama supports keeping the federal government from ever overriding individual states’ decisions to allow gay marriage — this is good. I would prefer that he support the federal government overriding those states that aren’t so enlightened, in much the same way that Lincoln supported overriding individual states’ rights to own slaves. I doubt that will happen though. Obama’s too much a pragmatist, and appears to believe too strongly in states’ rights for anyone’s own good.

    Yes, leaving human rights up to a popular vote is never a good idea. Especially if you fragment the battlefield into fifty states and a few territories and districts, it means we’ll be fighting the war way longer than we ever should. But what worries me about one president declaring gay marriage nation-wide is that the very next president from the other party would strike it down.

    Gays shouldn’t be subjected to the vicissitudes of individual states’ electorates. But at the very least, this is a very bad time for Obama to be sticking his neck out as much as he has, even in his pragmatic centrist sort of way.

  9. Gregory in Seattle says

    @Josh #1 – Give it up. Those with heterosexual priviledge either cannot or will not understand; they simply have no frame of reference.

  10. Josh, All Up In Your Faux-Liberal Librulism says

    Sabbatage Obama, get Romney in there, and wreck the SCOTUS. You’ll have your way with your short term goals but you’ll be fucking the entire movement and everything else that’s gone before in recent times.

    What the hell is it with you straight people? Do you think we’re fucking stupid? Why do you think you need to lecture us about not supporting Romney? Seriously. Where does that come from? Why does your imagination go right there? Why do you think so poorly of people like me? My God, you couldn’t be more insulting if you tried.

    Are you seriously claiming I’m a threat to the progress of gay rights because I loudly push my supposed “allies” in politics to take them seriously? Really? Really? I have to be a quiet good boy or I’ll be wrecking my own cause?

    That’s insanity. And it’s condescending as shit from people who don’t have to live with the consequences that I do. Yeah. Anti-gay shit hurts a gay guy like me more than it hurts you.

    Don’t condescend to me or tell me how naive I am. I’ve been fighting this on a personal and political level with a great deal of personal risk a boatload longer and more consistently than you have.

    The fucking nerve.

  11. Josh, All Up In Your Faux-Liberal Librulism says

    I’m learning lots about people I didn’t want to know. Chiefly how little respect you actually have for queers despite your protestations. How disdainfully you condescend to us, Laden.

  12. says

    Is there any positive aspect of Obama’s announcement to you, Josh? Or of people liking that announcement?

    I’m honestly asking you to stop and think about why people might like parts of it.

  13. Gregory in Seattle says

    @Josh #12 – One of my co-workers put it this way: it is like trying to tell the Trojans that the big, wooden horse is not a votive offering to Poseidon: no matter what you say, they will insist on dismantling the walls and bringing it into the city, all while telling you to stop being such a Cassandra and spoiling the jubilant mood.

  14. Josh, All Up In Your Faux-Liberal Librulism says

    Good God, Jason. How is it that you can’t understand that my criticism of the substance of Obama’s pronouncement doesn’t mean I’m not happy he did at least something? Seriously. I’m asking YOU to stop and ask yourself why it’s so important to you to get me to acknowledge that you or someone else might be happy about it? Honestly. Think on that. Why is that SO important to you that it’s worth chastising a real-live-affected-by-it person for not cheerleading?

    That’s disturbing.

  15. says

    Because you keep telling me I’m telling you you’re wrong about feeling certain ways. I don’t like that, mostly because I don’t see how I’m doing it, but you keep saying I am.

  16. Josh, All Up In Your Faux-Liberal Librulism says

    Gregory, it’s just so maddening learning that people who think they respect you actually don’t. They think they do, and they mean well, but when the chips are down they belittle us smugly and show they’re more concerned about feeling good about being allies than they are about our actual experience.

    It makes me go somewhere between wanting to bawl my eyes out or scream.

  17. Josh, All Up In Your Faux-Liberal Librulism says

    Because you keep telling me I’m telling you you’re wrong about feeling certain ways. I don’t like that, mostly because I don’t see how I’m doing it, but you keep saying I am.

    Then stop doing it Jason. Stop posting comments in support of really stupid shit like Laden acting as though I’m going to support Romney. Stop feeling like you have to counter or “balance” what I’m pointing out. Nothing changes what he actually said in terms of policy. I’m not wrong. I’m not naive. I don’t need you give me a broader perspective.

    You can be happy about what Obama said all you want without pushing back at me for pointing out that it’s not so fucking rosy. You don’t like that? Good. You shouldn’t. Imagine how much less I like it (ya know, the guy who gets to wait around until straights decide it’s politically OK to let me be a human). Seriously. Try to empathize without qualifying it. Your happy feelings aren’t as important as people’s rights and their legitimate expressions of frustration.

    Privilege-you haz it. In spades.

  18. ladydreamgirl says

    Sabbatage Obama, get Romney in there, and wreck the SCOTUS. You’ll have your way with your short term goals but you’ll be fucking the entire movement and everything else that’s gone before in recent times.

    Hey, when did Josh’s vote stop belonging to Josh here? Doesn’t he have a right to express his problems with what Obama has done without anyone jumping any conclusions about what he will do with his vote?

  19. says

    Seriously, Josh. I like that there is progress being made, I hate that it’s not fast enough, and I hate that this states-rights bullshit exists and fucks up everyone’s Christmas. I hate that people like you, and like my sister have to endure what you endure. I try my damnedest to check my privilege at every turn. I try my damnedest not to tell people they shouldn’t be angry about things, even when I say that I’ve decided not to be myself — to try to be positive about the progress and keep working for more progress without slapping down the people for making some effort as opposed to no or negative effort.

    And I really hate it when every time I do, I’m told I’m a shitty ally for it. I know it’s not about my feelings, but I can’t bring myself to be motivated about it when I’m effectively told to stop every damn time I try. If you want to hate me for my white cis male privilege, go ahead, but I’m not going to stop supporting your cause because I’m not asking for your permission to be happy that there’s forward momentum at all.

    Obama’s administration’s record on LGBT progress. This is good. It’s not perfect, but it’s fucking good.

  20. Josh, All Up In Your Faux-Liberal Librulism says

    Too. Bad. Jason. Welcome to grown-up world. Sometimes those nice minorities you support have a point and your feelings are going to get bruised. I know you’re a good guy but that doesn’t change things. Once more: Your sensitive feelings about being called on some stuff are not more important than the issue. No one’s perfect. I’m not. But I try not to double-down and whine about how mean people are to me when they’re suffering from something that doesn’t affect me and schooling me on my ignorance

  21. Josh, All Up In Your Faux-Liberal Librulism says

    Hey, when did Josh’s vote stop belonging to Josh here? Doesn’t he have a right to express his problems with what Obama has done without anyone jumping any conclusions about what he will do with his vote?

    Silly ladydreamgirl! Don’t you know I have to be Het-splained to to understand how to fight battles I’ve been fighting for 25 years?

  22. says

    WHAT. IGNORANCE.

    What thing have I said that is boorish or lacks any sort of empathy for what you’re going through?

    Forget my feelings. Make me understand how I am not supporting you enough despite fucking agreeing with you.

  23. Gregory in Seattle says

    @Jason #15 – Yes, President Obama made a statement that no other president has been willing to make before. If he had said, “I think same-sex couples should be allowed to get married” and nothing more, I would be ecstatically happy and forgive him of all the neglect he has given to the LGBT community since he started his presidential campaign five years ago. The problem is, he said a lot more.

    He said — repeatedly, and in several different ways — that this was his personal view, not his political one. He reiterated, several times, his oft stated position that something the US Supreme Court described 45 years ago as “one of the basic civil rights of man, fundamental to our very existence and survival” should be left to the states, despite the fact that the description came from a case when the Supreme Court overturned state laws that made the marriage of his own parents a criminal act in 16 states. And he endorsed the idea that these basic civil rights are subject to the whims of state voters and state legislatures the day after a state used that idea to strip away the last vestige of those basic civil rights.

    That puts his statement of support in a very dismal light.

    What has been making me so angry, and what seems to be making Josh so angry, and is making a lot of LGBT activists angry, is the way people whose rights are not being threatened and destroyed are ordering those of use whose rights ARE being threatened and destroyed to be grateful. You do not have that right. Greg Laden does not have that right. Steven Andrew does not have that right.

    If you really want to be allies — and believe me, we could really use some right about now — stop telling us to be happy and make an effort to understand why so many of us are not. PZ Myers’ thread on the subject would be a good place to start. Or, for crying out loud, just ask us.

  24. says

    What the hell is it with you straight people? Do you think we’re fucking stupid? Why do you think you need to lecture us about not supporting Romney? Seriously. Where does that come from?

    It comes from what you said.

    And, you being a general asshole about it.

    bla bla bla

    tl;dr.

  25. Josh, All Up In Your Faux-Liberal Librulism says

    Oh, I don’t know, see your #6 Jason. Ya know, where you felt it necessary to support Laden and “balance” me out by pointing out Romney’s worse than Obama. Can’t imagine why I’d feel like I was being spoken too as if I were addle-brained.

    Or how about the fact that your original post didn’t even acknowledge the states’ rights problem; but it told us not to be “cynical.” And then how about how I pointed this out, and now you’re all fucking hurt and wondering why I feel the way I do.

  26. says

    Or how about the fact that your original post didn’t even acknowledge the states’ rights problem;

    JASON HOW DARE YOU FAIL TO SAY SOMETHING THAT SOMEONE ELSE WAS THINKING IN THEIR OWN BRAIN!!!

    i HATE when bloggers do that!!!

  27. Nathair says

    Yes, President Obama made a statement that no other president has been willing to make before.

    Because he is the first President looking at polls showing that the majority of Americans support marriage equality. Tepidly following where the people are clearly headed doesn’t make you a leader, a hero or a risk taker.

  28. consciousness razor says

    And I really hate it when every time I do, I’m told I’m a shitty ally for it. I know it’s not about my feelings, but I can’t bring myself to be motivated about it when I’m effectively told to stop every damn time I try. If you want to hate me for my white cis male privilege, go ahead, but I’m not going to stop supporting your cause because I’m not asking for your permission to be happy that there’s forward momentum at all.

    You don’t need to stop, but you do need to listen to the people this is affecting. You have to care enough to do that, or you can fuck losing your motivation because that would mean it was worthless to begin with.

  29. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    Josh, after all this blatant privilege and assholey behavior, I just want to give you a big hug and a bowl of hot soup. Not being a straight white dude myself, i shouldn’t be surprised at the douchetastic levels of blind privilege oozing out of the sore, but I am. I honestly thought better of skeptics. I genuinely did not expect . . .. this . . .

    I am so sorry.

  30. Josh, All Up In Your Faux-Liberal Librulism says

    Neither did I Illuminata, and thanks for the sentiment. I can only hope some of them take the time to sit and think on it.

  31. 'Tis Himself says

    I peeked. I knew there was a reason why I’ve had Laden killfiled for years. He was an asshole when trolled his own blog and he hasn’t changed.

  32. 'Tis Himself says

    Jason wrote:

    I like that there is progress being made

    What progress? Obama finally, tentatively agreed with a majority of the country’s citizens. He refuses to actually do anything and he basically endorsed North Carolina’s vote making same-sex marriage illegal. If that’s progress then you’ve not paying attention.

  33. fredericksparks says

    What I am tired of is people like Josh who purport to speak for “all queers”. This particular queer can be frustrated that it took so long but nonetheless still be happy that a sitting president made a favor in support of marriage equality…and I have several friends who fit the same demographic who feel the same way

  34. says

    What progress? Obama finally, tentatively agreed with a majority of the country’s citizens. He refuses to actually do anything and he basically endorsed North Carolina’s vote making same-sex marriage illegal. If that’s progress then you’ve not paying attention.

    Clearly, the only thing to do now is as much as possible to damage the chances of electing the one credible candidate who ever came out in favor of gay marriage, and instead, put in that Romney guy.

    That will certainly teach any future politic ans a lesson.

  35. Josh, All Up In Your Faux-Liberal Librulism says

    Oh frederick, honestly. I don’t purport to speak for all queers and even if I did it would be ridiculous. You’re clearly capable of speaking for yourself- you just did. I don’t know why my view upsets you so much but it clearly does since this is the second comment on two blogs where you complain about me “speaking for” you. It’s silly.

  36. RahXephon, An Assorted Motley Queer says

    JASON HOW DARE YOU FAIL TO SAY SOMETHING THAT SOMEONE ELSE WAS THINKING IN THEIR OWN BRAIN OBAMA HIMSELF SAID SEVERAL TIMES RIGHT AFTER THIS THAT NEGATED HIS ORIGINAL STATEMENT OF FLACCID SUPPORT!!!

    FTFY, Laden. Josh didn’t make the states’ rights thing up, Obama did. Obama said “I personally support gay marriage, but I’m gonna leave it up to the states to decide to take your rights away, like North Carolina just did.” And for some reason, his supporters are trumpeting the first part and completely ignoring the second part.

    And I really hate it when every time I do, I’m told I’m a shitty ally for it. I know it’s not about my feelings, but I can’t bring myself to be motivated about it when I’m effectively told to stop every damn time I try. If you want to hate me for my white cis male privilege, go ahead, but I’m not going to stop supporting your cause because I’m not asking for your permission to be happy that there’s forward momentum at all.

    Jason, you can’t say it’s not about your feelings and then say your support is conditional on how things make you feel! Do you see the contradiction?

    Also, you seem to be missing Josh’s point that everyone can be happy Obama threw us this very tiny bone, but to LGBTQ people, combined with what Obama said afterwards, this was not a show of support. Obama made it crystal clear that he doesn’t intend to do anything about this politically, it just makes him feel better at night thinking that gay couples should be able to marry, I guess. Good for him, now he just needs to get the hell out of the way.

  37. says

    Jason, you can’t say it’s not about your feelings and then say your support is conditional on how things make you feel!

    Then it’s certainly a good thing I didn’t! In fact, I said I wasn’t asking anyone’s permission before I’d support them.

  38. Desert Son, OM says

    Clearly, the only thing to do now is as much as possible to damage the chances of electing the one credible candidate who ever came out in favor of gay marriage, and instead, put in that Romney guy.

    Except criticizing Obama for what he did does not automatically hand the election to Romney.

    I’m not sure why this keeps popping up.

    Criticizing Obama – including clearly stating why what Obama said does not demonstrate support for equality as Gregory in Seattle, Josh, and others have more than ably done – does not automatically hand the election to Romney.

    That’s the same fallacy as saying: I can’t explain the tides, therefore god exists! I criticize Obama, therefore the only option is Romney!

    No. If you can’t explain the tides, then you can’t explain the tides, that’s it. If you criticize Obama, you criticize Obama (and in this case, raise awareness of why the statement is not supportive), and that criticism then opens up ground for improvement (whether that improvement occurs remains to be seen).

    Criticizing Obama does not automatically hand the election to Romney.

    Still learning,

    Robert

  39. RahXephon, An Assorted Motley Queer says

    Clearly, the only thing to do now is as much as possible to damage the chances of electing the one credible candidate who ever came out in favor of gay marriage, and instead, put in that Romney guy.

    Yes, because criticizing someone who claims to be an ally for not acting like one is equivalent to voting for the opposition. Your false dichotomy gave me whiplash, Laden.

  40. Rabidtreeweasel says

    I might be set on fire for this but my partner and I opened a bottle of scotch last night to drink a toast to the first sitting president who said our love is not somehow worth less than that of our privileged neighbors.

  41. karmakin says

    Well, the reality is that there’s very little that Obama can do politically. He doesn’t control Congress, and generally what’s been done at the Executive level has already been done.

    However, the argument is about what Obama can do CULTURALLY. And yes, Obama talking about state’s decisions is very unhelpful. He could have made it crystal clear that opposing gay marriage is ethically wrong, and started a full court cultural press, so to speak to try and change things.

    In terms of what Obama actually said, I do think that in terms of cultural progress, what he said itself does more harm than good, making a cultural issue even more political, and making it that much harder to change hearts and minds.

    That said, what Josh is saying is by and large correct. Obama used some real dog-whistle language in talking about leaving it up to the states. I don’t think he meant to use this, to be honest, but this doesn’t change the fact that he did. If he used anti-feminist dog-whistle language, even unwittingly, you guys would be all over his ass, and rightfully so. That’s the double standard that’s going on here.

    That said Josh, I have to say in the end that I think this turned out better than expected, as the focus seems to be not on Obama interfering and preventing states from banning gay marriage, but it’s about Obama interfering and trying to prevent conservatives from rolling back the very real progress towards equality. It’s a much better frame than I expected, and either Obama is REALLY good at 4d political chess, or he got really lucky, or that the movement has made enough progress to where we can fight the battle where we want to fight it, and not always be defending.

  42. iknklast says

    Josh – somehow much of this thread has begun to sound much like when women have an opinion on something that affects women but doesn’t fit with the dominant view. I’ve been ‘splained to so much, I can certainly understand how you feel. And much of this sounds the same way as when men (read: privelege) is explaining to women that they know what’s best, and we don’t quite get it.

    It’s easy not to see how condescending something is when you’re not in the group being condescended to, especially when you’ve never experienced the same things, but have managed to smugly assume you are, in fact, supporting the rights of those to whom you just gave instructions on how they should feel.

    And I, too, am sick of this “Oh, you criticized Obama! You’re going to cause Romney to get elected, and he’s lots worse!”. If my criticism of Obama could cause him to lose the election ,then he’s a weak candidate indeed.

  43. julian says

    I’m sick of these arguments. I got similar flack from people like Greg Laden (not Greg Laden himself) when DADT got repelled for pointing out the families of lesbian and gay service members were still going to be denied the rights enjoyed by their het counterparts.

    Fuck it. No point in telling people what they don’t want to hear, right?

  44. Desert Son, OM says

    Rabidtreeweasal,

    I might be set on fire for this

    It appears that what gets people “set on fire” is criticizing Obama’s phrasing, outlining the ways in which Obama’s statement reinforces state-level hegemony, expressing the desire to be respected as a legitimate voice deeply invested in issues of human rights and not contingent upon passing a cheerleading test, and insufficiently lauding Obama for a move that remains suspect in the socio-political arena.

    I do hope that life gets exponentially better for you and your partner in days, weeks, months, years, and socio-cultural spaces to come, and I hope that the taste of whisky marks a moment of authentic, powerful, loving, and positive long-term memory.

    In light of equivocation about state-level influence, I just don’t see that what Obama did is tantamount to victory for equality, either small or large. I hope I’m wrong about that, but Josh and Gregory in Seattle and RahXephon and many others have clearly stated the problem. North Carolina’s state legislature just got told that how it voted on Amendment 1 the other day is o.k. by the President.

    Texas. Oklahoma. Arkansas. Alabama. South Carolina. Kansas. Kentucky. Arizona. Indiana. Virginia. Georgia. Missouri. I wish those were places likely to vote for marriage equality, but now those places can fall back behind the rhetoric of “The President said this issue is for states to decide” if they do vote against equality. Even if Obama does not have the actual political power to make the states change their law, he could have shone an Executive-Level spotlight on the cockroaches of bigotry entrenched in state legislatures. Instead, he lit a candle to illuminate his personal opinion, and gave leave for the cockroaches to reinforce the power they already have.

    Still learning,

    Robert

  45. julian says

    Stop it this instant, Desert Son. Don’t you realize by pointing out possible failures or problematic patches in Pres. Obama’s term you are handing the election to Mitt Romney? You anti-liberal, you! You’re going to cost us all of our gains by pointing out the reality and complexity of the issue.

  46. timberwoof says

    I look at the situation a bit differently from how Josh sees it. I’ve watched as slowly, one step at a time, not entirely steadily, gay people have achieved more and more acceptance socially and legally. When I was just coming out, I could have been deported for being gay … when that restriction was quietly removed, I felt some relief. The next battle on immigration for gay people was entwined with gay marriage. It would have been nice for those rights all to be granted at once, but it was simply not to be: gay marriage was decades out of reach. Politicians had accomplished that small step; it would not have been appropriate to denounce them as condescending secret anti-gay bigots for not having done everything.

    Denver voters approved a citywide human rights ordinance that included sexual orientation; Colorado Springs bigots proposed and got approved a state constitutional amendment to take that away again. That wound its way through the courts and ended up at the US Supreme Court as Evans v. Romer where it would eventually be the foundation for repealing anti-sodomy laws. Scream and holler because we didn’t win the whole package? No, these things come in steps. (And in 1992 Governor Roy Romer made a speech before Denver’s gay community in which he told his own story of coming to accept gay people. Should we have denounced him for his earlier homophobia and his belated acceptance? No … he was an ally in the fight against Amendment 2.)

    Socially, I have watched as the general cultural milieu has become more and more accepting of gay people. We had a whole decade of fabulous, self-consciously gay TV shows, and now we’ve faded into normalcy. Gay actors and musicians are coming out and not getting shit-canned; gay characters in comic strips are getting married. Thirteen years ago on a BBS about hockey goalies I caused a shit-storm of controversy when I came out as gay; now nobody really gives a flying fuck. It has gotten better!

    Yes, there are homophobic bigots who are turning up the rhetoric. They are squealing louder and louder as we make more real progress. I celebrate the gains we’ve made and look forward to more in the future. I will not sulk and pout over not having it all right now thirty years ago.

    The US is in a precarious political position. My older German relatives, who lived through the Nazi shit, are concerned … worried about where the US is heading. The nasty political shit that’s going round affects everybody. I see very clearly that straight white guys who twenty or thirty years ago would not have noticed or cared, are aware and do care and do what they can to help hold it back. Despite the fascist movement, there is a vast improvement over what I saw when I was a teenager.

    I don’t know what other people think. I can try to make educated guesses based on what they say and do, but I can never know the whole story. I will not try to tell others what they are thinking or chastise them for not thinking exactly as I do or for not being as radical as I am. It does seem that people change their minds slowly, and that steady pressure in the form of calm, rational explanation helps. Based on experience, I think that biting people for not being quite fast enough with the program just pisses them off.

    No, Josh, I’m not telling you what to do or think—that would be very dangerous. You’re a third rail—but go on making your points! I think I see where you’re coming from. It would be nice for Obama and the rest of the Democrats to grow a fucking spine and a pair and become seriously Liberal … but it’s not happening this week. We have to keep pushing. I choose to welcome the help from nongay people, even if their rhetoric isn’t politically correct.

  47. julian says

    We have to keep pushing. I choose to welcome the help from nongay people, even if their rhetoric isn’t politically correct.

    And when they reaffirm the right of anti-gays to discriminate and legislate the discrimination.

  48. Leo says

    @44 Robert — The problem is criticizing Obama can have consequences; particularly, it may cause a person to be pessimistic about voting and thus they won’t vote! No, that won’t cause the election to automatically go to Romney, but it could make things closer than they need to be.

    It’s a horrible Catch-22. Presidents deserve to be criticized for their failings, but it has the potential to hurt voter enthusiasm. Or do you disagree with this conclusion on enthusiasm?

  49. says

    Unfuckingbelievable, the display of straight privilege in this thread. And I say that as a straight woman.

    I’m honestly asking you to stop and think about why people might like parts of it.

    Congrats, Jason, that might be THE most patronizing thing I have seen a straight person say to an GLBT person in this entire discussion across FTB.

    Laden, you’re a lot of things. An ally isn’t one of them.

    Leo, I really doubt that a shouting match on a few blogs is going to dampen voter enthusiasm to the point at which an election is lost.

  50. Gregory in Seattle says

    @Desert Son #44 – My guess is that it keeps coming up because Democratic parisans realize their candidates cannot stand on their own merits.

    Why were we supposed to vote for Gore in 2000? Because he wasn’t Bush. Why were we supposed to vote for Kerry in 2004? Because he wasn’t Bush. Why were we supposed to vote for Obama in 2008? Because he wasn’t McCain. Why must we vote for Obama in 2012? Because he isn’t Romney. Always the frantic screeching that “The Republican is worse!” and never an explanation as to why the Democrat is better.

    And that is why criticizing Obama for what he does automatically hands the election to Romney: they cannot allow a review of Obama’s actual record.

  51. says

    Gregory: because I never posted a link @22 or anything.

    Daisy Cutter: as though that was said in isolation, rather than as a direct response to Josh’s angry “no, it’s not okay, it’s HORRIBLE” comment @1. Right. Fuck off.

  52. Rabidtreeweasel says

    Desert: I don’t need ‘splaining. I get it. The thing you quoted me on, I said. All the rest of it? Other people’s words. That they were somehow inferred in that short blurb of a comment is disingenuous.

    See above about being set on fire.

  53. Desert Son, OM says

    Rabidtreeweasal,

    Thanks for your comment. Referencing your post as if you had said something you did not say was not the right thing to do. That error is mine and I apologize.

    Still learning,

    Robert

  54. G.Shelley says

    Pathetic. Obama finally comes out and says he supports gay marriage, and when people say this is a good thing, they have to deal with whiny tantrums from people who are upset he didn’t go far enough.

  55. Dalillama says

    Jason, Greg, G. Shelley too. Are you people listening at all? “States Rights” is a blatant conservative dogwhistle, and when he said it directly after amendment one, he expressed his direct support for open bigotry. Josh, Gregory, Desert Son, Daisy and others have explained here at length what the problem is, and all you can do is try to condescend to us and accuse us of supporting the enemy. You know what? When you do that shit, you become the enemy. There are two sides here. There is wholehearted support for equality, with no compromise, and there are various flavors of bigotry. There is no middle ground. To be perfectly honest, I expected better of you, Jason. Greg, this is par for the course, and you both make me sick right now. G. Shelley, you have no excuse, you had ample opportunity to read and understand, and you have done nothing here but show your bigotry to us all.

  56. says

    No, never mind, you folks are on a roll, don’t bother with pointing me to someplace where I actually did the things you said I did. Perhaps you should just continue to demonize me as being some sort of centrist pragmatist who is totally happy with what Obama said and thinks you gay folk should just suck it up and accept it because it’s the best you’ll ever get, ever. I mean, you’re getting really good at imagining things about me. Don’t let me spoil it for you!

  57. RahXephon, An Assorted Motley Queer says

    @Jason

    I think the disagreement over the fact that you seem to be overemphasizing Obama’s “personal evolution” and minimizing the fact that his statement afterwards, that he still thinks it’s a “states’ rights” issue and that he’s not going to do shit to help us. That fundamentally negates the first part of his statement; I don’t give a shit what his personal opinion is about gay marriage since he strongly reaffirms that his actual policy position hasn’t changed at all.

    So, we get annoyed that we’re told we need to see good parts about this announcement when there are no good parts.

  58. Dalillama says

    Jason, what you don’t seem to understand is that that completely negates his mealymouthed blither about his “personal feelings.” Why on earth do I care about his personal bloody feelings? What is he actually doing?!? What he is doing is pissing on my head and telling me it’s raining. He signed the DADT repeal when it crossed his desk, but he never advocated for it, he never used his authority as CinC to stop-loss the servicemembers who were drummed out before Congress got off their asses. He didn’t overrule Sibelius, I should thank him for that? What has he done on his authority, through his moral leadership on this issue? Who the hell are you to tell me that I should be happy that he personally disagrees with the law that says I have no right to visit my husband in the hospital? Is he calling on Congress to expand the Civil Rights act? Is he telling the country that my rights matter to him? Is he even acknowledging that I have any rights at all? NO! He’s saying that he doesn’t object, personally, to my having rights. That makes him a damned bigot, and I am not going to thank him for stating his bigotry loud and clear for the country to appreciate. I’d rather he kept his mouth shut entirely that tell me outright that in his eyes I’m subhuman. That’s why Josh and Gregory and the rest of us are so angry, and why it hurts so much when people who call themselves our friends and allies castigate us for not loving the hand that slaps us down.

  59. says

    His record is at the link I posted @22.

    Realistically, even if he hadn’t said anything about states rights, what kind of policy difference do you figure it could have made? Understanding that the President has a bully pulpit, and that’s about it?

  60. says

    Additionally, I’ve said a number of times, I do not think you should be *happy*. I have said that *I* am going to be *not cynical* about it. That’s it. I’ve even expressly told Josh that his reactions are perfectly valid. I’ve agreed with most everything everyone’s said about this being insufficient, in fact.

    I just dedicated my post to being optimistic about the future because you presently have a president who did something completely unprecedented in endorsing gay marriage. He’s the first. And while he didn’t go all-out and say “let’s make it legal nation-wide like Canada did back in 2005″, he certainly is more supportive than anyone you’ve ever had.

    But hey, if you want to call me somehow a bad ally for thinking this is progress over “Batshit Anti-Gay Raving Loon From Party A” followed immediately by “Batshit Anti-Gay Raving Loon From Party B”, you feel free. I’m basically done with this conversation at this point, because nobody’s fucking well engaging with me on my actual feelings on the issue, but rather projecting onto me whatever rage they feel at Obama for not being 100% pure by their tests.

  61. RahXephon, An Assorted Motley Queer says

    I’d rather he kept his mouth shut entirely that tell me outright that in his eyes I’m subhuman.

    Exactly. If “it makes no difference to me if your rights are violated or not” is literally the best Obama can do, he is not an ally; he’s an impediment to equality, and he’s keeping the seat of power occupied so someone else who would do something can’t take over. Most likely we’ll be stuck with his blithe disinterest in moral governance for another four years, and then probably a Republican after that.

    What that tells me is that if I want any kind of life as a gay human being, I need to get the hell out of here. Is that seriously the message that you think is so great, Jason?

  62. Dalillama says

    Jason, I’m afraid I don’t care even a little bit about your straight, Canadian feelings on the issue. Your feelings are not important in this context, because your rights aren’t the ones that just got sold to bigots. Those of us who are forced to rely on Democrats like Obama to get ourselves treated like human beings are quite validly pissed off about this, and people who genuinely care about us are too. This is literally the same position as Dick Cheney. That is not progress. That is, for us, the equivalent of a Republican in office. That is our problem. People who are cheerleading this are putting themselves on the side that says our rights aren’t important, that bigots like those in 32 states so far can do what they like to us, without opposition. In light of that, I don’t care if your feelings are hurt when we point out the truth.

  63. says

    I would ask you a third time to point to something that suggests I disagree with anything you just said, but you don’t care about my feelings in the matter, so I suspect you would go on pretending like I disagreed with any of that.

  64. RahXephon, An Assorted Motley Queer says

    You want me to engage with what you actually say? Alright, let’s dance.

    I’ve said a number of times, I do not think you should be *happy*. I have said that *I* am going to be *not cynical* about it.

    Your statement here indirectly characterizes our position as a “cynical interpretation” of Obama’s address. It’s not. It’s based on his actual wording in which he says repeatedly that it was a personal opinion of his and that he’s not going to do anything to challenge the states, all said in the context of yet another gay marriage ban passing.

    His personal opinion makes no difference. Someone posted accounts in relation to this showing that Bush II, Clinton, and even Reagan didn’t have any personal issue with LGBT people, they just thought it was politically expedient to throw them under a long line of buses. Obama is doing the same, he dangles equality in front of us and then yanks it back going “HA HA! STATES’ RIGHTS!” That’s freaking annoying.

    And finally, the way you “choose to interpret it” is an example of your straight privilege; what Obama really meant doesn’t have to really matter to you because the issue itself doesn’t directly affect you. You can still get married or stay married if you already are and there is no serious challenge to that anywhere.

    I’ve even expressly told Josh that his reactions are perfectly valid.

    Actually, you said

    Both reactions are equally valid, Josh.

    Your reaction as a straight person is not equally valid to mine as a gay person because you’re not gay. You can be sympathetic but you don’t experience what I experience, and thus your “interpretation” is not based on the same level of experiential knowledge mine is. Your interpretation is, I believe, at least in part, “less cynical” because you haven’t grown up as a gay person and listened to politician after politician whip out these dog whistles and prevaricate about your rights as a human being.

    Now, there may be gay people who don’t share my interpretation. I acknowledge that and so does Josh and others, I’m sure. However, I’m more likely to listen to them because they actually know what they’re talking about.

    I just dedicated my post to being optimistic about the future because you presently have a president who did something completely unprecedented in endorsing gay marriage.

    Again, you’re being clueless as a result of your straight privilege. He is not the first politician to announce personal support for gay marriage; hell, he’s probably one of the last that was “on the fence” (I’m naturally excluding most or all of the GOP). Also, he didn’t “endorse” it. He didn’t claim to support it at all other than privately, i.e. in his freaking head. That is useless and does not constitute endorsement or support of any kind. I’ll change my tune when he does something material on the issue.

    And while he didn’t go all-out and say “let’s make it legal nation-wide like Canada did back in 2005″, he certainly is more supportive than anyone you’ve ever had.

    He’s said he’d leave it up to the states, a position that makes him exactly as supportive as Dick Cheney, George Bush Jr., and several other Republicans. Again, not supportive, and definitely not unprecedented.

    projecting onto me whatever rage they feel at Obama for not being 100% pure by their tests.

    This isn’t a direct response so much as some advice: if you don’t wanna sound like a crappy ally, then try not to tell us our reactions to events affecting our own lives are just anger about some politician’s lack of ideological purity. If that’s what you think it’s about, you’re not reading what we’re saying.

  65. says

    Your statement here indirectly characterizes our position as a “cynical interpretation” of Obama’s address. It’s not.

    If you think my lack of cynicism over the timing of his announcement reflects on anything but a lack of understanding about the states rights thing, or a lack of realization prior to when it was pointed out and I agreed wholeheartedly, then evidently I was grossly unclear in my original post, or someone else (e.g. Comment Number One) gave you the impression that I supported something I don’t.

    Again, you’re being clueless as a result of your straight privilege. He is not the first politician to announce personal support for gay marriage; hell, he’s probably one of the last that was “on the fence”

    Which other president said anything remotely close to supportive of gay marriage? And how does my straight privilege play into my knowledge of past presidents’ support for human rights?

    He’s said he’d leave it up to the states, a position that makes him exactly as supportive as Dick Cheney, George Bush Jr., and several other Republicans.

    And I said he’s wrong about it being a states rights issue. It doesn’t have to be done that way. But realistically, there is no political power the President has in this instance other than to state, full-throatedly, that North Carolina’s Amendment 1 was a raw deal and unconstitutional, which while he didn’t do, still would have done fuck all to repeal it.

    if you don’t wanna sound like a crappy ally, then try not to tell us our reactions to events affecting our own lives are just anger about some politician’s lack of ideological purity.

    Except I’m not. I’m telling you that your reaction to my thinking some progress is better than no progress is a way of trying to alienate me from the fight, even after I’ve told you and others that it won’t work, and I’ll fight for gay rights whether you want me to or not.

  66. Josh, All Up In Your Faux-Liberal Librulism says

    I’m telling you that your reaction to my thinking some progress is better than no progress is a way of trying to alienate me from the fight, even after I’ve told you and others that it won’t work, and I’ll fight for gay rights whether you want me to or not.

    Oh, don’t throw me in that Briar Patch! Stuff it up your ass Jason. You’re not our White Knight.

    Hate on me all you want. I don’t even care any more.

    Big fucking privileged baby. You’re not half the ally you think you are. Disappointing, but good to know.

  67. RahXephon, An Assorted Motley Queer says

    I’m telling you that your reaction to my thinking some progress is better than no progress is a way of trying to alienate me from the fight, even after I’ve told you and others that it won’t work, and I’ll fight for gay rights whether you want me to or not.

    And I’m telling you that this is not progress, and you’re insisting you know better than I do what is and what is not progress on gay rights. That’s straight privilege. If you still don’t get it, I don’t know what else I can say.

  68. says

    Obama’s statement is progress, even if it’s loaded with standard political incrementalism. The next step is to avoid regression by defeating the bigots currently having apoplectic fits over the president’s mild statement.

    And, in case anyone cares, I voted for Gore because I wanted him to be president. Not because he was not George W. Bush (although in hindsight not being George W. turned out to be a massively important factor that we didn’t appreciate enough at the time).

  69. RahXephon, An Assorted Motley Queer says

    Obama’s statement is progress, even if it’s loaded with standard political incrementalism.

    Obama said he personally supports gay marriage while stating unequivocally that he won’t be doing ANYTHING ABOUT MAKING IT LEGAL. His position is basically no different from all the presidents before him. That. Is not. Progress. His position today is exactly the same as it was yesterday. Why are people not getting this?

  70. J. Goard says

    I’m one straight guy who totally agrees with you, Josh. I don’t really care whether anybody thinks of me as an “ally” — I just have a low tolerance for bullshit, like I guess you do too.

    Standing outside the fire, so to speak, you know I can’t feel anything like the emotional impact you do. My only point of personal reference comes from being in an interracial and intercultural relationship, living in a place where I feel enough bigotry to remind me how recently we would have faced similar bullshit even in North America or Europe. Barack Obama being the product of such a union, I can’t fathom how he sleeps at night while evading the obvious parallel.

    Even aside from that, I can reason ethically — and I conclude that you are obviously in the right. This is a crystal-clear human rights issue, it’s easily the most obvious political choice we face at the moment (far more obvious than what to do about health care, say, and even more obvious than the importance of climate change), and so speech which wavers on this issue is utterly obscene.

    You and I probably disagree about a hell of a lot of stuff, and I’m not sure you’d like me overall — but nothing could possibly bring me to disparage your screaming about this. Hell, I don’t even know you manage to do more than scream “FUCK” and punch the wall.

    I’m sorry for what you’re going through.

  71. wrathfuljade says

    This is probably a stupid question but if one state legalises gay marriage then would other states be obliged to respect any resulting union? or would it be like how western countries don’t recognise polygamous marriages even though they may have been legal in the country in why they were conducted?

  72. RahXephon, An Assorted Motley Queer says

    @Setar

    I already tried that, Setar, so you might wanna save yourself the inevitable ulcer. Jason is in defensive mode; I doubt he’s even reading this thread. He claims to support gay rights, but when challenged by actual gay people his response was to tell us we’re wrong, then claim he never told us we were wrong, and then start in about how we’re just projecting and we’re hating on him and he tuned us out. “Allies” don’t fucking do that.

  73. says

    Always the frantic screeching that “The Republican is worse!” and never an explanation as to why the Democrat is better.

    And one wonders how they don’t fucking learn from the Republicans, who are doing both the ‘rally against the opponent’ and ‘hold our own to our stated principles’. Fuck, the US has a far greater ability to do that than any other country I know of because party candidates are themselves elected through primaries and party affiliation is a matter of voter registration (if you’re in a state with closed primaries, and the Dems are known to embrace open primaries).

    This is what the Obama apologists either don’t get or are conditioned by the noise machine to ignore: we can stay firm in our opposition to the definitely-worse Republicans while still putting pressure on the Dems to actually be leftist. I think this might be an extension of the trope where the Dems are (conveniently) always the ones that have to “reach across the aisle”; apparently, a lot of Dem voters are just scared independents who will run right to the Republicans as the ‘default’ party if the Dems don’t look good. “Reagan Democrats” don’t exist, and of course Republicans never ever have to worry about anything like this happening no matter how crazy they get.

    Someone needs to ask all these Beltway hacks when the Republicans became the “default” party and the Dems effectively usurpers who win by getting votes from the Republicans. Or just get them to look at an overlay of electoral maps since 1994 and ask them how the fuck the Dems have to attract voters when they’re the ones with a massive head start in terms of “sure” states.

  74. Stacy says

    @wrathfuljade

    if one state legalises gay marriage then would other states be obliged to respect any resulting union?

    According to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), other states are not obliged to recognize gay marriages contracted in states that allow them.

    Furthermore, under Section 3 of DOMA, the federal government cannot recognize same-sex marriage. However, the Administration has announced it thinks Section 3 is unconstitutional. They’re not going to enforce it.

  75. ischemgeek says

    Speaking as a bi woman… I see this as sort of the political equivalent of some A-list celeb saying, “gay people should get married!”

    My reaction is, “Okay, and?”

    I will be cynical about this because Obama isn’t doing anything, nor is he taking a particularly big risk just by speaking out. The Republicans hate him anyway, while the majority of swing voters and his supporters are in support of gay marriage, and many of those that aren’t don’t care enough to make it an election issue.

    In other words, this isn’t a victory, it’s just the American president trying to score some cheap pre-election points after having his hand pushed. It feels kind of exploitative and cheap.

    Now, if he were to put his own neck out enough to introduce a Federal law mandating same-sex marriage (though I admit I’m unsure whether the American feds have such power as I’m not an American), then I’d count it as a significant victory. If he were to announce a program in support of GBLTQ people, I’d count it as a victory. If this is the start of a campaign where he entreats the state governors to allow same-sex marriage, I’ll revise my opinion and count it as a rather bumbling beginning to a victory.

    This? Is not a victory. This is like a politician saying, “Well, yes, I agree in principle that gender and racial inequality in pay for equal work is a bad thing, but employers have rights and many factors play into payment decisions and I don’t want to impede on those rights.”

    I don’t see it as a victory.

  76. David Marjanović says

    I’m with comment 86.

    I just dedicated my post to being optimistic about the future because you presently have a president who did something completely unprecedented in endorsing gay marriage. He’s the first. And while he didn’t go all-out and say “let’s make it legal nation-wide like Canada did back in 2005″, he certainly is more supportive than anyone you’ve ever had.

    It’s true: Obama’s lip service is greater support than any of his predecessors or opponents have ever given.

    And that is horrible. I’m not surprised people think Obama – deliberately or not – just made fun of them live on national television.

    …And then, in comment 27, Greg Laden comes and uses this emotion as an excuse for not even reading what people write. Tone troll.

    ===============

    Off-topic: sabotage has nothing to do with the s(h)abbat; the word comes from throwing a sabot, a French wooden shoe, into a machine to wreck it.

  77. Nathair says

    I see this as sort of the political equivalent of some A-list celeb saying, “gay people should get married!”

    It’s not even “the political equivalent”, Obama was explicitly speaking as a celebrity, not as President. He was not announcing a change in policy or political intention, he was just doing charm-and-sincerity in the hope that people would say “Oh he’s so brave and generous to support all the little queers like that!”

    And so they did.

  78. says

    Jason is in defensive mode; I doubt he’s even reading this thread.

    You’re right. I wasn’t. Because I was asleep. What a horrible ally!

    He claims to support gay rights, but when challenged by actual gay people his response was to tell us we’re wrong, then claim he never told us we were wrong, and then start in about how we’re just projecting and we’re hating on him and he tuned us out. “Allies” don’t fucking do that.

    The gay people who are happy about Obama’s announcement don’t exist. And where I agreed with you about the states rights issue being bullshit, that doesn’t exist either. Gotcha.

  79. says

    It’s not even “the political equivalent”, Obama was explicitly speaking as a celebrity, not as President.

    I agree that he has put precious little weight behind his words yet. His administration’s record on LGBT reform is pretty good though. I’ll link it again, since I’m tired of pointing to @22: it’s right here. Perhaps you’ll click it now and stop saying the Democratic supporters only care that he’s better than the opponent, since we’re showing his actual track record.

    Certainly better than the alternative, who will get into office if the electorate is sufficiently demotivated to vote for Obama. Sorry if you dislike this fact, but to stop the anti-gay bully from getting into office, you have to work to get Obama reelected. Not just “not vote for Romney”, like some people seem to think they’re being condescendingly told to do.

  80. Anri says

    Poor President Obama.

    He’d love to help out the poor, downtrodden blacks gays, but he just can’t.

    Why is anyone arguing that the current administration has an excellent record for using government to assist civil rights for GBLT people while simulaneously arguing that we can’t expect the present administration to use the government to assist civil rights for GBLT people?

    Either the administration is helpless – in which case their previous record is bullshit – or it isn’t – in which case their current punting to the states is bullshit.

  81. says

    I have mostly just tried to read and see if I could learn in this whole debate. I have tried to be a good ally by listening to dissent against my opinion. I have the luxury of not responding till I am more comfortable because this isn’t my blog. That being said I am going to respond now.

    I am bi. I currently am in a polyamorous relationship where I enjoy the privileges of a heterosexual marriage. I will probably never hope to marry my same sex love while still being married to my opposite sex love. That is my full disclosure so you can determine what aspects of privilege I speak from.

    When I said in comment two I think that Obama’s actions speak more than his words, I was referring in part to all that he has done to advance gay rights without speaking on them. I was also referring on part to this article: http://www.metroweekly.com/poliglot/2012/05/news-analysis-obamas-marriage-equality-support-is.html forgive the fact theater I didn’t embed the link in text as I am not comfortable enough with html to try and do it on my phone.

    With those to pieces in mind, I personally remain hopeful and optimistic that Obama will not treat this like a state issue no matter what his words say. I learned a long time ago that one people tend to pay attention to what politicians/celebrities say rather than what they do and two they really should be paying attention to what they do. Yes, you are right, Obama saying that it is a states rights issue was giving deference to the states that have banned it. Yes you are right that it throws gays under the bus for immediate gain. Yes your cynicism is not wrong to feel. I just remain hopeful that the pandering to the states rights crowd was no more than empty words. I remain hopeful that Obama knows how to win a game when he faces some of the unfairest competition ever and that when he wins that game he will do the right thing.
    That doesn’t mean I don’t want those who are cynical to shut up. Obama needs to be told over and over again that this is more than about him telling us he is personally ok with our marriages. Obama needs to be reminded that this is a fundamental rights issue not just once or twice but repeatedly. I still remain hopeful that he feels that way. It may be naive of me to feel that way. We will see.

    That being said, I want to say to Jason after reading the initial post a few times to be sure, I get why the reaction happened. While you never expressly say that the cynicism others feel is invalid the implication is there. The implied stance appears to say I was wrong so therefore you are too. I believe you didn’t mean to imply and that you were just trying to vocalize a personal change from cynicism to optimism but I kind of get why people are angry.

    I say these things to clarify my understanding based on trying my damnedest to listen past my privilege. I believe based on in the past that Jason is not in anyway trying to condescend or silence voices but rather trying to show why he is optimistic. I may be wrong. I expect others to tell me if I am.

  82. says

    WilloNyx: you are absolutely not wrong that my intent was only to describe my move from initial cynicism over the timing and political calculus, to optimism about it.

    Of course, intent is not magical, and I would have thought that clarifying @2 that I was not saying anyone else’s reactions are wrong would have been the end of it, but evidently not. Apparently my saying that both sets of reactions are “equally valid” is not enough to the crowd who thinks that there’s absolutely nothing to be optimistic about and that I’m just being Privilegey McAsshole for falling for Obama’s honeyed words.

  83. says

    And let’s be absolutely clear — I want voices to hold Obama’s feet to the fire for the states rights bullshit. I want the overton window to be dragged as far to the left as humanly possible. You deserve a better champion than the center-right Obama, whose pragmatism and timidity often forestalls real, and brave, political change. The fact that I see his timid statement as a glimmer of potential bravery despite the sop to the right with the states rights bullshit, so hot on the heels of the sting of NC’s Amendment 1, shouldn’t be seen as a demand that others stop trying to make things better than they are.

    Saying “this is good” is not the same as saying “it’s perfect and the best anyone can ever hope to achieve”.

  84. Anri says

    Saying “this is good” is not the same as saying “it’s perfect and the best anyone can ever hope to achieve”.

    And, speaking just for myself, I get that.

    I think a lot of the division comes from varying opinions as to if this actually is good (ignoring optimal altogether).

    I’m of the opinion that it isn’t.

    I don’t think that the statement about being personally in support of basic civil rights in any way makes up for the statement that the states have the power to remove those rights at will. Especially on the heels of a state doing exactly that.

    Let me put it to you this way – if you were opposed to equal marriage rights for GBLT people, but didn’t want to publicly say so for political reasons, wouldn’t this be exactly the kind of statement you’d make?
    Let me swiftly say that I don’t think President Obama opposes these rights – just the opposite. But it’s very difficult to be in any way happy about a statement that could equally well be attributed to a savvy enemy as an ally.

    He’s saying, in effect, that the federal government is not in the business of enforcing minority rights. That’s not moral, it’s not accurate, and it’s not anything I’m going to be happy about, even if there was a pleasing homily before.

  85. Pteryxx says

    Jason: Why do you look at both parts of Obama’s statement, personal support + states rights, and assume that the personal support half is genuine and influential but the states’ rights half is bullshit and merely a sop to the right? It’s just as valid to see it the other way around. Obama’s already got a long history of making happy-sounding public statements contradicted or ignored by his administration’s actions.

    Try another analogy, one of the most familiar in domestic abuse. Some guy publicly proclaims how much he cares about this woman, but she doesn’t seem happy about it – in fact she seems disturbed and upset. Can you see why it’s a bad move to say she should be happy because the guy seems sincere, or just smile and accept whatever gifts he offers rather than embarrass him in front of everyone?

    Obama’s been stringing along Democrats, women, consumers and other groups for years. Those who are actually the subject of his latest message have every reason, as well as every right, to be upset. It’s obvious how he’s treated his constituents so far.

    (And no, I’m not claiming to speak for how ALL gay folks should react. I just hope the ones cheering Obama’s words now keep enough cynicism, or self-respect, to hold him to account for them.)

  86. says

    But it’s very difficult to be in any way happy about a statement that could equally well be attributed to a savvy enemy as an ally.

    I couldn’t agree more. Those parts of the statement that could be attributed to a savvy enemy are the things about states rights, and they’re, I’ll say again, wrong-headed bullshit.

    But those parts of the statement about his personal support, I seriously doubt any savvy enemy could say them.

  87. says

    Why do you look at both parts of Obama’s statement, personal support + states rights, and assume that the personal support half is genuine and influential but the states’ rights half is bullshit and merely a sop to the right?

    I’d say it’s because the personal support is expressly an improvement on his previous opinion. He’s always been extremely unwilling to override states rights, and that’s always been very irritating when so many states are intent on making your rights subject to the whims of the religious majority. So I get your anger. I think he threw in the states rights thing just to try to walk that “I’m a centrist, no really!” line. And yes, that states rights bullshit definitely needs to change.

    It’s just as valid to see it the other way around

    In fact, I said both reactions are valid way back @4, so I’m not sure what you’re getting at.

  88. Pteryxx says

    Jason: what I’m getting at is that this:

    I’d say it’s because the personal support is expressly an improvement on his previous opinion.

    is only a valid argument IF you’re predisposed to accept the statement of personal support as valid in the first place. I’m not. More accurately, I don’t think it matters; hence my comparison to domestic abuse above. It’s just as valid an interpretation to say that Obama stated his personal support to walk the “I’m a liberal, no really!” line. If we’re expected to support and cheer Obama because otherwise we’re going to burn in hell Romney and the GOP will get us, I don’t consider that an improvement on anything.

  89. says

    If we’re expected to support and cheer Obama

    You’re not. Not by me, anyway.

    because otherwise we’re going to burn in hell Romney and the GOP will get us

    If you had more than two political parties, if it wasn’t a purely binary choice, this would be less hard to swallow. I get that.

  90. Pteryxx says

    As long as you realize, having the threat of the GOP hanging over our heads doesn’t just make the choice less palatable. It effectively poisons the trustworthiness of Obama’s statement, because his support of gay marriage is inseparable from his position of power over us. Again, look at how the War on Women is going for how the Obama administration treats its supposed constituents when they’re under direct attack by the GOP.

  91. Gregory in Seattle says

    Yes, let us look at his “accomplishment”

    Signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which expanded existing United States federal hate crime law to include crimes motivated by a victim’s actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability — the first positive federal LGBT legislation in the nation’s history.

    A law that he did not lobby for and a law that, 2.5 years later, has never been applied even though there have been several federal cases where it could have been applied.

    Repealed Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell

    He aggressively fought against a judicial repeal of DADT. He abjectly refused to use his authority as Commander-in-Chief to invoke stop-loss against DADT discharges, even though he was using it extensively otherwise. He did nothing to support legislative repeal, and there are reports that he quietly lobbied members of Congress not to pass the repeal. When he was presented with a fait accompli, he had no choice but to sign it into law: after that, he then dragged his heels on implementing for as long as he could.

    Signed the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act.

    So did George W. Bush, in 2006. Providing funding to stem a fatal pandemic that affects everyone regardless of sexual orientation — globally, AIDS is overwhelmingly a straight disease — is not exactly a risky action.

    Reversed US refusal to sign the UN Declaration on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.

    After Secretary of State Clinton and UN Ambassador Susan Rice publicly stated in late January 2009, right after their appointments, that the US should sign, thus putting the President into a position where he had no choice but to change national policy. It is significant to note that a 2008 affirmation of the 2006 declaration was ratified unanimously by the Organization of American States… that is to say, the Bush Administration endorsed the Declaration without actually signing it.

    Extended benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees in 2009 and, further, in 2010.

    In 2009, several of the newly appointed Cabinet members announced that they would be extending benefits to the same-sex partners of employees in their baliwicks. There was no official presidential support for this until 2010, when a federal lawsuit was filed by an employee citing violations of long established anti-discrimination policies in the denial of benefits for legal spouses. The president tried to head off the lawsuit by authorizing benefits throughout the Executive Branch — not all federal employees, mind you, only those under his authority as Chief Executive; congressional aides, federal court clerks and the like were members of other branches of government. Oh, and the president’s tactic did not work: a judge in the Northern California Federal District Court found that the policy was discriminatory on April 3 of this year.

    Issued diplomatic passports, and provided other benefits, to the partners of same-sex foreign service employees.

    A policy started by Hillary Clinton in her role as Secretary of State and thus head of the nation’s Diplomatic Corps. While the President did not challenge Secretary Clinton’s authority on the matter, he did not actually initiate the policy change.

    Committed to ensuring that federal housing programs are open to all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

    A policy started by Shaun Donovan in his role as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. While the President did not challenge Secretary Donovan’s authority on the matter, he did not actually initiate the policy change.

    Conceived a National Resource Center for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Elders — the nation’s first ever — funded by a three-year HHS grant to SAG.

    A plan proposed by Kathleen Sebelius in her role as Secretary of Health and Human Services, in response to efforts by LGBT organizations who have lobbied for such support since the Clinton Administration. While the President did not challenge Secretary Sebelius’ authority on the matter, he did nothing at all to promote it and most certainly did not “conceive” of it. Funding for the center was originally announced at $250,000 per year “pending availability of funds.” No funding was available in 2010 or 2011, making the Resource Center effectively moribund.

    Banned job discrimination based on gender identity throughout the Federal government (the nation’s largest employer)

    Another policy established by Cabinet Secretaries and department heads, not by the President.

    Eliminated the discriminatory Census Bureau policy that kept our relationships from being counted, encouraging couples who consider themselves married to file that way, even if their state of residence does not yet permit legal marriage.

    A rule change proposed by Gary Locke in his then role as Secretary of Commerce, which oversees the Census Bureau. President Obama publicly expressed doubts on this, citing the Federal Denial of Marriage Act, but in the end chose not to overrule Secretary Locke.

    Instructed HHS to require any hospital receiving Medicare or Medicaid funds (virtually all hospitals) to allow LGBT visitation rights.

    Right after Kathleen Sebelius became Secretary of Health and Human Services, she publicly announced this policy change, without first getting permission. She was reprimanded by the White House and was almost fired because of it. A few days later, the President issued a memo that retroactively authorized Secretary Sebelius to initiate the policy.

    I could keep going, but I’m bored. You should be able to see the pattern, though.

  92. Dalillama says

    But those parts of the statement about his personal support, I seriously doubt any savvy enemy could say them.

    From where I stand, a savvy enemy did say them, in a White House press conference on Wednesday.

  93. B. says

    Jason, pardon me, but I have been watching this, and I would like to bring something up that I think you should consider. On comment 93, you said “…I was not saying anyone else’s reactions are wrong.”

    But you did, in your original post. I think that is the point of some of the anger that is being directed towards you personally. “This is not the time to be cynical,” is what you said. Not, “I don’t want to be cynical;” not “I choose not to view this cynically;” not, “I am looking how to use this in a positive way.” “This is not the time to be cynical” is, as a statement, inherently critical of those who are cynical, and says that their feelings are not valid, despite your statement in #4. In fact, I feel I should point out that in this context, your statement in #4 reads something like, “Josh, you can overreact if you want, and I can react calmly and properly, and feelings are subjective, so we’re both right in claiming to feel what we feel.”

    I have read your blog, with pleasure, for a while now. I was naturally shocked and confused to see that implication.

    I am (for the moment) giving you the benefit of the doubt that you didn’t notice what I am (for the moment) interpreting as an error in expression — because your responses right through #98 don’t seem to indicate that you are aware of the other way your phrasing could come together. I believe (or would like to believe) that you were simply imprecise, and that the subsequent heated conversation failed to illuminate that imprecision. I am explicitly drawing attention to it now, in some hope that it will help.


    Oh, and as loosely related matter, this piqued my interest – in comment #89, you said (quoting RahXephon at #83), “‘Jason is in defensive mode; I doubt he’s even reading this thread.’ You’re right. I wasn’t. Because I was asleep. What a horrible ally!” Funny you should mention that. In your comment #75, I took that to mean, “I am permanently leaving the conversation.” That’s just my read, though. I don’t know how others interpreted it (and I don’t recall any memorable moments of how you have used that phrase in the past).

  94. RahXephon, An Assorted Motley Queer says

    You’re right. I wasn’t. Because I was asleep. What a horrible ally!

    I said that because you said

    Seriously though, for realz this time, I’m done with this conversation. Hate on me all you want. I don’t even care any more.

    I didn’t anticipate the blogowner failing to stick the flounce.

    The gay people who are happy about Obama’s announcement don’t exist.

    *snaps fingers* Hey! I’m over here! Talk to me and not your pet strawman for a second. Josh and I already said there are gay people who think this is great. I can still think they’re naive for believing so. There’s a manifest difference between “gay people who disagree with me don’t exist” and “gay people who disagree with me exist and I think they’re wrong”.

    And where I agreed with you about the states rights issue being bullshit, that doesn’t exist either.

    You “agreed” with us about it but you don’t seem to understand what it actually means. It means Obama does not support us. I think Obama only cares about gay people when we can whip out our checkbooks and donate to his campaign, and you know why? Because “states’ rights” was used as a way for federal politicians to have their cake and eat it, too. They get to claim they’re not personally racist but that their “hands are tied” as far as doing anything about it because whooooooops states’ rights! It’s a fucking legal copout.

    In the US, the federal government supersedes the states, and Obama could fix this, nullify those 32 marriage bans, by throwing his resources behind passing a federal marriage bill, or at least repealing DOMA, and he’s not doing that.

  95. says

    Hmm. B @104, you’re right, you’re the first person to bring that to my attention. If I amended that sentence right now to say what I meant, e.g. “now is not the time for ME to be cynical”, would any of this perception of me as a bad ally go away?

    Also, of course I’m not going to “stick the flounce” on my own blog, because it wasn’t a flounce. I was done with the conversation about this continuous attack on my ally status and said you can go ahead and hate me all you want. I’m cool with that. I made peace with the fact that some people are going to hate me no matter what I say at this point.

    Evidently I have communication problems in initial drafts, especially when all I have time for is hacking out initial thoughts in 45 minutes between major work debacles. If I had bothered to draft that and revise it, send it to someone to edit and vet, and post a more polished version of this, I might have caught that nuance and headed it off.

    As it stood, I wasn’t expecting so many people to think that my shift from cynicism to optimism on specific points I itemized in the initial post would be taken as advice that everyone should be just like me and that any points I missed covering are somehow unworthy of being discussed.

  96. ischemgeek says

    @Jason: I understand your point of view. I disagree with it, for reasons I detailed above… that said, I disagree with others here saying you’re a shitty ally for holding the opinion you have. I can understand how someone might see this as a victory.

    I just think that we’ve come far enough that just having someone in power say, “Yeah, it’s a problem that people aren’t allowed to marry if their partner has the same gender” isn’t good enough anymore. If he said, “Well, I’ve thought a lot about it, and for me, personally, I think that women, if they’re doing the same job with the same abilities and qualifications, should be paid the same and have the same promotion and wage increase opportunities as men,” would it be a victory?

    No, it wouldn’t. Because we’re past the point when saying that was a step forward. Same with gay marriage. We’re past the point where admitting that the lack of equality is a problem is a step forward. I’d go so far as to say that we’re past the point where public figures advocating for gay rights openly is a step forward. We’re at the point where we only make progress if major pushes for legislation happen. Obama could do that (even without infringing on State’s rights). He chose not to call for legislation explicitly and framed the idea that people should be equal as a matter of personal opinion. Thus, I don’t see this one as a victory.

    That said, in the interest of full disclosure, I’ll say this: I didn’t realize how much they had managed to get past the Republicans until I followed the link @22. Bravo to the Obama administration for that.

  97. RahXephon, An Assorted Motley Queer says

    I was done with the conversation about this continuous attack on my ally status and said you can go ahead and hate me all you want. I’m cool with that. I made peace with the fact that some people are going to hate me no matter what I say at this point.

    Dude…this is just getting to be bizarre. We don’t “hate” you, or at least I don’t; I didn’t even know you existed until yesterday, and my only point in posting here was that your naive interpretation of Obama’s statement seem to be based on your straight privilege, as is your consistent inability to actually listen to the actual gay people who try to tell you that.

    I don’t need an ally who thinks he knows how to defend me better than I do.

  98. says

    I have edited that last paragraph. Hooray for revising history.

    Old:

    This is not the time to be cynical. The stakes are always high in any election for the President of the United States, but in this case, cynicism right now could actually undo this positive momentum for human rights, and given how slow we as a race tend to be in fixing injustice, I’d rather not lose that momentum and have to continue having this sort of conversation in a decade. Now’s the time. We’re at the tipping point. Keep pushing.

    New with emphasized changes:

    I have decided that for me, this is not the time to be cynical. The stakes are always high in any election for the President of the United States, but in this case, my cynicism right now could actually help to undo this positive momentum for human rights, and given how slow we as a race tend to be in fixing injustice, I’d rather not lose that momentum and have to continue having this sort of conversation in a decade. Now’s the time. We’re at the tipping point. Keep pushing.

  99. says

    I don’t need an ally who thinks he knows how to defend me better than I do.

    That’s good. Anyone who actually thinks they do better know how to defend you than you do, probably isn’t an ally at all.

  100. RahXephon, An Assorted Motley Queer says

    Jason, if it helps you understand how we feel, there’s this:

    Someone posted on another thread that politicians have a history of giving some crumb of concession to a movement and the movement accepts that crumb, it lowers their expectations and they lose steam. That’s what I’m afraid is happening here. If I’m supposed to act like the president saying he personally is cool with gay marriage but that he’s also cool with it if every state in the country bans it is OMG THE MOST AMAZING CIVIL RIGHTS ADVANCE EVAH, then that means expectations are exceedingly fucking low. Those kinds of expectations can’t even see the bottom of the barrel, because they shot through that and lodged themselves in the bedrock.

    So, that’s why I’m not happy about this. My response to Obama, if I ever met him, would be “that’s great, Mr. President, now actually do something about it. Until you do, your opinion is worth nothing. Your opinion doesn’t change law.” That’s why I’m so uncompromising; nothing will be good enough until full, legal equality is established. That’s where I set my standard of acceptability.

  101. Josh, All Up In Your Faux-Liberal Librulism says

    Jason, honestly—though I realize this won’t sound plausible, I actually really like you as a blogger. But you’re being a BIG. Fucking. Baby.

    You just got poked pretty hard because your privilege was showing. You really really really really really didn’t like that because you don’t want to think of yourself as “that kind of person.” You’ve got a lot invested in your identity as a humane and caring person. I understand this. I think you are a humane and caring person.

    But you’re also a straight white guy who will NEVER know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of this. You could be the most saintly straight dood on the face of the earth and it still wouldn’t wipe away the fact that you can’t fully empathize. That’s OK—I can’t fully empathize with what women go through, for example. It’s human.

    But it does obligate you to stop whining and putting a higher premium on displaying public woundedness than you do on seriously considering what the goddamned targets of the civil rights issue are telling you.

    Is this truly the first time you’ve been taken down a peg for making a privilege mistake? Get used to it. It happens to all of us.

  102. says

    No, Josh, it does sound very implausible. If you like me as a blogger and as a person, why the hell didn’t you tell me exactly what gave you the impression that I was telling you to change when I asked you to do so? B @104 did. And I changed that paragraph.

  103. Josh, All Up In Your Faux-Liberal Librulism says

    Anyone who’s not hard-of-reading could understand my objections, Jason. I’m a lot of things—loudmouthed and profane among them—but one thing I’m not is obscure.

  104. says

    You pointed to my showing Romney’s intentions as supporting Greg’s point. You reiterated that I said you and others were being cynical about points that I hadn’t even addressed in my original post. It took B saying explicitly what he read as giving that impression before I saw it myself. I asked you twice for that. It’s not that you were being obscure, but that you weren’t even trying to reference it.

    Look. I know you’re worked up about this. I understand. I empathize with that anger. I can’t fully empathize with your struggle as a whole, of course, because I’m privileged. I recognize that and admit it without hesitation.

    I can even get that your being worked up about it is enough to make you think that my honest request for explicitly what caused you to think what you did about my post was “pushback”, if that was because you were worked up about it.

    One thing about liking and respecting someone as a person is you give them the benefit of the doubt when you are asked for how they can help you better. You think I want blow-ups like this every time I’m not helping enough? You think I enjoy hurting the people I’m trying to help?

  105. Pteryxx says

    Jason: Because that paragraph you edited (thanks for that, btw) is just one indicator of many that you don’t consider cynicism justifiable in this instance. Another of your phrases I objected to, much later, specifically “this would be less hard to swallow” (#100) gives a similar impression. My impression is that you’re willing to accept cynicism in allies as a well-intended overreaction, but not to empathize sufficiently to understand why cynicism might be a reasonable response to a real threat. This isn’t a matter of hurt pride. Hence, I tried to explain by comparison to abuse. I think you can see that “I understand you’re worked up about this” (#115) is very, very faint comfort.

  106. says

    Pteryxx: define “in this instance”. Because if you mean in the specific points of the timing and the political calculus, yes, I think cynicism is unwarranted in those instances, which is why I had a change of heart on them.

    If you mean “in this instance” as in everything else that’s gone down in this comment thread, e.g. as in the points I did not address in my original post, I think you should know by now that I absolutely do not think cynicism about the states rights stuff is unwarranted.

    Otherwise, if you feel the need to parse comments I’m making in trying to build a bridge between us in order to continue to find ways to interpret me as being somehow against you, I’m not impressed.

  107. Pteryxx says

    Jason, you also just said this:

    One thing about liking and respecting someone as a person is you give them the benefit of the doubt when you are asked for how they can help you better.

    I attempted to explain how you’re coming across in this discussion, because I think you’re continuing to be unintentionally insensitive, I think it’s interfering with the conversation, and I think it’s an addressable mistake. “Being somehow against you” is your interpretation.

  108. John Morales says

    [meta]

    Perhaps it would be clearer to some if they were to replace ‘gay marriage’ with ‘women’s vote’ wherever the former occurs in the above discussion.

  109. Rabidtreeweasel says

    Desert: I wanted to acknowledge and accept your apology. To admit a fault and accept responsibility is a rare trait that I greatly respect.

    Cheers!

  110. xaw says

    Jason,

    Do you feel that you were a good ally to LGB folk after Laden commented on your blog saying (paraphrase) that people who weren’t happy about Obama’s statement needed to shut up with their criticisms or else they were supporting Romney by “sabotaging” Obama? If you think you did, what did you do that makes you think yourself a good ally?

  111. says

    Do you feel you’re being a good ally by focusing on people’s disagreements about your binary political system, especially when these disagreements were not brought up by the person you’re trying to criticize?

  112. Stacy says

    Perhaps it would be clearer to some if they were to replace ‘gay marriage’ with ‘women’s vote’ wherever the former occurs in the above discussion

    You do realize that women’s suffrage “was achieved gradually, at state and local levels during the late 19th century and early 20th century” (Wiki)?

    If this were the early 19th century, I would be very happy if the President came out in favor of suffrage for women, even if he said it was a matter of state’s rights.

    I would of course not believe it should be a matter of state’s rights, and would continue to fight for a federal amendment. I would be keenly aware of the injustice of the overarching situation and people’s irrational prejudices. However, I hope I would also have a sense of history and at least some political realism.

    What I would not do, is attack people on my side simply because they were happy to see some progress had been made.

  113. John Morales says

    Stacy:

    If this were the early 19th century, I would be very happy if the President came out in favor of suffrage for women, even if he said it was a matter of state’s rights.

    But it isn’t the early 19th century, is it?

  114. Tim Groc says

    Quite a few of the prominent posters at FTB have no found that playing the “privilege” game can backfire in dramatic circumstances.

    But, it does seem that those in the FTB community that love to “call out” people, hate it when they are “called out” themselves.

    Slippery slope, et al.

  115. julian says

    Quite a few of the prominent posters at FTB have no found that playing the “privilege” game can backfire in dramatic circumstances.

    I wonder if you have enough integrity and self awareness in you to say the same whenever you see logical fallacies brought up against ‘prominent’ atheists.

  116. julian says

    But it isn’t the early 19th century, is it?

    And even if it were it still wouldn’t be a good idea. Just because we could conceivably make it work doesn’t make turning marriage equality into a State’s rights issue a sound strategy. Hell, it sounds like sabotage at this point.

  117. Stacy says

    But it isn’t the early 19th century, is it?

    No. But the fight for gay marriage is ongoing, as the fight for women’s suffrage was then, and that was the analogy I was making.

    I understand the feeling that “It’s the 21st century ferchrissakes, we should be past this already.” But social progress and widening the circle of rights and of concern for others doesn’t work that way.

    And shit, a large proportion of the citizens of this the most powerful country on Earth (still, or as of recently,) still get their “morality” out of a book of Iron Age fairy tales.

  118. Stacy says

    Hell, it sounds like sabotage at this point

    This is what I’m not getting. Those were weasel-words, sure; politically-safe talk. But sabotage? Only if you think that those words about “state’s rights” are somehow set in stone.

    I think the best strategy is the one that’s being pursued (same one the suffragists used): to push it on all fronts.

    Take the Prez’s words as a small symbolic step forward, and keep on keeping on. But don’t despair because political reality keeps a careful pol like BO from conceding everything you (rightly) want just as soon as you want it.

    (By the way, in my earlier comment, I meant to say “early 20th century. Damn. And I’m usually so careful about not mixing up my centuries like that.)

  119. John Morales says

    [meta]

    Stacy,

    I understand the feeling that “It’s the 21st century ferchrissakes, we should be past this already.”

    I have no bone in this fight, other than philosophically (I’m a straight non-American), but I’m glad you grok me.

    (OTOH, I don’t expect (I don’t deserve) to be lauded for such dim support-in-principle as I may provide to those for whom it’s a real problem in their lives))

  120. says

    Tim Groc: that sentiment is not welcome here. Discussing someone’s privilege isn’t a “game” to play, it’s a legitimate point saying that someone doesn’t have the standing to make the kinds of judgment calls they’ve made, or that they’re missing some larger and still salient points.

    And I certainly missed talking about those points, even if I didn’t miss their implication and definitely agreed with Josh when he brought them up. Sure, it took a while for the rage to simmer down, but it seems to be mostly abated now.

    By the way, the folks at the slimepit evidently loved me getting called privileged. Said it must be like being caught on the “wrong side” of Elevatorgate. Strangely, I still support gays, while they have largely decided bitches ain’t shit. So there’s that.

    (John Greg hit my wall and CommanderTuvok hit Stephanie’s post about Don’t Feed the Trolls panel at CONvergence, suggesting they were once again slavering — and here I am feeding those trolls.)

  121. Emburii says

    Jason: something that jumped out at me from earlier comments about people’s perspectives is when you said something about your feelings and the opinions of queer folks upset with Obama’s statement both being equally valid.

    The thing is, that in and of itself is a privileged viewpoint. You, as a straight person, aren’t really hurt by the limited scope of his statement. Queer people are. In that light your opinion really isn’t as valid because it isn’t informed by the same experiences and hopes and fears. Gay folks supporting the President’s statement? Them I give some weight to. Your hetero feelings? Er…

    It’d be like me as an American lecturing you on some Canadian statute that causes you issue and doesn’t affect me at all. If I tell you that you’re supposed to be happy over, say, a tiny repeal of some otherwise still pervasive Harper American boot-licking bullcrap that I don’t even have to live under, is my opinion ‘just as valid’? Or would you tell me (rightly) to shove it?

  122. says

    On the issue of “state rights” and civil rights, as I see it, Obama actually implied that law-makers and/or voters have a moral obligation to refrain from passing or maintaining legislation that bans same-gender marriage, which involves an obligation to pass legislation allowing same-gender marriage where it’s banned.

    http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/transcript-robin-roberts-abc-news-interview-president-obama/story?id=16316043

    Obama said:

    At a certain point, I’ve just concluded that– for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that– I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.

    That’s a moral claim.

    He says that same-sex couples should be able to get married (not just in some states, but the claim seems to be about the whole country at least).

    So, given that, and while the passive voice used in the moral claim makes it more somewhat more difficult to ascertain who the person who has the moral obligation is, he seems to imply that those with law-making power have a moral obligation to pass legislation abrogating any legislation that prevent same-sex couples from getting married, but he’s wording it in a way that does not sound too hostile.

    My impression is that he’s trying to persuade some people in different states to switch sides, instead of alienating them, but that same-sex couples should be able to get married seems to imply, but if one wants to put it in the language of rights, that same-sex couples should be able to get married implies that same-sex couples have a right to get married (a moral right, not necessarily a constitutional right, which is another matter).

    He also seems to think that that way same-gender marriage will eventually be recognized nationwide, but he’s not saying that whatever the legislatures or electorates choose is morally acceptable, as far as I can tell.

    On that note, he said (emphasis mine):

    I think that– you know, the winds of change are happening. They’re not blowin’– with the same force in every state. But I think that what you’re gonna see is– is– is states– coming to– the realization that if– if a soldier can fight for us, if a police officer can protect our neighborhoods– if a fire fighter is expected to go into a burning building– to save our possessions or our kids. The notion that after they were done with that, that we’d say to them, “Oh but by the way, we’re gonna treat you differently. That you may not be able to– enjoy– the– the ability of– of passing on– what you have to your loved one, if you– if you die. The notion that somehow if– if you get sick, your loved one might have trouble visiting you in a hospital.”
    You know, I think that as more and more folks think about it, they’re gonna say, you know, “That’s not who we are.”

    As I see it, he’s trying not to be too harsh on those opposing same-gender marriage, and he’s trying to persuade some of them, instead of antagonizing them, but he’s still implying that they’re wrong in their position when they ban same-gender marriage, even if he says that their intention to protect families is a good one.
    In other words, he’s saying that many of those who want to ban same-gender marriage (or keep it banned, depending on the case) have good intentions (namely, to protect families), but are nevertheless mistaken, since same-gender marriage would not do any harm to families.
    It seems to me it’s a reasonable strategy for advancing the cause same-gender marriage, even if it would probably have been more effective if he had come up with the same idea, say, a couple of years ago.
    An alternative strategy would be to say that the US Constitution guarantees the right to same-gender marriage, due to the Equal Protection clause. But he may not believe so (if he does, he may have assessed that it wasn’t a good strategy to get same-gender marriage allowed nationwide, or simply that it was too high a price for him to pay, perhaps costing him the election).
    Regarding women’s vote, that would seem to be a good comparison.
    What if one believes that the constitution does not establish that women have the right to vote, but nevertheless people with law-making power have a moral obligation to pass legislation to allow it?
    One might prefer to try to resolve the matter at a state level, trying to persuade law-makers and/or voters that they should allow women to vote, or at a national level, trying to persuade federal lawmakers and state lawmakers in 3/4 of states to pass a constitutional amendment.
    Alternatively, one might try to do both, pushing for both a constitutional amendment and (just in case that fails, or to go faster, or whatever) legislation at a state level.
    Which strategy is more likely to succeed depends on a number of social variables.
    Of course, it can be argued that if Obama believes that the US constitution does not protect same-gender couples’ right to marry, he’s mistaken in his interpretation of the US constitution. That may well be the case, but it’s not the same as morally endorsing whatever legislatures say.
    So, in brief, I think the negative reaction might be the result of a misinterpretation of his words, perhaps because because he talked about a “healthy debate” and a “healthy process”, etc., and that may have given a mistaken impression. That would be his mistake (unless, perhaps, he deliberately did that as a means to persuade more people due to a less confrontational approach to the matter, which sometimes works (it depends on the case, so it’s hard to say)), but even if that is so, Obama does not seem to have said or implied that the matter is in the hands of the voters and/or law-makers of the states, from a moral perspective (as I understand his statement, and for the reasons I explained above).
    On the other hand, from a legal (“legal” in the broad sense, including constitutional) perspective, in the American system, the matter is always in the hands of some law-makers and/or voters, whether it’s those with the power to make the rules at a state level, or at a national level.

  123. John Morales says

    Angra:

    At a certain point, I’ve just concluded that– for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that– I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.

    That’s a moral claim.

    Sure — but neither much of one nor especially convincing.

    Note: what he said is not the same as “I’ve just concluded it is important to go ahead and affirm that same-sex couples should be able to get married.”

    His disclaimer is intended to make it clear this is not his political opinion.

    (I thought he was elected as a politician, not an example of moral rectitude)

  124. says

    @ Angra Mainyu I am considering your point but I wanted to say initially that it is erroneous to equate sex and gender. People of the same gender can get married so long as they are not of the same sex. It is generally considered cissexist/cisnormative (read without considering the existence and importance of transgender people) to consider the two the same.

  125. Emburii says

    Jason: you did amend your initial post to something more placatory, true. And I didn’t realize how old this topic was, so I apologize for trying to mudrake all over again. Thank you for your calm reply.

  126. xaw says

    Nice. Do you realize I didn’t criticize you, merely asked questions? You are way too defensive. I won’t waste my time here anymore.

  127. says

    John Morales:

    Sure ; but neither much of one nor especially convincing.

    I’m not sure what you mean.
    If by ‘neither much of one’ you mean it’s not a particularly strong condemnation of those who differ, that’s true. As I mentioned, he’s probably aiming at convincing.
    Else, what do you mean?

    As for ‘nor especially convincing’, are you saying that it does not convince you that he believes so, or that he’s not likely to persuade others, or something else?

    In any case, my point was about the interpretation of what he was saying, and the ‘state rights’ issue.

    Note: what he said is not the same as “I’ve just concluded it is important to go ahead and affirm that same-sex couples should be able to get married.”

    I’m not sure what you mean. Important to whom?
    In any case, it does not seem to be a claim that to go ahead and affirm that people with lawmaking power have a moral obligation to allow same-sex marriage is important to some group of people, or morally obligatory if that is what you mean.
    However, he’s apparently implying that people with such power (though he’s not entirely clear as to which ones if the claim is not general, due to the passive voice) have a moral obligation to go ahead and allow same-gender marriage.

    His disclaimer is intended to make it clear this is not his political opinion.

    (I thought he was elected as a politician, not an example of moral rectitude)

    I do not understand the distinction that you’re trying to make. If he’s making a moral claim, it’s expressing his views. I do not know what ‘political opinion’ (as opposed to his opinion) would be.

    As for the issue that he was elected as a politician, sure, but politicians usually make moral claims (like most people), and the debate over same-gender marriage is a moral one (as are many other debates), so I’m not sure what you’re getting at here.
    When someone says that Obama should have said something else, that is a moral claim on their part as well.

  128. says

    WilloNyx,

    It is generally considered cissexist/cisnormative (read without considering the existence and importance of transgender people) to consider the two the same.

    If the term ‘same-gender marriage’ is inaccurate, I can use ‘same-sex marriage’ instead, but I was under the impression that ‘same-gender marriage’ was one of the standard terms in the US for the legislation that is proposed, even if distinctions between sex and gender that are made in other contexts – just as the term ‘same-sex marriage’ appears to also be one of the standard terms in the US for the legislation that is proposed, even though someone might object that gay people can actually get married (just not to someone of the same sex).

    I didn’t mean to equating gender and sex in general, but rather using a term that appeared to be among the standard ones for the purposes at hand.

    That aside, I’m not sure about your point that equating sex and gender is generally considered cissexist; “generally” seems to indicate a general assessment, but I have not encountered such assessments before. Also, it seems to me that it would be a mistaken consideration in most cases, since it seems ‘cissexist’ entails negative feelings towards transgender people, whereas in most cases equating the terms would be the result of a person’s not being familiar with the different terminology, not of a negative assessment about anyone (even if someone had negative feelings about transgender people, they probably wouldn’t be expressing them by equating sex and gender).

    In any case, I’d rather focus on Obama’s statement, not the preferred terminology for the proposed legislation. I’ll say ‘same-sex’ marriage if I find no objections to that one.

  129. says

    @ Angra Mainyu:
    As my attempts to politely address your error were ignored, I will no longer be polite.

    If the term ‘same-gender marriage’ is inaccurate, I can use ‘same-sex marriage’ instead

    It is inaccurate and here is why. Gender has nothing to do with marriage. Gender only has a strong correlation with sex (how strong is yet to be determined as we still consider cis to be the null hypothesis). Marriage applications are not remotely concerned with your gender identification. They only are concerned with the genitalia you have. In most states if you have male genitalia you are unable to marry another person with male genitalia. It doesn’t matter if you are a heterosexual transgender woman. If you are pre op, non op, or simply haven’t been able to change the “sex” on your documents yet, you are unable to marry someone of your opposite gender (assuming gender binary in this scenario) because the laws prohibit “same sex marriage.”

    While calling it a “gay marriage debate” is a bit of a misnomer because yes it isn’t about whether gays are allowed to marry at all but rather whether they are allowed to marry the people they love, it still doesn’t quite compare to using the term “same gender marriage” because same gender couples are often allowed to marry the person they love so long as that person is not their same “sex.” So no matter how you view this it is erroneous to call it a “same gender marriage” debate. It is undoubtedly a “same sex marriage” debate. Furthermore it does not matter whether it is a standard legal term because it is a wrong term for the matter. It de facto equates gender with sex when the science shows that they are not in fact the same thing.

    Also, it seems to me that it would be a mistaken consideration in most cases, since it seems ‘cissexist’ entails negative feelings towards transgender people, whereas in most cases equating the terms would be the result of a person’s not being familiar with the different terminology, not of a negative assessment about anyone (even if someone had negative feelings about transgender people, they probably wouldn’t be expressing them by equating sex and gender).

    I will say this next: I never said that you are being cissexist, but I will say it now. Not all sexism is intended to be disparaging and not all cissexism is intended to be disparaging. People engage in cissexism all the time when they “like trans people” just like people engage in homophobia all the time when they “like gay people.” Liking trans people or not intending to disparage them does not excuse that saying the debate is about “same gender marriage” is cisnormative and cissexist in that it erases the trans experience from the debate. It assumes the standard as cis and that equating gender with sex is expected. It is wrong on all levels. Furthermore people all the fucking time express negative attitudes about trans people by equating sex and gender. It is ridiculously common. “You aren’t a real woman cause you have a penis.” or “I am a lesbian so I only sleep with cis women.” You can read more about that by perusing posts on The Cotton Ceiling where if you read the comments on those posts you will see a ton of transphobia in the form of equating sex and gender. Way too common.

    Or you can just pay attention to the debated about trans people in restrooms.

    In any case, I’d rather focus on Obama’s statement, not the preferred terminology for the proposed legislation. I’ll say ‘same-sex’ marriage if I find no objections to that one.

    First off, and I say this as politely as possible: Fuck you. I never once tried to say that your points were or were not valid. I expressly said I was considering the points in your post. They are pure speculation based on very limited information but I am still considering them. Even if I wasn’t, it doesn’t excuse that you are using the wrong terms. It doesn’t mean I can’t tell you that you are using the wrong terms. What you said here basically says “I stop being cissexist because it offends you only if you listen to what I have to say.” Instead you should stop being cissexist because it is the right thing to do. It isn’t about doing me a favor so I will listen to your points. It is about using accurate terminology so you don’t throw a whole minority group under the bus when trying to make your point. It is about being a decent human being. Human decency is not quid pro quo.

  130. says

    As my attempts to politely address your error were ignored, I will no longer be polite.

    First, I did not ignore your post.
    On the other hand, you didn’t even address my arguments. Instead, you changed the subject, and assumed that using what seems to be a standard term on the matter (like ‘same-gender marriage’) implies ignoring any distinctions between sex and gender in any context.
    Second, your suggestion that it was generally considered ‘cissexist/cisnormative’ to equate gender and sex, coupled with the claim that I was doing that (whereas I was using a word that seems to be a standard one, even if inaccurate) is probably not true (i.e., it’s not generally so regarded), and if true, usually inaccurate.
    Third, attacking me is unwarranted. I did not do anything against you, or against any transgender people. I used a common term to describe proposed pieces of legislation.
    Even if the term ‘same-gender marriage’ is not entirely precise if we take each of the words literally, the fact remains that it does the job of clearly stating what piece of proposed legislation one is referring to – since, well, it’s a common term, and it denotes the proposed piece of legislation.
    Fourth, even so, I offered to use ‘same-sex marriage’ instead, if I found no objections to that one.

    It is inaccurate and here is why. Gender has nothing to do with marriage. Gender only has a strong correlation with sex (how strong is yet to be determined as we still consider cis to be the null hypothesis). Marriage applications are not remotely concerned with your gender identification. They only are concerned with the genitalia you have. In most states if you have male genitalia you are unable to marry another person with male genitalia. It doesn’t matter if you are a heterosexual transgender woman. If you are pre op, non op, or simply haven’t been able to change the “sex” on your documents yet, you are unable to marry someone of your opposite gender (assuming gender binary in this scenario) because the laws prohibit “same sex marriage.”

    Actually, the term ‘same-sex marriage’ is not entirely accurate, either, since someone might get married first and then change their genitalia – for instance.
    Moreover, while I’m not familiar with the legislation in every single jurisdiction in the world, there are jurisdiction like the United Kingdom, in which it’s not the legally recognized
    sex what matters, but the legally recognized gender.
    In fact, applicants do not need to be post-operative, though there seems to be a requirement that they intend to have a sex change as well.
    See:
    http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2004/7/notes/division/4/3.
    Also: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2004/7/notes/contents
    http://www.grp.gov.uk/
    http://www.gires.org.uk/GRA.php
    So, two people in the UK with the same legally recognized gender are not allowed to get married in the UK. But two people with the same sex but opposite legally recognized gender may get married.
    So, at least in the UK, it appears that the most accurate term, if we take the components of the terms ‘same-gender marriage’ and ‘same-sex marriage’ separately, would be ‘same-gender marriage’, since the proposed legislation would allow people of the same legally recognized gender to get married, which is not possible now.
    However, given that the terms ‘same-gender marriage’, ‘same-sex marriage’, and ‘gay marriage’ seem to be standard enough and denotes what pieces of legislation or proposed legislation one is talking about (i.e., they do not generate confusion), and the choice of words does not have negative connotations, it would be unwarranted to object to the usage of ‘same-sex marriage’ or ‘gay marriage’.
    In fact, in the UK, the term ‘same-sex marriage’ seems to be common as well. And that’s not a problem, since the term has come to denote a certain type of legislation, regardless of the meanings of the individual words in it, interpreted in a restricted sense.

    While calling it a “gay marriage debate” is a bit of a misnomer because yes it isn’t about whether gays are allowed to marry at all but rather whether they are allowed to marry the people they love, it still doesn’t quite compare to using the term “same gender marriage” because same gender couples are often allowed to marry the person they love so long as that person is not their same “sex.”

    But that does not change the issue with regard to the accuracy of the term (or rather, its accuracy if one actually removes the individual words instead of considering it a usual term for a type of legislation), which is what your previous arguments are about.
    If couples of the same sex are discriminated against more often than same-gender couples when it comes to marriage, I have no objection to that claim.

    Furthermore it does not matter whether it is a standard legal term because it is a wrong term for the matter. It de facto equates gender with sex when the science shows that they are not in fact the same thing.

    Meaning is determined by usage, and the meaning of ‘same-gender marriage’ is the same as ‘gay marriage’ and ‘same-sex marriage’; it does not entail any denial of science.

    I will say this next: I never said that you are being cissexist, but I will say it now.

    You’re condemning me for something that I’m not guilty of, and for no good reason.

    Not all sexism is intended to be disparaging and not all cissexism is intended to be disparaging. People engage in cissexism all the time when they “like trans people” just like people engage in homophobia all the time when they “like gay people.” Liking trans people or not intending to disparage them does not excuse that saying the debate is about “same gender marriage” is cisnormative and cissexist in that it erases the trans experience from the debate.

    I did not erase anything, did not deny anything, but used one of the standard terms for a certain proposed legislation.

    Furthermore people all the fucking time express negative attitudes about trans people by equating sex and gender. It is ridiculously common. “You aren’t a real woman cause you have a penis.” or “I am a lesbian so I only sleep with cis women.”

    But since I didn’t say or suggest that someone isn’t a real woman because she has a penis, etc., this does not apply to me. Moreover, I did not equate sex and gender, but used one of the standard terms.

    First off, and I say this as politely as possible: Fuck you.

    Okay, that’s quite polite.
    As a proportionate response, and just as politely, I will say: Fuck you as well.

    I never once tried to say that your points were or were not valid. I expressly said I was considering the points in your post.

    And I never once said you said my points weren’t true. Instead, you changed the subject on an absurd terminological issue.

    They are pure speculation based on very limited information but I am still considering them.

    Actually, part of them are a description of what he said. The implications (i.e., it’s a moral claim) are extremely likely because that seems to be what the words mean, not just based on very limited information. As for what he intends to do, true, that’s more speculative, but it seems rather probable to me; I am willing to discuss it, though I wasn’t trying to convince you do discuss it with me (just not to derail and attack me).

    Even if I wasn’t, it doesn’t excuse that you are using the wrong terms.

    Sorry, but you’re the one making unwarranted moral condemnations. The term seems common enough, and it does not have negative implications. If you say that lawmakers should consider the situation of transgender people, sure, I agree.
    If you say that the other term reflects more often what’s at stake because it’s more common for same-sex couples to be discriminated against, and for that reason you prefer the term ‘same-sex marriage’, that would be understandable, but it does not justify condemning someone for saying ‘same-gender marriage’.

    What you said here basically says “I stop being cissexist because it offends you only if you listen to what I have to say.”

    No, you misconstrue what I said.
    I said I’m not being cissexist, but I was still offering to use ‘same-sex marriage’ if you preferred that one because that change of terminology does not cost me anything.
    Moreover, I wasn’t trying to get you to listen to what I have to say at all.
    Rather, I was trying to convince you not to divert this into a trial against me over this terminology issue; obviously, it was a long shot.

    Instead you should stop being cissexist because it is the right thing to do.

    Actually, you should stop accusing me of being cissexist when I’m not being so because it’s the right thing to do.
    And generally, you should stop accusing people on the basis of political correctness because it’s the right thing to do.

    It isn’t about doing me a favor so I will listen to your points.

    I’m not suggesting doing you a favor so you will listen to my points, but just getting you not to derail the thread by unfairly accuse me. Too late.

    It is about using accurate terminology so you don’t throw a whole minority group under the bus when trying to make your point. It is about being a decent human being. Human decency is not quid pro quo.

    I did not throw anyone under the bus, but you threw me under the bus for no good reason.
    Now you’re implying that I’m not a decent human being, also for no good reason, and further suggesting that those who use the term ‘same-gender marriage’ are not decent human beings, for no good reason but political correctness.
    By the way, you probably are a decent human being in general, but it seems that your political correctness ideology leads you to some unwarranted attacks.

  131. says

    Just to reduce the risk of misunderstandings. The reason I mentioned the UK as an example is that even though ‘same-gender marriage’ would be more accurate than ‘same-sex marriage’ (or, for that matter, ‘gay marriage’) in the UK if one takes the words individually, the point is that that would be no good reason to object to someone’s using terms like ‘same-sex marriage’ or ‘gay marriage’, given that they’re understood, they denote the same kind of law, and if more accuracy is required in describing the different cases, then more precise descriptions can be given when needed.

    The situation is similar with respect to the use of the terms in this thread. And ‘similar’ does not mean exactly the same, so you can find differences, but the point is that a lack of accuracy if you take the words one by one (which wasn’t intended to) is no good reason to reject the usage of a term, let alone to attack someone who used one in a context in which there was no need for a more precise description, as the kind of legislation that was being denoted was obvious.

  132. says

    FFS Angra Mainyu:
    Are you trying to be obtuse?

    This was not in anyway an attempt by me to derail. This was an attempt by me to inform you that you were using terms incorrectly that were insensitive and wrong to use. I give absolutely ZERO fucks if those “legal people” use the term all the time. I give ZERO fucks if 99% of the population uses the term. They are using them wrong. THEY are using the cis normatively because by using them in that way when you refer to SAME SEX MARRIAGE you equate gender and marriage. The words imply the default assumption that sex and gender are the same. Your intent/their intent is cissexist because it doesn’t actually care about what the words mean at the expense of erasing trans experience.

    Think about it… a vast majority of the population still uses a triggering T word pejorative to refer to transgender people. Some or many of them don’t mean it as a pejorative but as the “common” thing that trans people are called. Does that make it any less a pejorative to use? No. Would I be wrong in calling someone out on their transphobia if I said hey “don’t do that” because the person had ten other points they were making and just happened to say a slur in the process? No.

    YOU WERE WRONG.

    I called you out on the wrong. The derail happened when you decided it was FAR more important to explain why you weren’t actually wrong (or why you think you weren’t wrong more accurately) than saying just “I didn’t know and wasn’t intending to equate the two and I won’t do it again.” Instead you dedicate the whole reply to explaining why you think it wasn’t wrong and a throwaway line that suggests if it bothers me you will stop using it. You furthermore add it with the caveat (intentional or not) that you not using the term means I not listen to what you have to say (whether I agree ot not).

    That completely ignores that I initially attempted to pay deference to points that I did not yet have an opinion on. I went out of my way to make it clear that I wasn’t attempting to ignore those points because you were being cissexist. Instead of addressing that initial respect I paid you by intentionally stating that you did have points and I was paying attention to them (even though I did not have an opinion on them yet) you insisted that I was ignoring them as an attempt to derail. You tried to shut me up from calling out cissexism by saying that I am “just derailing.” Nothing I said would have been a derail had you not doubled down.

    You provide me anecdotes about a country that wasn’t even being addressed. This post is dealing with US laws specifically and those laws are about same sex marriage and not same gender marriage. If in the UK the laws apply to same gender marriage as you say, then them using same sex marriage to talk about gender is still an equation of the two and still cisnormative.

    I don’t remotely understand why using cisnormative terminology is important to you but you keep insisting on the validity of its use rather that simply saying “I won’t use it.” That is not to say you didn’t agree to not use it but rather that you dedicate an inordinate amount of time saying “no I wasn’t being cissexist” before you finally agree in a throw away line to not use them.

    I got initially that you weren’t trying to be cissexist. That is why I didn’t come out and call you a cissexist asshole to begin with. I merely pointed out how equating sex and gender was generally considered cissexxist and how you were equating the two by calling it same gender marriage when we were actually talking about same sex marriage. I have no problem considering you to be willfully cissexist now when you keep implying that the defense of using cissexist terms valid instead of just not using them.

    I wouldn’t expect anyone who didn’t know “bitch” was degrading to women to start out by not using the term. I would instead first inform them that it is degrading, let them know why it is degrading, and give them a chance to stop using it. That is what I did for you. You decided to go on a whole long reply and told me why “bitch” was ok to use while giveing one throwaway line dedicated to the fact that you won’t use it. It is NOT ok to use. I showed you why it is NOT ok to use. So it shouldn’t be about you not using it because it makes me happy. It should be about you using it because you care enough about the trans experience you wouldn’t want to use terms that erase that experience. I can only ascertain that you don’t actually care about the trans experience by you replies and that you care more about defending your use than “checking your privilege” so it seems.

    I want to give a bit of full disclosure here myself. I am addressing this problem as a cis woman who may have engaged in some “privilege speak” myself. If I have, I expect others to call me out on it. I actually care about transgender issues beyond the the trans people I speak to directly so I don’t want my words to marginalize a whole group.

    The last thing I am going to say is that you get to decide where you go from here. I have told you the term equates gender and sex. I have told you equating gender and sex is cissexist. You get to decide whether or not you want to use the terms at the expense of transgender people. You get to decide whether you want your words to be viewed as allies to the T on the end of LGBT. My suggestion if you want that, if you care about the trans experience, is that you stop equating gender and sex with your words even if you don’t with your intent. Otherwise keep on insisting on your right to say cissexist stuff. I haven’t take the right from you. I haven’t taken the intent from you. I have simply pointed out the implication outside your intent.

    If Jason here considers my attempt to educate you on your cissexism a derail, I will stop this conversation right here. I won’t let you silence me from doing the right thing though.

  133. says

    @WilloNyx

    The terms ‘same-sex marriage’, ‘gay marriage’ and ‘same-gender marriage’ are often used to talk about a number of similar arrangements.
    Given the particular details of each jurisdiction, one of the terms may be more precise in some cases, another one in others, if one considers the words ‘gender’ and ‘marriage’ separately.
    However, that does not mean that the degree of precision needed for each conversation is such that it requires refraining from using one of the terms in question, or that the usage of any of the terms entails that gender and sex are the same.

    Not all contexts require the same amount of precision, and usually, any of the terms is clear enough for the matters at hand. If and when more precision is required, more can be given, though usually that will not take the form of just changing terms, but actually getting into the details of what the arrangements actually are about.

    As for the use of the term ‘same-gender marriage’ on my part in this thread, that can’t reasonably be construed as implying any denial of science, or any fear or hatred transgender people, or any negative attitude towards them.

    If in the US the word ‘same-sex marriage’ is more precise in the sense above, that does not make ‘same-gender marriage’ too imprecise for the matter at hand – i.e., it would not cause confusion at all -, let alone suggests that my statements indicate hostility, fear, etc., towards transgender people, or that I’m denying any science, or that I’m throwing a whole minority under the bus.

    As for the use of the pejorative words, there is an obvious difference: the use of the expression ‘same-gender marriage’ does not say anything about transgender people, negative or otherwise.
    It’s not as if people use ‘same-gender marriage’ as a means of insulting transgender people, or as a means of denying that they exist (or generally denying science, for that matter), etc.
    In other words, ‘same-gender marriage’ is not a slur or pejorative term. It’s one of the three common terms to denote a type of related and similar arrangement; the choice of words may be more or less precise depending on context, but that’s not a problem as I said above.

    Now, you didn’t call me on being wrong; rather, you accused accused me of a variety of things, without good reasons for that. I offered to change the terms because that would not have cost me anything, but you didn’t want to ask me to change terms, but rather raised a number of accusations from which I would defend myself.
    The derail happened because you’re unfairly accusing me, and I’m defending myself.

    I don’t remotely understand why using cisnormative terminology is important to you but you keep insisting on the validity of its use rather that simply saying “I won’t use it.” That is not to say you didn’t agree to not use it but rather that you dedicate an inordinate amount of time saying “no I wasn’t being cissexist” before you finally agree in a throw away line to not use them.

    That misrepresents my position. You assume that using ‘cisnormative terminology’ is important to me.
    But I disagree with your claims that it’s cisnormative, and your accusations against me.
    Moreover, you’re not only getting my position wrong; you’re also getting the psychology wrong. What is important to me now in this context is not ‘same-gender marriage’, but self-defense.
    Again, I do not have a preference for any of the terms, and if you had only said you didn’t like that term, I would have had no problem just switching (since, again, it’s not at all important to me).
    But the reason I continue is that I’m defending myself from your accusations because I disagree with therm, for the reasons I’ve been explaining, and I’m motivated to defend myself against unfair accusations.
    Of course, no agreement between us is going to happen on the contentious issues (I’m familiar enough with on-line debates to ascertain that the odds of that happening are negligible), but given that you accuse me and I disagree, I defend myself and then readers can take a look at the exchange and reach their own conclusions.

    I have no problem considering you to be willfully cissexist now when you keep implying that the defense of using cissexist terms valid instead of just not using them.

    But the accusation is false. As I explained, my usage of terms did not involve any denial of science, or any negative implications towards transgendered people.

    I wouldn’t expect anyone who didn’t know “bitch” was degrading to women to start out by not using the term. I would instead first inform them that it is degrading, let them know why it is degrading, and give them a chance to stop using it. That is what I did for you. You decided to go on a whole long reply and told me why “bitch” was ok to use while giveing one throwaway line dedicated to the fact that you won’t use it. It is NOT ok to use.

    An obvious difference is that ‘bitch’ is an insult, whereas ‘same-gender marriage’ is not, just as ‘same-sex marriage’ is not in the UK, and just as ‘gay marriage’ is not in any case.
    It’s pretty obvious. People use ‘bitch’ to insult someone. They do not use ‘same-gender marriage’ to insult anyone, or to deny the existence of transgender people, etc.

    I showed you why it is NOT ok to use.

    You claimed that it’s not OK, made a number of other negative claims, and gave your arguments. I disagreed, and gave my arguments. People can read, and so they will reach their own conclusions. If you continue to accuse me, I might continue to defend myself until I’m satisfied with the degree of explanation about my position.

    Now, as it turns out, I have now a reason not to use ‘same-gender marriage’ after all – namely, someone might object, accuse me of a number of things, etc., and that would require that I take time to defend myself on an issue that is really not at all important to me (defending myself is, but the words themselves I couldn’t care less).
    While I hadn’t encountered this kind of attack before, it’s improbable that you’re the only one who would react as you did (fights over terminology nearly always involve groups of people involved in a certain matter, not isolated individuals), which does give me some reason to avoid the use of ‘same-gender marriage’.

    I can only ascertain that you don’t actually care about the trans experience by you replies and that you care more about defending your use than “checking your privilege” so it seems.

    If you can only ascertain that, it’s because you’re mistaken. You’re getting your psychological analysis wrong. I do care about is defending myself against unfair accusations.
    As for my use of ‘same-gender marriage”, it does not have the connotations you claim it has, but I don’t really care about using it. I just picked one term that was precise enough for the context, though I might not do that in the future, at least if I’m not interested in fending off accusations such as yours.

    The last thing I am going to say is that you get to decide where you go from here. I have told you the term equates gender and sex. I have told you equating gender and sex is cissexist. You get to decide whether or not you want to use the terms at the expense of transgender people.

    Yes, you told me what you believe. I disagree. You gave your arguments, and I gave mine. We debated. Of course, you get to decide whether to continue with your accusations, which I reject. The use of ‘same-gender marriage’ on my part was not at the expense of anyone, and can’t be reasonably be construed as a statement that sex and gender are the same, a denial of science, etc.; but I’ve already explained my position, so for now that’s good enough.
    That said, you did give me a good motivation not to use ‘same-gender marriage’ anymore: there is a non-negligible chance that I will be the target of a number of unfair accusations over it, and on top of that defending myself from them would take me time that I wouldn’t want to spend on a debate on the usage of a term I couldn’t care less about (a few hours so far, probably a lot more if you decide to continue the debate for a long period).
    So, in a roundabout way, you may get part of the result you wanted – not all of the result you wanted, since I’m not going to accept your accusations, because they’re wrong (yes, of course I know you disagree; I disagree with your disagreement, etc., and that’s never going to change), but some of them.

    I won’t let you silence me from doing the right thing though.

    You’re not doing the right thing, but I’m not trying to silence you (and I couldn’t if I tried, anyway). You misconstrued what I was doing when I offered to change the words, and I explained my reasons for offering that (readers can take a look if they feel like it).

  134. says

    Okay, so someone else joins in the attack, even if with less than an argument. While your attacks do increase the chances that I won’t challenge your mistaken ideology in the future (I have to prioritize, like everyone else, and this is really annoying), on the other hand, as long as I get attacked, I may further defend myself. So, let’s do that:

    Cissexism may be a belief that transgendered people are inferior, or hatred or irrational fear of transgender people, or generally negative feelings towards transgender people. None of the above is indicated by the use of ‘same-gender marriage’.

    Also, while the use of ‘same-gender marriage’ and ‘same-sex marriage’ does not entail a claim that there is no difference between the meaning of ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ in all contexts of usage, or that the referent of ‘same-gender’ and ‘same-sex’ is the same in all contexts of usage, that does not change the fact that the two expressions, as well as ‘gay marriage’, in the usual meaning of those expressions, mean the same (i.e., that’s how people use them). .

    On that note, I said that “same-gender marriage”, “same-sex marriage” may be more or less precise depending on the jurisdiction, if we take the component words separately.
    However, upon further consideration, I’ve come to realize that what I said was only part of the truth, and that I shouldn’t have accepted different degrees of precision in their usual meaning, anyway, since the fact is that ‘same-gender marriage’, ‘same-sex marriage’ and ‘gay marriage’ are usually used to mean the same.
    So, I should have also said that picking apart expressions like ‘same-gender marriage’ and ‘same-sex marriage’ and consider them to have different meanings because of the different meanings of ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ in some usages, would actually be a mistaken interpretation of the terms ‘same-gender marriage’ and ‘same-sex marriage’.

    But that aside, let’s consider not only ‘same-sex marriage’ and ‘same-gender marriage’, but the use of the words ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ alone as well. An insurmountable problem for your position is simply that meaning is determined by usage in a linguistic community at large, and not just by your usage.

    That is not to say that ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ mean the same, if we understand that to mean that all of their meanings are the same. Each of the words has several meanings, and surely not all of them coincide.

    However, if you just look it up in a dictionary, you’ll find that one of the meanings of ‘gender’ is in fact ‘sex’, and again that’s not slur, or any term intended to insult, etc., since ‘sex’ is not so.

    So, while it would be mistaken to say that all of the usages of ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ mean the same, or that under the used proposed by WilloNyx, the same-gender people are always also same-sex people, it’s also not true that the usage of ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ to mean the same would be cissexist, as long as the terms are used in their usual meaning.

    If you accuse someone of cissexism just because they use ‘gender’ and ‘sex’ to mean the same, then you are misconstruing what the other person is saying, and accusing them of saying what they’re not saying. In other words, that would be a false accusation on your part.

    So, beyond the issue of the terms ‘same-gender marriage’, and ‘same-sex marriage’, I deny that using the stand-alone words ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ to mean the same entails or suggest cissexism. That’s part of your ideology, not of what the words mean.

    Obviously, there are people who deny the existence of transgender people, or have negative feelings towards them, hatred, etc., but that does not justify accusing people who aren’t in that category, and who are using standard English words that aren’t slur.

  135. says

    Whoa, I’m making an observation, not an argument here: you’re the one busy demonstrating what a condescending, patronising git you are, complete with a citation of the dictionary. All because you can’t accept that someone might have brought up a valid point – same-sex is the correct terminology here.

    But keep bloviating in an attempt to prove yourself right: you might be in line to win the most epic Not Getting the Point Award for 2012.

  136. says

    First, you’re not making an observation, but raising a false accusation.

    Second, ‘same-gender marriage’, ‘same-sex marriage’, and ‘gay marriage’, are all correct, for the reasons I’ve been explaining.

    In hindsight, what I should have done is go further from the beginning, and generally counter the basic problems, like the claim that using ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ as synonyms was a problem, and further making false accusations based on misconstructions of the words of people who are using the words in a standard sense, rather than focus only on the fact that using ‘same-gender marriage’ and ‘same-sex marriage’ in their usual sense wasn’t a problem, and in particular didn’t imply that ‘gender’ and ‘sex’ are the same in all contexts.

    You may insult me all you like, of course, but that does not affect any of the arguments in my reply to you.

  137. John Morales says

    [meta]

    Angra:

    First, you’re not making an observation, but raising a false accusation.

    False dichotomy.

    Second, ‘same-gender marriage’, ‘same-sex marriage’, and ‘gay marriage’, are all correct, for the reasons I’ve been explaining.

    No. You keep asserting this, without responding to the explaining that has been provided.

    In hindsight, what I should have done is go further from the beginning [blah]

    In my hindsight (and I’ve just re-read the thread), what you should’ve done is irrelevant, but what you’re doing is futilely doubling-down.

    You may insult me all you like, of course, but that does not affect any of the arguments in my reply to you.

    True, if a straw dummy.

    (The insults, such as they are, are others’ opinions of you. Which I share)

  138. says

    No. You keep asserting this, without responding to the explaining that has been provided.

    That is not true. I have replied to claims and arguments given.

    (The insults, such as they are, are others’ opinions of you. Which I share)

    Yes, it’s their false opinion of me. And now I see your false opinion as well. Given that you reached that ‘conclusion’ based on this thread, you too are committed to their political correctness ideology.

    Whatever. The matter (arguments, etc.) is on record.

  139. says

    Your obstinacy might be useful in some instances, but not when you are plainly wrong and refusing to listen to anything except the sound of your own voice.

    Keep fucking that chicken, man.

  140. says

    Good grief, Angra Mainyu; are you completely incapable of reading for comprehension?

    Cissexism doesn’t have to be intended by the user of cissexist terms for the term to be cissexist. The term doesn’t even have to be a slur or insulting. For example, the phrase ‘The Fairer Sex’ is sexist even if it is meant as a compliment. Cissexism, like sexism, like racism, like ablism, merely means denying the experience/existence of people not of the dominant group. It implies nothing about hatred or even dislike; just incomprehension of a different experience.

    “But it’s normal!” has long been used by members of more fortunate groups to deny equality to less fortunate people.

    Remember, not so many years ago, the resistance to using ‘he or she’ instead of just ‘he’ in writing and conversation? There were plenty of people asserting that using the male pronoun didn’t erase female experience or existence and that it should be allowed to continue because the majority had always used it.

    Or remember the outcry, from people who would have vehemently denied being racists, when racial diversity started appearing in school book illustrations, saying that it was perfectly OK for children of colour to learn to read from books that showed nothing but white faces?

    They were wrong, and you are wrong to think that, just because most people ignore the experience of transgendered people, it is OK for you to continue to use terms that make us vanish from public consciousness.

    It isn’t. You were politely told that, and given copious reasons for why the conflation of sex and gender is problematic, and instead of doing the decent thing and saying “Oops; I’m sorry! I didn’t realise that. I shan’t do it again.” and gaining respect, you have typed page after page about how you are only doing what the majority does and how people are mean for saying that you are wrong.

    You have been given plenty of chances to salvage some respect and admit that going on the defence was a daft thing to do when your initial error was pointed out to you; yet you have continued to repeat that your right to use your definition counts above the rights of marginalised people to feel a little safer, a little more included.

    How disappointing.

  141. John Morales says

    Angra:

    Whatever. The matter (arguments, etc.) is on record.

    So it is.

    Two claims you’ve made:

    1. as I see it, Obama actually implied that law-makers and/or voters have a moral obligation to refrain from passing or maintaining legislation that bans same-gender marriage, which involves an obligation to pass legislation allowing same-gender marriage where it’s banned.

    2. The terms ‘same-sex marriage’, ‘gay marriage’ and ‘same-gender marriage’ are often used to talk about a number of similar arrangements.

    Often, eh?

    Here, let me quote from DOMA:

    Section 2. Powers reserved to the states
    No State, territory, or possession of the United States, or Indian tribe, shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State, territory, possession, or tribe respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other State, territory, possession, or tribe, or a right or claim arising from such relationship.
    Section 3. Definition of marriage
    In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word ‘marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word ‘spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.”

    (I note the use of ‘sex’ rather than ‘gender’.

    Your turn to adduce something of relevance)

  142. says

    Yes, how dare there be people whose existence and experiences contradict the cis-normative certainty of Angra’s dictionary-justified conflation of sex and gender — as though they were different things!!! After all, Angra can never be wrong, he has (fallacious) reason and logic on his side!!!!

    Here’s a big hint for you chum: they are different; you used the wrong term. The term might be correct if you could only exclude all those pesky gender variant people from all consideration. People like me and Tigger. Don’t do that.

    Somehow I doubt the hint will be taken. At this rate I imagine Angra will reach China at some stage, what with this continued digging of holes.

  143. John Morales says

    Xanthe, hey!

    Transsexuals (or even gender-dysmorphic) people don’t count.

    Certainly not asexual people!

    (And ‘often’ means ‘never’)

    </snark>

  144. says

    @Tigger_the_Wing
    No, you’re the one failing at reader comprehension.

    An expression is not sexist, or cissexist, etc., just because some group interpret it to mean something different from what it means, and then claim (by the new interpretation) that they’re being targeted.

    Cissexism, like sexism, like racism, like ablism, merely means denying the experience/existence of people not of the dominant group. It implies nothing about hatred or even dislike; just incomprehension of a different experience.

    First, no, you’re redefining the words. See, for instance, racism.
    Second, regardless, let’s go by your claim about the meaning, namely that it means “denying the experience/existence of people not of the dominant group”.
    Nothing I said can be reasonably interpreted as denying the existence of transgender people, or that they do not have the experiences that they have.

    “But it’s normal!” has long been used by members of more fortunate groups to deny equality to less fortunate people.

    And again, I did not say anything that would deny equality to anyone.

    Remember, not so many years ago, the resistance to using ‘he or she’ instead of just ‘he’ in writing and conversation? There were plenty of people asserting that using the male pronoun didn’t erase female experience or existence and that it should be allowed to continue because the majority had always used it.

    While those using ‘he’ were not denying the existence of women, or that they had the experiences they had (so that would not be sexist by your definition), those who say ‘he’ in some cases may be making an unwarranted assumption that the person in question is male, and those who say ‘she’ may be making an unwarranted assumption that the person in question is female. Those are matters to be decided on a case by case basis, rather than jumping to the conclusion that someone is being sexist (even in a standard sense of the word ‘sexist’).
    I think a more adequate analogy would be the word ‘mankind’, which does not imply that women do not exist.
    I probably would say ‘our species’ or ‘our civilization’ (depending on what I’m trying to say) rather than either ‘humankind’ or ‘mankind’. If I were to use one, I suppose I would be more likely to use ‘humankind’ just to avoid attacks, but I would find it offensive if someone accused someone else of being ‘sexist’ merely because they use the word ‘mankind’ (which, by the way, was coined when ‘man’ was gender neutral, but beside that, it simply does not mean that there are no women, or that women do not have the experiences that they have).
    Again, the meaning of the words is determined by usage.
    If you interpreted that someone who says ‘mankind’ is (just because of that), denying either that women exists, or that they have any of the experiences they have, you would be the one making a baseless accusation based on a false belief.

    Or remember the outcry, from people who would have vehemently denied being racists, when racial diversity started appearing in school book illustrations, saying that it was perfectly OK for children of colour to learn to read from books that showed nothing but white faces?

    That’s another matter. There is no good reason to misrepresent a social reality by means of showing only White faces (on the other hand, if you’re depicting a social group which only includes White faces for whatever reason, then adding non-White faces would simply be inaccurate, but that’s not the case here).

    They were wrong, and you are wrong to think that, just because most people ignore the experience of transgendered people, it is OK for you to continue to use terms that make us vanish from public consciousness.

    No, you are unjustified in assuming that the use of the term ‘same-gender marriage’ or the use of ‘gender’ to mean the same as ‘sex’ in some contexts (or both, whichever you’re talking about) make people believe that transgender people do not exist.
    If someone is unaware of the existence of transgender people, that’s a good reason for educating them, but not a good reason for blaming people for using words to mean what they mean.

    You have been given plenty of chances to salvage some respect and admit that going on the defence was a daft thing to do when your initial error was pointed out to you; yet you have continued to repeat that your right to use your definition counts above the rights of marginalised people to feel a little safer, a little more included.
    How disappointing.

    No, I’m not using my definition. I’m using standard English words that aren’t slang. There is nothing wrong if you prefer a different definition, and you use it, or ask others to use it because you like it better. But accusing others of any “ism” for that is not an acceptable accusation. It’s the political correctness ideology.
    But on the other hand, it may well be that that means that no one here will respect me. If so, well so be it. While I’m willing to even change language to prevent attacks from political correctness ideologues, I’m not willing to go as far as insincerely apologize and say I agree with you, and I cannot sincerely do any of that.

  145. says

    It’s not a case of ‘politically correct ideology’ — it’s a matter of you being unwilling to admit you used the wrong term, refusing to admit it was the wrong term when you were called on it, and then instead of apologising for your mistake, doubling and redoubling the offense by attempting beyond the point of stupidity to prove you were right all the time.

    And now you’re telling transgender people to suck eggs. How low do you want to go, Angra?

  146. says

    China, Xanthe, obviously.

    Angra Mainyu, you really don’t get it, do you? Refusing to use the preferred terms is denying equality to less fortunate groups than the dominant one.

    It vanishes us from literature, law, medicine, history, current affairs, politics… you get the idea. Or not.

    Perhaps if you were to take your fingers out of your ears and stop yelling “LALALALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU!” you might learn something.

  147. says

    Oh, and I cannot believe that you think that warning someone that they have used something wrongly is accusing them of an ‘-ism’, and that that is the worst thing that anyone can do to you. You lucky sod if that really is the worst thing that has ever happened to you.

    Privilege by the shit-ton.

  148. John Morales says

    Angra responding to Tigger_the_Wing:

    They were wrong, and you are wrong to think that, just because most people ignore the experience of transgendered people, it is OK for you to continue to use terms that make us vanish from public consciousness.

    No, you are unjustified in assuming that the use of the term ‘same-gender marriage’ or the use of ‘gender’ to mean the same as ‘sex’ in some contexts (or both, whichever you’re talking about) make people believe that transgender people do not exist.

    Tigger claimed that “most people ignore the experience of transgendered people”, to which you retorted that Tigger is “unjustified in assuming that the use of the term ‘same-gender marriage’ or the use of ‘gender’ to mean the same as ‘sex’ in some contexts (or both, whichever you’re talking about) make people believe that transgender people do not exist.”

    That is an epitome of the non-sequitur.

    (Care to address the actual contention (“most people ignore the experience of transgendered people”) rather than your straw dummy (“the use of the term ‘same-gender marriage’ or the use of ‘gender’ to mean the same as ‘sex’ in some contexts (or both, whichever you’re talking about) make people believe that transgender people do not exist”)?

    [meta]

    This is FtB.

    (Your verbosity does not obfuscate; it is futile)

  149. John Morales says

    [meta]

    PS I (unfortunately) feel that I should make this extremely clear for Angra: To deny the experience of X is not tantamount to denying the existence of X.

  150. says

    @Angra
    This is fucking ridiculous.

    Ok imagine we are way back some years ago when it was common to use the term policeman. Not so long ago I know. Well even after women were allowed to become police officers the common terminology of policeman persisted. Then we has conversations that happened something like this:

    Gene writes a long piece about police officers as a whole and instead of calling them police officers he uses the term policemen throughout. Francis noticed that the terminology ignores the fact that women are police officers and decides to politely say “hey Gene your terminology is sexist because it erases that women do police work too. Gene then gets angry that someone called him sexist and rebuts with “I am not sexist. Look here where all these other places use the term policeman. It is just the term. If I didn’t mean it negatively then it isn’t sexist.” Francis explained that yes it is sexist even if he didn’t intend it to be sexist because erasing women from existing as police officers perpetuates the cultural normative stereotype that women aren’t police officers. This can be done overtly by stating that women shouldn’t be police officers or subtly by using terms that equate the position with only men like the term policemen. Gene continue to defend his use of sexist terminology and insists that other people are creating new definitions to words. Don’t they know that policeman has always been used to talk about police officers? Francis points out that tradition doesn’t make the term right cause sometimes people need to change tradition to end sexism. Gene has agreed to not use the term cause it offends our poor sensibilities when really Francis wants Gene to understand WHY and after understanding WHY for him to decide he doesn’t want to erase women from roles that were traditionally considered men’s roles. Francis won’t get that wish it seems because Gene would much rather prefer to not be called a sexist than to listen to why he is being sexist.

    This concludes our story of Gene and Francis. I am pretty sure that you will look at all the ways the analogy isn’t an exact fit (all analogies are not exact fits) rather than look at how it apples to your continued cissexism.

  151. says

    @John Morales

    [meta]
    PS I (unfortunately) feel that I should make this extremely clear for Angra: To deny the experience of X is not tantamount to denying the existence of X.

    That’s obvious.
    The definition I was replying to was:

    Cissexism, like sexism, like racism, like ablism, merely means denying the experience/existence of people not of the dominant group.

    As you can see, and as you could have seen from the beginning, the definition involved both denying the existence of a group, or their experiences, not only their experiences.

    Perhaps, you wouldn’t feel like clarifying that if you had read the exchange more carefully.

  152. says

    @John Morales

    Tigger claimed that “most people ignore the experience of transgendered people”, to which you retorted that Tigger is “unjustified in assuming that the use of the term ‘same-gender marriage’ or the use of ‘gender’ to mean the same as ‘sex’ in some contexts (or both, whichever you’re talking about) make people believe that transgender people do not exist.”
    That is an epitome of the non-sequitur.

    Actually, Tigger said that “it is OK for you to continue to use terms that make us vanish from public consciousness”.
    But if I misread, okay then, my mistake. In that case, Tigger is unjustified in assuming that the use of the term ‘same-gender marriage’ or the use of ‘gender’ to mean the same as ‘sex’ in some contexts (or both, whichever you’re talking about) make transgender people vanish from public consciousness.

  153. says

    By all means, folks, continue, I won’t shut this conversation down for being a derail by any stretch of the imagination. This stuff needs to be hashed out. Wish I had time to put together a comprehensive post on the argument, but suffice it to say that you can perpetuate privilege by your word choices without intending to do so. Actions have consequences, and so do words, often well beyond their intended scope.

  154. says

    I tried to post, but my post did not get through.

    I’ll try again:

    There is only one of me, and I do not have time to deal with this barrage, so I guess they’ll drive me out by sheer numbers.

    Still, and for non-ideologues, apart from the dictionary, there are other examples of usage of ‘same-gender’ and ‘gender’ one can find, and which ideologues might just consider cissexist or whatever, if their ideology tells them so.

    But I’ll post a few as an example of the varied usages of ‘gender’, by people who are using standard English terms, not denying the existence of transgender people, or any of their experiences (of course, this are merely examples; readers who are interested can find more on their own; it’s not as if it takes more than a search engine).

    For instance, from the Statute of the International Criminal Court.
    Source: http://untreaty.un.org/cod/icc/statute/romefra.htm

    For the purpose of this Statute, it is understood that the term ‘gender’ refers to the
    two sexes, male and female, within the context of society. The term ‘gender’ does
    not indicate any meaning different from the above.

    Or from the California Health and Safety Code:
    http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=hsc&group=103001-104000&file=103446-103449

    103446. It is the intent of the Legislature that this article
    provide a remedy for the correction of birth certificates that
    contain gender errors made by the birthing hospital or local
    registrar when completing the original birth certificate.

    Or just a random post.

    http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080403202834AAZXZ9E

    Petition court for a legal gender change based on letters from surgeon.

  155. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    There is only one of me, and I do not have time to deal with this barrage, so I guess they’ll drive me out by sheer numbers.

    Help! Help! He’s being OPPRESSED!@@!@#!$!

  156. says

    … and not only their existence, but their experience.

    Perhaps if you had read all the exchanges more carefully, we wouldn’t still be trying to pound into your highly reisistant skull the idea that words matter.

    Please stop cherry-picking bits of comments to argue against whilst ignoring the substance.

    Summary:

    When there are two (or more) ways of describing something, one (or more) which is inclusive of different experiences and one (or more) which excludes some experiences, it is always better, kinder, more humane to use the former rather than the latter.

    Why is that so hard to understand?

  157. says

    WilloNyx

    Ok imagine we are way back some years ago when it was common to use the term policeman. Not so long ago I know. Well even after women were allowed to become police officers the common terminology of policeman persisted.

    In the case of ‘policeman’, if the term actually means ‘a male police officer’, that would be a misuse.
    Else, if there is a risk that it will cause confusion, sure, that should be avoided. It has to be assessed on a case by case basis.

    Clearly, in this case, the accusations against me are out of place. Well, not clearly to ideologues.

  158. says

    And why go to all the trouble of finding other people, other sites, where exclusionary language is used, as if that makes it all OK for you to use it too? It doesn’t, you know.

    It just means that there are other places that are trying to erase us.

    How does that make it OK? As I said before, “But it’s normal!” has long been used by members of more fortunate groups to deny equality to less fortunate people. Normal ≠ right, or the best way of doing things.

  159. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Clearly, in this case, the accusations against me are out of place. Well, not clearly to ideologues.

    Aww. You haz a sad.

  160. says

    Wow! Someone commenting on LGBT issues fails to pick up nuance and subtlety of the issues, stupidly conflates distinct concepts that are in fact different. And in fact, goes on to show why it’s everyone else’s fault that they are wrong. Why, I don’t think I’ve seen that sort of thing happen before.

    Oh, sorry, that’s just me being forgetful. This sort of thing happens all the fucking time.

    Keep on digging.

  161. says

    Hasn’t he reached China yet?

    (Oh, and WilloNyx: good call on the policeman analogy -

    “I am pretty sure that you will look at all the ways the analogy isn’t an exact fit (all analogies are not exact fits) rather than look at how it apples to your continued cissexism.”

    Perfect. =^_^=

  162. says

    Tigger_the_Wing

    Perhaps if you had read all the exchanges more carefully, we wouldn’t still be trying to pound into your highly reisistant skull the idea that words matter.
    Please stop cherry-picking bits of comments to argue against whilst ignoring the substance.

    I’m not doing that at all, and perhaps you would have realized that if your ideology didn’t block you from doing that.
    That said, there is only one of me, so I reply the best I can, but I don’t have time to defend myself against this barrage. I’ve already made most of the points I wanted to make, and the attacks have only intensified, so I’ll have to quit soon.

    When there are two (or more) ways of describing something, one (or more) which is inclusive of different experiences and one (or more) which excludes some experiences, it is always better, kinder, more humane to use the former rather than the latter.

    First, no one is ‘excluding’ anything. You disagree with my points about the meaning of the words, and I can’t convince you, but it’s not as if there is any implication in ‘same gender marriage’, as usually used, that would somehow be a problem.

    Second, ‘gay marriage’ would also have the same problems, because gay people can get married as long as they’re a man and a woman. Now, someone can say that “gay marriage” is not a wrong description, that it’s understood in context, etc., and all of that is true, but the same applies to same-gender marriage..

    Third, your standard for terms would seem to even make the ‘gay’ a problem as well.
    Because, you see, the term ‘gay’ denotes is used either to denote males, or generically, whereas ‘lesbian’ is used only for women. It’s the same as with many other terms. But there is nothing wrong with ‘gay’. Again, in the case of such terms, the matter has to be decided on a case by case basis, not by a general brush that applies to all of them.

  163. says

    Sorry Angra, the examples you have cited demonstrate the unfortunate characteristic known as ‘weasel words’ where gender is used as a proxy for sex, because the use of the latter word has been deemed unpalatable – which, mark this, is an inherently cis-sexist attitude.

    If you want to give examples of language that prove your case, ones that embody the inherent marginalisation of transgender people by ignoring their very existence will not do.

  164. says

    Help! Help! He’s being OPPRESSED!@@!@#!$!

    First, no, I’m just being treated unfairly, insulted, etc., but a number of people.
    Second, I’m not asking for help. If no one has stepped in to help me yet, it seems to me chances are no one will, and asking would probably be pointless anyway. Maybe all readers agree with my attackers, anyway. Based on the replies, I’d say probably at least nearly all do. Maybe if one or two agree with me, they just don’t have time, or for a different reason will not post.

  165. The Pint says

    Summary:

    When there are two (or more) ways of describing something, one (or more) which is inclusive of different experiences and one (or more) which excludes some experiences, it is always better, kinder, more humane to use the former rather than the latter.

    Why is that so hard to understand?

    Because it requires just a little bit of extra effort and that’s just sooooooo haaardddddd!! And besides, it’s no skin off the back’s of anyone who isn’t being excluded by “normal” language anyway, so why the fuck should they care? The people who are being excluded by “normal” language should just buck up and grow a thicker skin instead of expecting those who aren’t excluded to make the extra little effort to be inclusive as apparently, empathy and compassion just require far too much work.

  166. says

    @Xanthe

    Sorry Angra, the examples you have cited demonstrate the unfortunate characteristic known as ‘weasel words’ where gender is used as a proxy for sex, because the use of the latter word has been deemed unpalatable – which, mark this, is an inherently cis-sexist attitude.
    If you want to give examples of language that prove your case, ones that embody the inherent marginalisation of transgender people by ignoring their very existence will not do.

    My point is that there is nothing cis-sexist about those examples, and that accusing all those people of cis-sexism for the use of those words would be an instance of accusing people of behaving in an immoral manne when they’re not doing so, which is unacceptable.
    While I do not expect ideologues to realize that, if there are readers who aren’t ideologues as well, the examples are for them: those are usual usages of the terms.

    So, you say that the examples “will not do”. Well, they “will not do” in terms of persuading my opponents. But I’m not trying to persuade my opponents. Given the evidence so far, I’ve concluded that that’s simply never going to happen. So, that my opponents will not be persuaded is beside the point.

    The examples are for readers, in case at least some of them are not ideologically committed to condemning anyone who uses their taboo words.

  167. says

    Something I learned a long time ago: it’s only a “barrage” if you feel the need to defend yourself on everyone else’s schedule. I assure you they will continue to tell you you’re wrong even if you go have a life outside of arguing on the internet.

    I mean, that last bit is mostly because you are, in fact, wrong and are using many fallacious arguments to defend what could easily have been rectified with a simple “sorry, didn’t realize the terminology” at the outset.

  168. says

    Things I learned from Angra:

    Sex and gender are the same, therefore transgender people don’t exist! They are figments of his imagination!

    Cis-sexism isn’t cis-sexism, because: ideology.

    Keep on fucking the chicken, Angra, I think you’re nearly there.

  169. says

    Okay, I’ve spent many hours on this, and I just don’t have time to continue with this.
    Nor do I see a point. The character assassination will just continue, with more people joining in perhaps.

    Anyone interested in the usage of ‘same gender’ and ‘gender’, etc., can just use Google, dictionaries, etc., and reach their own conclusions.

    And anyone interested in the positions of each of the parties can just read the thread, at least the thread so far in my case.

    So, I’m leaving.

  170. The Pint says

    I’m just being treated unfairly, insulted, etc., but a number of people.

    Demonstrating the cis-sexism and privilege in your comments and calling you out on them =/= being treated unfairly or being insulted. The criticisms of your arguments have been extremely fair, you’re just refusing to hear it because apparently it’s just that much more important to you to continuing using cis-sexist language, rather than considering that just maybe you’ve been demonstrating cis-sexism, however unintentionally, and that maybe, just maybe, you might have been…. wrong (GASP!). Your arguments deserve to be insulted because they rest on faulty premises – if you continue to hold them despite having been shown why they’re in error, well, that level of obstinate stupidity is insulting to the rest of us.

  171. says

    Did you look at the graphic I linked, which explains in simple terms how much variation there is in gender/sex/attraction/presentation?

    Even that graphic is flawed, as it doesn’t take into account other variations such as asexual people, but it is better than this duelling-with-dictionary stuff that is going on here.

    It’s obvious that you don’t get it. That’s OK; until recently there were many, many things that I didn’t get and there are a lot of things I still don’t get and never will. The difference between us is that I now recognise that when my inevitable lack of experience in any area gets in the way of my understanding something, I should sit quietly and read what the people who actually live the experiences have to say about it. And learn how I can, if not actually help things get better, at least not contribute to them staying the same or getting worse.

    It wasn’t your intitial mistake that got everyone in a tizzy; it was that you denied that it was a mistake, looked for evidence that supported your position and ignored all the evidence to the contrary.

    Ignorance is forgivable; it can be cured with education. Wilful ignorance, on the other hand…

  172. says

    The mockery started because you dug yourself so far into the hole (reached Beijing, surely): sex and gender might be effectively the same for the majority of people; but you’re talking on an LGBT subject, and the T in LGBT has a fucking meaning that you aren’t entitled to cavalierly dismiss because it doesn’t fit your cis-tinted glasses. Your argument is, and has been, nothing but a continual repetitious and pig-ignorant insult to trans people, except that you are too stupidly arrogant and obstinant to consider that, and I hope you stick the flounce.

  173. says

    Reading through this reminds me of an exchange I had on this very blog (also regarding words and their meaning). This time Angra’s in my shoes.

    OT: Angra – your blog looks really excellent (and I’m interested in your extremely comprehensive Kalam objections). It is a shame comments seem to be disabled.

  174. says

    Thank you, Jason, for allowing the thread to continue. There was never any realistic hope that Angra Mainyu would come down from his pedestal for long enough to gain any kind of empathy, but he gave such wonderful examples of privileged cluelessness for refutation. I have every hope that other readers/lurkers will have learned something from the exchange.

    I hope others will understand, as he failed to, that using terminology that helps people to ignore the experience and/or existence of a particular class of the underprivileged is not the same as telling people that they don’t exist, and that nobody said that it was the same except him.

  175. says

    In all honesty, I learned something myself, because I think it’s the first time I’ve ever encountered “same-gender marriage” in discussion and while it sounded wrong, I couldn’t immediately place why. Thanks for taking charge, all of you. And especially WilloNyx whose stamina is impressive.

  176. says

    I agree! And what an impressive thread derail it was; not so much a derail as a branch line leading to better things. As I said in the Genderbread Person thread,

    “…since when did we have to improve the status quo by replacing something absolutely horrible with something perfect? A replacement only has to be better than what we had before, yes? ”

    And that was what was wrong with the original subject of this thread; what the president of the US said wasn’t better than what went before, when the whole of what he said was taken into account, and in many ways was worse.

    He seemed to me (an ex-pat Brit, currently living in Australia) to be addressing two audiences, each of which he hoped would focus on different aspects of what he said. He seemed to hope that those of us in favour of allowing marriage between any two adults who wish to marry, without discrimination, would be so delighted that he had ‘evolved’ into something approaching a decent human being that we would ignore what came after because we would be celebrating; and that those who prefer to restrict that right to a particular band of people would focus on his telling them that his personal feelings won’t be allowed to affect his political actions and he won’t stop them voting for and enacting discriminatory laws.

    But we who want universal rights aren’t stupid. We noticed his duplicity, and we are angry.

  177. says

    I didn’t want to weigh in on the thread at the outset, as like Tigger I’m in Australia, and we have our own problems with stupid federal politicians holding stupid positions on issues of whether people like me deserve the same rights that others take for granted (and does it get tiring fighting the same fight on so many fucking different battlegrounds). However, my initial positive reaction (in a blog comment elsewhere) to Obama had said something acknowledging that same-sex should have the right to marry was immediately tempered by the fact that he had mentioned states’ rights. That’s sort of two steps forward, three steps backwards, in light of the news from the previous day about North Carolina.

    On that problem of Obama putting out a mixed message, I’m totally with Josh – it’s an uncomfortable position for Obama to have to negotiate this issue in an election year, but by saying this is a states’ rights issue, he’s in effect condoning the bigotry of the Bible Belt states (and elsewhere where that mentality is well ensconced socially and legally).

    RahXephon paraphrased this attitude of Obama’s extremely well in comment #42: “I personally support gay marriage, but I’m gonna leave it up to the states to decide to take your rights away, like North Carolina just did.” Yep. Sure it sucks to be Obama in being unable to do very much about the states (but actually I’m not so sure about that, if he really wanted to!), but it most definitely sucks, way more to be an LGBT person growing up in those parts of the US where you will be treated like a second-class citizen.

    BTW, I forgot one thing I was going to mention in comment #187. Apparently there are ‘taboo words’, and Angra’s real crime was that he used one of them. Uh uh. Still wrong.

  178. says

    I just want to say thanks to everyone who showed up. I never expected Angra Mainyu to react as negatively as ze did. I only thought I was politely pointing out to a probably reasonable person where ze was misusing words. No such luck.

    This is new stuff for me. As I mentioned earlier, I am cis and Having to long detailed (and heavily nuanced) discussions about a subject I have privilege in makes me a bit nervous. I don’t want to fall into a privilege trap but I am willing to climb my way out rather than dig the whole deeper like Angra.

    I know that reading the words “same gender marriage” screamed out to me every time I heard them. I started to get worried that those words only screamed at me though because for a little while it was just me and Angra. I started to worry that I was rushing in to save the day for people who didn’t need or want to be saved. So I am thankful to hear that I wasn’t out of line to call out this error. I ask that if I was out of line in anything I said, that people please tell me.

    I promise to listen.

  179. says

    WilloNyx, you were/are awesome. =^_^=

    Sorry you had to carry on the schooling all by yourself for so long. I joined in as soon as my attention was drawn to this post, and so did others, but nobody reads every blog post on FTB. Even someone like me, who is presently confined to bed and bored out of my skull hasn’t time to read everything so we have to rely on the serendipitous discoveries by people who we happen to be interacting with elsewhere.

    I didn’t see you as stepping in to take over something that isn’t your business; I saw that you were the brave person who saw an injustice being done and stepped in to rectify it despite the fact that you could legitimately have claimed that, as it doesn’t directly affect you, you have no obligation to correct the language being used. That is being a true ally. Thank you from the bottom of my misbehaving heart!

    Willing to listen; willing to be corrected of mistakes; willing to acknowledge personal ignorance and ask for education, willing to use thought and intelligence to better the world even in small things; these are true virtues that you have in spades and that Angra certainly doesn’t and might never have.

    I think I would like to be you one day! =^_^=

  180. B. says

    Jason, I should have responded sooner; still, I would like you to know that you satisfied the concern I expressed at comment 104. I don’t happen to share your conclusions, but I appreciate the word change to the original post. Thank you.

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