What I Saw at Homocon

September 27th, 2010 at 8:05 am | 91 Comments |

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After a four-hour bus ride and a mentally taxing experience with New York’s subway system, I arrived safely at the first annual quasi-convention for GOProud — the younger, cooler, more conservative version of the Log Cabin Republicans.

Held in the apartment of Peter Thiel, Homocon 2010 attracted about one hundred guests. Mostly the reason for the attendance count was that the tickets were deliriously expensive, thanks to Ann Coulter’s appearance: $250 a pop. I was able to attend as a poor college student only thanks to the graciousness of event organizer Roy Eappen, who offered me his extra organizer’s ticket. (He told me to stop thanking him so much, but I must defy his wishes and offer another note of thanks here.) Ann’s starpower ensured that the event would be a success, though, and, indeed, GOProud’s stock has skyrocketed since the announcement. Its chairman, Christopher Barron, recently sparred with WorldNetDaily’s Joseph Farah over whether gays can truly be conservative. For her part, Coulter happily abandoned her slot as WND’s convention keynote speaker when Farah asked her to drop her association with GOProud.

I was able to briefly converse with Ann, in a trademark slinky black dress, and was gratified when she said that she recognized my name and had seen some of my work.

“Today’s fifteen-year-old gay boys have Lady Gaga. I had Ann Coulter,” I told her to laughter, recounting my obsession with her as a high-schooler. She’s a charming, agreeable person. I’m not always pleased when I encounter the person behind the writings I enjoy — David Horowitz, anyone? — but in Ann’s case, I’m happy to report, she is as humorful as her irreverent writing style would indicate.

Her remarks, which probably lasted for no more than ten minutes, came about forty-five minutes into the party. The media have focused on her remarks against same-sex marriage. Paraphrasing, she said: “If you think I’m not going to try to talk you out of gay marriage, you’re kidding yourselves; I went onto The View and attacked single motherhood in front of a bunch of single mothers.”

And indeed she tried. Her argument was essentially this: You conservative gays don’t actually care about this activist crap like marriage, or serving in the military. Ultimately, what you really want is some sort of assurance that Americans are accepting of gays, not marriage itself. Gay marriage initiatives don’t fail because Americans hate gay people; they fail because marriage is fundamentally about rearing children. Most Americans love gay people; they just don’t want that institution extended.

The Q&A session was mostly an attack on that line of argument. Red Eye’s Bill Schulz (who was standing next to me) and I kept our hands raised, hoping that a sense of order would remain, but eventually people just started shouting out questions. Porn director Michael Lucas in particular became a bit testy, trying to talk over her during her response to his unsolicited question. He noted that her base might not understand that she has no problem whatsoever with homosexuality or gay assimilation, and that she should use her platform on right-wing shows to drive home that point.

I approached her afterward.

She remembered me: “It’s you! Hello.”

“First of all, let me say: you’re definitely right — at least in my case — that I don’t care about these issues much. I’ve always annoyed the gay left by saying, you know — I don’t need my existence validated by some paper-pushing bureaucrat…”

“Thank you!” she yelled, throwing her hands up. “Thank you. Now go say that to that New York Times reporter over there in the hat!”

“…but yeah, like, this piece I wrote a few weeks ago…”

“No, I’m serious! I want you to go talk to her and say that!”

“Oh, I will; the media whore in me can’t resist. But this piece I wrote about Ken Mehlman — you know, the gay left always gets up in arms about this point — you know, he was working for Bush because he can’t understand why anyone cares about what the state thinks about his sexuality!”

“Oh yeah! And by the way, those of us who knew him: we all knew. Everyone knew!”

“Yeah, definitely. But, as far as your earlier points: would you support some kind of mandate — and we like man dates, here — that would dissolve childless marriages?”

“Ahh…No.”

“So then it’s not about children..?”

“No, the law has never done that.”

I was talking to her at the tail-end of her visit, so by now we were walking toward the door while we were talking. I did go to the New York Times reporter, who did not record my remarks and was very patronizing: “Oh, good for you, honey! That’s what the women used to say! Who needs to get married!” Alas, being (and looking) twenty years old is an impediment to appearing authoritative to reporters. I got in a few good words with an Esquire reporter who recognized me, though. I also ran into Tammy Bruce, Students for Liberty president Alexander McCobin (who is not gay), and, weirdly enough, Mark Koenig, a NewsRealBlog writer.

Overall, it was a fun, light-hearted party that existed mostly for the publicity it generated. GOProud and its supporters are a group of independent-minded folks trying to organize to defy orthodoxy and blast open a stale narrative.

Recent Posts by Alex Knepper



91 Comments so far ↓

  • WaStateUrbanGOPer

    David Horowitz booted Knepper from Front Page for making critical arguements against Ann Coulter’s intellectually honesty. Yet Knepper can, apparently, carry on rationally with Ms. Coulter. Face to face, in a public setting brimming with political passions. How piquant, then, that Xunzi Washington would poach on the writings of Confucius to imply that Knepper is intellectually immature. Between Xunzi and Alex, who’s the real sophomore?

    Ann Coulter really isn’t the fascistic harpy so many on the left make her out to be, though she isn’t always as serious as she could be. For instance, its beyond me why she defends Sarah Palin, going so far as to write a short piece for Time magazine praising that dreadful little tart. And I once saw a debate between Coulter and Peter Beinart in which she claimed the U.S. pre-emptively attacked Germany in WWII; Beinart had to remind her that Adolf hitler declared war on the U.S., though Coutler, to her credit, clearly had the good sense to appear embarrased about her historical solecism.

    I support marriage equality for gays, but agree with Coulter that it isn’t a guranteed right. Hetero marriages aren’t a guranteed right, either. They are priveleges, and as such they entail even more responsibilities than mere rights. If marriage was a simple (or even natural) right it wouldn’t be necessary to enshrine it in a contract. If you break the contract, then you get to face all the consequences implied by divorce, itself a privelege. Marriage, gay or straight, should be a momentous and thoughtful decision, and the law should take reasonable measures to prevent marriage from devolving into the sort of frivolity evinced by the courthouse-and-cityhall-frontsteps media circuses the gay left loves so much.

    Knepper and other homocons like Andrew Sullivan have probably been more persuasive on gay marriage’s behalf than any of the lefty gays, much in the same way William F. Buckley and George Schultz were more credible opponents of drug prohibition than, say, Ralph Nader. People who are apprehensive about the institution being extended beyond hetero and procreative purposes, but are open to reasoned arguements, are surely more likely to be persuaded by gay or pro-gay cons than by any leftwinger. The leftwing gay activists where I live, in Olympia, WA, are a case in point. They come off as total freaks and thus turn off potential supporters.

  • Xunzi Washington

    GOP

    Well, gee, I don’t know…because he’s enamored of celebrity? He says himself “Today’s fifteen-year-old gay boys have Lady Gaga. I had Ann Coulter.” Given that he’s not that far from 15 today, well…

    I think Knepper has some talent, he’s a smart guy, but I’ve read him here for a while now and he’s not ready for this level of forum authorship yet. He needs to run his own blog for a while and work on his approach. He’s too snippy and too immature. Partly this may not be his fault, but the fault of the medium, which encourages this sort of interaction. However, to be good at this game from the author’s side (if you don’t want eventually to be seen as a second rate hack) you need to be dispassionate, mature, patient, and above the fray with respect to the tone of the comments you receive.

    Maybe he’ll get there one day, but he ain’t there yet.

  • Nanotek

    “Confucian Analects, 14.44.”

    thanks, Xunzi Washington. I’ll be reading more analects tonight. I hope here to return the kindness:

    An old Zen monk came upon a mountain shrine one particularly cold night and discovered the shrine keeper shivering beside a dying fire.

    The monk quickly snatched a wooden Buddha from the mantle and tossed it into the flames.

    The shrine keeper gasped with horror as the wooden statue burst into flames and the monk began poking at the new flames with his crooked walking stick.

    “What are you doing?” the shrine keeper cried.

    “Searching for what you find holy.”

    “You won’t find that in the flames!”

    The monk stopped poking the flames, looking back with a smile. “Then may I have more Buddhas to keep you warm?”

    Solutions dance before our eyes.

  • anniemargret

    Why anyone would bother to listen to anything out of the mouth of Ann Coulter is beyond me. She is a useless, crass, vulgar and self-serving woman who makes money off insults and put-downs. What good has she done for this country?

    What a waste of God-given brains and energy. She has done virtually nothing with her life except make money cracking vulgar and low-class jokes about other human beings.

    I thought her insults on the Edwards family was out of bounds. You don’t make fun – EVER – of the death of a child. But then again she has not ever had her own child.

    There’s something insidiously rotten within her. The fact that she parades herself around as a ‘Christian’ is a blatant insult to Christianity. No Christian can hurl the insults she dishes out and then pretends she is a true Christian. She’s another faux Christian who wears the cross around her neck, and mocks God at the same time every time she opens her mouth.

    She could have put her considerable intelligence to better use and done something constructive for America and Americans. Instead she is idolized, like Limbaugh, as a bromide thrower – says a lot about the state of ‘conservatism’ these days.

  • busboy33

    @pampl:

    “The only reason to keep marriage the same is because the potential changes feel bad to some people. That’s not a terrible reason, so I don’t see why trad. marriage supporters don’t run with it instead of red herrings like sustaining civilization or the definition of marriage or whatever.”

    The problem is, “I don’t like it” or as I put it “queers are icky” isn’t a legitimate ground to deny rights to a citizen, and as Walker detailed and cited in Perry c. Schwarzenneger;

    “The freedom to marry is recognized as a fundamental right protected by the Due Process Clause. See, for example, Turner v Safely, 482 US 78, 95 (1987) (“[T]he decision to marry is a fundamental right” and marriage is an “expression[ ] of emotional support and public commitment.”); Zablocki, 434 US at 384 (1978) (“The right to marry is of fundamental importance for all individuals.”); Cleveland Board of Education v LaFleur, 414 US 632, 639-40 (1974) (“This Court has long recognized that freedom of personal choice in matters of marriage and family life is one of the liberties protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”); Loving v Virginia, 388 US 1, 12 (1967) (The “freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.”); Griswold v Connecticut, 381 US 479, 486 (1965) (“Marriage is a coming together for better or for worse, hopefully enduring, and intimate to the degree of being sacred. It is an association that promotes a way of life, not causes; a harmony in living, not political faiths; a bilateral loyalty, not commercial or social projects. Yet it is an association for as noble a purpose as any involved in our prior decisions.”).

    The parties do not dispute that the right to marry is fundamental.”

    Perry, p.110

    When you get into limitations or denials of Rights, you (the proponent) have to demonstrate some form of actual threat or harm to society. For example, Freedom of Speech can be curtailed with Time, Place, or Manner restrictions (yelling “fire!” in a crowded theater is the classic example) because some Speech situations could pose a threat, and therefore the Right (speech) can be limited in a manner that avoids the harm.

    “It gives me the heebie-jeebies” doesn’t pass muster, regardless of the sincerity or honesty of the position. That’s why (IMO) the Prop 8 proponents went with the procreation angle . . . if it threatens procreation, then theoretically Humanity itself might become extinguished. This is the Ultimate Threat, and therefore society would be prudent to take every possible precaution to guard against it. But, as said above, the procreation argument falls apart upon the tiniest examination.

    You are certainly right that “it feels bad to some people” (btw, me included) is the real reason to oppose SSM. If gays get married, the Human race will still produce an unhealthy number of babies every single day. Society isn’t going to collapse. The Human Race isn’t going to cease to exist. It’s just very disquieting to see such a fundamental and drastic shift in “the way things were”. Like I said, that’s understandable and reasonable . . . but in terms of grounds to restrict or deny citizens rights, “I don’t like it” isn’t enough legally.

    That’s why taking the issue to the Courts struck me as a damn fool thing to do. Rule #1: NEVER walk into a Courtroom without having your arguments and counter-arguments laid out. The anti-SSM case seemed to be based on an assumption that “y’know . . . because” would allow them to prevail on the “its icky” front without actually having to say it. It was just friggin’ amatuer hour.

  • Alex Knepper

    “He’s too snippy and too immature.”

    Well, I’ve never made a secret of the fact that if you want to read arid prose written in the style of a legal brief, I’m not your guy.

    Another exchange I had with Ann at the party:

    “Last week I was arguing with Robert Stacy McCain on Twitter, and he’s going on about my tone — ”

    “Ohh…the ‘tone’ thing!”

    “But no, I mean — I said: I read Ann Coulter at 16, Ayn Rand at 18, and Camille Paglia at 20; I’m really a lost cause!” She laughed and agreed.

    “I thought her insults on the Edwards family was out of bounds. You don’t make fun – EVER – of the death of a child.”

    If you actually think she was making fun of “the death of a child,” then I question your ability to comprehend anything you read.

  • busboy33

    @Alex:

    “Taming men and keeping them with their offspring, I assume. Keeping the baby with those that spawned it.”

    Assuming that’s the vital societal goal, any guresses on how blocking SSM and Polygamy promote those goals better than allowing both? Again, we’re back at some version of “procreation/bablies”, and I’m still not sure how SSM or polygamy are any worse at fulfilling those goals.

    btw, I know you’re assuming the mantle of Devil’s Advocate for this, so I’m not trying to hold your feet to the fire for someone else’s poorly explained ideas.

    @Xuni & Nano:

    Blessings to you both — two of my favorite koans (I’m stretching the definition slightly to fit Xuni’s, but I don’t think Confucius would mind).

  • Alex Knepper

    “Assuming that’s the vital societal goal, any guresses on how blocking SSM and Polygamy promote those goals better than allowing both? Again, we’re back at some version of “procreation/bablies”, and I’m still not sure how SSM or polygamy are any worse at fulfilling those goals.”

    There’s the idea that a male and female influence are always superior and preferable. But that all falls apart for her when she said that childless marriages should remain legal. If you connect it to child-rearing, then having no ultimatum on having or adopting a child makes no sense. I’d at least respect that position somewhat, but since gay couples can adopt too, why can’t they get married? Devil’s advocate: Well, we want gay adoption banned, too. But, I say: Isn’t a male-male loving couple preferable to, say, foster homes? If not, I have nothing else to say to you because you’re totally delusional. If so, though, why not bring those families — and their children — even more into the mainstream by legitimizing their relationships? … Honestly, arguments against usually just go back to “It’s icky” or “It just doesn’t feel right” or “God sez so.”

  • WaStateUrbanGOPer

    Xunzi, I’m a big fan of invective in the tradition of Mencken, Christopher Hitchens. It’s not mere name calling, but intelligent name calling. There are serious and intelligent arguements entangled in the name calling. And the name calling is usually ironic and clever. I think this is what Knepper is aiming at in his columns– if I were in his positition, it is certainly what I would be trying to do. Using words as weapons does require maturity and equanimity to be effective, true, and Knepper maybe hasn’t yet had the necessary life experiences to give his arguements much depth, but he clearly wants the right thing. His impulses are admirable.

    He’s an undergrad, isn’t he? It seems like it would be pretty tough to do a full credit load AND run a blog. I couldn’t swing it. I think Frum Forum’s a pretty ideal place for him to hone his talents.

  • Rocketship7

    “I was able to attend as a poor college student only thanks to the graciousness of event organizer Roy Eappen”
    I met Dr. Roy at Ann’s speech at the University of Western Ontario (London, Ontario, Canada).
    Dr. Roy is a great defender of freedom of speech. Something that is under attack here in Canada.

  • TJ Parker

    “There’s the idea that a male and female influence are always superior and preferable. But that all falls apart for her when she said that childless marriages should remain legal.”

    No, it falls apart way before that point. “The idea” without evidence is mere bigotry. As others have said, you don’t get to make up your own facts.

    What a vile, vulgar woman. And *she* dares to make a judgment about the fitness of parents.

  • TJ Parker

    “I was able to attend as a poor college student only thanks to the graciousness of event organizer Roy Eappen”

    I would be amazed if more than a handful of attendees actually paid for entry.

  • Alex Knepper

    “I would be amazed if more than a handful of attendees actually paid for entry.”

    Seems like most did.

    “Dr. Roy is a great defender of freedom of speech. Something that is under attack here in Canada.”

    Roy is wonderful!

    “I’m a big fan of invective in the tradition of Mencken, Christopher Hitchens.”

    Love ‘em both! I would add Paglia to that list.

  • SkepticalIdealist

    UrbanGOPer. You do realize that just about every legal case to bring the subject up has confirmed that marriage is a fundamental right, right? And did you know that in the recent Prop 8 case, even the lawyers arguing in favor of Prop 8 did not dispute that marriage is a fundamental right?

    To me this is all just a rationalization to excuse injustice, just like the whole “homosexuality is a choice” myth. We live in a country where even convicted felons, rapists, molesters, embezzlers, kidnappers, and murderers can marry. Ted Bundy married twice, while IN prison. Yet it’s perfectly okay for “sensible conservatives” to throw gays under the bus in service of placating their reactionary, regressive, and reprehensible social conservative friends. As long as we get lower tax cuts, you seem to think it’s fine for gays to take it right up the ass. After all, it’s what they’re good for, isn’t it?

  • TJ Parker

    `“I would be amazed if more than a handful of attendees actually paid for entry.”

    `Seems like most did.’

    Then I’m amazed.

  • WaStateUrbanGOPer

    Skeptical Idealist: I FAVOR MARRIAGE EQUALITY FOR HOMOSEXUALS. I think all marriage, hetero or homo, should be considered a privelege, not an absolute right. Yes, I’m aware of the court rulings, and, insofar as they extend equal rights to a discriminated minority group, I favor them. I just wish the courts would make the rights/priveleges/responsiblities distinction in regard to ALL marriages.

  • WaStateUrbanGOPer

    Yeah, Alex, Paglia’s takedown of Gaga and Generation Gaga in last week’s TSM was long overdue.

    I think Camille Paglia overvalues sex in her lit crit (she’s a Freudian who got her Ph.D. under Harold Bloom, so what else would you expect?), but she’s been the most consistently outspoken foe of PC in the academy. I have a friend who’s brother attends the University of the Arts in Philly, where Paglia teaches. The waiting lists to get into her poetry courses are discouragingly long– rightly so.

    Sexual Personae is probably the most forbidding book I’ve ever read. Forbidding in length, but also in style. I wish she would have written it in a more conversational or discursive mode. Her Salon columns and her shorter books are much more readable.

  • Nona

    You know, women didn’t really want the responsibility of the vote either.

  • CO Independent

    @ WaStateUrbanGOPer

    You came across as being very literate and intellectual until you misspelled the word “privileges” as “priveleges” and “arguments” as “arguements.” Now you just come across as a twit.

    @Knepper: You owe me shaved legs, dammit. You are either a man of your word or you are no man at all.

    @ Busboy: You are correct that all the legal infrastructure is in place. I wrote about this years ago in the context of explaining why Lawrence v Texas was the best organizing tool ever for the religious right. I’m not sure Bush would have won a second term without Lawrence.

  • pampl

    @ WaStateUrbanGOPer

    Don’t you have faith in the legal knowledge and good sense of the judiciary? I don’t think of marriage as a right either, but it seems to me that if judges have consistently reached that conclusion there must be something to it that I don’t know or understand.

  • nhthinker

    If the purpose civil marriage is not about procreation- then is it about sex?
    If it’s about a mutual commitment among a pair or people or a group of people that co-habitat, then why prevent persons of the same family from obtaining the benefits conferred by marriage? The only reason would be to encourage family member to seek those relationships outside of their family.

    Who here is arguing strongly for SSM and will try to argue that polygamy is a less justifiable than SSM?
    Is a civil marriage anything more than a revocable business agreement?

    In my view, less than half the population of the country will ever be mature enough for life-long commitment to anyone. If two immature people think they are ready, that hurdle is way too low to put a stamp of government approval on it. Marriage Ed should be at least as rigorous as Driver’s Ed, including a stern grader of a license test at the end.

    I think maybe the government should offer low cost marriage licenses but have a huge divorce tax- like half a year’s salary. Too many people play married.

  • TJ Parker

    nhstinker writes: “In my view, less than half the population of the country will ever be mature enough for life-long commitment to anyone. If two immature people think they are ready, that hurdle is way too low to put a stamp of government approval on it. Marriage Ed should be at least as rigorous as Driver’s Ed, including a stern grader of a license test at the end.”

    Yeah! And we should make sure that everyone knows a thing or two about basic contract law before they’re allowed to enter into a contract! And … and … we should make sure that everyone knows a thing or two about biology and basic science before they’re allowed to make medical decisions for themselves! (Yeah, I’m talking about you too, all you knuckle-dragging anti-evolutionists!) And … and … doesn’t it suck that ignorant know-nothings can post stuff on The Internets? You should need a license!

  • Nanotek

    “I support marriage equality for gays, but agree with Coulter that it isn’t a guaranteed right. Hetero marriages aren’t a guaranteed right, either. They are privileges…”

    WaStateUrbanGOPer,

    Is your position that our only rights are those listed in the Constitution? If so, can you square that with the 9th Amendment? (my favorite of the Bill of Rights)

  • CD-Host

    nhthinker –

    I think maybe the government should offer low cost marriage licenses but have a huge divorce tax- like half a year’s salary.

    Those sorts of policies discourage marriage, which might or might not be the intent. They also encourage de-facto divorce that are not de-jure divorces and this can be very troubling. For example it can easily lead to bigamy, or marriage as being thought of casually like the person one loses their virginity too. Divorce is already substantially more difficult than marriage. I certainly agree with encouraging people to stay married, like offering free marriage counseling or minor tax incentives. But I’d be against huge penalties, I don’t think you would get the behaviors you want and a host of behaviors you don’t want.

  • Nanotek

    “@ WaStateUrbanGOPer
    You came across as being very literate and intellectual until you misspelled the word “privileges” as “priveleges” and “arguments” as “arguements.” Now you just come across as a twit.”

    CO Independent, I appreciate WaStateUrbanGOPer’s thoughts and the time taken to think them through … so what if a few words are misspelled? To me, that’s missing the forest for the trees. Some of the brightest people I know couldn’t spell sic’em. lol

  • dafyd

    Mr. Knepper,
    I was pleased that you were able to stand up to Ann Coulter and others on the far right a few months ago, so I was excited about reading you column yesterday. Then came my utter disappointment . It was not completely about you gushing over Ms. Coulter and those that thought having her there was a good idea, but it was you having found nothing wrong with what she said. Did you happen to read what they on the far right wrote about Ann Coulter going to Homocon. Let me sum it up for those that missed it. How happy they were that she took on those gays, and how they hated that those gays called themselves conservative. They were very proud of their Annie. They were gushing about her just just as you were Mr. Knepper.
    Gay right and gay left ….What the hell, I’m a straight women and I was so mad to read this. She has no right to divide like that. The gay “community” around this country, that have nothing to do with politics just want every day rights, not special rights. I wonder how a gay person in the Middle East would have reacted to what Ms. Coulter had to say? ( imean those that are not killed -yet) You should be a shame of yourself. And please stop responding like some petty, little kid and be more professional, I my disagree with John G. on the site, but when he responds, he does it very professionally.

  • Alex Knepper

    dafyd —

    Um, did you even read the article? I personally approached her and challenged her on a key point.

    Any gay-basher who was pleased with her is sorely mistaken. She talked also about how Americans love gay people, want gay people in their neighborhoods, how much money gay people make (a bit of a correlation mix-up: it’s just a testimony to the fact that a lot of gay people aren’t comfortable being openly so until they’re financially secure), how much of a lying fraud gay-basher Joseph Farah is…

  • Alex Knepper

    @UrbanGOPer — Yup! Sexual Personae is intimidating! I’ve devoured her essay collections, but Sexual Personae, since I’ve never been a literary type — philosophy yay, literature nay — has always been a little ‘over my head.’ Plus, I utterly despise Freudianism and her work is drenched in it, so there’s that aspect of grappling with the work, too: not only do I have to acquaint myself with figures I’m not familiar with, but I have to cut through a jungle of Freudian nonsense.

    @nanotek — “Is your position that our only rights are those listed in the Constitution? If so, can you square that with the 9th Amendment?”

    History, please! The 9th Amendment was inserted to assure the newly-minted Americans that their common-law rights as Englishmen wouldn’t be dissolved under the new government. It doesn’t give judges carte blanche to make s**t up.

  • DifferentFrumer

    Another exchange I had with Ann at the party:

    “Last week I was arguing with Robert Stacy McCain on Twitter, and he’s going on about my tone — ”

    “Ohh…the ‘tone’ thing!”

    “But no, I mean — I said: I read Ann Coulter at 16, Ayn Rand at 18, and Camille Paglia at 20; I’m really a lost cause!” She laughed and agreed.

    Softball requires no skill.

  • Alex Knepper

    Sorry, I’ll never have another amiable conversation with a public figure again. I’ll tell them it’s on the order of commenter DifferentFrummer.

  • busboy33

    @nthinker:

    IMO, that’s the most viable avenue for attacking SSM — that the line between SSM and ploygamy-slash-”unacceptable unions” is so razor thin that while SSM might technically be “okay” its acceptance can still constitute a threat to society. That way, the anti-SSM advocates concede all of the pro-SSM arguments (which leaves them with nothing to argue) and they still have a valid “don’t do it” argument.

    In regards to the distinction between SSM and polygamy/incest/marrying your pet goat, the Perry Trial (the Prop 8 case) spent most of its evidence phase on the topic. Marriage and social experts testified as to what is and isn’t necessary for a societally beneficial union. I won’t re-hash all of it, but one of the aspects that the witnesses agreed on was what they called “The Rule of Two”, which supported a two-person union as “good” and a multi-party union as “less good”.

    I’m on a friends computer at the moment, so I don’t have a copy of the Perry decision to cite to in front of me, but if you get a copy of the decision and search it for “Rule of Two” and/or “polygamy” there should be some discussion to explain the “science” that underlies the topic, as well as references to the body of research that the “experts” referenced.

    Suffice it to say, the question was raised, discussed, and Walker based at least part of his decision on research that appears at least on its face to be credible about this. Most people talking about the topic seem to assume that cases like Perry are just decided on a “whatever I feel like” basis, rather than having weeks and weeks of testimony and cross-examination upon which to render a judgment. Was the evidence presented fatally flawed or incomplete? Possible . . . I know nothing about the study of marriage, so I have to go with Walker’s findings of fact.

    As an aside, since this particular question is a “Finding of Fact”, it is virtually impossible to disturb it on Appeal. The trial judge (Vaughn Walker) heard all the witnesses that the advocates bothered to call, and appellate Judges assume as a rule that the trial judge is therefore the best decider for what is or isn’t a credible fact. So whether or not this might have provided an avenue for opposing SSM, at this point the anti-SSM crowd is legally painted into a bad corner. They put all their eggs into the “procreation” basket, and that just isn’t going to fly.

  • Rabiner

    busboy:

    The slippery slope argument is only used as a last resort when all other logical arguments come up short.

  • TJ Parker

    “Sorry, I’ll never have another amiable conversation with a public figure again. I’ll tell them it’s on the order of commenter DifferentFrummer.”

    He’s not saying that. He’s saying that you come across as star-struck and, well, almost flattered just to be in her presence. Perhaps there are just too many personal details about your teenaged Coulter wet dreams.

  • busboy33

    @Rabiner:

    To a large extent, yes. There may be strategically unique situations that would benefit from a “judo” defense, but by and large its greatest merit as a tactic is when you cannot win a heads up fight.

    IMO, that’s a fair description of the anti-SSM advocates. They cannot win a logic-based fight on the topic. The entirety of the opposition (again, which I personally share) is emotional. “I don’t like it” will not win in Court, and should not. So if you’ve got to win, and you can’t win . . . then don’t fight. Concede the point, then shift the focus to the consequences. Is it dirty pool? Hell yes. Does it betray you have no argument against SSM in and of itself? Absolutely. But since you actually DON’T have an argument against SSM in and of itself . . . you gotta find something else to talk about.

    Concede the banality of SSM, and the proponents are left with one of two options: either “Screw the consequences, SSM is fine and we’re so selfish we don’t want to prudently consider the potential risks”, or “SSM isn’t like f**king grandma for these reasons . . . “. Most likely, they would go for option #2, which keeps the words “gays”, “SSM”, “sheepf**kers”, incest”, and “pedophelia” in close proximity. Repeat over and over, throw in some NLP vocal techniques . . . shake well, and hope you can so pollute the waters that the judge pulls back.

    Again, its clearly cheating, debate-wise. Its the desperate gasp of a pugilist that has nothing else, the true embodiment of the maxim “If the law is against you, yell about the facts. If the facts are against you, yell about the law. If the law and facts are against you, just start yelling”.

    Would it work? Probably not. I said before in other threads the best plan was to not sue, to remove “marriage” from government concern and reletgate it to a matter between churches and their members. They should never have gotten inmo this fight, in this arena. But assuming that this fight IS happening, and happening in a Courtroom . . . these kind of weak tactics (however pathetic and unlikely to succeed) may be the best shot they had.

    Of course, my hindsight quarterbacking is made easier by never having to find out if I’m right . . .

  • nhthinker

    @busboy33

    Many single parents and child live together, Two elder sisters. Nothing sexual but very committed pairs.
    Why do people advocate that a marriage license for two sexually active members of one sex is any more valuable than two committed individuals that have no interest in copulating together but happen to be blood relatives?
    Is the social good a tendency to sexual monogamy and coupled reliance (and thus greater social efficiency)?
    The last 50 years have seen a dramatic reduction is the emphasis of society on child rearing. Celibacy outside of marriage was the social norm. Today, sexual gratification with other people is the norm even for minors.
    People used to suffer great shame for adultery, carousing, narcisism-or lack of emphasis on God or family. Adultery was a state crime as well as an extremely serious sin of one’s religious creed. The energy and cost society spent on sexual titillation and gratification was dramatically less.

    Also, the libertarian in me is quite annoyed by government playing a role in deciding what relationship should be rewarded over others. Legislating humanism was not the intent of the founders of the federal government.
    I don’t want ethicists deciding law-.especially ethicists that have no interest in looking at impacts across several generations- that is the role of legislatures that have the right to interfere in personal matters from a constitutionally sanctioned mandate.

    A government is in no way equipped to judge who is mature enough for marriage. If the the government wants to peddle revocable civil unions of any number of parties- fine.

    Government should be directionally correct toward improving societal efficiency.
    Citizens should be motivated to be skilled and to give back more than they take- The founding fathers did not think that motivation would come from government but instead from a person’s interest to please god or other entities they viewed as more important than themselves.

    Shifting moral codes from religions to government is not necessarily progress.Shifting from charity to social service is not necessarily progress either. Today it is normal for people to think about how they can get the most out of government as they can and pay as little in taxes as the loopholes allow. No one of any character would ever consider that an appropriate approach when dealing with a charity or a church.

  • TJ Parker

    nhstinker: “Why do people advocate that a marriage license for two sexually active members of one sex is any more valuable than two committed individuals that have no interest in copulating together but happen to be blood relatives?”

    More valuable? Is this the issue? Are you saying that your children and family are more valuable than my husband and my son, simple because you’re heterosexual?

    Why don’t you Catholics just come out of the closet already and tell us that you oppose same-sex marriages because the Pope told you what to say? Enough of these straw men made of toilet paper.

  • nhthinker

    @tj parker

    Obviously you are too upset and befuddled to follow a thread of a discussion that you decided to butt into.

    Busboy33 brought up that the prop 8 arguments had brought in ethicists to evaluate the value of paired relationships as compared to three-way or other relationships.

    If there is not judgment of value, then denying marriage licenses to polygamists, or blood relatives is not a role for government: anyone should be eligible to pay for a license and be considered a government sanctioned “marriage”. Personally, I think government should get out of the marriage business for heterosexuals as well- instead there should be easily revocable legal civil unions for anyone and everyone with no hurdles and no judgment by government.

    “Why don’t you Catholics…” – I do not consider myself a Catholic. I’m an agnostic that has rationally evaluated that strong religion is helpful to human happiness, especially for less intelligent, less long-term thinking humans.
    Religion improves conscience, and perseverance and also reduces narcissism. Religion is a handy moral code for people that are not smart enough nor strong enough to figure out their own. Too many people confuse popularity of an idea in the short-term as evidence that the idea will be evaluated as a good one when looked at in the long term. Government inspired (mandated?) humanism seems to be an idea that is relatively popular now.
    The help without preaching approach to life. The generic mother’s philosophy as opposed to the father’s philosophy.

  • DifferentFrumer

    Sorry, I’ll never have another amiable conversation with a public figure again. I’ll tell them it’s on the order of commenter DifferentFrummer.

    Two things: Use your spell checker (…Frumer, not …Frummer). You could have had this conversation with Coulter over the desk at her book signing. You had an actual opportunity to ask something important to gay conservatives, like “What conservative value does your position on marriage uphold?” But you’ve gone the gossip columnist route, complete with mentioning what your hero wore to the event. How Gay! Hilton Perez in conservative drag.

  • busboy33

    @nthinker:

    First off, let me say again that I am NOT advocating for SSM, and in fact personally would perfer it not be legal. I think SSM will prevail in the Courts, but at this point I consider that more of a statement of fact rather than advocacy. If you asked me who would win a boxing match between Mike Tyson and Mother Teresa, I’d say Iron Mike, but that doesn’t mean I’m rooting for it.

    As such, I’m playing The Dvil’s Advocate here . . . I’ll give my best shot at your questions, but this is just for the discussion, not for advocacy.

    “Many single parents and child live together, Two elder sisters. Nothing sexual but very committed pairs.”

    I think you can distinguish those “couples” from marriage unions. A marriage is two equals becoming one entity in the eyes of society. What you’re describing with these two examples are families — cohesive groups of individuals. Parents and children may be very close, closer than non-relatives . . . but they can’t become “one being”. The same for siblings. Although they may share interests, assets, and support, they are still siblings that pool resources, rather than a new entity.

    Think about it like the difference between a partnership and a Corporation. Both are groups of people working together for a common goal, but a partnership is simply a identity for that common effort while a Corporation is its own entity. In a general sense, partnerships and corporations may be 95% similar in a practical sense . . . but in the eyes of the law and society that 5% difference is more important and significant than the similarities.

    One of the problems is that, from a purely philosophical standpoint, words in general and a word like “marriage” in particular are almost impossible to define with 100% accuracy. For example, what does it mean to be “black”? Do you HAVE to have nappy hair? Is there an exact percentage of melanin in your skin that you need to have? Is there a list of traits, and if there is do you need to possess all of them or is it a “three out of five” sort of deal? We all may know what it means to be “black” . . . but actually defining it is a bit more difficult.

    That difficulty gets magnified hundredfold when you use a word like “marriage”. This word is laced with meaning dating back to the beginnings of human civilization. It is societal, it is religious, it is spiritual, it is practical, it is contractual, it is emotional, etc. The concept itself defies the scientific categorization that something like an hydrogen atom lends itself to.

    That’s all a long winded way of saying that I personally don’t think there a definition of “marriage” that you couldn’t say “yeah, but what about . . . ” to.

    Here’s how Walker descriped the plaintiffs’s testimony about what getting married meant to them:

    “All four plaintiffs testified that they wished to marry their partners, and all four gave similar reasons. Zarrillo wishes to marry Katami because marriage has a “special meaning” that would alter their relationships with family and others. Zarrillo described daily struggles that arise because he is unable to marry Katami or refer to Katami as his husband. Tr 84:1-17. Zarrillo described an instance when he and Katami went to a bank to open a joint account, and “it was certainly an awkward situation walking to the bank and saying, ‘My partner and I want to open a joint bank account,’ and hearing, you know, ‘Is it a business account? A partnership?’ It would just be a lot easier to describe the situation —— might not make it less awkward for those individuals,
    but it would make it —— crystalize it more by being able to say * * * ‘My husband and I are here to open a bank account.’” Id. To Katami, marriage to Zarrillo would solidify their relationship and
    provide them the foundation they seek to raise a family together, explaining that for them, “the timeline has always been marriage first, before family.” Tr 89:17-18.
    Perry testified that marriage would provide her what she wants most in life: a stable relationship with Stier, the woman she loves and with whom she has built a life and a family. To Perry, marriage would provide access to the language to describe her relationship with Stier: “I’m a 45 year-old woman. I have been in love with a woman for 10 years and I don’t have a word to tell anybody about that.” Tr 154:20-23. Stier explained that marrying Perry would make them feel included “in the social fabric.” Tr175:22. Marriage would be a way to tell “our friends, our family, our society, our community, our parents * * * and each other that this is a lifetime commitment * * * we are not girlfriends. We are not partners. We are married.” Tr 172:8-12.”

    Perry, at 12-13 (here’s a link to read the decision or download a copy — http://www.jdsupra.com/post/documentViewer.aspx?fid=f1ac2b97-cb92-4da7-9989-5aeec409da86 )

    Now, is there a difference between being a boyfriend/girlfriend and being a husband/wife? To me, yes. Can I absolutely define that distinction? No. But that lack of exact definitional distinction doesn’t change the existence of the distinction.

    I won’t cut-n-paste the 60 or so pages describing the testimony for and against, but here is the anti-SSM “expert” [Blankenhorn] discussing how polygamy doesn’t violate the “rule of two”:

    “Blankenhorn explained that despite the widespread practice of polygamy across many cultures, the rule of two is rarely violated, because even within a polygamous marriage, “each marriage is separate.” Tr 2892:1-3; Tr 2899:16-2900:4
    (“Q: Is it your view that that man who has married one wife, and then another wife, and then another wife, and then another wife, and then another wife, and now has five wives, and they are all his wives at the same time, that that marriage is consistent with your rule of two? * * *
    A: I concur with Bronislaw Malinowski, and others, who say that that is consistent with the two rule of marriage.”).”
    Perry, at 43

    In regards to your query “well, why couldn’t a polygamist demand marriage rights?” . . . they could. Then there would have to be a trial to hear evidence about the exact distinction between polygamy and couple marriages. Likewise, if polygamy were legalized (and even if it wasn’t), somebody could sue to try and get the right to marry their dog. Again, then the system would demand evidence, listen to experts, and deal with the issue. But the Court has a specific and narrow question before it: Did Proposition 8 violate the Consatitution of the United States? Remember, the Cali Supreme Court had already found SSM constitutional, so Prop 8 was amending the Cali Constitution to take away a right from gays.

    Its not right to deny SSM just because it MIGHT theoretically lead to further changes in marriage laws in the future, in the same way its not right to deny someone their freedom of speech because it MIGHT lead to Obscenity at some undetermined point in the future. If these different situations come up, we’ll deal with them. But there is a deprivation of rights RIGHT NOW. Its real. It exists. The spectre of polygamy and marrying sheep is a phantasm at the moment.

    Whether you or I like SSM, or polygamy, or bestiality, is utterly irrevelant. The government (which the judiciary embodies) doesn’t give a damn, and that is a good thing:

    “A state’s interest in an enactment must of course be secular in nature. The state does not have an interest in enforcing private moral or religious beliefs without an accompanying secular purpose. See Lawrence v Texas, 539 US 558, 571 (2003); see also Everson v Board of Education of Ewing
    Township, 330 US 1, 15 (1947).”

    Perry, at 8. If there is no legitimate reason to deny polygamists the right of marriage other than the “ick” factor . . . then they’ll (eventually) get the right to marry. The point is, whether there is a difference needs to be based of fact, not on our opinions.

    Can I cite you studies and research into the issue of optimal unions? No. To be more clear, I can cite all the studies Walker cited in Perry, but I have no idea what they say as I’ve never read them. I can’t defend and articulate distinctions because I don’t know a damn thing about the topic . . . and neither do 99.9999999% of Americans. I have an opinion. You have an opinion. But unless you’re a sociology researcher who specializes in marriage, your opinion is as informed as mine. As I said before, Walker goes on in great detail about the testimony he heard . . . but that was specoifically related to SSM vs. traditional marriage, not to polygamy, bestiality, or anything else, so as to this aspect of your post I’m just not qualified to answer except to say regardless of the answer it has no bearing on the distinction between SSM and traditional marriage.

    “Celibacy outside of marriage was the social norm. Today, sexual gratification with other people is the norm even for minors.
    People used to suffer great shame for adultery, carousing, narcisism-or lack of emphasis on God or family. Adultery was a state crime as well as an extremely serious sin of one’s religious creed. The energy and cost society spent on sexual titillation and gratification was dramatically less.”

    I respectfully disagree. Celibacy outside of marriage was the societally EXPRESSED norm . . . but The World’s Oldest Profession and the Shotgum Marriage Society would like to invite you to some of their conventions. People suffered shame for adultery? So the Executive expected to keep a woman on the side was frowned upon? I thought the Mistress was a status symbol. Unless you’re talking about Colonial time? As to people spending less energy and time on sexual gratification in the past vs. now . . . my guess would be it was probably about the same, just in a different form. Is spending 5 bucks on a porno movie more or less time and effort than sneaking out to a blue cinema, or going to a whorehouse (the 2nd oldest profession), or maintaining a mistress/lover?
    I can’t cite to any statistics that would “prove” one way or another whether people were more sex-obsessed in the past or today, but my gut feeling is we as a species are probably just as randy now as we’ve been for the last 50,000 years.

    “Also, the libertarian in me is quite annoyed by government playing a role in deciding what relationship should be rewarded over others. Legislating humanism was not the intent of the founders of the federal government.”

    Do you think that marirage is a different thing societaly than two friends? If you do, then there are by definition legal aspects that MUST be dealt with (contracts, obligations for debts and welfare, family duties, etc.). Laws dealing with the practical concept of marriage were part of the American tradition before there was an America. I can agree in a completely abstract, theoretical discussion that it would be peachy-keano of everybody just acted properly and therefore there was no need for laws dictating the a husband and father needs to support their family or the Authorities will compel them. That would be swell. But the main problem with Libertarianism is in the real world there needs to be some recognition that practical reality doesn’t work that way, and Libertarianism violently rejects any compromise of “ideals”. Yes, it wqould be great if the Village all met in the Town Square and worked for our individual and societal best interests. It would also be great if it never rained until after sundown, and by 9PM the moonlight must appear. But I don’t live in Camelot. I live in America. And here, there’s starving kids and deadbeat dads, and the Village ain’t doing s**t about it.

    The Prop 8 issue actually illustrates the NEED for Governmental butt-in-ery. The Judiciary didn’t leap off its fat ass and insist that it get to issue decrees. The Judiciary can’t take that sort of anti-Freedom initiative. Citizens have to have a recourse if they are being harmed. Again, that’s a practical reality, and moreover that’s the best system we’ve come up with as a society in several thousand years of trying. You’ve got a better system? By all means, put it on the table. But “let’s just all agree on how to handle things” is as naive as “from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs”. If we could all just agree on how to handle things . . . we’d never have built this system.

    “Government should be directionally correct toward improving societal efficiency.
    Citizens should be motivated to be skilled and to give back more than they take”

    Agreed. And I shouldn’t have to wait on hold to get in touch with a customer service person. But I do. Citizens should give back more than they take. But they don’t, and demonstrably so. I agree that indeed would be awesome, but I’m not holding my breath.

    “Shifting moral codes from religions to government is not necessarily progress”

    “Cott [one of the witnesses] pointed to consistent historical features of marriage, including that civil law, as opposed to religious custom, has always been supreme in regulating and defining marriage in the United States, Tr 195:9-15, and that one’s ability to consent to marriage is a basic civil right, Tr 202:2-5.”
    Perry, at 14

    Again, I’m not sure what “shifting” you’re looking at. I mean, if you want to decry the Magna Carta (“The Great Writ”) for shifting emphasis to the civil law from the traditional sources of authority . . . there may be merit to that, but I for one am not in a hurry to go back to the 1500s.

    This is long winded enough. Let me end by saying two things. First, I actually agree with alot of what you say. Second, I can’t believe I typed all this now that the thread is off the front page and nobody will likely see it. Dammit!

  • nhthinker

    busboy33,

    Thanks for the thoughtful reply- you’ve obviously poured though the prop 8 issue, especially for someone that is not advocating a particular position.

    “The Prop 8 issue actually illustrates the NEED for Governmental butt-in-ery.”

    I disagree. Marriage law was made by legislature of California. At the time it was enacted it was viewed as fair by the judiciary. It was the judiciary that changed the interpretation of the Constitution of California without any amendments to the California constitution.

    Legislatures make proclamations all the time- “Strained Fruit Day” – do advocates of strained vegetables get to indicate how unfair the legislature was for giving a day to strained fruit and have the judiciary force the changing of the law to “strained fruit and vegetable day”?

    Marriage is 99.9% between the two individuals. Having a government put a seal on it and having people believe that marriages have some sort of minimal level of commitment to each other. I don’t buy the “I’m married because I have a marriage license”. I would rather the government give civil union licenses to anyone that applies.

    To a large percentage of Americans, an oath to Marriage is perceived as revocable for being too annoying or the ability to trade up. Today, a government marriage license is relatively meaningless except in divorce. When government would prosecute adultery- then it had a role in encouraging the enforcement of the oath: Today, the humanist view of helping without preaching means government has no role in shame or punishment for breaking the oath.

    NHT: “Shifting moral codes from religions to government is not necessarily progress”
    BB33:”Again, I’m not sure what “shifting” you’re looking at. I mean, if you want to decry the Magna Carta (“The Great Writ”) for shifting emphasis to the civil law from the traditional sources of authority . . . there may be merit to that, but I for one am not in a hurry to go back to the 1500s.”

    Libertarians want government laws as very blunt instruments that don’t get applied very often. It should be a person’s individual morals that deal with almost all of the nuance of human behavior- not the government and not the courts. Making a democratic government a party to every transaction in human life beyond what has been conferred to the government by a super majority of its citizens is unlikely to produce long term stability of a society.

  • Catholic Phoenix

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