A new low, even for Bryan Fischer #BoyScouts
Forced drowning is better than simple inclusion, apparently
No, Maggie Gallagher—we can't agree on that
National Organization For Marriage co-founder Maggie Gallagher asks:
"If we can’t agree on anything else, can we at least agree that Jonathan Rauch’s noble dream (it was noble) that gay marriage could be part of strengthening a marriage culture generally is now demonstrably untrue?"
"[C]an we at least agree the noble dream of Jonathan Rauch, David Brooks, and others that gay marriage will strengthen marriage as a social institution just doesn‘t happen?"
For evidence, Maggie turns to Patricia Morgan, who is kind of like Maggie's counterpart in the UK. Morgan is a family policy thinker who has written a book on what she sees as the government-sanctioned breakdown of the family. Morgan's argument, backed by Gallagher, is that signs of heterosexual marital decline in Scandinavia, Spain, and Holland provide "tragic proof" (Morgan's words, reprinted by Gallagher) that same-sex marriage doesn't help the overall institution.
This is a truly bogus conclusion, and I'm frankly surprised that Gallagher is parlaying this suggestion into some sort of consensus position. Especially true, considering that Gallagher and fellow voices on her side of the fight are fond of saying that we can't possibly know the "detriments" of same-sex marriage until many years go by (something they love to claim whenever we point to the non-destruction of Massachusetts). How can both be true? How can a decade or so of marriage equality "prove" that same-sex marriage is of no benefit if a decade or so of marriage equality isn't enough "proof" that same-sex marriage does no harm?
Short answer: it can't be both. And in fact, I would argue that there's far more reason to look to a decade of non-destruction as a way of belying fear than there is to look to a decade of overall decline as a way of refuting same-sex marriage's positive potential. If same-sex marriage is an experiment, of sorts, then it's fair to look at how said experiment has failed to blow up in our faces; it's much less reasonable to say that our "experiment" has failed at one of its missions since it has failed to lift up the entire lab.
Personally, I find the very idea that marriages like mine are supposed to lift up a system that heterosexuals have apparently put on the decline to be a bit offensive. But at the same time, I do believe that marriage equality, when given time to settle in and inform our society, will in fact do great things for marital trend lines. As a happily married man myself, I am quite the advocate for the institution, its benefits, its statements, and its reminders, both internally among its participants and outwardly to a society that needs to remember that we are all born with equal worth. I know for a fact that people who have spent time with Andrew and me have come away with better feelings about what marriage is and what it means. And I don't just mean gay people—many straight friends, both coupled and not, have told us that we give them some sort of hope. While we don't see it as our role to model the "perfect" marriage to all around us (as if we could), we do take pride in what we have. We place deep worth in our commitment, our easy way with one another, and our united front in face of all that is good, bad, or otherwise.
Will marriages like mine help to "fix" marriages problems? Again, it's kind of offensive to suggest that I should have to jump through that, a hoop that my heterosexual peers have been free to sidestep for eons now. But either way, I do refuse to accept the idea that this thesis, whether its my own or not, has somehow failed because scant evidence points to decline within an institution that is still far from equal—an institution that none of us have lived our full lives knowing to be equal.
Why gay man and activist John Corvino wrote a book with Maggie Gallagher
In the year since the release of the book he co-authored with Maggie Gallagher, Debating Same-Sex Marriage, many of you have wondered why LGBT activist and gay man John Corvino (pic.) chose to link his name and literary gifts to someone who has fought so hard against the equal rights (and, by extension, worth) of same-sex couples. This happened just this week, in fact, when one of my posts about Maggie sparked a comment-thread discussion about the book and why John supposedly wrote it.
As a fellow author and activist who both knows and is fond of John, I've stepped in a few times to offer my thoughts on the subject. However, I thought it'd be far more interesting to hear it straight from the horse's mouth, which is why I asked John to chat about his choice, which some have perceived as "madness," and the methodology that motivated it. Our conversation follows.
JEREMY HOOPER: Many of my readers want to know, so let's start with the big question: Why did you do a book with Maggie Gallagher?
JOHN CORVINO: I get asked this question a lot, and I find it odd. It’s a debate book, which means that we’re on opposite sides, which means I think she’s wrong. So it’s a collaboration, sure, but it’s a collaboration I did for the purpose of refuting her. I thought there was value in forcing her to lay out her arguments in a sustained way where they would be subject to direct criticism, which she would then have to respond to.
HOOPER: But did you worry that you were helping raise her platform? Because I will say, personally, that my hesitancy in doing a book like this would be in the promotion. As an author myself, I know how much proverbial blood, how much literal sweat, and how many actual tears go into promoting a book, but it's largely worth it because you are promoting a product that you fully believe in. Did you worry about, in your push to raise your own needed voice, you were helping raise the volume on hers?
CORVINO: Maggie already had, and has, a platform—although that platform seems to be crumbling. At the time we did the book, the pro-equality side had lost in every single one of the thirty-odd states where marriage had been put on the ballot. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. I know we’ve made dizzying progress in recent months, but it's worth remembering that such progress didn’t come without a fight—and part of that fight involved countering the bad—but often rhetorically successful—arguments that Maggie and others had been promoting for so long.
I notice that one of your readers wrote in a comment, “Did anyone write a ‘your side/my side’ book for an interracial marriage debate? A ‘your side/my side’ book with Anita Bryant? A debate for the civil rights act in the 60s?” Um, yes, actually. These topics were all hotly debated at the time—sometimes in books and articles, often on stage in public forums. Bryant may not have co-authored a book, but Harvey Milk regularly debated John Briggs on the Prop. 6 initiative in California, which was directly inspired by Bryant’s Dade County measure—which was also hotly debated. At the time the book came out, about 50% of the country was on Maggie’s side.
HOOPER: The difference that some of my readers have brought up that both you and Gallagher directly profit from the book. Thoughts?
CORVINO: I can tell you that I’ve given away more to pro-gay causes in the last couple of years than I’ve made on this book—which is hardly difficult, given how very little money there is in academic publishing. Trust me: if making money were the driving force, Maggie and I would have turned down the book deal, since it kept us both from more profitable opportunities.
I think Maggie and I each make less than a dollar per book. If some of your readers don’t want to buy it because they don’t want to give one cent to Maggie Gallagher, that’s fine. They can borrow it from the library if they want. Or they can watch my videos on Youtube.
HOOPER: I certainly understand that point about profit! [*SIDE NOTE: SUPPORT LGBT AUTHORS, PEOPLE—BUY OUR BOOKS!]. But pushing the point a bit: maybe the book wasn’t profitable, but some would argue that it raised your profile, which in turn leads to speaking appearances...
CORVINO: I generally do get paid for speaking appearances, whether they’re solo talks or debates. It’s part of what I do for a living, and it’s work: not just the couple of hours on stage where I have to be “on” for the audience, but the day or so out of my life when I’m schlepping across the country, rushing through airports, staying in bland hotels (instead of being home with my awesome hubby) and so on. I’m not complaining—I’m grateful for the work that I do—but I won’t apologize for being paid for working.
If anything, Maggie’s profile seems to have diminished since the book came out. Whether the book had anything to do with that, I can’t say. Brian Brown is now much more the face of NOM.
HOOPER: So let's talk process. How did the project come about?
CORVINO: The project started when Oxford University Press approached me about doing a book on the marriage debate for their point/counterpoint series, which already had volumes on affirmative action, abortion, the existence of God and so on. The format is a pretty familiar one for academic philosophers. The idea is not that all views are equally legitimate—a silly and self-refuting position if ever there were one—but rather that the best way to get out the truth is through rigorous debate. John Stuart Mill, the 19th-century-utilitarian, wrote about “the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.” Clearly, I think Maggie is in error.
HOOPER: Did they assign Maggie to the book?
CORVINO: They asked me for suggestions, and she was one of my top suggestions. I had considered doing the book with another academic, such as Prof. Robert George of Princeton (NOM's co-founder; currently visiting at Harvard). But most of the academic philosophers working on this issue from the other side do so from a somewhat esoteric natural-law perspective, which doesn’t always have a lot of resonance with folks on the ground. I wanted the book to be useful to people involved in “real-world” debates in states around the country, and I thought Maggie was the best person to give an articulate version of the popular arguments from her side.
HOOPER: And you still debate Maggie, right?
CORVINO: Yes, though there are fewer of them. I like doing debates because it gives me access to an audience that wouldn’t otherwise come and listen to me. And if I can be a positive influence in any way on “Maggie’s people,” I think that’s important. Remember, some of those people end up having LGBT kids.
That’s another reason I did the book: right-wingers who won’t buy a book by John Corvino—or Evan Wolfson, or Martha Nussbaum, or any other equal-rights advocate—will buy this one because Maggie’s name is on it. Many of them will read arguments (from me) that they need to hear.
HOOPER: That last point makes a lot of sense to me, as someone who also gears my message to wide audiences. My guiding image is that of small crowd filled with people on our side, folks from "their" side, and some who are somewhere in the middle. Even when I seem to be talking to Maggie or Tony Perkins or whoever, I'm really using them as a vehicle to make my points, in hopes that some who are listening in on our conversation will find more compelling evidence in my words than in Maggie's or Tony's.
But that leads me to the ultimate question for us both, with which I'll close this interview. That is: Do you really think our arguments from reason make the difference that we think/ hope they do? At this point in the debate, are there enough opponents whose lack of support or demonstrated animus is motivated by reason?
CORVINO: Most people—on all sides of this issue—have mixed motivations. Even as a philosophy professor, I’m the first person to grant that people’s minds on the issue are most readily moved when we’ve captured their hearts on this issue—when they get to know real-life LGBT people as their neighbors, friends, family members, co-workers, CNN news anchors or whatever. That’s one reason why both of my books—especially the new one, What’s Wrong with Homosexuality?—include a lot of personal anecdotes. But I still believe in the power of ideas. Sometimes what arguments can do is to introduce cognitive dissonance and doubt, which can pave the way for a change of heart.
HOOPER: Here's to powerful ideas and changed hearts! Thanks so much for your time, John.
CORVINO: Thanks, Jeremy. I appreciate all that you do. And I loved your book!
Losing 'On My Honor' coalition says #BoyScouts can no longer use 'timeless values' phrase in good faith
From The On My Honor coalition which, despite coordination from D.C. groups like FRC and Shirley Bannister Public Affairs, was only able to muster 31% support for their discriminatory position:
Grapevine, TX – Following the vote today by the Boy Scouts of America’s voting delegates to pass the resolution allowing “open and avowed homosexuality” in the Boy Scouts, John Stemberger, Founder of OnMyHonor.Net, a coalition of members of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) including parents, Scoutmasters, Eagle Scouts and other Scouting leaders who affirm Scouting’s timeless values, made the following statement:
“It is with great sadness and deep disappointment that we recognize on this day that the most influential youth program in America has turned a tragic corner. The vote today to allow open and avowed homosexuality into Scouting will completely transform it into an unprincipled and risky proposition for parents. It is truly a sad day for Scouting.
The Boy Scouts of America has a logo that bears the phrase ‘Timeless Values.’ Today, the BSA can no longer use this phrase in good faith. It has demonstrated by its actions that the organization’s values are not timeless, and instead they are governed by changing tides of polls, politics and public opinion.
KEEP READING: What's Next? [On My Honor]
They have also vowed to start work on their own "character development organization" to rival the Boy Scouts. Have at it, I say.
Tony Perkins on #BoyScouts vote (hint: he isn't happy)
The Boy Scouts just delivered a whopping defeat to the anti-equality crowd. But for some reason, FRC president Tony Perkins, someone who has been denigrating the current BSA leadership all through this process, still thinks he has the capital to call for new blood at the head of the organization:
"Sadly, the Boy Scouts' legacy of producing great leaders has become yet another casualty of moral compromise. Unfortunately, Boy Scout delegates capitulated to strong-arm tactics and abandoned the timeless values that have served the organization well for more than 100 years.
"The delegates succumbed to a concerted and manipulative effort by the national BSA leadership despite the BSA's own survey showing 61 percent of its members in opposition to changing the policy.
"The Boy Scouts has for decades been a force for moral integrity and leadership in the United States. BSA councils, Scouting parents, and leaders of the faith-based organizations that charter over two-thirds of the packs and troops, must now decide how to respond to this moral compromise. Many will separate from the organization so that they can continue to foster character among boys and respect the right of parents to discuss issues of sexuality with their sons.
"It is clear that the current BSA leadership will bend with the winds of popular culture, and the whims of liberal special interest groups. There is little doubt that God will soon be ushered out of scouting. Now is the time for new leadership. In the meantime, we will stand with those BSA Councils who will now act to protect boys from a new policy that only creates moral confusion and disrespects the views of the vast majority of Scouting parents"
—FRC president Tony Perkins, via emailed press release
New leadership? Want to take a vote on it, Tony?
BREAKING: #BoyScouts lift the ban on gay scouts!!!!!!!!
But here, let him tell you instead:
**UPDATE: According to a report I just got, it wasn't even close. 68%–31% are the numbers I'm hearing! (*now confirmed)
**Of course there is still the ban on adults, which MUST GO. The work is not done. But still—YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!!!!
**UPDATE: The Boy Scouts os America official statement:
"For 103 years, the Boy Scouts of America has been a part of the fabric of this nation, with a focus on working together to deliver the nation's foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training.
"Based on growing input from within the Scouting family, the BSA leadership chose to conduct an additional review of the organization's long-standing membership policy and its impact on Scouting's mission. This review created an outpouring of feedback from the Scouting family and the American public, from both those who agree with the current policy and those who support a change.
"Today, following this review, the most comprehensive listening exercise in Scouting's history the approximate 1,400 voting members of the Boy Scouts of America's National Council approved a resolution to remove the restriction denying membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation alone. The resolution also reinforces that Scouting is a youth program, and any sexual conduct, whether heterosexual or homosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting. A change to the current membership policy for adult leaders was not under consideration; thus, the policy for adults remains in place. The BSA thanks all the national voting members who participated in this process and vote.
"This policy change is effective Jan. 1, 2014, allowing the Boy Scouts of America the transition time needed to communicate and implement this policy to its approximately 116,000 Scouting units.
"The Boy Scouts of America will not sacrifice its mission, or the youth served by the movement, by allowing the organization to be consumed by a single, divisive, and unresolved societal issue. As the National Executive Committee just completed a lengthy review process, there are no plans for further review on this matter.
"While people have different opinions about this policy, we can all agree that kids are better off when they are in Scouting. Going forward, our Scouting family will continue to focus on reaching and serving youth in order to help them grow into good, strong citizens. America's youth need Scouting, and by focusing on the goals that unite us, we can continue to accomplish incredible things for young people and the communities we serve."
Why I care so much about the Boy Scouts vote
While LGBT rights fights are uniquely personal for LGBT people for obvious reasons, there is usually some degree of distance between known experience and current debate.
With marriage, the fight tends to be prospective. You fight for the right to someday marry, both for yourself and future generations. It is exciting, but is an unknown to all of us until we obtain the freedom.
With hate crimes or nondiscrimination laws, the fight can feel theoretical. You hope you will never have to use them, but you fight because you know they are necessary. You want them there, but you're better off if you never need to implement the protections.
With some of the other policy debates, the whole thing can get so bogged down in legalese, procedural hangups, and bureaucracy layers that it doesn't even feel like a debate about human beings. When fighting for things like immigration or economic justice, it can be sadly easy to lose site of the human toll attached.
But all of us remember being children. And for all of us LGBT people? That typically means that we remember what it feels like to feel shunned, cast out, scared, and vulnerable.
We also remember what it feels like to live in a society that only seems to reinforce these shuns, out-castings, fears, and vulnerabilities. We remember those verbal slights that we overheard, dealt out by both peers and adult caretakers. We look back on the times when we studied our cherished loved one's reactions to situations that seem somehow relatable to us, even if we don't fully understand why. We think back on the days when we pondered the bits and pieces of political conversations that we should've been far too carefree to pay any mind. Or to all those moments when we internalized negativity without ever realizing we were doing so. It's all in our consciousness because it very much shaped our consciousness.
Right now, as I write this, young people across America are hearing bits and pieces of an adult debate surrounding an institution with which they have some degree of familiarity. They know that it has to do with people like that funny Mitch and Cam from Modern Family. They think they heard their neighbor say something about marching against adults who will abuse kids if they are allowed to ties knots while wearing khaki. They saw something in the paper about Boy Scouts needing "saving," whatever that means. And some of them know that there is some kind of vote happening today, and that if it goes in Mitch and Cam's direction, then some of their friends' parents have told them they can't be in the Boy Scouts anymore. It's all very confusing.
Then there is that bright young boy, barely twelve-years-old. He knows exactly what's going on; he's been quietly following every word for reasons that even he doesn't understand. This kid doesn't yet know who he is, but he does know a few things for sure. He knows that he feels some sort of empathetic connection with people who seem up against hardships. He knows his take on girls is a little different from his friends who think they have cooties. He knows he really enjoys Mitch and Cam, but that he wishes The New Normal had been given another chance to show its stuff. He knows he loves the outdoors, playing baseball both in real life and on XBox, drawing pictures of cars, playing pop hits on his guitar, occasionally teasing his sister, and cooking with his mom. He's a good kid, they all say.
Oh, and he knows he loves his Boy Scout troop. He knows he doesn't want to ever be told he has to leave that troop for any reason beyond his control.
Today, the Boy Scouts of America will make a choice. There are some kids who won't come to understand what it means until many years after today's vote. But right now, smack dab in the middle of an all-too-confusing process of figuring out while aboard this wacky ride we call childhood, are some kids who do, in fact, have some sort of heightened understanding of what's going on today. These are the kids who have so
much to lose, and the kids whose chances at a better ride comes at the expense of no one. They will someday reflect on this, a pivotal moment in their lives that carries an emotional weight many times greater than their linear years. They are absorbing this day, destined to become lodged in the memory bank that will fund their journeys from here on out.
When pushing so hard for this policy change, I haven't really been thinking about what Tony Perkins or John Stemberger or Eric Teetsel or Sen. Ted Cruz say. Instead, I've been imagining my younger self and how I would have processed what is happening right now. Because I do know what I saw and heard. I know what I understood and what I never could. I remember what it felt like. What it feels like.
If I can take out even one of those bumps for even one of these young children, then I will consider my day successful. But on this particular day, the Boy Scouts have the power to remove countless bumps for countless children both now and to come. What a gift! What an opportunity! What a chance to do better by so many of their fellow human beings, here on a first step toward the full inclusion that will eventually remedy all of these negative experiences.
Please don't blow it, grown adults who should know better.
New Jersey's leading 'family' group posts truly nasty video equating gays with adulterers, alcoholics
Many of you have seen the following video, produced by far-far-far-right anti-gay figure Janet Folger Porter:
Well guess who is now promoting and defending this clip? That would be none other than the New Jersey Family Policy Council, the organization leading the fight to stop marriage equality in the Garden State:
SOURCE: NJFPC's Facebook page
I love when they attempt to "explain" the supposed nuance. Even better if/when they think this is my first time at the rodeo, believing I'm just going to accept their "explanation" as fact without making a larger point in this debate. I truly love being underestimated.
Bottom line: NJFPC did just sneer at gay people. Harshly. And their posting of this video is, in fact, a direct attempt to connect LGBT people to adulterers and alcoholics. There is no further explanation needed. They posted it to they organizational wall, and then they have proceeded to defend it. So now I will be sure that every last member of the NJ state legislature is aware of this harsh disregard for the Garden State's vast LGBT population.
As I said in my initial comment: "An astoundingly silly thing for the state's leading "family" group to promote. They would have been wise to listen to me.