Here’s something that baffles me. Our opponents complain that laws banning anti-gay discrimination violate their religious liberty, but they have no qualms about laws against religious discrimination.
For instance, Catholic Charities of Boston chose to shut down adoption services rather than place kids with married same-sex parents, and decried it as a violation of their religious freedom — even though they were fine with not being allowed to discriminate against Jews. For many faiths, belonging to the wrong religion, or failing to accept the right Savior, is a permanent ticket to Hell. What could be more important to them when choosing a parent than that?
Yet we hear not a peep from them about these religious discrimination laws. Somehow it’s only a violation of their freedom when it comes to the gays. But principles are only principles if they apply them consistently. If they search for why we sometimes see their principles as bigotry, this is a good place to start.
For example, picture this scene a newly-promoted manager being mentored by an executive.
Exec: You need to foster a safe and productive work environment. Don’t disparage people based on their gender.
Manager: Of course not.
Exec: Or their race.
Manager: Of course not.
Exec: Or their religion.
Manager: Of course not.
Exec: Or their orientation.
Manager: How dare you! This is an egregious violation of personal liberty! I’ve never seen anything like it! What is this, the Soviet Union?
I can imagine your reaction: Rob, you’re being an ass. You’ve mocked our opponents before, but this goes too far. They’d have to be ridiculous, self-righteous loons without an ounce of self-awareness to have such an over-the-top reaction, so divorced from reality, and it does us no good to tar them with such ridicule.
And I would kick shamefully at the ground and admit my fault.
Wait, no, I’d point you to this controversy over DOJ Pride.
DOJ Pride is a group for LGBT employees in the Department of Justice. They’ve distributed some helpful tips to DOJ managers about dealing with LGBT employees (I haven’t confirmed that they’re genuine, though I hope so), and the National Organization for Marriage is wallowing in a mucky sty of outrage. They’re promoting this spin on it from super-anti-gay Matt Barber:
The document is chilling. It’s riddled with directives that grossly violate – prima facie –employees’ First Amendment liberties.
You can view the document here and decide for yourself whether these are “directives.” They seem more like “helpful hints” from a group with no policy-making authority. But let’s look at what the document says:
Managers are essential to creating a workplace climate that is welcoming to and inclusive of all employees, and thus maximizes performance and productivity. In fact, managers have a more direct impact on workplace climate for employees, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees, than nondiscrimination and EEO policies and even co-workers.
Creating a work environment in which LGBT employees feel welcome and included has been shown to boost the performance and productivity of LGBT and non-LGBT employees alike. It also allows LGBT employees to build the kinds of open and trusting relationships with coworkers and managers that
are necessary for professional success.
So, what can a manager do? Here are seven practical tips to help managers create a truly inclusive workplace climate for all employees, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Here’s what Matt Barber and NOM tell us is really going on:
Following are excerpts from the “DOJ Pride” decree. When it comes to “LGBT pride,” employees are ordered:
“DON’T judge or remain silent. Silence will be interpreted as disapproval.” (Italics mine)
That’s a threat.
And not even a subtle one.
Got it? For Christians and other morals-minded federal employees, it’s no longer enough to just shut up and “stay in the closet” – to live your life in silent recognition of biblical principles (which, by itself, is unlawful constraint). When it comes to mandatory celebration of homosexual and cross-dressing behaviors, “silence will be interpreted as disapproval.”
All italics belong to Matt Barber. And so do the lies. This excerpted bullet is not about “LGBT pride” or “celebration” of anything. According to the guidelines, this is about what to do when an employee comes out to you. That’s it.
(Just as a side note, here’s the eternal, self-answering question: If our opponents have such a good case, why must they tell lies?)
DOJ Pride offers further guidance:
If an employee comes to your office, closes the door, and says “I’ve been meaning to tell you this for a while: I’m gay,” DO thank them for trusting you enough to tell you, ask if they’ve been made to feel safe and welcome in the workplace, and let them know about DOJ Pride.
Sometimes the best reaction is a “non-reaction,” meaning not silence but a matter-of-fact, don’t-skip-a-beat response. For example, if an employee mentions her same-sex partner in passing, as in “My partner Janet and I saw the best movie this weekend,” DO react the way you would had she said “My husband Jeremy and I saw the best movie this weekend.” Ask about the movie, where they saw it, if they went out to dinner beforehand, etc.
What a strange world our opponents inhabit, where treating your gay staff the same way you treat your straight staff is some kind of special treatment and celebration of LGBT pride.
But what if you’re a manager who thinks personal lives shouldn’t be mentioned in the workplace? Simple — follow the guidance and treat everyone the same: impose this gag order on all employees, gay or straight (though I’ve never worked in such a hellhole).
Also, let’s be clear on this freedom of speech issue. If you’re at the office and your employee tells you, “We had my son’s bris on Saturday,” don’t silently ignore them and certainly don’t say, “You know if he doesn’t get baptized by a real minister he’s going to Hell, right?” Because you don’t always get to say any damn thing you want to at work, not when your job as manager is to foster a healthy work environment, not when that’s what you’ve been hired to do. This isn’t widely or wildly controversial — until it comes to gay people.
But Barber and NOM continue in their break from reality:
“DO assume that LGBT employees and their allies are listening to what you’re saying (whether in a meeting or around the proverbial water cooler) and will read what you’re writing (whether in a casual email or in a formal document), and make sure the language you use is inclusive and respectful.”
Is this the DOJ or the KGB? “[A]ssume that LGBT employees are listening …”?
You thought my Soviet Union crack was parody, didn’t you. But no. Good lord, apparently it’s now a sign of LGBT-tyranny for us to listen when people speak and read what they write.
This is paranoia. This is why we speak of bigotry and homophobia, of psychological issues that run so deep its victims (and I mean the homophobes themselves) break from reality and drop into an abyss of derangement.
It’s not just NOM. Barber’s cry against tyranny has swept through the blogosphere. And some of these people who are so upset often are our bosses, our managers, our colleagues. It’s a great reminder for us. However far we’ve come, there’s still a population out there who feels the boot of oppression when they’re told to treat gay people like…people.
I’m thinking we could start a whole new blog about all the things our opponents do that doom them to failure. For instance, right now the National Organization is pushing really hard on a strategy that seems to assume no one actually knows any gay people.
NOM, you understand, has proof — proof! — that gays just want to destroy marriage. It comes from a lesbian activist I’d never heard of, Masha Gessen, who spoke at the Sydney Writers’ Festival (which, despite its name, is apparently where All Official Pronouncements of the Gay Agenda come from):
It’s a no-brainer that (homosexuals) should have the right to marry, but I also think equally that it’s a no-brainer that the institution of marriage should not exist. . . . Fighting for gay marriage generally involves lying about what we are going to do with marriage when we get there—because we lie that the institution of marriage is not going to change, and that is a lie.
The institution of marriage is going to change, and it should change. And again, I don’t think it should exist.
The fact is that ending marriage as we know it is a stated objective of the people pushing this agenda!
[All emphasis theirs.]
A few decades ago, NOM could have lectured America about Masha Gessen and it very well may have worked. But not anymore, because NOM doesn’t seem to understand that in 2013 we’re having a conversation, not lecture. A few decades ago, most people only heard about gays and lesbians from our opponents. Today, though, a huge segment of the straight population now has the power to find a gay person they trust and simply ask: “Hey, you really looking to destroy marriage?” But do they even need to?
Will’s conservative family doesn’t think Will and I are trying to destroy marriage.
My co-workers don’t think Will and I are trying to destroy marriage.
The neighbors who bring their dogs to our home for playdates don’t think Will and I are trying to destroy marriage.
All these people take Will and me more seriously than they do Masha Gessen, and NOM merely destroys its credibility when it tells them Will and I are lying. The only people who think Will and I are trying to destroy marriage are those who don’t know us, who aren’t friends with gay people, who are so insulated they can view teh gays as an abstraction instead of someone they sit with at lunch or family dinners. And that backward population — that population is shrinking.
Sometimes I hear a line of reasoning so bizarre that all I can do is look for the psychological issues behind it. I find this happening quite a lot with opponents of same-sex marriage, and the irony is that often their stated goal is to offer an objective justification for their beliefs, but what they deliver is so idiosyncratic, so utterly dependent on a strange and subjective inner life, that all they end up doing is proving their own irrelevance.
Look at three cases: Doug Mainwaring, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, and Robert George. Each of them says something that actually turns out to be true — true for them, true of them — but in a sad and sometimes baffling way.
Doug Mainwaring is one of NOM’s favorite homosexuals; he gives testimony against same-sex marriage. Apparently he married, had a child, left the family to be one of those hedonistic gays, and then reunited everyone under the same roof in a sexless relationship with his wife so that his offspring could be raised by Mom and Dad. And you know what? Fine. But then he writes this:
Over the last couple of years, I’ve found our decision to rebuild our family ratified time after time. One day as I turned to climb the stairs I saw my sixteen-year-old son walk past his mom as she sat reading in the living room. As he did, he paused and stooped down to kiss her and give her a hug, and then continued on. With two dads in the house, this little moment of warmth and tenderness would never have occurred. My varsity-track-and-football-playing son and I can give each other a bear hug or a pat on the back, but the kiss thing is never going to happen. To be fully formed, children need to be free to generously receive from and express affection to parents of both genders. Genderless marriages deny this fullness.
Well, one thing’s for sure. With Doug Mainwaring for his dad, that kid definitely needs a second parent in the house. Doug ought to be saying this in shame as a confession of his inadequate parenting. But it never occurs to him that many fathers — conservative, heterosexual fathers included — are quite comfortable giving their sons a kiss and a hug.
This, by the way, is another example of why we’ll win: another statement by another opponent guaranteed not to persuade, but to garner a reaction of what-planet-are-you-from?
The takeaway: When Doug Mainwaring talks about the limitations of having two fathers, he’s just telling us something about himself.
Cardinal Keith O’Brien
Former Cardinal Keith O’Brien of Scotland made the news into two completely different, shocking but not entirely surprising ways. First, he opposed same-sex marriage in the UK, calling it grotesque, analogizing it to slavery, and declaring same-sex civil unions to be:
…harmful to the physical, mental, and spiritual well-being of those involved.
And less than a year later, O’Brien was forced to resign due to a long history of making unwanted sexual advances to priests, and for having been physically involved with one of his accusers for years.
Now that O’Brien has been humbled I can look at him with pity. He was so twisted by his beliefs that any half-relationship he could could dare to attempt would inevitably be “harmful to the physical, mental, and spiritual well-being of those involved.”
The takeway: When Cardinal Keith O’Brien talks about the harm done by gay relationships, he’s just telling us something about himself.
Robert George is a distinguished Princeton professor who writes terrible, almost incoherent Natural Law arguments against homosexuality, birth control, and masturbation. His goal is to show that Catholic teaching can be derived rationally.
His work is a lot like what would happen if I heard about a Ryan Gosling kissing booth: my goal would be just to get there, no matter how labored, tortuous, or ridiculous the route. It’s the same way with Robert George and the view that masturbation is wrong: The Church says it is, so that’s his destination, and it doesn’t matter labored, tortuous, or ridiculous his reasoning, as long as he gets there.
The body is not rightly treated as a machine for having experiences…
[I]t is contrary to reason—bad and immoral—to sacrifice one’s psychosomatic integrity, or to instrumentalize a part of oneself, for the sake of some desired experience, whether it is getting drunk, enjoying a psychedelic drug trip or having an orgasm…
In masturbation and other non-marital sex acts, by contrast, ‘one does not choose to act for a goal which fulfills oneself as a unified, bodily person. The only immediate goal is satisfaction for the conscious self; and so the body, not being part of the whole for whose sake the act is done, serves only as an extrinsic instrument.’…
[Acts like masturbation] damage personal integrity insofar as those acts effect an existential alienation of the body from the conscious self by simply using the body as an experience-inducing machine. Thus, such behavior should, for moral reasons, be avoided.
In case that’s opaque, here’s my brief (and surely inadequate) summary:
Having an integrated mind and body is self-evidently good. Thus anything which breaks that integration is bad.
This is also true of gay sex or any other sex act that doesn’t culminate with a married penis in its married vagina.
Robert George’s logic on sex is unfathomable to me. I read his words but doubt my understanding because they so completely contradict the experience of my own life. It’s like reading an intricately-reasoned argument that you shouldn’t keep elephants in your house because they’re too small to keep track of; there’s no need to dismantle the argument line by line — it’s enough to answer, “Have you seen an elephant?” Or, in George’s case, “Have you had sex?”
Sex, with someone you love, purely for emotional closeness, does not split the mind and body. It unites them. It dissolves the barriers between body, spirit, and mind.
And masturbation? Masturbation is one way the mind discovers the body. It can be something you do to clean the pipes and stop your body from yelling at you, but it can also be — for adolescents, especially — a fundamental way of exploring your entire self. Not just mind, not just body, not just emotion, but all three at once.
So all I can do is wonder at the inner life of a man who not only came up with this reasoning, but who thought it would convince others. This speculation is worth what you paid for it, but here’s my best attempt: I can imagine a man who has been taught that masturbation is wrong, sinful, wicked. It exposes weakness of mind and character. He tries to abstain, but every time he gives in he’s hit with guilt, and his conscious mind feels betrayed by his body. And that, folks, is mind-body alienation.
The takeway: When Robert George talks about the morality of sex, he’s just telling us something about himself.
Of course, when all of us talk about sex or love or family, we’re really just telling people something about ourselves. We know this. The last few generations who’ve grown to adulthood know this (most of them, anyway). The only people who don’t know this, it seems, are our opponents.
Two things are happening. Supporters of same-sex marriage are winning. And opponents are losing. I distinguish those two because our victories are not due entirely to our own efforts. It often seems like our opponents are pursuing strategies and ideas that doom their own cause.
Take Dr. Paul Kengor, a professor of political science at Grove City College. He attributes support for same-sex marriage to “the anonymous power at work.”
What was this power? It was the power of “changing moods and current fashion.” That’s a hugely influential power, one that you can’t always get a handle on, but it’s there, and with a great influence, a tremendous persuasive power upon the crowd, the culture…
There are so many issues over the years where I’ve seen this anonymous power at work in our culture. And few strike me currently quite like the sudden fanatical push for gay marriage. It has come from nowhere. In mere years, the entirety of the Democratic Party and its leadership has switched from affirming traditional marriage to demanding homosexual marriage. America’s president and youth are overwhelmingly on board. Polls have flipped in their favor. It’s a cultural tsunami. On TV and Twitter and Facebook and the web, it’s an overwhelming obsession.
And who’s pushing it? Well, it’s anonymous.
Here is a man who is absolutely determined to continue thinking he’s right, no matter what mental twists and contortions he has to go through, twists and contortions that have led him (unsurprisingly) to get everything backwards. I wrote this in a comment to his article:
This article is a good example of why people who oppose same-sex marriage keep losing ground (literally, given our state-by-state progress).
The article has it exactly wrong — this change is not due to “anonymous” forces, but to people with names. Friends, neighbors, colleagues who are gay, who have faces, who have names: straight people know and love these gay folk. They see how they love and support their partners.
They end up supporting same-sex marriage precisely because they can name people they love to whom it desperately matters.
Anonymity and invisibility — in the form of the gay closet — are what opponents of same-sex marriage rely on. Anonymity and invisibility are what the rest of us are trying to end.
It’s not just that Kengor is wrong. It’s that the delusions which allow to him to cling to his wrongness are the very things that will bring on his own defeat.
Perhaps I’m overstating what NOM executive Jennifer Roback Morse said in an email blast today. I’ll just post it without further comment; all emphasis in the original, and no, this is not a parody:
The Social Conservative movement is dominated by women. Every audience I address, the ratio is at least two to one female, sometimes much more.
Is that a bad thing? And what can we do about it?
We want to have our babies, and be supported by our husbands in stable lifelong loving marriages. It is no surprise that we care about the social issues.
You and I know that men care too. They want their babies. And if they don’t want to get married as badly as we do, once they do get married, they are often more doggedly loyal and committed than we are. Divorce triples a man’s probability of suicide, but doesn’t affect women’s suicide risk at all!! The guys definitely care!
Feminists have marginalized men from these conversations. They called any men who disagreed with them “male chauvinist pigs.” Men came to feel they were not welcome to express reservations about the radical feminist agenda. And since men have a natural, almost instinctive desire to please women, protect women, and not anger them,
men shut down and shut up.
I think it is a bad thing!
Shutting up the men is a great defense. Getting men off the playing field leaves women with children alone to defend themselves against the radical women who view children as enemies to their ambitions.
So, what can we do about it?
Invite your husband or boyfriend, sons, nephews or fathers, to the First Ever Ruth Institute Gala Dinner and Live Auction. Why? Because this will not be your average “lovey dovey hearts and flowers, let’s all be nice to kids” event. (Though, there will be flowers on the table!)
WE ARE HAVING A VERY MASCULINE
MAN’S MAN AS OUR KEYNOTE SPEAKER.
You may have seen Tim Clemente on CNN, giving his expert opinion about capturing the Boston Marathon Bombers. He’s a former counter-terrorism agent for the FBI. That expertise got him into Hollywood, as a technical consultant on law enforcement and military issues. Producer, writer, actor and stuntman: those are just some of his roles in Hollywood.
As Rhode Island pushes ahead with marriage equality, State Senator Harold M. Metts is dismayed:
Many from my community take exception to the attempts of the gay rights activists to hitch their wagon to the civil rights movement as it pertains to African Americans. I can change my sexual preference tonight if I want to, but I can’t change my color.
To which I reply:
Senator Metts should explain his method for changing his preference. I had no idea his sexuality was so…fluid.
It will curtail opportunities for deep and emotionally fulfilling friendships between members of the same sex, opportunities that are already few and strained. This is particularly true of men.
This was a disastrous prediction. It’s not just not that his reasoning is convoluted, but that events have proved him laughably wrong.
It’s always tough to summarize Anthony’s arguments. He never uses one word when twenty will do, and he’s never seen a paragraph he couldn’t improve by stretching it with flowery repetition. Here, though, is the meat:
…now the condonement of homosexuality prevents [boys] from publicly preferring the company of their own sex. This is simply inarguable. If a George Gershwin nowadaysshows up at Maxie Rosenzweig’s house all the time, while his pals are outside on the streets playing stickball, then there must be something up with George and Maxie.
And then, apparently without realizing it, Anthony proceeds to refute himself:
Therefore unless they are comfortable with the meaning, they will shy away from one another.
Exactly. Really, I wish I could put my hands on Anthony’s shoulders, look him deep in the eye, and say, “Exactly. The problem arises not when homosexuality is condoned, but when it is condemned.”
For instance: I’m not straight, left-handed, or Canadian. But rumors to the contrary wouldn’t freak me out, because I see nothing wrong with those traits, and neither does the society in which I travel.
However, if I lived in a world where I could be shunned, disowned, fired, or lobotomized just for being left-handed…then, yeah, I might be more worried about people thinking I’m a left-handed deviant monster, and might work harder to squelch those rumors.
Fast forward to 2013. Same-sex marriage is legal in much of the country; we’ve had 7-years of non-stop national conversation about gays and lesbians; and a new generation has matured thinking, What’s the big friggin’ deal.
The result? A culture where people talk freely of man crushes and bromance. A culture in which one of the most popular TV shows is practically built around the friendship and spicy, flirtatious chemistry between two of its handsome and avowedly heterosexual stars.
Granted, this pop culture phenomenon isn’t on the same plane as the friendships Anthony pines for — David and Jonathan, Enkidu and Gilgamesh, John the Baptist and Jesus Christ (!) — but the fact that cannot be denied (the thing that is “simply inarguable”) is that men are freer to delight in each other than at any time in recent memory. And Anthony Esolen, god bless him, may misunderstand it completely but has pointed out the reason for this liberation: Straight men find it easier to create intimate, loving friendships when they have no reason to give a damn whether people think they’re gay.
Here’s another video from New Zealand, this one of the Parliament breaking into song after passing a marriage equality bill. My favorite part, though, is just before the song: right after the vote is revealed, the speaker declares:
Unlock the doors. UNLOCK THE DOORS!
The little procedural phrase sounded in my ears like an exultation. It would be a great name for book, blog, or movie.