Wednesday, June 26, 2013


Today the Supreme Court overturned the Defense of Marriage Act and paved the way for California to resume conducting same-sex marriages. That's great news. But it leaves me wondering why we're moving forward on gay equality, and possibly on the cause of undocumented immigrants, while poor people, unemployed people, people who've fought with banks over their mortgages, non-whites who want to vote, union workers, abortion rights supporters, and a host of other worthy groups are regularly being kicked in the teeth, sometimes (see: yesterday) by the very same Supreme Court that ruled today.

When I consider the possibility that the difference is that powerful economic interests don't lose anything from gay equality, I think: but why does there seem to be progress on immigration? Well, the party the powerful like best, the GOP, allegedly can't win the White House without Hispanic votes. But, then, why are abortion rights under attack in just about every state where Republicans are in charge? Why do Republicans still think a hard-line stance on abortion has no political downside? And why don't they seem to feel that way anymore about gay rights? How did gay rights get decoupled from abortion as part of the traditional-values wedge-issue package that always kept Middle American whites voting for the party most unabashed in its defense of the pluticracy?

Somehow, gay people have been successful at persuading heartlanders -- and some of the Wall Streeters who finance political campaigns -- to wish them well in their fight. They've fought hard, as have immigrants' rights groups. But a lot of groups fight hard. When I compare these groups to groups that have been less successful in recent years, I wonder: Is support for abortion rights and the rights of African-Americans just subject to fatigue, after America has spent so many decades talking about these issues? Are these issues too associated with the hated '60s and '70s? Does the same apply to the poor and unemployed and the unionized, even when the people we're talking about are people who are newly unemployed or impoverished, people who are often heartlanders themselves? Do the causes of gay people and immigrants seem somehow new to Middle America, which is sick of hearing about all that other stuff?

I don't know. I'm just throwing these questions out. I just wish we could bottle and sell whatever the gay-rights movement is doing right these days.


BH said...

I suspect the answer may lie in comparing voter-participation rates and income/campaign-contribution levels between gay people and, for instance, black people in the South.

Philo Vaihinger said...

The GOP is divided on immigration because a flood of cheap labor helps Wall Street and hurts Main Street, their two factions at cross purposes on this.

Not a mystery.

And those gay agenda victories on the court were both due to the liberals plus Kennedy appealing to their made-up constitution.

The conservatives would have let DOMA stand and probably overturned the lower court on Prop 8.

Leopard hasn't changed its spots.

Greg said...

It sure hasn't hurt the gay rights cause that (most of) Hollywood and (most of) the music industry has been okie-dokie with gay culture for some time. "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," indeed.

brett said...

and lots of old conservative folks have learned to love their gay children and found that the sky has not fallen

Victor said...

Yeah, I suspect that there's a lot of 60's fatigue out there.

And that's probably most of the problem.
A lot of people are tired of, "The Usual Suspects."

But, while not too many even poor white folks know, or are too close to black folks, women who value their independence, or guys who they know and like named Pablo or women named Juanita, one or another of their friends or relatives is gay - either willingly, or after years/decades in prison for selling meth, or worse.

You don't go to culture wars with the friends you want, or have - you go to wars with the enemies you don't have any association with!

TheFritoPundito said...

Ich bin ein Gayer!

Jack said...

It's a good question, Steve, and one that I have been wondering about all day: How can we take the big step backward on civil rights / voting rights yesterday, and a big step forward on gay rights today? Justice Kennedy's fickleness aside, there is something deeper to this: there is (finally) broad public sympathy for gay people, but the opposite -- broad public contempt and hostility -- for blacks, immigrants, and the poor.

I think it's because people have finally acknowledged that gay people are us. They look like us, talk like us, share our values. They are in our families: our brothers, sisters, and children. They are our friends, and we find them in our own neighborhoods.

(I'll note the revolution in public attitudes about gays didn't begin until gay people became visible. 15 years ago in most of the US, gay people were completely invisible. Now we see them everywhere.)

For whatever reason, blacks and Hispanics have never been accepted as part of "us" as it is defined by white people. They are perpetually seen as "the other," while gays have finally been permitted membership in "us."

It might be interesting to compare the gay rights struggle to the one other successful civil rights movement of the past century: women's rights. The 1950s and 1960s were a period of significant civil rights evolution for both blacks and women, but women's struggle for equality has been an unmitigated success, while results for black rights have been much more mixed -- especially in view of yesterday's ruling.

BH said...

Another hypothesis: there are 'white' gays, and there are 'white' women, but there are no 'white' black or brown people. We remain largely a racist society, methinks.

And another hypothesis: allowing gays to marry carries with it no economic threat to the plutes or their less-plute allies/stooges. Guaranteeing & protecting racial-minority voting does carry such a threat, however, because sometimes that gets candidates elected who favor taxing the plutes and mildly redistributing the wealth.

Steve M. said...

But I'm still trying to figure out why the retreat from using gay rights as a right-wing wedge issue hasn't been accompanied by a retreat from using abortion that way. In fact, the anti-abortion push is more relentless than ever. What interest do the plutocrats have in abortion?

Dark Avenger said...

Steve, it's a sop that they throw to the socially conservative because they aren't affected by it. They can always pay for a daughter, sister, niece, etc., to fly somewhere out of the country for an abortion.

Examinator said...

Jack said [“I'll note the revolution in public attitudes about gays didn't begin until gay people became visible. 15 years ago in most of the US, gay people were completely invisible.” ] um not true ….have you heard of AIDS/HIV (the erroneously called 'gay disease?) it was all over the news from from the late 70's into the 90's.
I 'd suggest that “middle America” started to take notice when “ THEIR” children started dying and that gayness could no longer be denied . It is one thing for males to turn their backs on a 'wayward' (gay) child but it's another thing entirely to expect mothers to not be grieved by their death particularly when so horribly. Even back in the 50's-60's prior to the “Civil rights” times it wasn't uncommon for moms to be secretly in contact with their disowned ('shamed' (sic)) gay sons.

A hard reality is that being gay was always harder and more aggressive when it involved males. Males simply aren't supposed to be like that! Even today rape of a women is more newsworthy than of a man why? . Ask yourself when was the last time you read a lead story about a male rape ( excluding paedophilia...children ) ?

It doesn't happen out side of jails? Nonsense! Male victims being forceably sodomised and with foreign objects is WAY more common than you think. And surprisingly the offenders aren't usually 'gay' either. Sexual equality ? Hmmmm.
Try being on the Grave yard shift on crisis intervention lines for a few months.

Steve's question is a good one and I'd suggest he's largely correct, gays are one of us, poor, uneducated inarticulate, under taxed, lazy etc are somebody else.
Sadly the West and particularly USA is imbued with the self deluding notion of superiority, morally, religiously, culturally, philosophically …... USA is the poster nation ( not the only one but definitely internecinely the most fragmented ) ….be that looking for someone domestically or internationally blame for things going wrong.
I've suggested this before and been abused but subsequent generations have failed to learn from history. Change comes from unity not a myriad of self interests . America for a short period was united in civil rights.
Civil rights is everyone … gay rights, Black rights, feminism opens up for fatigue, and more importantly Us V Them diversion and division by the terminally myopically self interested. Marketing/PR 101

Examinator said...

PS re the 60's was a time when the demographic bubble of the 'baby boomers' were in their teens. by the 70's nearly 40% of the population was under 35 years old i.e a time when people are their most radical.... a time when they voted and had no responsibilities ... not executives or deep in family based debt. Regrettably as they aged reality and their focus narrowed. where today many 'baby boomers' are the 'oldies' they protested against.
The effect of the time was one of math not necessarily a dramatic change in human nature per se. In short the demographics set the new norm.

aimai said...

They hate women who have sex more than they hate black gays. Simple. And they imagine the fetus as the pure, future Republican, they never, ever, imagine black , brown, and native american voters to be. Its displaced and misplaced romanticisism with a touch of the narcissism and denial of reality which enables male legislators (and the female ones who go with them) to imagine that they will either never need an abortion or that theirs will be forgiven while someone else is rightly punished for it.

I would like to point out that Texas's draconian cuts to health care and sex ed led to, what? 25 THOUSAND more unintended teen pregnancies than before and that if these trends continue Texas is going to be plunged into a massive teen pregnancy/teen single parent crisis as well as illegal self abortions in a few years time.