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"Each individual should allow reason to guide his conduct, or like an animal, he will need to be led by a leash."
Diogenes of Sinope

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Thousand Flowers tapestry (15th Century) - Beaune, France (detail)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

"There's nothing inherently oxymoronic in a gay conservative"

James Kirchick, writing in The Advocate, argues that "politically right-of-center men and women make up a growing yet habitually ignored gay minority ... [and] now more than ever, their voices need to be heard." An excerpt:
Though it may seem paradoxical, the “gay agenda” today is fundamentally conservative. Neither gay activists nor mainstream conservatives will be happy to admit this, of course. Those in the conservative movement resistant to making peace with the main criteria of this program—the extension of civil marriage rights, the right to serve openly in the military, the right to adopt children, and the acceptance of homosexuality itself as a benign, naturally occurring feature of humanity—continue to think of the gay rights movement as it was in its heyday of the immediate post-Stonewall era. They see gay people as threats to the traditional American family structure and social order, which, to be fair, most of the prominent gay activists at the time were. Many had no interest in monogamous marriage, which they viewed as patriarchal and misogynist.

But today, there are no calls for free love or the sanctifying of bathhouses as battlegrounds for civil rights. The young gay activists protesting today do so in order to get married. They want to join a bedrock institution, not tear it apart. In this, they are taking up the mantle of the men and women who decided they had had enough harassment at the hands of the New York City police department. Though the modern gay rights movement was considered part of the counterculture, which in most respects it once was, the spark that lit its flame was a call to one of the most basic constitutional principles: freedom of association.

The same conservative impulses characterize the push for open service in the military. In the 1960s and 1970s some gay activists were rooting for a Vietcong victory and voyaging to Cuba to help realize Fidel Castro’s communist revolution. Today, a major demand of the country’s most prominent gay groups is the right to join the U.S. military. Such a position would be unimaginable to many of the gay activists of the early years, who, with some notable exceptions, were down-the-line hard leftists.

It is for these reasons that there is no conflict between the tenets of conservatism—at least philosophically—and a “progressive” understanding of homosexuality. It is, rather, certain critical constituencies within the conservative movement that have made that designation so difficult for many to comprehend and perhaps harder for its designees to bear. But there’s nothing inherently oxymoronic in a gay conservative. There is no reason why one’s sexual and romantic attraction to members of the same sex should render one predisposed to a left-wing view about the power of public employee unions or late-term abortion or affirmative action. Indeed, one could even argue, and some gay conservatives have, that on the latter two questions, being gay informs a right-of-center disposition. What will gay rights leaders have to say about abortion if medical advancements bring about the ability to discern a gay gene in fetuses? And while the prospect of employment and admissions preferences for sexual minorities may today seem like a wild idea (though not really so wild given the left-wing tilt of contemporary academia), does a realistic survey of affirmative action and the controversy it has caused on campus and in the workplace instill optimism for those who wish to see gay people fully integrated in society?

(HT: BlogCabin)


Anonymous said...

Welcome to the movement. I'm an atheist. I consider myself the libertarian type right winger. That means I don't care if you get married just don't make me pay for it. I also find I'm rather socially conservative but I struggle with the religious aspect.

One thing I never understood is why you care what the Government classifies you as. Can't you make a gay church and then marry? Change your names, live together, share everything, and be married in every way except that stupid little paper form the law. -One you have to buy on top of that. It also upsets a lot of people, and I don't really understand that either.

Eric said...

Can't you make a gay church and then marry? Change your names, live together, share everything, and be married in every way except that stupid little paper form the law.
Well, even church marriages are not legal without a marriage licence from the state - legally, marriage is a civil institution, not a religious one. Gay couples could get married in an accommodating church if they could find one, but their marriages would have no legal force without the state's licence.

And why do gay couples care what the government classifies them as? Because a civil marriage automatically confers legal privileges on a couple - inheritance rights, tax status, hospital visitations to name a few - which are unavailable to un-married couples or would require private contracts to be drawn up by a lawyer at great expense.

Most gay couples couldn't care less about church marriages - why would they want to have their marriage sanctified by an organization that disapproves of their relationship? It's civil marriage that gay couples want. If churches want to opt out of performing gay marriages, fine - but without access to civil marriage, gay couples can't be legally married anywhere.

David Thomson said...

Anon, you don't sound like much of a libertarian to me...

I too am an atheist and a Libertarian, as such it is none of my business if two men or two women want to get married. Why should it be? Based on what thought process?

Its about equal rights. You can not deny a right to a portion of the population, but allow it for another portion.

Honey Pot said...

Just because your gay, it doesn't make you stupid. If you are gay you still pay taxes, lots, and you are concerned about the same thing everyone else is. Too much government,lLoss of our freedoms, political correct bs, and our lax justice system. I bet there are more gays that vote Conservative, than liberal.

Anonymous said...

It is quite possible for gay conservatives to exist but you are a smaller minority than people that believe Helena is innocent right now. (real conservative)

Eric said...

Real Conservative:

From Kirchick's article: "According to a CNN poll, 27% of self-identified gay voters supported John McCain in the last presidential election, the highest such figure ever recorded for a GOP candidate. In actuality, the number is likely higher, given that there are presumably many gay people who do not divulge their sexuality to pollsters. Regardless of whether the conservative movement thinks there should be room within it for gays, there are plenty of them already there."

I didn't know Helena Guergis had that much support.

Spin Assassin said...

@Dave Thompson:

What did I say that disqualifies me form being libertarian? What qualifies you to disqualify me?

I hear this all the time not always directed at me. Oh you aren't atheist, you aren't conservative, you aren't Libertarian. How about I decide what I am after my own consideration. Is there a central libertarian body that grants access to that term? Do you happen to be an administrator.

My rights are mine alone and no entity has the authority to remove them. They can steal my rights, but they aren't theirs. They only have that power until I take it back if they like it or not.

@Eric Thanks for clearing that up.

Patrick Ross said...

Adam Daifallah and Tasha Kheirridin would steadfastly agree.