Equality for homosexuals is as American as apple pie

by CynthiaYockey on May 28, 2009

In my recent post, “Bookworm has advice on how to talk to liberals,” I wrote, “social conservatives, who believe I do not deserve equality as a U.S. citizen because I am a lesbian,” which prompted an objection by a gentle reader named Mary Beth. I wrote a reply that was detailed enough to deserve its own post, and her comment and my reply are below. Then I discovered from Legal Insurrection that two of the most distinguished constitutional lawyers in America filed a federal lawsuit on Friday asserting that California’s Prop. 8 is a violation of the U.S. Constitution with the intention of pursuing the matter all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The lawyers handling the case are former Bush administration solicitor general Theodore Olson, a conservative, and David Boies, a liberal. Olson and Boies opposed one another before the U.S. Supreme Court when they argued Bush v. Gore in 2000 to determine the outcome of the presidential election. They are working with the American Foundation for Equal Rights, which advocates equality for homosexuals.

Byron York writes in the Washington Examiner:

“I personally think it is time that we as a nation get past distinguishing people on the basis of sexual orientation, and that a grave injustice is being done to people by making these distinctions,” Olson told me Tuesday night. “I thought their cause was just.”

I asked Olson about the objections of conservatives who will argue that he is asking a court to overturn the legitimately-expressed will of the people of California. “It is our position in this case that Proposition 8, as upheld by the California Supreme Court, denies federal constitutional rights under the equal protection and due process clauses of the constitution,” Olson said. “The constitution protects individuals’ basic rights that cannot be taken away by a vote. If the people of California had voted to ban interracial marriage, it would have been the responsibility of the courts to say that they cannot do that under the constitution. We believe that denying individuals in this category the right to lasting, loving relationships through marriage is a denial to them, on an impermissible basis, of the rights that the rest of us enjoy … I also personally believe that it is wrong for us to continue to deny rights to individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation.”

Greg Hengler posted this video of the Wednesday (5/27) press conference to announce the lawsuit at Townhall.com — it is about 27 minutes and worth watching:

I have taken the liberty of lifting the embed code for the complaint Perry v Schwarzenegger from Prof. Jacobson at Legal Insurrection:

Perry v Schwarzenegger – Complaint

Now here is Mary Beth’s comment:

Submitted on 2009/05/27 at 3:06am

Hello! I am a new reader of your blog…actually I noticed a link via redstate and decided to pop on by.

I very much appreciate a lot of what you have to say. I did notice something that really popped out at me though that I wanted to address since I believe given the open dialog and intellectual honesty you’re doing a great job of projecting with your well thought out blog posts, you’ll be open to reading and considering. I don’t presume that my humble comment will change your mind about this but perhaps what I write will allow you to see this issue from a different perspective and provide you with, at the very least, a respectfully submitted dissent as food for thought.

The phrase that jumped out at me was this : “social conservatives, who believe I do not deserve equality as a U.S. citizen because I am a lesbian”

As a social conservative, may I say that nothing could be further from the truth and in fact, this is not the perspective most(?) conservatives have on this issue.

Let me explain please.

I imagine you’re referring to the marriage issue, correct? Well, marriage has always been defined as a very specific relationship between a man and a woman. But what does this mean in context and why do we say that this is not for two women or two men?

Consider this example.

You’re selling pies. Apple pies to be precise. You know, with the crumblies baked on top and cinnamon throughout?

I come up to you and say, “Hey there! I want a pie please. But instead of apple, I want you to use blueberries and instead of cinnamon and crumblies, I want a crust overlay on top. But I want you to still call it an apple pie.”

You’d probably look at me funny, right? Not because what I’m asking for is bad…but because what I’m asking for, by definition, is not apple pie because an apple pie has, at the very least apples in it. (I adore the crumblies although I concede they’re not considered a necessity.)

Likewise, marriage by definition includes one man and one woman. This does not devalue other relationships, but rather merely acknowledges that the marriage relationship has a very specific construct culturally and historically. It is not an issue of equality any more than not calling a blueberry pie an apple pie is an equality issue. It’s simply not what it is by definition.

I have several gay friends…some pro prop8 and some against…and I want nothing but the best for all of them. They each live happy and full lives…some with partners and some not…and I’d never deny any of them equality under the law. I respectfully submit though that that is not what’s going on in this instance.

Take care and I look forward to continue reading your blog.

Are you on Twitter? You can follow me (if you’d like) at @marybethhouse and of course, I’d love to follow you.

Have a great day!

Mary Beth

Here is my reply:

Mary Beth,

Thank you for your kind praise and thoughtful comment. It helps me to learn how others see things.

Actually, social conservatives are busy on every aspect of denying equality to lesbians and gays — not just marriage equality, but also in employment, housing (both renting and buying as a couple), enjoying public accommodations (such as stores and restaurants) and by blocking positive representations of us in television and film (I’m not saying there’s a legal right to that, but it definitely shows that we are second-class citizens when we can be so easily be rendered not just invisible or less-than but actually non-existent).

Social conservatives in Virginia have been particularly successful and reveal that their activities to oppose marriage equality are in every way a nationwide movement by a coalition of religions to deny equality to homosexuals and use the apparatus of government to enforce their religious beliefs on everyone.

Here are some articles that will explain — please do read them because Mr. Rauch explains why the right to make contracts was considered by the Founders to be a fundamental element of personhood:

The Washington Post, Jonathan Rauch, “Virginia’s New Jim Crow,” June 13, 2004: “In the Marriage Affirmation Act, Virginia appears to abridge gay individuals’ right to enter into private contracts with each other. On its face, the law could interfere with wills, medical directives, powers of attorney, child custody and property arrangements, even perhaps joint bank accounts. If a gay Californian was hit by a bus in Arlington, her medical power of attorney might be worthless there. ‘Sorry,’ the hospital might have to say to her frantic partner, ‘your contract means nothing here. Now leave before we call security.’”

From the blog, Obsidian Wings, “Rauch on Virginia’s Marriage Affirmation Act,” June 14, 2004: “But even if the law is not interpreted to deny Virginia’s gay couples the right to contracts such as power of attorney and medical directive (and clearly the only ones who will benefit as that’s sorted out are lawyers), it is quite successfully designating gays as second-class citizens.”

The Washington Blade, Feb. 11, 2005, “Virginia poised to become ‘most anti-gay state,’” “The anti-gay bills this year have taken on a particularly nasty tone, especially after last year’s Assembly passed the Marriage Affirmation Act, a measure that not only bans gay unions, but outlaws legal agreements between residents of the same sex that resemble marriage rights.”

(Jonathan Rauch is author of the book, Gay Marriage: Why It Is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America.)

Recently two lesbians who had durable medical powers-of-attorney AND produced them were denied access to their dying life partners. For more on that, see this piece by ABC News and this story by the New York Times. So these legal contracts, which do not have to be recognized throughout the U.S., are no substitute for the rights that come with marriage.

BTW, I always had to have multiple copies of my durable medical power-of-attorney for my life partner when she was hospitalized (she had multiple sclerosis and was paralyzed). I learned to carry several copies for the claims that the one I’d gotten put in her record in the ER had somehow been “lost” when she was admitted. When my mother was dying, my father only had to say he was her husband to be allowed to take over her care. No one asked for a marriage license.

The history of marriage shows that it is in a constant state of being re-defined. You really ought to do some more research (try here and here). The traditional marriage of the Old Testament was polygamy — a man had as many wives as he could afford. Solomon not only 700 wives but ALSO 300 concubines. Also traditionally, and within my own lifetime, women have been considered legally the property of their husbands. In many places around the world, women still are property. The idea of equality for women is really still brand new and is having quite the dramatic effect on changing the concept of marriage in the U.S. and around the world.

The fight for marriage equality is indeed a fight for equality. We are only fighting for the right to have the spouse of our choice and to have the legal rights and responsibilities that heterosexuals have with their own chosen spouse. Religions certainly should not be restricted from banning same-sex couples from marrying within a particular religion. Instead of fighting to take the word “marriage” away from us, they should be branding the marriages they perform: Catholic marriage, Mormon marriage, Black Liberation Theology marriage, Evangelical marriage, and so on. We’ll be happy with having just plain “marriage” and being married by judges, justices-of-the-peace, ministers of the Metropolitan Community Church, and Internet-certified ministers — as long as they have the legal authority, we won’t be fussy.

I’ll be happy to follow you on Twitter, where you may also follow me as @aconservativelez.

Thank you for your comment!

Cynthia

P.S.

I should add that it amazes me that social conservatives who oppose marriage equality for lesbians and gays do not realize that they may have homosexual children — those who do are opposing equality for their own children (see my posts here and here). BTW, Lynn Cheney supports marriage equality for her lesbian daughter and GOD BLESS MARIE OSMOND for supporting her lesbian daughter AND marriage equality for her lesbian daughter!

Lynn Cheney is here on CBS News, Sept. 15, 2008, saying “freedom in this country ought to mean freedom for everyone.”

Update: I was just perusing Hot Air and found that Ed Morrissey predicted an appeal in federal courts.

Follow conservativelez on Twitter

  • http://www.business-spirit.com.au Chanty Lang-Vermaas

    “When we win at the exclusion of another we devalue the the human spirit until eventually, we become extinct as a species”. Chanty Lang-Vermaas

    Therefore to give rights to one over another, is to give no rights at all, for both sides will feel the void. Isn’t it time that we matured as a human race and started allowing the freedom of choice to ALL individuals, regardless of gender, gender preference, race, background or belief?

    Why do we devalue the existence of another’s right to be, or to choose their lifestyle, sexual preferences or their rights to maintain their points of views on life? Why do we make it an issue that a section of our community needs to ask to be validated, to be allowed to exist, to be made to feel less then normal for wanting the same rights as ourselves, that being to share love and live equally?

    Does being gay mean being a lesser citizen, of course not! How ridiculous we are becoming as a race. We are fast loosing ourselves into a void of pettiness and belligerent indifference. Freedom of choice IS a birth right and not one that should be made a debate of nor it become a campaign to make it so”

    “To label another is to distance ourselves from humanity” Chanty Lang- Vermaas

    Are we so closed minded, frightened, emotionally scared, lacking grace, dignity and without feelings as a society, that we can not accept each other simply as people making well informed choices for ourselves. I ask you, do we really need to place ourselves in such unrealistic and unreasonable boxes? Where has our dignity gone as a race?”

    And so in concluding as a human race “We don’t stand on the shoulders of others to cast a shadow, but rather, to shine a way so that others may find them”

    Lets as pave a wide and open road for all to walk on side by side, hand in hand, so that those who are yet to walk, will do so with strength, pride and unconditional acceptance, thus carve a more peaceful existence to live in.

    In upmost respect and support for the rights of gay people all over the world.
    Chanty Lang-Vermaas on Twitter as Chantified

  • john r

    what is interesting is that the christian religous groups in supporting prop 8, actually violate the teachings of christ and the essence of the new covenant.

    this is because christendom never made an immediate abandonment of the old covenant for the new (covenant of christ) with the crucifixion. instead there has been a gradual weaning of christendom off the old covenant which is evident by 1700 years of ethnic slavery and 1600 years of burning witches at the stake.

    in modern society the church is the culture and the culture is the church, because no one lives in a purely religious bubble nor a purely secular one.
    and it is the cultural that assigns meaning to verses of scripture and they do this in spite of their words.

    bottom line…………………….the words of scripture never said homosexuality was a sin. it is man who said scripture said it.

    bottomline …………….affirmation, support , and celebration of homosexuality as is done with heterosexuality is christ, and that which chooses to come against this is not.

  • rwaa

    It’s always revealing when someone uses an obviously disanalogous analogy to try to make a point. A better analogy would be a bunch of old biddies trying to pass an ordinance saying that fruit pies cannot be made from cherimoya because it goes against tradition. And what could be more disingenuous than conservatives saying it’s about definition (since when is the constitution a dictionary?) rather than about right wing religion’s homophobia?

  • Martin

    Chanty lang vermas: and rights for children? They have little voice in the matter, what about the rights of our ancestors and future generations? What about a genuine democracy let us give the past and future votes too.

    Children do best when raised by their biological mom and dad. Do you want to take their rights from them? SSM would force the state to impose equality of value to SSM and Trad. marriage but this can’t be so because of the generation of children. Because trad marriage socialises children, civilises men by forcing them to care and protect women, and empowers females by placing them at the centre of the most important institution; the family and her responsibility of the education and nurture of the next generation.

    That is not SSM. Which will teach the ideal is – marriage is optional (gays won’t want to get married generally so that will have cultural effects on the understanding of marriage), children no longer the natural fruit of marriage – horrible demographic problems; and when men don’t commit to women they stay aggressive and immature – social chaos.

    What about the rights of the next generation; we have a duty to bequeath them social structures that help people become good. We have a duty to hand on marriage unchanged (over every people and civilisation for thousands of years; it is between a man and a woman) as we have a received it.

    Three cheers for human rights!

    John r you haven’t bothered to learn how the Church reads the Bible. And reading your history backwards in the cause of slandering the Church’s authority, and then holding her text up as an authority in the cause of SSM is revealing of the destructive shallowness of SSM proponents.

    rwaa homophobia implies an irrational fear of homosexual people. But the arguments are about SSM, are you able to articulate the strongest arguments against SSM? Are you just an example of a left wing Christianophobe?

    Some helpful instruction on how to read the Bible from a SSA man.
    http://courageman.blogspot.com/2009/03/god-hates-shrimp-fallacy.html

    • http://www.aconservativelesbian.com Cynthia Yockey

      Martin,

      Thank you for your comment. I do want social conservatives to feel welcome here.

      God is not dogma and dogma is not God.

      Marriage, traditional or same-sex, provides a union of mutual devotion that is necessary to culture higher states of enlightenment. To bar same-sex couples from marriage equality is a deliberate effort to cut us off from God.

      Cynthia

  • Martin

    God is not dogma and dogma is not God. Sounds like a dogma Cynthia.
    This one will ultimately serve much better:

    God is love but ‘love’ is not necessarily God.

    Erotic desire and ‘mutual fulfillment’ (whatever that means) are are important but secondary goods of marriage. Everyone knows eros wanes over time and must integrate discipline and renunciation if it is not to become an idol. Besides no SSA person is denied erotic attachments or opportunities for mutual fulfillment whatever their definition. What most assuredly they ought to be denied is state promoted marriage and all the attendant state help. The state simply does not have the same interest in SS partnerships as it does in Trad. marriage. Society cannot afford another hit to marriage – the genuine progressive politics is marriage renewal. Dont’ get on the bandwagon Cynthia.

    Any talk of mutual fulfillment has to include objective components like meaning: e.g. that associated with being incorporated into a people through time most essentially. In other words everyone wants to leave a legacy and children are a means to that at the same time as being a means to national survival. So fulfillment would have to include duties to the nation’s wellbeing, as well as fulfillment in honoring duties to God. SSM would be detrimental to all these things and consequently cut SSA individuals off from God and deep fulfillment. Biblical tradition exults the value of SS friendship consistently above that of marriage – it never conflates the two though.

    The definition of fulfillment I read in your post Cynthia could have come straight out of an Oprah episode featuring a ‘be true to yourself’ guru – she epitomises the worst of the hopelessly subjective turn the West has taken recently. This article is a brilliant antidote I think, hope it helps:
    http://www.firstthings.com/article.php?year=2007&month=12&title_link=christ-and-nothing-28

    Eve Tushnet SSA conservative Catholic would also be helpful on these points IMO.

    To summarise:

    -objections to SSM are not simply appeals to religious dogmas that are non-binding in a neutral secular space but arise out of the same natural rights tradition used by proponents of SSM.

    -dogmas about being non-dogmatic don’t add to the debate, the question is: which dogma is true?

    -the definition of ‘fulfillment’ is fungible, biblical tradition provides the broadest understanding and it is thoroughly inimical to current popular understandings.

    -SSA people risk being cut off from God by adopting recent traditions of anthropology informed by modern atheistic philosophies.

    Thank you for your generosity and welcome Cynthia.

    Best wishes.

    • http://www.aconservativelesbian.com Cynthia Yockey

      Martin,

      I approved this comment but have only skimmed it. I’m not going to struggle with you. Also, I haven’t yet explained what I mean by “enlightenment” and “higher states of consciousness.”

      What does “SSA” stand for?

      Cynthia

  • Martin

    Of course not Cynthia I’m a visitor.

    I can see my post lacks clarity – I was in a bit of a rush this morning and the tone is a little forthright because of that I think.

    SSA = same sex attraction.

    I’ve just read about your change of politics and it resembles mine. I feel an affinity with you and wish you every success, your country (and consequently the world) needs you very much.

    Its trivially true to say male – female relationships are foundational ones and simply have to be ordered to the good – economic, political and international institutions stand on them . . . . but here I should leave it to Eve Tushnet, SSA Conservative, to speak for the conservation of marriage. http://www.marriagedebate.com/2008/05/older-eve-pieces-on-marriage-eve.htm

    Again best wishes,

    Martin from Australia

    • http://www.aconservativelesbian.com Cynthia Yockey

      Martin,

      Um, still no sale, homosexuals deserve equality in every aspect of life including marriage equality.

      What is “rwaa”?

      Cynthia

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