So Obama came out in favor of gay marriage. Whatever.
Four years earlier:
The last time Barack Obama was running for president, we were talking about Proposition 8. Barack Obama won California's electoral votes by a 24-point margin, but even Los Angeles County gave a thumbs-up to traditional marriage.
Pollsters were confident Proposition 8 would fail. Sociologists assured us that having a close gay friend was directly correlated with supporting gay marriage, which was part of the gay rights movement's logic in encouraging people to "come out" as early and openly as possible.
Actually, many people trust gay friends but simply don't trust gay rights rhetoric. Proponents of Proposition 8 ran TV and radio ads warning of ulterior motives and/or collateral damage described below:
Unless Proposition 8 passes [...] school districts will be required to teach children in grades K-12 that same-sex marriage is equal in every way to traditional marriage. [...] Churches may have their tax exempt status challenged [...] Adoption agencies that oppose placing children with same-sex couples for religious or other reasons have already been forced to stop providing adoption services [...].
"Nonsense," gay rights supporters would say, dismissing such concerns as paranoid. They assumed incorrectly that Proposition 8 could be beaten with the usual emotional appeals -- calling the initiative "h8," comparing gays to blacks, and scoffing at what sounded to them like outlandish scenarios.
Four years later:
The practical impact of Proposition 8 was never huge. In California, civil unions were available to gays. Without the federal Defense of Marriage Act overturned, the big benefits sought (particularly the right to petition for immigration and international adoption) would still elude gays in 2012.
A more interesting question to ask is, who was telling the truth in 2008? Gay rights advocates said there was no conspiracy to force homosexuality into public schools, intimidate clergy, exploit youth, recruit gays, foist gay adoptions on America, meddle in religious education policy, or dictate beliefs to others.
Let's take a look at some of the things that have happened since 2008:
- On December 18, 2010, Don't Ask Don't Tell was repealed based on propaganda posing as "research" from politically slanted organizations such as the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and the Palm Institute. A Pentagon report issued on December 1, 2010 was based on whether heterosexual servicemembers and their families thought repeal would change things. Only 15%-20% of respondents thought it would change things for the better, while 30% thought repeal would worsen things, and 50%-55% thought having the law was about as good as repealing it. Only 15% of homosexuals in uniform were actually planning on announcing their orientation to their unit, meaning that 85% of all troops including gays were essentially more in line with military life sans repeal than with a suddenly "openly gay" military.
- Hidden in 2010 was that the Pentagon knew of 19,000 annual cases of sexual abuse within the military (the latter evidence was published in the Brazilian newspaper Folha in 2011, and I was able to read it because I speak Portuguese; otherwise, I would not even know about the study). We had been led to believe that gay men could naturally "control themselves" in a high-stress environment with few safety barriers around the sex they were inalterably drawn to. Nobody had considered that the spirit of openness might lead gay troops to pressure other suspected gay troops to come out of the closet, ostensibly to exercise their newfound "rights," but really to make them sexually available for exploitation. There was little pressure placed on the military by gay rights groups to ensure that gay soldiers sexually assaulted by other gay soldiers (or worried that they might be vulnerable to sexual assault) would have adequate protection or grievance procedures. Common reactions to sexual assault are depression, anxiety, and self-destructive thoughts.
- In 2011, Elmhurst College was the first to ask incoming freshmen to indicate voluntarily their sexual orientation on official paperwork. This makes a person's sexual behavior a matter of public record (it could even be, presumably, subject to subpoena years later in a divorce or child custody case). Other colleges jumped on this bandwagon, culminating in the decision by the 10 campuses of the massive University of California system to consider tracking students' sexual orientations. To place such a question on a student application assumes that eighteen-year-olds have had enough sex with multiple partners to compare the experiences and figure out what orientation they are. It also assumes that human sexual behavior is reducible to a few patterns which are innate, unchangeable, and knowable to people in their early adolescence -- all ideological mainstays of the gay rights movement, despite thousands of years of cultural history that show that human sexuality is fluid, changeable, and often affected by situational factors (otherwise, how do we explain Achilles' love of Patroclus and Briseis, or male prisoners or sailors falling in love and then going back to their wives when they have their freedom again?). If every boy who was ever aroused during gym class were gay, the human race would have stopped procreating about 5,000 years ago.
- In the fall of 2010, Dan Savage launched a campaign called "It Gets Better," which would prompt Harvard University, members of Congress, and Oprah Winfrey, among many others, to shower him with praise. Ostensibly to counteract gay teen suicides, this project allows gay adults to record their testimonials and broadcast them over the internet to gay minors. Few people raised the issue that Dan Savage has no training in psychotherapy and has many other motives that look and sound like self-serving recruiting. If "It Gets Better" is a gigantic recruiting campaign designed to undercut parents (hint: yes, that's exactly what it is), with the predatory goal of populating the gay movement and pre-empting self-questioning teens from deciding that they aren't gay after all, then we have a major problem. In September 2011, fourteen-year-old Jamie Rodemeyer killed himself outside Buffalo, New York. Before his suicide he came out as bisexual on the internet, to the support of his loving parents, and recorded an "It Gets Better" video. (For many years, Dan Savage insisted that "bisexual" teens were simply gays who couldn't admit it yet.) Was it wise for certain people to push unprofessional quack therapy about highly sensitive issues on children they don't know based on a model of sexual development that runs counter to almost all of human history?
- The suicide of Rutgers student Tyler Clementi in September 2010 could have led people to ask whether the older gay man in Clementi's dorm room, who was prowling around a college campus seducing barely legal epicenes, was a factor in the distress leading to Clementi's self-immolation. Instead, the public went after the other college freshman who videotaped Clementi having sex and placed the footage on the internet. (There was no outcry of unfairness when Ted Haggart's voicemail messages to a male prostitute were disseminated all over the internet in the weeks before the 2006 midterm elections.)
- Once Don't Ask Don't Tell was repealed, military chaplains were encouraged to perform same-sex weddings. Since 2008, there have been forced sanctions against Christian singing groups at Vanderbilt and elsewhere over their views on homosexuality, and pressure to disallow Catholic Charities from assisting in adoptions and foster care, because of their view on gay marriage.
- Despite assurances by the gay rights movement that they aren't recruiting young people, brainwashing students, or forcing people out of the closet, the movement has given its undying approval to Dan Savage, who now lurks around colleges with his "Savage U" program and forces people like Marcus Bachmann out of closets that don't even exist. No sooner was the debate about Proposition 8 over than California passed a law requiring that "gay history" be taught in public schools. Walt Whitman's use of metaphor in Calamus is soon to be a weapon of indoctrination.
If gay marriage were about adults in consensual relationships receiving equal rights, I'd support it. But it's entangled in redefinitions of sexual morality, friendship, parenting, free will, human development, erotic self-control, predation, harassment, and privacy. I don't see how to legalize gay marriage without feeding into an insidious agenda I have much reason to distrust, based on the last four years.
Gay rights groups need to focus on adults and leave teenagers, never mind children, out of their fight. They should pick their battles; civil unions are more popular than are gay marriage laws. If this is about being left alone, then leave other people alone. Most of all, the movement needs to tell the truth. Only then will America trust them enough to believe what they say and give them what they ask for.