Ari Kohen recently posted a video of Ann Althouse discussing Gay marriage with Glenn Loury. Ari summarizes the video thusly:
Both Glenn Loury and Ann Althouse have gay sons. And, in this clip, both of them argue that we shouldn’t consider opposition to same-sex marriage to be akin to bigotry. Loury goes a few steps farther, in fact, and claims that a charge of bigotry really amounts to demagogic politics and that people who oppose same-sex marriage on religious or cultural grounds are morally serious and ought not to be dismissed out of hand.
But it’s never entirely clear why Loury and Althouse believe that the views these people espouse are so morally serious or why we ought to refrain from referring to their condemnation of homosexuality as bigotry. From listening to them, my sense is that their argument rests on the presumption that religious people are morally serious and, as such, they reflect on the tenets of their faiths before coming to their conclusions about matters like same-sex marriage.
That’s all well and good, if it’s true. But it doesn’t explain why we shouldn’t think of it as bigotry. That someone believes something to be true and arrives at his or her belief in a serious manner doesn’t exempt him or her from being challenged on that belief, especially when that belief might impact the lives of others.
If Ann and Glenn have gay sons, then they clearly understand that being gay is not a morally culpable choice. I’d go so far as to say they probably understand that it is no more of a morally culpable choice than being born with heterosexual proclivities. They probably also understand that this isn’t a matter of “approving of one’s lifestyle.” Being gay is, of course, not a lifestyle. It is an inborn trait. Again, I’m certain that Ann and Glenn are aware of this. I’m certain they’re also aware that, while sexuality is mutable, it is not something that can be forced on people. There is a fairly robust degree of certainty in the medical community that attempting to change someone’s sexuality by force has the potential to inflict extreme psychological damage on that individual. So I assume that Ann and Glenn are not making their argument on the supposition that people who view homosexuality as a morally culpable choice are coming to a valid conclusion.
Yet that is precisely the conclusion that many people who oppose same-sex marriage have come to. 8% of North Carolina voters think that being gay should be a felony. That’s roughly 1 out of every 12 people in North Carolina. That’s significant. Do Ann and Glenn give these people a people a pass because they came to this conclusion in a morally serious manner? Surely they don’t support felonization of their own children. But by their logic, we should respect these peoples’ opinions and not label them bigots because they came to their conclusions in a morally serious manner.
The text-book definition of bigotry is “a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions or prejudices,” or “one who regards or treats the members of a group with hatred or intolerance.” At common law, a felony was crime so heinous and injurious to society that those who committed it were deemed to deserve the penalty of death. Today, a felon can be denied the right to vote, own a gun, access public housing, food stamps, student aid, public assistance, the right to serve on juries, and can be legally discriminated against by employers. That is the cultural legacy that is being invoked when 1 in 12 North Carolinians believe that being gay should be a felony. No one could possibly wish that on another human being unless they regarded the members of that group “with hatred or intolerance.” That is bigotry. And the fact that they arrived at that decision in a morally serious manner does not change the analysis.
I am sure that Ann and Glenn would respond by saying that they clearly do not support the felonization of homosexuality. Fine. But their reasoning about “moral serious” conclusions applies to those that do. Their logic forces them to respect people that want to do serious injury to their children. Which means that they either, a) have not given full consideration to the consequences of their thesis, or b) they are, by my own personal measure, derelict in their duty as parents. That’s an upsetting accusation, no doubt. But a parent’s first duty, I would think, is to not act in such a way that will do unnecessary harm to their children, nor to give cover to people who wish to do the same. Giving people a way to morally justify beliefs that will harm their children fits that bill a bit too cleanly.
- Woman: Can I have birth control?
- Republicans: No.
- Woman: I got pregnant because I didn't have birth control and I don't want the fetus. Can I have an abortion?
- Republicans: No.
- Woman: I gave birth to my child but since I wasn't expecting it, I can't afford daycare. Can I have help paying for it?
- Republicans: No.
John Oliver on Rick Santorum, The Bugle 183 (via sixpencesoulcake)
Can this please be the new “glitter-bomb”?