Has Support for Gay Rights Confused Our Understanding of Morality?

January 20, 2014

SLATE | Jan. 16, 2014 | There’s a lot to love about this week’s federal court ruling striking down Oklahoma’s gay marriage ban. Among other things, it dismantles the crucial but thin argument that banning gays from getting wed does anything to protect marriage: “Excluding same-sex couples from marriage has done little to keep Oklahoma families together thus far, as Oklahoma consistently has one of the highest divorce rates in the country.” It also rigorously reviews the relevant history of the state’s anti-gay law and notes that its champions defended the law by calling it an effort to “uphol[d] morality” and ensure that only “what God has ordained as traditional marriage” would be recognized by state law—both constitutionally impermissible rationales for a law.

Note to Mary Matalin’s Gay Friends: She Won’t Hide You in a Gay Holocaust

January 20, 2014

SLATE | Jan. 20, 2014 | My Bubbie and Zada used to tell me my gentile friends wouldn’t hide me in another Holocaust. I like to think they were wrong (and that there won’t be another Holocaust). But that won’t stop me from invoking their wise spirit with a warning to conservative pundit Mary Matalin’s gay friends: She won’t hide you in a gay Holocaust. The famously crabby GOP strategist shrugged off a growing human-rights crisis in Russia on Sunday with a glib dismissal of even discussing the anti-gay policy and violence there, just as the upcoming Sochi Olympic Games have finally brought much-needed mainstream media coverage to the problem.

Should You Respect Gay People If You Find Homosexuality Immoral?

January 9, 2014

Slate | Jan. 6, 2014 | Of late, many opponents of gay equality have taken pains to insist that, whatever they think of homosexuality, they not only love gay people, they also respect them. It’s the latest incarnation of “hate the sin, love the sinner.” Defending himself against allegations by punter Chris Kluwe that he went on an anti-gay tirade in the Minnesota Vikings locker room, special teams coach Mike Priefer released a statement denying that he said gays would burn in hell and claiming he was “respectful of all individuals.” Charlie Crist, the former Republican governor of Florida who is now running to re-take the office as a Democrat, gave an interview to an LGBTQ website apologizing for his earlier anti-gay positions. “I love everyone!” he giggled, explaining that his parents “raised us to love everyone” and be nice to everyone until you no longer could. Even the pope has now said that Catholics should not judge gay people, despite official church doctrine.

Does the Bible Say What Phil Robertson Thinks It Says About Homosexuality?

December 24, 2013

SLATE | Dec. 23, 2013 | Last week, Phil Robertson, the patriarch from Duck Dynasty, a popular reality show on A&E, was suspended from the network for offensive comments he made in a GQinterview. In addition to ignorant, racially insensitive remarks, the interview included a rant that called homosexuality sinful and morally wrong. The controversial suspension gave conservative and religious groups a new cause célèbre in their effort to cast gay equality as anti-Christian, a claim that is preposterous but gained steam from the fact that Robertson’s remarks were close paraphrases of what the Bible says.

Writers and Their Pets: Nathaniel Frank

November 3, 2013

Romeo was a rescue dog from a city shelter in East New York. He was all Brooklyn from the get-go. So it wasn’t hard to figure out where to scatter his ashes when he finally left us. Every morning for years, we had started the day trotting through Fort Greene Park, which Walt Whitman helped create and Richard Wright and Ralph Ellison used as a writing perch. That seemed the obvious choice. Still, I had to spend some real time deciding. After all, Romeo was one of the most widely traveled dogs I know

Will Someone Please Ask Chris Christie Why He Believes Gay Marriage Is Wrong?

October 22, 2013

SLATE | Oct. 22, 2013 | The political calculation of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s surrender on gay marriage—he announced yesterday he woulddrop his appeal of a court’s ruling that finally allowed gay couples to wed—is not hard to decipher. As a likely GOP presidential candidate for 2016, Christie must woo the party’s anti-gay right wing to win the primary, and avoid, for the general election, seeming out of step with the dramatic national movement toward marriage equality. So he has consistently opposed gay marriage personally while stating that he would support it if the state’s populace did so in a vote.

How Do Americans Really Feel About Gays?

October 14, 2013

SLATE | Oct. 11, 2013 | As gay rights advocates celebrate a seemingly endless barrage of victories in their fight for full equality, a new study offers a reality check on how far we’ve come. A team of researchers from Ohio State and Boston Universities used a survey technique known as the “veiled elicitation method” to correct for social desirability bias—the tendency of survey respondents to give researchers the answers they think are expected. The veiled method involves asking subjects to respond to a group of questions, and in an indirect manner, which has been shown to reduce the chances that an answer will be biased toward social expectations. The theory is that grouping sensitive and non-sensitive questions together can “veil” how subjects answer the sensitive question, thus reducing the influence of social desirability bias. As the study authors put it, “saying ‘three items’ might be easier to say than ‘Yes, I cheat on my spouse.’ ”

There's Room Enough for All in the Marriage Circle

September 30, 2013

Los Angeles Times | Apr. 2, 2001 | Sunday, a groundbreaking law took effect in the Netherlands that gives gay and lesbian couples the same civil marriage rights as the rest of Dutch citizens. What the Netherlands seems to understand that no other nation in the world, including the United States, understands is that access to marriage is just like access to any other public institution. In the U.S., the indignity, expense and alienation of exclusion from full citizenship is no less agonizing for gays today than it was two generations ago for blacks, who were barred from full participation in the most basic institutions of public life. Like racial segregation, marriage exclusion is not about scarce resources but about the majority culture maintaining its sense of superiority.

Why Marriage Matters

September 30, 2013

Los Angeles Times | Jun. 9, 2013 | As Americans await U.S. Supreme Court rulings this month on two same-sex marriage cases, June — the traditional month for weddings and pride parades — gives gay people the chance to reflect: How have their own lives and views changed since a Hawaii court ruling first thrust marriage equality onto the national stage 20 years ago? And what might a fully legal marriage mean to them? For many gay people, including for me, the weight of this prospect has taken a while to sink in.

Gays Are Winning the Right to the Word "Marriage," Thanks to the DOMA Ruling

September 30, 2013

New Republic | Sep. 30, 2013 | Gay rights advocates celebrated another victory Friday when a New Jersey judge ruledthat the state must allow same-sex couples to marry. The decision, which Governor Chris Christie immediately vowed to appeal, is the latest development in a 2011 suit which the plaintiffs revived after the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated the Defense of Marriage Act in June. The gay couples’ attorneys have relied—quite understandably—on the argument that a post-DOMA world changes the circumstances of their case, and should compel the state to grant same-sex marriage immediately. That’s true, so far as it goes. But the significance of Friday’s ruling is much bigger than that argument suggests.

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