You cannot protect marriage by denying marriage to same-sex couples. That should be clear from the basics.
For centuries, marriage as a legal, civil and religious institution between a man and a woman has protected children and society in every country and culture.
Granted for the sake of argument, but why is that being put forward as a reason why marriage as a legal, civil and religious institution between two men or two women can’t be allowed to protect children and society in the US? Are these people so busy “protecting marriage” they’ve lost track of what marriage is all about? Evidently. How sad.
In March 7, 2000, 61% of California voters passed Proposition 22 — to keep marriage between a man and a woman.
True, which means presumably even then 39% of California voters wanted marriage rights extended to same-sex couples too. Is there any valid reason why a civil right that over one-third of the voters in a democracy want should be voted away from them by the majority? Alexander Hamilton would have said no to that.
And then there’s this:
On Aug. 8, 2008, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported that 53% of new HIV infections in 2006 occurred in gay or bisexual men. More infections occurred among young people under 30 (aged 13–29) than any other age group (34%, or 19,200). African Americans, while comprising 13% of the US population, accounted for 45% of the new HIV infections in 2006.
…which is completely not relevant to the issue of whether same-sex couples should be able to get married. Heterosexual women are much more liable to cervical cancer than lesbians: is this a reason for denying marriage to mixed-sex couples?
But then follow a bunch of news stories, which Ben Wolfson, bless him, doesn’t see as “relevant”, but which do, in fact have some relevance to understanding what these people are about.
1. A Human Resources administrator takes umbrage at her employer’s HR polices
On May 8, 2008, a black administrator was fired from the University of Toledo, Ohio, for objecting to the comparison of black discrimination to same-sex marriage.
Actually, no. Crystal Dixon was fired for was for writing an opinion piece which was published in the Toledo Free Press (on April 18 2008) responding to an opinion piece by Michael Miller, the editor-in-chief. (Miller’s article is still available on googlecache, and is worth reading in full.) Miller wrote his article, published April 4th, because on March 26, he had moderated a town hall meeting sponsored by Equality Ohio and Equality Toledo, dealing with issues of employment discrimination against LGBT people. Miller says he “left the forum with a vague sadness — sadness that there is so much needless public struggle and strife based on something as private as sexuality, and sadness that I have been ignorant to the struggles some of my closest friends endure.”
Crystal Dixon was then assistant vice president of human resources for the university. She worked for the Medical University of Ohio (MUO) and became an employee of the University of Toledo (UT) when MUO and UT merged. Since April 2007, employees of the University of Toledo are covered by a governor’s order barring sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination – something Dixon, as she worked in the human resources department, should have been well aware of. But, she said herself, she “took umbrage” at this article and wrote a response, which the Toledo Free Press published a fortnight after Miller’s.
The sentences that Crystal Dixon seemed to object to most in Miller’s article were:
- “As a middle-aged, overweight white guy with graying facial hair, I am America’s ruling demographic, so the gay rights struggle is something I experience secondhand, like my black friends’ struggles and my wheelchair-bound friend’s struggles.”
- “It’s basic Golden Rule territory: don’t judge people for the color of their skin or their physical challenges, and don’t judge them for their sexuality. I know that is a simplified and naïve statement, but for me, the issue really is that simple.”
Dixon wrote in response to that:
As a Black woman who happens to be an alumnus of the University of Toledo’s Graduate School, an employee and business owner, I take great umbrage at the notion that those choosing the homosexual lifestyle are “civil rights victims.” Here’s why. I cannot wake up tomorrow and not be a Black woman. I am genetically and biologically a Black woman and very pleased to be so as my Creator intended.
Miller had noted as an example of discrimination:
The frequent denial of health care benefits leads to horror stories. According to the panelists, UT has offered domestic partner benefits since then-president Dan Johnson signed them into effect. The Medical University of Ohio did not offer those benefits. When the institutions merged, UT employees retained the domestic-partner benefits, but MUO employees were not offered them. So, people working for the same employer do not have access to the same benefits. According to the panel, it may be 18 months before the situation is addressed. Eighteen months is a very long time to live (and work at a medical facility) without health benefits.
The reference to the alleged benefits disparity at the University of Toledo was rather misleading. When the University of Toledo and former Medical University of Ohio merged, both entities had multiple contracts for different benefit plans at substantially different employee cost sharing levels. To suggest that homosexual employees on one campus are being denied benefits avoids the fact that ALL employees across the two campuses regardless of their sexual orientation, have different benefit plans. The university is working diligently to address this issue in a reasonable and cost-efficient manner, for all employees, not just one segment.
But Dixon said her most important point in writing this opinion piece was:
There is a divine order. God created human kind male and female (Genesis 1:27). God created humans with an inalienable right to choose. There are consequences for each of our choices, including those who violate God’s divine order. It is base human nature to revolt and become indignant when the world or even God Himself, disagrees with our choice that violates His divine order. Jesus Christ loves the sinner but hates the sin (John 8:1-11.) Daily, Jesus Christ is radically transforming the lives of both straight and gay folks and bringing them into a life of wholeness: spiritually, psychologically, physically and even economically. That is the ultimate right.
The University of Toledo put her on paid medical leave following publication, and gave her an opportunity to speak in her own defense on May 5, to “respond to the concerns related to your ability to carry out the responsibilities in accordance with governing laws, policies, procedures and the mission of the University of Toledo”. She was given the option of taking a demotion and a pay reduction at the May 5 hearing, which she declined, and on May 8 she received a letter of termination from the university president Dr. Lloyd A. Jacobs, which read in part:
After reviewing the relevant evidence, mitigating factors and your statements from the pre-disciplinary meeting, it is my determination that there is just cause to terminate your employment with the University of Toledo. The public position you have taken in the Toledo Free Press is in direct contradiction to University policies and procedures as well as the Core Values of the Strategic Plan which is mission critical. ….. Your position also calls into question your continued ability to lead a critical function within the Administration as personnel actions or decisions taken in your capacity as Associate Vice President for Human Resources could be challenged or placed at risk. The result is a loss of confidence in you as an administrator. (cite)
As Dixon said: “There are consequences for each of our choices.” One of the consequences of choosing to write an opinion piece, which you know violates your employer’s policies and procedures, for a local and widely-read newspaper – and then at a disciplinary hearing, making clear that you stand by your opinions in violation of those policies, is that you may get fired: especially if your job is to uphold those policies and procedures.
Now this iProtectMarriage version of this story is subject to considerable meiosis. After all, what happened was that a senior human resources administrator was fired, for publishing an op-ed that publicly contracted her employer’s human resources policies, and for making clear to her employer via pre-disciplinary hearings that followed the article that she completely disagreed with her employer’s policies and procedures.
In Ohio, same-sex marriage is not legal: in fact, Ohio’s constitution includes an amendment which runs “This state and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance or effect of marriage.”
The moral we may take away from this story is: these iProtectMarriage people are not just out to stop same-sex couples getting married. They got what they wanted in Ohio, but that wasn’t enough for them: they object to state employers having policies and procedures that protect LGBT employees from discrimination.
2. A professor talks about scalded mice and gay mouse babies
In February 2008, a professor was fired from San Jose Evergreen Community College after being accused of providing an “offensive” answer out of the textbook to a student’s question about heredity and homosexual behavior.
The kindest thing you can say about this is that they just got it completely wrong. No one involved in the case, not even Professor June Sheldon herself, claims she got her answer “out of the textbook”. The Mercury News story says Professor Sheldon (teaching at a San Jose city college) was “asked by a student in a human heredity class about heredity’s impact on ‘homosexual behavior in males and females.'” The student who complained (pdf) in July 2007 didn’t mention any question from a student triggeting this part of the lecture: apparently Professor Sheldon “began to talk about something that had no mention in the textbook. I found many parts of her lecture highly offensive and unscientific. She presented this information, however, as hard science.”
In the student’s version of events, Professor Sheldon talked about a German study that “found that pregnant mice, when subjected to severe stress, would produce gay male rats. She said that the scientists cut off the pregnant mouse’s tail and dipped her in scalding water.” The student said that looking up the study on the web later, “The study only used one mouse in the experimental group and one mouse in the control group. Not only that, the study did not explain how they determined that the offspring were gay.” Sheldon went on to explain that there are “hardly any gay men” in the Middle East, because in the Middle East, “women are treated very nicely”. She finished her lecture, the student said, by telling the men in the classroom that if they want a nice and strong son, they should treat their wives very nicely, and if they wanted a “sensitive” son, they should abuse their wives. (Apparently Professor Sheldon also asserted that there “aren’t any real lesbians”, just women who get tired of relationships with men.)
It doesn’t appear that the university rushed its decision to fire Professor Sheldon: Michael Burke, the college’s president, said at the February meeting (fully six months after the student had originally complained) that there was a “thorough investigation” before taking the decision.
In July 2008, June Sheldon, supported by the Alliance Defense Fund (based in Arizona) began a lawsuit asking for “unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, reinstatement to her teaching job and a court finding that Sheldon’s rights were violated”. The lawsuit claims that “The cornerstone of public higher education is the freedom of professors to discuss competing theories and ideas in the classroom.” This is true, but it is also a cornerstone of education that when a teacher tells their students as a scientific fact that if you cut a mouse’s tail off and dip her in scalding water she will give birth to gay mice, the school may sack the teacher for filling the students with crap masquerading as science. If Professor Sheldon was in the habit of telling male students that they should beat their future wives if they wanted gay sons, this also sounds like a valid reason to sack her.
And again: this has nothing directly to do with same-sex marriage. This has to do with not permitting homophobic teachers to spread anti-scientific anti-gay crap in the classroom. The iProtectMarriage crew want this kind of nonsense to be protected nonsense: they do not want clear and neutral scientific teaching about sexual orientation in the classroom.
The first two stories had informative links attached: the last four were sourced only to World Net Daily, which made discovering the facts really rather more difficult.
3. The Deerfield High School Freshman Advisory class
In March 2007 freshmen were told not to tell their parents about Deerfield (Ill.) High School’s pro-gay seminar and were required to sign a confidentiality agreement.
What iProtectMarriage calls the “pro-gay seminar” is a class for all the freshmen at Deerfield High School in Illinois, “in which gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, and transgender DHS students discuss their sexual orientation with all freshmen”. A parent who, by her own admission, has a homophobic daughter, wanted to sit in on this class, and wasn’t allowed. Given that high school students were discussing their sexual orientation, it somehow isn’t surprising that a hostile adult wasn’t permitted to hear minor children not her own talk about their sexual orientation. I wasn’t able to find any reference except on wingnut sites to claims that students who attended this class were instructed not to tell their parents about it. (I think it likely and admirable that students who attended this class were advised they didn’t have to tell their parents about it, and were warned not to disclose anything they were told in confidence by other high school students within the context of this class. But I could find no evidence of this.)
The state of Illinois has legislation banning recognition of same-sex marriages in other states, and a bill proposed by State Representative Greg Harris to make marriage equal in Illinois has not yet passed. This story is not about marriage. It’s about how much these iProtectMarriage people hate LGBT people, regardless of their age.
4. The Newton North High School “ToBGLAD Day”
In early March 2007, a Massachusetts high school banned parents from attending a seminar for students on how they can know they are homosexual.
This a reference to the school’s “Transgender Bisexual Gay Lesbian Awareness Day”. I found a schedule for a previous ToBGlad Day online:
B Block (7:50-8:45 am) – Little Theatre: A Day in the Life: Statistically one in ten students at this school are not straight. Teenage life is complicated enough, but how does it differ for Gay/ Lesbian/ Bisexual/ Transgender (GLBT) teens?
C Block (9:05-10:20 am) – Little Theatre: Student Speakout: Newton North students read original pieces about GLBT issues.
Session 1: 9:05 – 9:35
Session 2: 9:45 – 10:20
D Block (10:25-11:20 am) – Little Theatre: Life Outside the Gender Norm: What happens when one’s gender identity does not match their sex? In this session, speakers will talk about their experiences with gender identity and expression.
E Block (11:25 am -12:20 pm)- Little Theater: Out at the Old Ballgame: Athletes and coaches discuss what it’s like to be GLBT in the gym, on the field, and on the road.
F Block (1:00-1:55 pm) – Little Theater: Family Matters: What does it mean to be a family? Discussion of some of the life experiences and legal challenges families face, when one or more members are non-heterosexual.
F Block (1:00-1:55 pm) – Film Lecture Hall: GLBT What’s in a Name: What is homophobia? heterosexism? Why is there a ToBGLADay? In this interactive presentation, we will use activities to provide the groundwork for talking about GLBT issues.
G Block (2:00-2:55 pm) – Little Theater: Color Me Queer: A panel discussion of race, culture, and sexual identity.
Brian Camenker, who runs the anti-gay hate group Mass Resistance wanted to attend this ToBGLAD Day. (One can guess that it was not so that he could be supportive, nor because he had an open mind and wanted to learn more about what it was like to grow up LGBT in North Newton.) He described his dialogue with the principal: “It’s absolutely insane. I met with the principal. She told me no parents are allowed. She said only by invitation. I asked, ‘Can I be invited.’ She said, ‘No.'”
I don’t think that Newton North High would have invited parents who belonged to North East White Pride along, either. Nor do I see any grounds that parents can have to object to their not being permitted to attend. The issue with “inviting parents” – this is not just a question of their children (whom the parents can, after all, keep home on the day, if they’re scared about what their children will learn about respect and diversity) – this is a question of protecting other people’s children. I don’t see a thing to object to in the curriculum for this day.
ToBGLAD Day has sparked protest in the past from some Newton parents who say they’re not adequately informed about the day’s events and that it puts their children in uncomfortable situations.
But Newton North Principal Jennifer Huntington said that although agendas for ToBGLAD are not sent out to parents beforehand, they are notified about the day, and all other cultural awareness days, in a packet that is sent out during the summer. Parents are told in the packet to send a note to their child’s housemaster if they do not want them to attend any of the year’s events.
Huntington said she received only one parental complaint about ToBGLAD Day this year, no student complaints, and fielded some parental inquiries into how their child could be excused. She said she did not know how many students chose to not attend the day’s activities.
“I think it’s odd that other schools don’t have gay or straight alliance groups,” said Huntington. “My fundamental belief for education is that you need to be safe and comfortable. And if you have people calling you names while walking down the hall, you’re not going to feel safe.”
Again: while same-sex marriage is legal in Massachusetts, this kind of event doesn’t have anything to do with that directly. What this is about is protecting LGBT children from being bullied by their peers. That’s what iProtectMarriage object to: they want children who don’t conform to sexual orientation or gender norms to be bullied and harassed by other children. They don’t want LGBT children to grow up with self-respect, and they don’t want straight children to grow up without prejudice.
5. The Dad Who Wouldn’t Leave School
On April 27, 2005, a Massachusetts father was jailed after requesting that his 6-year-old son’s school notify him when it discussed homosexuality or transgenderism.
This is even worse meiosis than in the summary of Crystal Dixon’s story: technically it’s true that jail followed David Parker’s “request”, but the night David Parker spent in Lexington town jail wasn’t caused by his request, as iProtectMarriage.com would have you think.
David Parker, who faced criminal prosecution by the town of Lexington, spent a night in jail in April 2008, and was charged with criminal trespassing, because after he’d had a scheduled meeting with officials at the Estabrook Elementary School, he refused to leave the school building until law enforcement had to be summoned to remove him. He also refused to pay $40 bail, which was why he spent the night on remand.
The only thing to be said about presenting this as a story of “persecution” is that it’s about as sensible to say that a parent’s civil liberties are infringed if he’s not allowed to remain in a school building overnight, as it is to argue that the free exchange of ideas is being stifled when a science teacher in college is not allowed to tell students it’s a fact that you make gay mice by dipping a pregnant mouse in scalding water.
This is not about gay marriage: this is not even about public schools getting to hold events as part of the curriculum that teach children it’s okay if you or your friends or their parents are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender: this is about uniquely privileging people who protest against LGBT equality. This is an argument that anti-gay protesters are above the law.
6. Public schools are entitled to prepare students to become engaged and productive citizens
On February 23, 2007, the judge in the Massachusetts case ordered the teaching of the homosexual lifestyle to children in public schools.
Chief Judge Mark L. Wolf said that under the US Constitution, public schools are “entitled to teach anything that is reasonably related to the goals of preparing students to become engaged and productive citizens in our democracy” and that parents who send their children to public schools are not allowed to instruct the public schools to amend their curriculum according to the parents prejudices.
When LGBT students are bullied in school, the school is not meeting the goal of public education to prepare them to become “engaged and productive citizens”. To teach all students tolerance and self-respect: what could be more engaged or more productive?
But the iProtectMarriage crowd passes on this story (abridged in their standard style) because they see it as essential that LGBT students should be bullied, that students should not be taught tolerance or self-respect: their campaign is not just about equal marriage, not just about equal civil rights:
What these people oppose is human rights.
They’re against the idea that people whose sexual orientation is lesbian, gay, or bisexual, and people whose gender identity doesn’t match the body they were born with, should have basic human rights. They support the people who object to human rights for all, even to the point of privileging them beyond law or reason.
That’s why everyone who cares about human rights for all should donate to noonprop8. Please.