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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Criticism of John Aravosis's Take on the DOJ Brief

Law Dork

Bilerico Project

Box Turtle Bulletin

All of these strongly contest that the DOJ brief compares same sex marriages to incest and pedophilia. However Box Turtle Bulletin goes on to say the brief is "offensive none the less."

Offensive Nevertheless
Okay, so the brief doesn’t say same-sex marriage is equivalent to incest or pedophilia. Big deal. It’s still patently contemptuous of gays and lesbians even without that. For one, the DOJ lawyers seem to think that gay people, deep down, don’t really exist. How else can one explain this (page 27)?

Even viewing the right asserted here as the right of gay and lesbian couples to marry, DOMA does not directly or substantially interfere with the ability of anyone, including homosexuals, to marry the individual of his or her choice. …Hence, under DOMA, gay and lesbian couples suffer no greater interference with their ability to obtain recognition of their marriages, either in the States where they were wed, or elsewhere.

That could only be true under one condition: that homosexuals can “marry the individual of his or her choice” as long as that individual is of the opposite sex. In other words, just because I’m gay, it doesn’t mean I can’t settle down with a nice Catholic girl (or a nice religious Jewish niece if I lived in Rhode Island) and have that marriage go unchallenged virtually everywhere I go. That sort of argument is precisely the stuff we’ve heard from some of our more unhinged anti-gay opponents.

And then there’s this bit of creative “logic” on page 27-28:

…gay and lesbian individuals who unite in matrimony are denied no federal benefits to which they were entitled prior to their marriage; they remain eligible for every benefit they enjoyed beforehand. DOMA simply provides, in effect, that as a result of their same-sex marriage they will not become eligible for the set of benefits that Congress has reserved exclusively to those who are related by the bonds of heterosexual marriage.

Got that? We’re not denied anything, we’re just not allowed the extra stuff (and obligations) that heterosexual couples get when they’re married. In the eyes of the Justice Department, that’s not discrimination. Maybe women who are denied promotions aren’t discriminated against because they still have a job; they just don’t get the extra pay and perks the employer gave to a lesser-qualified man.

But even if it is discrimination, that’s okay too, according to the Department of Justice (page 2):

Thus, by defining “marriage” and “spouse” as the legal union of a man and a woman and affording federal benefits on that basis, Section 3 of DOMA simply maintained the status quo: it continues the longstanding federal policy of affording federal benefits and privileges on the basis of a centuries-old form of marriage, without committing the federal government to devote scarce resources to newer versions of the institution that any State may choose to recognize.

That’s right. Congress can choose to deny its “scarce resources” to a very tiny proportion of married couples just because it wants to. Never mind that those same married couples pay taxes just like everyone else.

It doesn’t end there. There’s so much more in this brief that’s risible, like the continual reference to a “new form of marriage,” a phrase that may as well place scare-quotes around the word “marriage” when referring to same-sex couples. And to add insult to injury, the brief then contrasts that “new form of marriage” to what it calls “traditional marriage,” which, inexplicably, is likely meant to preclude the traditional and biblical examples of brother-sister marriages, non-consensual marriages and plural marriages, although it doesn’t explicitly say so.

This brief’s contemptuous tone is breathtaking. LGBT advocates are right to denounce it and to encourage very direct and vigorous avenues of protest to make our anger known. I’m glad to see the LGBT community call Obama and the Democratic Party on the carpet for this, and I hope that many more join them.

It’s Important To Speak The Truth
I started this web site because I wanted to expose our opponents when they distort the written record. That is the driving force behind so much of what we do here at BTB. But if I see similar examples among our own advocates — including those advocates who do wonderful work otherwise — how can I remain silent?

This definitely isn’t the pathway to mega-blogger status. I’m probably going to be called self-loathing, an appeaser, an Uncle Tom or an Obama apologist — you name it. Or, just as likely, this post may be ignored. But that’s okay. I’d much rather speak the truth than repeat talking points intended solely to inflame. The "incest and pedophilia" meme is the latter, not the former, and it's been seriously bugging me all week. There are plenty of reasons to be outraged by this DOJ brief, but no matter how you slice it, it just doesn’t say what many of our leading advocates claim it does.

I like John Aravosis a lot. He has been unparalleled in covering the ongoing developments surrounding the Obama administration's reactions to the outrage this brief has generated. No one else has stayed on top of this story the way he has.

But it was Karl Rove who perfected the art of manufactured outrage, and it reflects poorly on us when we deploy the same tactic. If there's anything we should have learned from the Bush administration, it’s that such behavior will weaken our position, not strengthen it. It's time we gave it a rest and be outraged over what’s really there.

1 comments:

jessica said...

If there's anything we should have learned from the Bush administration,

___________________
Jessica
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