5/17/2005

Metro ran my Goodridge op-ed this morning, and reading over it in the paper it seemed muddled. There's only so much you can say in 500 words, and there were a lot of connections that were sort of tenuous, implied, like between gay rights and the filibuster debate. The filibuster debate is not about gay rights, of course, but Goodridge was, and it has been used by the right as proof of "judicial activism" on the left, which justifies the "nuclear option" so that they can ensure that their judicial nominees get in there as quickly as possible and start undoing the damage liberals are doing. So, the filibuster debate is about gay rights, but gay rights are about individual rights in general. My point was that these rights aren't radical at all--they should be givens. Reasonable conservatives should have nothing to object to here. This is a moderate agenda. It's the right, that is arguing for the state to arbitrate matters of life and death for individuals that we should worry about. That's the radical agenda right there.

The problem with the piece is that on one hand I'm saying that Democrats are milquetoast moderates, and on the other I'm extolling the gay movement for its moderate goals. I was distracted while writing, and got sloppy. I'm all for moderate. What I am saying is that you have to be able to argue passionately for reason. Slow progress towards social justice just ain't as exciting as the fire and brimstone on the right. What the right has been successful in doing is framing the debate in hysterical, apocalyptic terms. And the Dems are saying, well, if it works for them... It's kind of like in marketing when a campaign works for one fast food joint, the other ones hop on the bandwagon.

My roommate was telling me Kerry is making his way through the South campaigning for '08 (God help us) assuring everybody he's against gay marriage. That's the wrong way. Because gay marriage is not about gay marriage. He has allowed the enemy to define the terms of the debate, and he will lose again and again so long as he does. He should be defending secular democracy. He is treating the question as if we already lived in a theocracy. In secular democratic terms there's no reason to oppose gay unions. It's through the lens of the Mullah's and Jihadists of Colorado Springs that the issue becomes debatable. Unless we can widen the focus and put Goodridge in a bigger picture, connecting it to rights and responsibilities in a secular democracy we will continue to lose the debate. I guess that's what I'm saying.

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