Alex Blaze

Compromise doesn't happen 5 miles before the finish line if you're serious

Filed By Alex Blaze | February 27, 2009 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Fundie Watch, Marriage Equality, Media, Politics
Tags: David Blankenhorn, illinois family institute, jonathan rauch, laurie higgins, op-ed, politics

Laurie Higgins, of the Illinois Family Institute, responded to one of my particularly colorful posts here at Bilerico and called it "deeply troubling." Similar to what my fifth-grade teacher said about me....

Actually, one thing I love about the rightwing nuts who are closer to the grassroots, like Higgins, is that they're usually pretty honest about there they stand and can be quite a bit more reasonable than the ones that are worried about money, getting in big papers, and being invited to all the cool cocktail parties, rather than changing the world to look more like their vision of it.

It's refreshing.

Higgins here says some things that make sense in response to that Blankenhorn/Rauch faux compromise on same-sex marriage from the NY Times earlier this week (federal civil unions with fewer rights than marriage, big exemptions for religious orgs to ignore the law):

The government has no legitimate interest in whether marital partners love each other. If the sole purpose of marriage were to publicly recognize, institutionalize, or solemnize sexual attraction and/or emotional affiliation, the government would have no business being involved with marriage at all. The government has no vested interest in whether marital partners love each other. If society is going to regain a proper understanding of marriage, citizens must be disabused of the notion that the government's involvement in marriage has anything to do with sanctioning love.

I wish a lot more people would sit down and think about that, as we talk about marriage being a religious ceremony, a cultural institution, or a formal recognition of a relationship. If it's any of those things, what business does the government have in marriage?

I think that there are lots of rights associated with marriage meant to increase autonomy and economic security, which is why many should be separated from marriage and applied to whatever relationship people choose to attach them to. Somehow I doubt that's where Higgins ends up with her logic, but at least she understands that civil marriage isn't a religious sacrament.

But then Higgins goes off the deep end. She's only formally attached to logic, you see, and when it's applied to reality, her vision of the world is so incredibly warped that she ends up producing nonsense like this:

First, there is no reason for the government to provide institutional recognition to same-sex civil unions in that they contribute nothing beneficial to the common good. Do not misunderstand that statement: I did not say that those who self-identify as homosexual contribute nothing beneficial to the common good. They unequivocally do. Rather, homosexual unions per se are destructive to the common good. Even the tragic fact that homosexual couples are procuring children via ethically dubious means should not compel the state to redefine the institution of marriage to accommodate this perverse reality.

Of course, she provides no evidence that the unions are "destructive to the common good," uses the word "procuring" as if we're snatching children from the playground and raising them as our own, and doesn't really say what heterosexual marriages contribute to society that homosexual marriages don't/wouldn't. I mean, does the fact that they have a party and eat some cake somehow mean that those who were once blind will now see?

She apparently thinks that a straight couple getting married somehow makes them Mother Teresa, that saying "I do" benefits us all. Next thing you know she'll be saying that we're all obliged to send every heterosexual couple that marries a Thank You note.

I'm not going to go into the rest - it's homophobe boilerplate. We've seen it before and know the responses.

The blockquote above is the first point in her response. The second is that homosexualists won't accept the compromise anyway (yours truly is the prime example of one such homosexualist).

She's right about us radical homosexualists; the most positive I've seen about that "compromise" from same-sex marriage advocates is that it's a "first step." They aren't reading it at all as it was intended - as a permanent solution - and instead are keeping the end goal in mind.

It's all well and good, and that's why I'd rather deal with a Higgins than a Blankenhorn any day of the week. The latter would rather come across like a nice guy and be popular and mainstream, in order to keep his cash flow in tact and the coolest invitations in town coming, so he spouts incoherent drivel. The former doesn't care about creating conflict or respecting other people's political goals. She just wants to see hers enacted.

She closes:

Oddly, Blaze and IFI are in agreement: this portentous "compromise" should be uncompromisingly rejected.

Of course we agree. We're living in a reality where we want certain laws passed in order to enact our respective visions of the world as it should be. Folks like Blankenhorn and Rauch are living in a world where they just want everyone to get along and agree so that everything seems nicer. The substance of the compromise doesn't matter to them - they like compromise in and of itself.

And, you know, that's not what politics is supposed to be about. It's people disagreeing about material issues and trying to achieve certain goals, not a job or getting along or having a drink together after a long day of politickin'.

People disagree. Politics is a way of expressing that disagreement. You'd think so-called activists like Blankenhorn and Rauch would understand that.

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Your points are good, Alex. But using "them" instead of "those" seems like a cheap and stereotypal put-down. It isn't at all necessary to make the point.

It wasn't meant at all as a put-down, it was more just an imitation of the way I talk and stemmed from a lack of a better title.

I feel like one of those "I'm sorry if you were offended" apologies is going to have to come if I get more comments along these lines....


After a February 27, 2009, blog post at the Bilerico Project entitled "One of them family institutes responds," Bilerico Project Managing Editor Alex Blaze apologizes to Hoosiers who were offended by that title.

"I sincerely apologize to anyone out there who read way too much into that title and got her panties in a bunch," Blaze said Friday. "It probably pissed off that fifth grade teacher I mentioned, but I don't care. She's the reason I'm on the hootch now."

After a flurry of constructive criticism from esteemed leaders of the Hoosier community, Blaze came to realize the hurt his comment caused.

"But using 'them' instead of 'those' seems like a cheap and stereotypical put-down," said Don Sherfick, a respected Hoosier leader. "It isn't at all necessary to make the point."

Blaze responded: "What? People are actually reading that stuff? Goddammit, where'd Alberto hide that bottle of whiskey I bought this morning?"

The title was changed to "Compromise doesn't happen 5 miles before the finish line if you're serious," which Blaze feels is a more accurate description of the blog post's content.

"Found it!" he said. After being reminded where he was and that, no, we don't respect him any less for throwing up in front of us, he continued, "Oh, yeah, the title thing.... I changed it since it sounded like I wrote it when I was still working on Long Islands, and after three of those I can't think right. Jesus I can't drink this shit straight."


Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | February 27, 2009 1:29 PM

Whatever. I never thought of myself as a "flurry" of "Hoosiers", but using adjectives such as "leader" and "esteemed" will turn my head anytime.

Actually since the piece was about someone from the Illinois Family Institute, my criticism wasn't one pertaining to Indiana residents (for those of your national audience who may not otherwise be familiar, "Hoosier" is a word of disputed origin that Indiana folks (outside of Carmel, maybe....Alex you can explain that one when the hooch bottle is empty enough) apply to themselves. As to the speculation that downstate Illinois and downstate Indiana have a common government, no comment.

It was directed more at the assumption that those who espouse "fundamentalist", "evangelical Christian", "right-wing", and otherwise "goofy" (my own perjorative) "family values" viewpoints all talk with less than perfect grammer and can be dismissed as being a bit back-woodsy. Much to the contrary, many of them express their ideas in rather decent and correct prose. That does nothing to improve the illogical and simply wrongheaded content of their speech and writings.

If you have a spare bottle, you know how to get hold of me.

Oh, Carmelites are Hoosiers too, if they're enough from Indiana to consider that state home. They tend to lean Perdue, though, so there aren't too many.

As for the hooch, I'm really all out tonight. I should have hit the grocery store before 8! France - the country where everyone wakes up late and goes to bed early.

You and Don seem to be having too much fun.

Quoting Higgins of the IFI:
there is no reason for the government to provide institutional recognition to same-sex civil unions in that they contribute nothing beneficial to the common good.

Hers is bad argument which nevertheless gets used a lot. Marriage, even without children, does benefit the common good. It provides a stability in which two persons look after one another, financially, emotionally, medically, etc. It also makes both individuals more grounded and less likely to take extreme actions on a whim. All those things make the members of a married couple more productive, and that benefits society.