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Some gay-rights foes claim they now are bullied


Alecto

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doggie wrote:

someone is always beating up on them poor christians.

DAVID CRARY

Published: Jun 11, 2011 9:02 PM

NEW YORK (AP) - As the gay-rights movement advances, there's increasing evidence of an intriguing role reversal: Today, it's the conservative opponents of that movement who seem eager to depict themselves as victims of intolerance.

To them, the gay-rights lobby has morphed into a relentless bully - pressuring companies and law firms into policy reversals, making it taboo in some circumstances to express opposition to same-sex marriage.

"They're advocating for a lot of changes in the name of tolerance," said Jim Campbell, an attorney with the conservative Alliance Defense Fund. "Yet ironically the tolerance is not returned, for people of faith who don't agree with their agenda."

Many gay activists, recalling their movement's past struggles and mindful of remaining bias, consider such protestations by their foes to be hollow and hypocritical.

"They lost the argument on gay people and now they are losing the argument on marriage," said lawyer Evan Wolfson, president of the advocacy group Freedom to Marry. "Diversions, scare tactics and this playing the victim are all they have left."

He added: "There's been a shift in the moral understanding of people - that exclusion from marriage and anti-gay prejudice is wrong. Positions that wouldn't have been questioned in the past are now being held up to the light."

Among the recent incidents prompting some conservatives to complain of intolerance or political bullying:

-Olympic gold medal gymnast Peter Vidmar stepped down as chief of mission for the 2012 U.S. Olympic team in May following controversy over his opposition to gay marriage. Vidmar, a Mormon, had publicly supported Proposition 8, the voter-approved law passed in 2008 that restricted marriage in California to one man and one woman.

-After coming under fire from gay-rights groups in April, the Atlanta-based law firm King & Spalding pulled out of an agreement with House Republicans to defend the federal ban on same-sex marriage.

-In New York, state Sen. Ruben Diaz, a Democrat from the Bronx, contends he's received death threats because he opposes legislation to legalize same-sex marriage. The alleged threats were cited last week by the New York State Catholic Conference, which also opposes gay marriage.

"We are unjustly called 'haters' and 'bigots' by those who have carefully framed their advocacy strategy," wrote the conference's executive director, Richard Barnes. "The entire campaign to enact same-sex marriage is conducted under a banner of acceptance ... Yet behind that banner of tolerance is another campaign - of intimidation, threats and ugliness."

-Apple Inc. recently withdrew two iPhone apps from its App Store after complaints and petition campaigns by gay-rights supporters.

One app was intended to publicize the Manhattan Declaration, a document signed in 2009 by scores of conservative Christian leaders. It condemns same-sex marriage as immoral and suggests that legalizing it could open the door to recognition of polygamy and sibling incest.

The other app was for Exodus International, a network of ministries which depict homosexuality as a destructive condition that can be overcome through Christian faith.

In both cases, gay activists celebrated the apps' removals, while the apps' creators contended their freedom of expression was being unjustly curtailed.

"The gay-rights groups have shown their fangs," wrote Chuck Colson, the Watergate figure turned born-again Christian who helped launch the Manhattan Declaration. "They want to silence, yes, destroy those who don't agree with their agenda."

Exodus International president Alan Chambers, who says he changed his own sexual orientation through religious counseling, said he was alarmed by the aggressive tactics of "savvy gay activists."

"We have seen individuals, ministries and even private corporations that dare to hold to a biblical worldview on sexuality bullied into a corner," Chambers wrote in a blog.

However, Wolfson said the Exodus app deserved to be removed. "They were peddling something that's been repudiated as crackpot quackery."

The campaign that pressured King & Spalding to withdraw from the Defense of Marriage Act case was criticized by a relatively wide range of commentators and legal experts, not just conservative foes of gay marriage.

"To think it's a good idea to attack lawyers defending unpopular clients - I don't have words for how stupid and wrong that is," said Wendy Kaminer, a lawyer and writer who formerly served on the board of the American Civil Liberties Union.

However, the gay-rights activists involved in pressuring King & Spalding were unapologetic.

"If we made it such that no law firm would defend the indefensible, then good for us," said Fred Sainz, the Human Rights Campaign's vice president for communication. "When you have people talking about the fact that it's no longer politically correct to be anti-equality, it's a show of progress."

Sainz said it was important for activists to pick their targets carefully.

"We understand there are goodhearted Americans in the middle who are still struggling with these issues," he said. "Different activists have different ways of getting to the same end, and some of those are bound to make certain people feel uncomfortable."

Though same-sex marriage is legal in only five states, it has for the first time gained the support of a majority of Americans, according to a series of recent national opinion polls. For some gay activists, this trend has fueled efforts to make their opponents' views seem shameful.

"Their beliefs on this issue are very quickly becoming socially disgraceful, much in the way white supremacy is socially disgraceful," wrote Evan Hurst of the advocacy group Truth Wins Out. "They are certainly entitled to cling to backwoods, uneducated, reality-rejecting views ... but their 'religious freedom' doesn't call for the rest of us to somehow pretend their views aren't disgusting and hateful."

However, some gay-rights supporters see the public opinion shift as reason to be more magnanimous.

"The turn we now need to execute will be the hardest maneuver the movement has ever had to make, because it will require us to deliberately leave room for homophobia," Jonathan Rauch, a writer and guest scholar at the Brookings Institution, wrote recently in The Advocate, a gay-oriented news magazine.

"Incidents of rage against 'haters,' verbal abuse of opponents, boycotts of small-business owners, absolutist enforcement of anti-discrimination laws: Those and other 'zero-tolerance' tactics play into the 'homosexual bullies' narrative," Rauch wrote. "The other side, in short, is counting on us to hand them the victimhood weapon. Our task is to deny it to them."

As ideological foes spar over these issues, the American Civil Liberties Union is confronted with a delicate balancing act. Its national gay rights project battles aggressively against anti-gay discrimination, but, as a longtime defender of free speech, the ACLU also is expected to intervene sometimes on behalf of anti-gay expression.

For example, the ACLU pressed a lawsuit on behalf of the fundamentalist Westboro Baptist Church, which has outraged mourning communities by picketing service members' funerals with crudely worded signs condemning homosexuality. The ACLU said the Missouri state law banning such picketing infringes on religious freedom and free speech.

Some critics - such as Wendy Kaminer - have contended that the ACLU now tilts too much toward espousing gay rights, at the expense of a more vigorous defense of anti-gay free speech.

However, James Esseks, director of the ACLU's gay rights project, said the First Amendment protection of free speech only comes into play when a government entity is seen as curtailing speech rights - which did not occur in the Vidmar or King & Spalding cases.

"What we have there is simply the push and pull in public policy discourse ... which is sometimes rough and tumble," Esseks said. "Being stigmatized for expressing unpopular views is part of being in a free society. There's nothing wrong with that."

Robert George, a conservative professor of jurisprudence at Princeton and one of the co-authors of the Manhattan Declaration, shared Esseks' view on the often sharp-elbowed nature of public debate in America.

"Democratic politics is a messy business and sometimes it's a contact sport," said George, a co-founder of the National Organization for Marriage, which campaigns against same-sex marriage. He suggested that those who hold cultural power - in academia, the media and elsewhere - are inevitably going to try to impose their viewpoints.

"The power to intimidate people, to make them fear they'll be called a bigot or denied opportunities for jobs, only works if people allow themselves to be bullied," George said. "Conservatives who make themselves out to be victims run the risk of playing into the hands of their opponents, suggesting that their opponents' cultural power is so vast that there's no way it can be resisted."

To professional free-speech advocates - such as Joan Bertin, executive director of the National Coalition Against Censorship - the gay rights vs. free expression cases are fascinating and often difficult.

"It's very volatile - it requires you to parse the issues very closely," she said. "I'm of the school of thought that you should know your enemy. You need to know what people are thinking."

___(equals)

David Crary can be reached athttp://twitter.com/CraryAP

debrand wrote:

Although I do NOT think that anyone should receive death threats, I do think that opposition to same sex marriage is based on prejudice. Would any of these people be surprised that people grew angry at some one who opposed interracial marriage? They are against basic human rights for a segment of the population and they are surprised that most people are offended.

There seems to be a lot of more conservative/fundie Christians who believe that if oppressive beliefs are based on faith that those beliefs should get a free pass.

Burris wrote:

In other words, boycotts, unduly harsh laws, and open disdain are only correct when coming from opponents of gay rights. If supporters of gay rights use the same or similar tactics, that's bullying.

If BAWing were an energy source, Chuck Colson and the gaggle of idiots that agree with him could end the energy crisis within the space of a few column inches.

(Oh, and one more thing: UGANDA! Shut yer hypocritical pie-hole, Chuck.)

Hane wrote:

Awwwwwww, the paw widdle deep-de-dees.

doggie wrote:

I love the guy that changed his sexual orientation through counseling. I bet he is one unhappy fake convert.

lilwrite85 wrote:

He probably is.

thisolgirl wrote:

People can disagree with one's "chosen lifestyle"(their view, not mine) until the cows come home, and I fully support their right to have those views. But when people actively seek to restrict and/or deny rights to one group that everyone else has, they should expect that one group and their supporters to fight back. That's not bullying, you jackholes, that's doing the right thing.

doggie wrote:

I seem to remember one guy that claimed he changed and married and had kids. He sounded like the biggest fruit when he talked.

Alecto wrote:

You know, until someone forces them to have a gay marriage, they really should stfu.

Dinorah wrote:

Exactly. Against gay marriage? Don't get one. Your life, or anyone else's, isn't affected in any way by the private decisions of consenting adults.

debrand wrote:

This.

doggie wrote:

Hey gays have the same right to be miserable as everyone else. whats wrong with same sex marriage most of us have the same sex anyway.

SnarkyJan wrote:

Colson is the one who famously said, during the scandal, "Get a man by the balls and his heart and mind will surely follow".

Closeted much?

Childless wrote:

Oh, please. Boo hoo. Just because someone disagrees with you and fights to get laws changed to end discrimination, doesn't mean you are being persecuted or oppressed. Conservatives really are getting desperate.

Hane wrote:

Yup. In American culture, it is no longer legal to discriminate against women, or those of different races or religions. The Supreme Court is down to only five white men (yay for Kagan, Ginsburg, and Sotomayor!). So what's left for the haters to hate? Teh gayz!

demgirl wrote:

"What we have there is simply the push and pull in public policy discourse ... which is sometimes rough and tumble," Esseks said. "Being stigmatized for expressing unpopular views is part of being in a free society. There's nothing wrong with that."

PERSECUTION!!!!!!!!!111!!!1!

TonAmieAimee wrote:

Help! Help! I'm being oppressed!

Rowan wrote:

I am proud to say that another forum that I'm a member of was instrumental in this. There is no reason for someone so open about his hate of a group of people to represent some of these people on the Olympic stage.

SnarkyJan wrote:

W-H-I-N-E!
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The folks claiming the death threats never provide evidence of it. But I d not like the HRC's guy saying that it is okay to pressure law firms to not represent some clients because they are "Defending the indefensible."

The basis of our justice system is based on defending others.

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dupless3, I think these guys and Zsuzsu get the same "mysterious death threats"

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How interesting that the fundies now have something in common with Tracy Morgan, of all people. :twisted:

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I share the concern about making it impossible for lawyers to "defend in indefensible." I think the opposition to gay marriage will wane as time goes on and more children are growing up seeing homosexuality as normal so I'm not to worried about where the laws will ultimately come down on the issue. I am worried when a justice sytem based on the ability of everyone to obtain counsel, whether good, bad or evil is compromised then we are all compromised. In our legal system the inability for a person or organization to seek and recieve counsel is frightening. Do I think murder is indefensible? You bet! Do I think someone caught redhanded by multiple witnesses committing murder deserves a fair trial? You bet! Do I think some civil challenges to law are stupid? You bet! Do I want the power to challenge a law I disagree with even when other people think I'm stupid? You bet!

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The folks claiming the death threats never provide evidence of it. But I d not like the HRC's guy saying that it is okay to pressure law firms to not represent some clients because they are "Defending the indefensible."

The basis of our justice system is based on defending others.

I kind of agree, but I kind of don't. I see where you are coming from, in that everyone should have access to the justice system. But I don't think there's anything wrong with pressuring law firms to not take a certain type of case. I certainly wouldn't want to be the lawyer remembered for arguing upholding Plessy versus Ferguson, Loving v. Virginia. I think it's okay to ask lawyers if they want to be remembered for cases that likewise seek to deny a certain segment of the population their civil rights. It's a bit of a touchy subject.

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Tis amazing how telling someone to bleep off (when they are so way beyond out of line) is considered religious persecution. Boundaries, anyone?

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Book fucking hoo. They're fought to keep others from having rights, and all gay-rights advocates want them to do it to shut the fuck up. They can choose to be bigots. Gays don't choose to be gay, and in fact many wish they weren't because of the intolerance and lack of legal protections and equal rights.

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