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    Free Advice for Hate-Mongers (About those Gay Troops)

    Hey there, conservatives. I know a bunch of you have had a good ride bashing on gays in the military for most of the last twenty years. (If you're a conservative who hasn't, good for you. You can ignore the following advice, with my hearty compliments.) And I know those of you who've been doing the public hating also hate to give up a good thing. Now that gays are openly serving in the military, I understand that it feels like time to double down. The issue's always been a winner for you before. Why wouldn't it be a winner now?

    Here's your problem. For the last twenty years, you've been arguing against the idea of gays serving our country in the military. And since no one could be in uniform and out of the closet at the same time, you could serve up all the scary fantasies you could imagine; you do have a talent for serving up those fantasies. But now that our gay soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines are openly gay, you aren't arguing against a hypothetical policy any more. Now you are publicly attacking real people. And the people you're attacking are American soldiers and marines during a war.

    When you were attacking imaginary gay soldiers for doing vague imaginary bad things, you could pass yourself off as guardians of tradition. But when you are attack American servicemen and women who are serving in a war zone, it makes you look crazy, unpatriotic, and mean. That's not a coincidence. It really is a crazy, mean, and unpatriotic thing to do. And that's what it looks like.

    If you want to make this a central campaign issue, that's fine with me. You'll get pummeled, and I'll enjoy watching. If that seems impossible to believe, let's put it this way: there have always been gays in our military, but they could not admit it. That allowed you to say whatever vile thing you liked about them without being contradicted by inconvenient facts. Now those same gay soldiers and Marines can speak up for themselves, and even more importantly, they can let their service to our country do the talking. Some of those people have served three or four tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq. Meanwhile, your main contribution to the war effort has been attacking the character of the guy who served those three tours. I wouldn't call attention to that if I were you.

    Merry Christmas. It's a good time for kindness and decency. And it's never too late to start.


    Bravo!  Couldn't have said it better myself.  


    (But your message will go right over their heads -- see Rick Santorum's statements about gay marriage actually killing our country!!)

    Gay marriage is a whole another ball of wax, which only highlights the complexity of gay rights in this country.  My mother who sounds like Mr. DDay when you get her talking about Dick Cheney, spends her free time volunteering to help the poor and downtrodden locally and globally, and would never vote for a Republican, "draws the line" at gay marriage.  She's all for civil unions, which provide the same rights as a "married" couple, but she can't get past her religious views of marriage as religious ceremony before the eyes of God, and whether she likes it or not, God does not approve of a marriage between a man and man or between a woman and a woman. 

    It is this uneasiness and discomfort with homosexuality (and sexuality in general) felt by so many Americans (especially older Americans, who are more likely to actually vote) that keeps the Republican politicians and their strategists coming back to this particular trough. Nixon won in part because people were seeing all the chaos of the 60s and felt that America (along with the rest of the world) was coming apart at the seams. The old social fabric in tatters, and the chaos was at their doorsteps.  Gay marriage taps into the fear.  People want order.  They want security.  Not just financially, but in the larger "way things are," imperfect as they are.

    Gays now openly serve in the military and the sun still comes up and life goes on just about the same as it always did.  It is a big step in undermining the attitudes of heterosexuals in this country.  But for the time being, especially those of the older generations, old attitudes still remain. 

    Whether Ricky actually believes what he says or is just using it to create some press and kick start support in his floundering campaign, I don't know.  But I seriously doubt his marriage comments will hurt him in any way that going after the gays serving in the military would.

    She's all for civil unions, which provide the same rights as a "married" couple, but she can't get past her religious views of marriage as religious ceremony before the eyes of God, and whether she likes it or not, God does not approve of a marriage between a man and man or between a woman and a woman.

    I realize that (a) it can be difficult to talk about these things with one's relatives, and (b) you're paraphrasing what your mother said, but I'm curious to know if you asked her what she thought about two atheists getting married?

    The topic of two atheists getting married never came up.  My guess she it would resonate with her in a positive way.  I would add that she wouldn't not vote for a candidate who supported marriage for both atheists and homosexuals.  Nor would she turn her back on a homosexual couple who informed her that they were married in some other state that allowed it. Nor would she think it would be the end of the world if her state granted the right to these folks.  It is just, as I mentioned earlier, doesn't resonate with her as being proper.  Something nags at her that it is somehow not aligned with the way things ought to be, in such a way that she can't quite articulate it.

    And this is how so many people I believe encounter the issues surrounding gay rights, or gender, or race, etc.  Their response is one arising from the years of immersion in a culture, largely unexamined.  I am no different.  Distilling out the assumptions and connections and understandings that seeped in as life washed over us is a life long process.  A key facet of this is that it isn't something that can be easily addressed through logical/rational debate.

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