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October 13, 2014


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You raise several good points here Jon. I can't say for certain why marriage equality gained traction when other movements have not, but that won't stop me from speculating...

First of all is timing. The AIDS crisis of the 1980s-1990s forced gay people to come out of the closet. At the same time, the deaths of so many brothers, sons, friends, and co-workers forced straight people to confront the actual reality of LGB (the T would come later) lives versus the ominous stereotypes portrayed in popular culture and religion. An extensive gay rights infrastructure was built during that time that was no longer afraid to show its face. The movement gained traction before the onset of the 24-hour news cycle.

Secondly, the big money from A-List gays -- and I would argue your statement that gay people have higher income -- opened a new funding source for politicians to court. LGBT people confronted the Democrats and Bill Clinton for "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and the equally wretched Defense of Marriage Act (among other betrayals). Money talks.

Finally, the Marriage Equality movement began to crest just as the right-wing Christian world of the Moral Majority started to lose favor among a younger generation who were much savvier than their parents on all matters sexual. As the homophobic bigots of the previous generation (Jesse Helms, Jerry Falwell, William F. Buckley) died off or were exposed as closeted gay men themselves (Ted Haggard, Roy Cohn, Ken Mehlman, Larry Craig), the "pro-family" movement rotted from within. Compare this sorry lot to Ellen DeGeneres and the gay-equivalent of "Amos & Andy" - "Will & Grace," and, well, who would you rather be affiliated with?

The wealthiest Americans have friends and family members who are gay: they don't have friends and family members who are poor. The wealthiest Americans don't feel threatened by gays, they feel threatened by the poor. Social acceptance of gays won't cost the wealthiest Americans a dime, but the "war" on poverty requires them to accept higher taxes, higher wages, and more investment in a safer work environment for the exploited classes.
While it's nice to see any evolution in human rights, it could be an inevitable part of the "Great Sort," in which America increasingly self-segregates by class, eventually eliminating the opportunity for upward social mobility while protecting those born into wealth from failure.
States in which gay marriage remains unrecognized throw up a barrier to mobility for gays who may need to follow jobs or aging parents to said states, or who may just want to live in a particular state, so as with the legalization of recreational marijuana (better not get caught with cannabis on federal lands or in federally subsidized housing), it's an issue that needs to be settled at the federal level. I think, anyway.

Hear, hear Pat.

I'm with you 99.9%

All I would change is:

"the "Great Sort", in which America increasingly self-segregates by CASH"

I think Pat hit the nail on the head and he gives credit to the wealthy for positive motives. I was thinking the power brokers are willing to give on gay marriage in hopes of thwarting alignment of this group on other sympathetic issues.

Agree with Pat 100%. Business interests see this as a gain, a household is a household gay or otherwise.

The part that throws me for a loop is that my gay family and friends support Arpaio because he keeps them safe from the brown tide.

That tells me that $$$$$ transcends race, religion, gender, age, politics........everything . We're a pretty shallow country at this point.

The point being that this is no progressive movement. It's about the dollars.


I saw the feel-good movie Pride last night. It was based on a true story where LGBT folk came together in 1984 to support the coal miners on strike in Britain. Shut out by the national labor organization, they opted instead to support a single Welsh community of miners. The movie was predicable and often maudlin but it worked for me because it made a strong point about human rights linking necessarily to economic justice. To have gay rights without that referent is to ultimately weaken the most compelling argument about equality itself. If we are not roughly equal as citizens, then society itself loses its moral power to inform us of our responsibilities. Getting married and buying a nice house is a pleasant outcome but not the core quality of the ethical life.

Republicans discovered with Obama that the animus to dark skin trumps virtually every other reptilian trigger in the brains of its base. Much of this is understandable. People are afraid of the angry and dispossessed. Our grotesque economic inequality here dovetails with a hierarchy of cultural cues, most of which invalidate the alienating mores and culture of the black community. Ebola, for example, exercises its outsized claims on our fears mostly because Fox News, this nation's primary vector of Scary Black People stories, pushes it so hard. It ought, I feel, outrage more of us. It outrages me because the cynicism is so toxic and horrifying. How do you explain to people not challenged by the legacies of slavery and prejudice that there might be very good reasons why black people are often full of rage? You don't because there isn't that level of psychological insight. We are winners, they are losers.

People vote Republican not for their policy positions, which are both obscene and incoherent, but for their emotional stroking. Explaining climate change to a suburbanite is next to impossible. Explaining black-on-black crime is deliciously easy. One is complex, the other is emptied of all complexity in order to excite our anger that whiners should even think of guilt-tripping us.

We are not going to advance as a nation by permanently scapegoating 13% of the population. Yet, Republicans are still in the game, despite a mountain of evidence that a demographic tide will eventually drown them, because enough people still respond to Pavlovian stimuli. There are no guarantees that these necromancers of the hard right won't pull the same tricks on Hispanics if and when they ever start voting. At some point, we have to wake up. What they are doing is killing us as a functional nation.

The dopiness of homophobia was never much more than the pack behavior of bullies feeling good about themselves at the expense of their "lessers". Christianity tried to gussy it up but could never get beyond its own smugness. Sexual inversions, if considered thoughtfully, simply cannot excite that much panic. We lived through Liberace, fer crissakes. But blackness involves a different kind of "otherness". We did more than taunt black people. We enslaved them. We brutalized them. We lynched them. We dehumanized them. And having dehumanized them, we blamed them for acting dehumanized. This is our national tragedy.

I don't have much to add - Pat & soleri covered the territory well enough. Yes, it is a one-off with nothing "in train," especially women's rights. We are still entrenched in a patriarchy that is far more intimidated by feminism than homosexuality (recall that female homosexuality has been pretty, erm, "tolerated," so the gay fight was mostly over the male version. Males, patriarchy, do the math.)

And of course racism, the story of The Other, goes deeper into our shameful psyche than any other social issue, as soleri eloquently pointed out.

Gay males are generally an economically powerful group, quite a few of whom have ties to the moneyed elite. This explains a great deal about the grudging acceptance of gay marriage.

Marriage has historically been a institution originated to ensure transfer of property and privilege for the Aristocracy. I suspect this has more to do with allowing gays to marry then any romantic or religious sentiment. The upper classes are more likely to marry so it is a class issue as well.

This isn't really a civil right issue as much as it is about keeping it in the family. Better to have your wealthy gay son marry another wealthy gay scion then have it dispersed in some way. Lower class gay men and all classes of lesbians have benefited from legalizing same sex marriage merely because the elites couldn't pull it off without them.

My feeling is that the intense political misery and political repression have lead to conditions similar to the French Revolution. I rather suspect the coming storm will be much the same. It will just take the right incident to set it all off. Ferguson is a mild taste of things to come.

I might have some more thoughts on this later but right now I just want to point out that we shouldn't discount the importance and potential impact of social media. The internet wouldn't be censored in places like China and Saudi Arabia if the elites there didn't fear it, with good reason. It's not a substitute for more physically tangible forms of activism but it is a conduit of information and exposure capable of reaching large numbers of people.


proximate...the reason 'the gays' can marry is it's less scarey then other things.

people are looking for an avenue to express their angst, the slippery sinking feeling that things are not right when they aren't.

not to worry, shiny suits will point to a different direction. rove, reed, cheney, etc always have a different fear card right up their sleeves...

Mr. Talton wrote:

"What does same-sex marriage mean? This is not a rhetorical question."

Simple enough to answer. First, ask what "marriage" (no modifier) means. In the United States, marriage is a legal status governed by state law, and each state has its own laws.

These laws determine such things as whether cohabitation alone constitutes legal marriage (common-law marriage); whether a license must be obtained; whether the marriage must be "solemnized" by someone authorized by the state to do so (e.g., a minister); minimum age for marriage with and without consent of parents; whether more than two participants can be married (polygamy); and so forth. A basic table with further details obtainable by state can be found here:


The important thing to recognize is that "marriage" is a legal status conferred by the state legislature, not a private arrangement between two persons; and this is true even for common-law marriages (since these must be recognized in law by the state where cohabitation occurs). Polygamy is currently prohibited by all 50 states, so in practice marriage is a legal status conferred on two individuals.

It therefore follows that "same-sex marriage" is a legal status conferred by a particular state on two individuals of the same biological sex.

If a state refuses to confer this status on same sex couples, for example by an explicit requirement that the two participants be of two different sexes, then the only way that same-sex couples can obtain this status is by appeal to the federal courts to rule that such restrictions violate federal law or the Constitution.

One can ask, as you do, why should states be allowed to prohibit homosexual marriage? One can also ask, why should they be allowed to prohibit polygamy, or other unusual arrangements? Why not marriages between a man, woman, and animal; or two men and an animal, or two women and an animal?

These are not idle questions. There are individuals who would like to have more than one wife (or husband), and others who might for whatever reason wish to have bestiality recognized by the state (for example, to avoid punishment under laws banning sexual contact between animals and humans).

The answer is that American society chooses to confer marriage as a legal status for the purpose of encouraging certain social structures regarded as conducive to or at least consistent with the commonweal. A stable family is one such structure. At one time, divorce was difficult, "no fault" divorces being unusual. So, marriage was a way of giving legal advantage to couples in exchange for committing to a social structure deemed advantageous to society.

The question can be asked: if arbitrary social standards such as the banning of polygamy can be imposed in exchange for the legal privilege (not right) of marriage, then why can't other social standards, such as disapproval of homosexuality, be imposed?

Libertarians answer this question by arguing that marriage as a legal status should not be accorded by governments at all, whether to heterosexuals or homosexuals.

Conservatives answer this question by recourse to traditional social values. Of course, such traditional social values at one time also included prohibitions against interracial marriages, which have been deemed unconstitutional by the federal courts.

The question to be answered is, first, whether marriage should be a legal status conferred by government; and if so, exactly what kind of societal values may legitimately be imposed on the structure of marriage?

The answer to the latter question depends upon who you ask.

Regarding same-sex marraige, less than two percent of men self-idenfity as homosexual and the same is true of women; less than one percent of each self-identify as bisexual, according to the Centers for Disease Control as reported by the Washington Post:


So, most of those answering the question self-identify as heterosexual. The answer then depends upon prevailing heterosexual attitudes toward homosexuality.

Those who regard homosexuality as a behavior that is not merely statistically unusual but abnormal, perverse, degraded, or otherwise morally objectionable, will argue that society, in the form of government, should not confer legal status on such relations.

Those who regard homosexuality as a rare but not inherently objectionable behavior might accept marriages involving it.

Why is there a societal debate about a practice engaged in by two percent of the population? Why is there a debate about same-sex marriage but not about polygamy, for example?

Obviously, because the media and academia have framed homosexual rights as a civil rights issue, but have not framed polygamy as a civil rights issue.

I think this is a simple matter of social momentum. Homosexuality itself (not same-sex marriage but sexual relations) was once widely legislated against in the form of sodomy laws, and various kinds of discrimination (e.g., by landlords) was practiced; and homosexuals were commonly subject to physical assault, sometimes with a measure of official impunity.

These measures came under judicial review as well as legislative scrutiny, as American social attitudes toward homosexuality softened, and as cases were brought by organized litigants.

More generally, American society has, at the judicial and social level, evolved a broadened view of rights afforded by the Constitution.

The conjunction of these two trends resulted in the classification of homosexuality as a form of behavior protected by the Constitution, and therefore not subject to special discrimination in matters now afforded more broadly to society as legal rights.

This created the momentum. The issue has moved on, from the question of constitutional rights, to the matter of legal privilege conferred by legislative act of government (i.e., marriage as a legal status). This is not the same issue, but it is framed in the media and academia, and in certain other social circles, as an issue of, if not rights, then social equality.

Ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court has the final say regarding the constitutionality of state restrictions on same-sex marriages. Broader public attitudes are irrelevant to a legal determination.

The question then devolves, not to broad society attitudes, since justices have in the past ruled against broadly popular laws (e.g., banning miscegenation), but to the attitudes of nine specific justices at the time that a precedent-setting case is accepted and heard. That in turn may be influenced by the competency of counsel for and against the law, and possibly by the specific details of the phrasing of a particular state's law and the powers invoked in its construction.

Succinct & to the point. Thanks, Emil.

Legalizing Polygamy has been back on the table since the arrest of Warren Jeffs and will eventually be approved.

This is what polygamy is up against: The power imbalance in a patriarchal society (progress aside, we currently inhabit this in the West, BTW.) For the same reason eyebrows are raised when an employer dates an employee, questions must be asked (intentional sarcastic passive voice) about a man who has "consensual" relations with a number of women.

Stripped to the bone, men are stronger than women, and if your culture sanctions this mismatch, women are hog-tied. They will walk some paces behind you, they will tolerate your other women, they will jump when you speak, they will do your bidding. Because a beating will come their way if they don't.

I am currently observing a version of this - you will excuse me if I do not elaborate too much here, but let's just say that this lovely melting-pot of a country contains cultures from other lands (sub-cultures here) and I am doing a slow burn watching how a particular one has a woman chained down, and there is not a thing I can do about it without making her life worse. She is bearing it incredibly cheerfully, of course, because she is of that culture, but... slow burn.

The "progress" of the West is the cultivation of law with teeth, to counterbalance the naked strength that men have over women. The good news is that most people are good, and if they can relax in a culture that mitigates the stupidities of raw might, if the imperatives and necessities of lawless (mindless) arrangements are put into their proper perspective, then the "strong" men stop doing-the-thing-that-you-must-do when you're-in-charge-by-the-defaults-of-Nature.

I'm not seeing polygamy making much headway in that progress. Of course, shit's fucked up and bullshit right now, so "progress" is probably going to have to take a raincheck for the foreseeable future...

Petro, the rain check is that most human (thought) reality is illogical.
And I guess you cannot envision a woman having more than one "husband"?

I appreciate the effort Emil went to to lay out the structure of recognized marriage as a legal frame work. I would hope that most on this blog were aware of this information.

However given that the world basically operates in a illogical manner, marriage is logically and substantially a financial issue. Outside of that peoples view of what marriage is, is just their personal perception based on whatever irrational thought they are locked into at this time.

I suppose for some marriage is "heaven" and for others, like living in a flight pattern.

And I guess you cannot envision a woman having more than one "husband"?

Wow, you've pushed me into a corner - now I have to be the "serious" one. Um, no, not in this patriarchal culture. Of course, it happens on the fringes, away of the glare of the public streetlamps, but not as a sanctioned aspect of our culture. Whenever a story like that comes to light, they make a sensational novel or movie about it.

You've got to think about the fundamental mismatch of raw physical power between men and women, exacerbated when the men are in control of the culture.

I once experimented with "open" relationships - me being a "liberal" and all. To make a long story short - she tolerated it fine (so I told myself,) but I flipped out when she exercised her options. I was cool with her, to my credit (?), but I verbally destroyed and banished her partner. So I learned something about myself and such foolishness. The takeaway? She was probably just as hurt about my liberal activities as I was about hers when she finally put her toe in the water, but she wasn't as empowered, in this culture, as I took to be granted to me. Huge learning experience - I was naive, disingenuous and wrong to think that an "open" relationship was about equality at all.

Reading the Sarte biography, I felt the same way about Simone de Beauvoir. Her "steppings out," like with Nelson Algren, were subtly reigned in. It was all very civilized and French, but the situation was, er, "resolved."

In the global context, acceptance of polygamy is common. According to the Ethnographic Atlas, of 1,231 societies noted, 186 were monogamous; 453 had occasional polygyny; 588 had more frequent polygyny; and 4 had polyandry.[6]At the same time, even within societies that allow polygyny, the actual practice of polygyny occurs unevenly.

On December 13, 2013, US Federal Judge Clark Waddoups ruled in Brown v. Buhman that the portions of Utah's anti-polygamy laws which prohibit multiplecohabitation were unconstitutional, but also allowed Utah to maintain its ban on multiple marriage licenses.[83][84][85][86] Unlawful cohabitation, where prosecutors did not need to prove that a marriage ceremony had taken place (only that a couple had lived together), had been the primary tool used to prosecute polygamy in Utah since the 1882 Edmunds Act.[79]

In modern times a minority of Roman Catholic theologians have argued that polygyny, though not ideal, can be a legitimate form of Christian marriage in certain regions, in particular Africa.

In Islam, polygyny is allowed, with the specific limitation that a man can have four wives at any one time. The Muslim Prophet Muhammad had total nine wives, but not all at the same time, depending on the sources in his lifetime. He had nine wives at the time of his death. The Qur'an clearly states that men who choose this route must deal with their wives justly. If the husband fears that he cannot deal with his wives justly, then he should only marry one. The Qur'an does not give preference in marrying more than one wife but allows it to make it easier on a woman who has no support. A husband does not have to have permission from his first wife.[89] However, the wife can set a condition, before marriage, that the husband cannot marry another woman during their marriage. In such a case, the husband cannot marry another woman as long as he is married to his wife.
Multiple marriage was considered a realistic alternative in the case of famine, widowhood, or female infertility[92] like in the practice of levirate marriage, wherein a man was required to marry and support his deceased brother's widow,

Evolution pioneer Charles Darwin alleged that men have historically practiced polygamy as a way to both please their sexual desire and maintain household dominance. In his 1871 book The Descent of Man, Darwin stated that "Judging from the social habits of man as he now exists, and from most savages being polygamists, the most probable view is that primeval man aboriginally lived in small communities, each with as many wives as he could support and obtain, whom he would have jealously guarded against all other men."

Yes - male dominance is the default.

In my opinion, it is not the acceptable destination.

It is a matter of civil rights. I do not abide domination, whether over a gender, a class of persons, a demographic of persons, a "race" of persons, or over Nature herself.

Growing up, to me, means not doing that.

Good day, sir! I say, good day! (OK, that was a joke.)

Petro with all due respect, my personal opinion is that Simone de Beauvoir was mentally stronger and more of a broad minded thinker than Sartre. As is demonstrated in her great sexual appetite with few restrictions and of course her writings. I would have much preferred her company over Sartre's
I would have like to have seen her and Camus having a child but not destined to be.


cal, your point about de Beauvoir does not contradict my points. As I said, there are things going on outside of the streetlights of the accepted public square all the time, and they make for good reading or cinema time when they are captured. You would have liked the strong woman that I was with at the time of my little failed experiment (she became my wife for a time.) I am just looking at the broader cultural trends and what they allow and disallow.

As usaul U R the guy I go to for explanations of what I cannot seem to untangle. So soon I will buy the coffee.

Off the subject Obama is killing my most favorite thing after a Sajuaro Cactus.


I hate to post a link on this blog, but seeing as how this conversation has wandered and my post above was ignored, I think it's time. I've been involved in the gay rights movement to greater and lesser extents since the early 80s. I can tell you that most homophobia is definitely tied to sexism. Validating same-sex partnerships is all about usurping gender roles, and yes, that means upsetting patriarchy. If you want to know where we're headed, take a gander at Peter Tatchell's (a queer theorist from the UK) outstanding essay, "The End of Gay?" http://www.petertatchell.net/lgbt_rights/queer_theory/end.htm

Some more thoughts:

America is a ridiculously racist country, as soleri so brilliantly elucidated. We are also a very misogynistic one, as is demonstrated by the wild success of anti-choice politicians in getting a boatload of abortion and contraception restrictions passed at the state level.

It's not that these things are popular, but anti-choicers do have the benefit of operating in a larger culture that is, shall we say, uncomfortable with unfettered female sexual freedom. Our own pro-choice Democratic President expressed his discomfort with emergency contraception being offered on the shelves, along with "bubble gum and batteries" to his daughters.

The scary idea that your daughter might become a "slut" has driven a lot right wing bullshit into mainstream acceptance. You can wrap any kind of theocracy into "OMG ABORTION!" and get a free ride all the way to the Supreme Court.

The thing is you don't then get to say that you didn't see it coming. We warned you. Theocracy never needs majority support. It only needs a small band of zealots, operating in a climate of people who kinda sorta agree with them.

Diane, your post was NOT ignored! Neither are Donna's, both are absolutely to the point and accurate. 'OMG ABORTION! Lets stick our nose in her twat and make it everybody's business.'

However - I like this: Walt Whitman is at the piano, a nation pouring through his fingers, only old Walt, that gay blade, is out of his head on meth and the cranes land, they come down out of the sky like parachutes and feed in groups of three, the mother, the father, the young, the migration beyond our imagination, the flight so long that the Japanese thought their birds must vanish into heaven and take messages to those Shinto gods they knew before transistors stormed the temples and toppled ancient ways. Charles Bowden

Marriage is many things but it is also a tax incentive, as are children a tax incentive. Polyamory is fine with me as long as you only get to claim one significant other for tax purposes.

p.s. tax incentives for more than two children should be done away with.

Along Suzanne's line, I am seeing this issue as a false flag to end tax breaks for marriage and children. To do this gay marriage will be the hammer to convince "Kansas" to go yet again against their best interests.

Speaking of culture wars:

Jerry I read the article @pando.com and I gotta say, that was interesting.
I found some of the comments, perplexing, and others really funny; especially those made by the Russians. So, because it kind of relates to this blog, let me quote Woodsman Ezekiel As Prof. Cohen recently pointed out, prior to Americans' gay rights agitation, Russian gays used to be called “faggots”; now they are being called “American faggots,” and gay rights in Russia have taken a giant leap back.

And Jerry, I don't understand your "false flag" point. Could you clarify?

Diane D'Angelo wrote:

"I can tell you that most homophobia is definitely tied to sexism. Validating same-sex partnerships is all about usurping gender roles, and yes, that means upsetting patriarchy."

First, I need to understand your definition of "homophobia". Two dictionary definitions I found are: "Unreasoning fear and antipathy toward homosexuals and homosexuality"; and "Intense hatred or fear of homosexuals or homosexuality".

The key modifiers are "unreasoning" and "intense". Can someone dislike homosexuality rationally, in your opinion? Are persons who are mildly or moderately revulsed by it, but who don't obsess about it and can manage casual social relations with homosexuals, still "homophobic" as you use the term?

I don't think that heterosexual revulsion toward homosexuality is necessarily, or even widely, rooted in patriarchy, any more than revulsion toward sadism, masochism, bestiality, or other odd sexual deviations.

Women can find homosexuality (both male and female) weird, pathetic, and revolting, as well as men.

The real root is psychological. Sexual impulses are both fundamental and intense. For a heterosexual, regarding another person of the same sex in a sexual way is profoundly unnatural, which is to say a grating violation of strong basic instincts. A heterosexual trying to mentally put themselves into the same acts finds the very conceptualization deeply grotesque and debased, even traumatizing. For the record, I don't understand the practice of "heterosexual sodomy" either.

Regarding a comment above, I have no idea if Walt Whitman was homosexual or not. The only "evidence" seems to be second-hand claims, and some fanciful interpretations of his poetry (e.g., Calamus).

Two of the primary candidates for Whitman's homosexual lovers are Peter Doyle and Bill Duckett. Here's a photo of Whitman with Doyle:


Nothing in Whitman's body language suggests homosexual attraction: in fact, the crossed arms and even legs suggest some level of psychological discomfort, though from what cause it is impossible to say.

Here's a photo of Bill Duckett:


Looking at this photo and trying to imagine a January/December romance is, frankly, preposterous.

The interpretations of Calamus remind me of similar claims in the past about Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin, two popular series characters in the detective fiction of Rex Stout. This was based on Archie's use of the idiom "getting erect" (meaning standing up from a sitting position).

Never mind that anyone who has read the dozens of novels involving these characters knows that Archie is a ladies' man, and has numerous regular girlfriends.

Wolfe himself had been married. But apparently, because he was a mysogynist and cultivated orchids, he must be homosexual!

Claims of the same sort were even made about Sherlock Holmes, because he had no relations with women at all. The concept of either asexuality or of Victorian restraint or repression seems to boggle the minds of those looking for an excuse, any excuse, to assert that popular literary characters are homosexual; which I suppose is (or was) an attempt to make homosexuality more acceptable by association.

Homophobia is, as the word is used in ordinary life, an intense dislike of homosexuals. You don't have to get cute about dictionary definitions. We pretty much know a bigot when we see one.

If Walt Whitman wasn't gay, he may have been the most flamboyantly homoerotic man who ever lived. How else could you read the Calamus poems? As an extended metaphor about manly women? Here's what Oscar Wilde said after meeting him "I have the kiss of Walt Whitman still on my lips!"

Whitman's life and work point consistently in one direction. If he were straight, there ought to be some indication of that in his personal life like a marriage, dalliances with women, courtships, or vehement denials about being "that way". There are none.

straight, unnatural, bent , crooked, all words used to try and describe personal beliefs.
Seems to my brief 74 year experience these words are just words not meaning much, to me. And seems to me the universes are "sexual". Who cares, not me, just enjoy.

From The colorado river bank.

Regarding the Quote from Charles Bowden. He was a gifted writer and a great human being. In all my conversations with him, not once did I see an ounce of prejudice but a great desire to write about the planet as best he could. I do not try to robotically analyze his writings any more than i do Walt Whitman's. To do so takes away from the joy of reading their scribbling.

I do tire of god pushers and their morality of "truth" and other such bigots but I feel we all should have our say but would be great of we all could just smile more and enjoy rather than denigrate and KILL.

I think that a lot of homophobia goes this way: I am heterosexual and I look at females with a certain gaze, sometimes "undressing them with my eyes." Along with this, I might have fantasies about what I'd like to do with/to them. This is predatory.
Then I regard my gay neighbor realizing that I might be the object of his gaze. I feel vulnerable, (not a 'manly' way of being.) I feel preyed upon to the extent that my own gaze is predatory. And in turn. to the extent that I am unaware of this dynamic, I vent my fear on the gay, in a self-justifying and aggressive way. Never mind that my gay neighbor doesn't think that I'm "all that."

US and state income tax laws give a generous tax breaks to married couples and for children. Now that married gay couples will benefit from these same benefits this fact will be used to deny this federal marriage tax benefit first to them, and then because the courts rule that is not equal under the law, to all married couples. This will not play out overnight, but over decades, much like the efforts to deny women reproductive choice.

cal, thanks for the link to Bowden's article in High Country News.

I came up in the theater, so my view is a bit different. The first time I noticed a man "undressing me" with his eyes, I was flattered, even though I was heterosexual.

Read a little snippet in today’s paper. Had to do with a Federal judge striking down a portion of the Arizona immigration law. Had to do with no bail for certain with illegal immigrants charged with certain felony offenses?

In the reasoning of the court (and this could only happen in a Federal court) an illegal immigrant is no more likely to skip town than any other Joe Schmoe. There was talk of due process –

I’m unable to comment on the legal rights of illegal aliens – but it would seem to me they’re not the same as the rights of legal citizens.

In the best of worlds, Arizona would ship the suspect to a Federal facility until a court date could be set (assuming the Feds don’t give the person a free plane ride back to wherever he came from).

Regarding the main topic, I have come around of the issue of gay marriage. If they’re going to live like that, I prefer that they be married. Married people are better neighbors and citizens. BTW I’m single.

I would prefer that the whole thing happen via voting. Inventing new rights in court is low.

I came across the term ‘Kyriarchy’ yesterday. Kyriarchy is a term coined by Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza from Romania in 1992. “Kyriarchy encompasses sexism, racism, homophobia, economic injustice, and other forms of dominating hierarchies in which the subordination of one person or group to another is internalized and institutionalized.” (wiki Kyriarchy)

Emil, you can find instances in Greek and Roman patriarchies that seem, on the surface, to be open to homosexuality. However, at the advent of Judeo/Christian (an extreme patriarchy) dominance in modern history, kyriarchy is justified through the Bible (which seems ironic), and is institutionalized.

"I would prefer that the whole thing happen via voting. Inventing new rights in court is low." w in bham

Like granting women the right to vote, or granting full personhood to Blacks ... because you know that the voters of the era would have been so inclined.

At this late stage in the game, the only persons I know who have an issue with gay rights are the bible thumpers.

Expect more of this:


soleri wrote:

"Homophobia is, as the word is used in ordinary life, an intense dislike of homosexuals. You don't have to get cute about dictionary definitions."

The writer seems to be unaware that in "ordinary life" (and in academia) the word homophobia is often used reflexively these days to refer to any indication of distaste toward homosexuality; hence the request for clarification, which is straightforward and sincere, not "cute".


"If Walt Whitman wasn't gay, he may have been the most flamboyantly homoerotic man who ever lived. How else could you read the Calamus poems? As an extended metaphor about manly women?"

Quite a lot of ways -- provided your views aren't determined by preconceptions. Even those who assume Whitman's homosexuality needn't view the poem that way. From an article in American Literature:

""Calamus," then, is not an autobiographical "confession," not a celebration of homosexuality or homoeroticism, and not a political program which advocates manly love as the foundation of democracy [...it is a...] statement, organized organically rather than logically, of the origin and nature of Whitman's own poetry -- how it should be read and by whom, and what effects its reading is likely to have."


As for what Oscar Wilde said, so what? The conventional Victorian press had already raised the spectre of Whitman's possible homosexuality, on the same, rather slim basis of ambiguous language in his poetry.

Victorians were notoriously sensitive to any sexual references (most often heterosexual, but in times of scandal, homosexual), and often imagined the presence of something shocking where it did not exist. That homosexual activists, then and subsequently, seized upon it as evidence, isn't surprising, but it's scarcely conclusive.

As for Oscar Wilde, let's not forget that he said "Somehow or other I'll be famous, and if not famous, I'll be notorious". Wilde was an inveterate liar, and on both sides of the fence: don't forget that it was Wilde who sued the Marquess of Queensbury for telling the truth about Wilde's sexual habits.

Whitman himself, in response to claims by the New York Herald that he had "never had a love affair" told of previous girlfriends and sweethearts. This could have been true; or it could have been a lie told by a non-homosexual to fit in socially; or it could have been a lie told by a homosexual to fit in socially. Who can say?

What I can say is that I'm just as suspicious of those who see homosexuality in ambiguous poetry as I am of those who see heterosexual "subliminal advertising" in patterns on the surface of Ritz crackers, or the Virgin Mary in a tortilla. Confirmation bias is a poor investigative tool.

Mr. Talton wrote:

"I came up in the theater, so my view is a bit different. The first time I noticed a man "undressing me" with his eyes, I was flattered, even though I was heterosexual."

Just out of curiosity, how old were you when this happened?

Teenage males are sometimes looked at this way by grown women, but often they're either old or ugly; why be flattered? When you add to this the fact that the attention came from a man, and you're not homosexual, I have trouble understanding this. Are you by any chance inventing a scenario to make a point?

Emil, if your question is literal rather than rhetorical, I was responding to "Dawgzy's" comment above.

I know what you were responding to. My questions were: (a) Is the scenario historical rather than illustrative? (b) If historical, how old were you when it occurred.


To read some of these lines, almost embarrassingly explicit, will erase any doubt that Walt Whitman was gay. Still, why do we care? Whitman's reputation was never dependent on his being perceived as "normal". Still, a nation of repressed hysterics could not abide that obvious truth about him. You don't need to be gay yourself to see this. You only need to understand yourself well enough not to confuse your fear with truth. Whitman exulted in his sexuality, and for his time, lived with breathtaking honesty about it. You could do worse than follow his example.

soleri wrote:

"To read some of these lines, almost embarrassingly explicit, will erase any doubt that Walt Whitman was gay."

If you spent less time pandering to your preconceptions and more time reading the actual poetry (not excerpts mislabeled "gay parts") you might actually come to appreciate something fine.

What's actually embarrassing here is watching you reduce the cutting-edge, kaleidoscopic poetry of classics like Song of Myself to cheap gay porno by means of childish misinterpretations. It's not only dishonest, it's debased.

Here's one of the supposed "gay parts" according to Soleri's source:

"It may be you transpire from the breasts of young men,
It may be if I had known them I would have loved them,"

If you look at this text in context it's clearly nothing of the sort:

Tenderly will I use you curling grass,
It may be you transpire from the breasts of young men,
It may be if I had known them I would have loved them,
It may be you are from old people, or from offspring taken soon out
of their mothers' laps,
And here you are the mothers' laps.

Another supposedly "gay part" seems to be interpreted by soleri's source as a description of a gay "69" session. But the paragraph immediately continuing this text (which your source has stretched out on the rack and tortured into "confessing" its homosexuality) makes clear that the experience is metaphysical and the description figurative, and contains the line "all the men ever born are also my brothers, and the women my sisters and lovers". Here's the continuation:

Swiftly arose and spread around me the peace and knowledge that pass
all the argument of the earth,
And I know that the hand of God is the promise of my own,
And I know that the spirit of God is the brother of my own,
And that all the men ever born are also my brothers, and the women
my sisters and lovers,
And that a kelson of the creation is love,
And limitless are leaves stiff or drooping in the fields,
And brown ants in the little wells beneath them,
And mossy scabs of the worm fence, heap'd stones, elder, mullein and


What Whitman is doing is using some very raw, sometimes primordial imagery and emotions, to express a sense of universal brotherhood, not only with mankind but with nature:

I am not an earth nor an adjunct of an earth,
I am the mate and companion of people, all just as immortal and
fathomless as myself,
(They do not know how immortal, but I know.)

Every kind for itself and its own, for me mine male and female,
For me those that have been boys and that love women,
For me the man that is proud and feels how it stings to be slighted,
For me the sweet-heart and the old maid, for me mothers and the
mothers of mothers,
For me lips that have smiled, eyes that have shed tears,
For me children and the begetters of children.

To take these sentiments and expressions, to remove them from their context and twist them, absurdly, into an expression of homoeroticism, is absurd; not only a literary crime, but a crime against humanity.

Part II: I could spend all day debunking soleri's absurd "gay" interpretations of Walt Whitman. I had intended to let the aforementioned speak for itself and allow those interested to read the poetry itself through the link I provided to the unedited text. But I can't resist one more example, just to show how shabby and transparently dishonest it all is.

A supposedly "gay part":

"The young fellow drives the express-wagon, (I love him,
though I do not know him;)"

But take a look at a less edited excerpt:

The negro holds firmly the reins of his four horses, the block swags
underneath on its tied-over chain,
The negro that drives the long dray of the stone-yard, steady and
tall he stands pois'd on one leg on the string-piece,
His blue shirt exposes his ample neck and breast and loosens over
his hip-band,
His glance is calm and commanding, he tosses the slouch of his hat
away from his forehead,
The sun falls on his crispy hair and mustache, falls on the black of
his polish'd and perfect limbs.

I behold the picturesque giant and love him, and I do not stop there,
I go with the team also.

In me the caresser of life wherever moving, backward as well as
forward sluing,
To niches aside and junior bending, not a person or object missing,
Absorbing all to myself and for this song.

Note that he loves not only the "negro giant" driving, but also the horses! It isn't sexual love, you fool!

You don't have to overinterpret Whitman. He wasn't TS Eliot with his myth kitty. His writing was earthy because that's what he celebrated. Yes, you can find some broader philosophical import but you don't reduce the poetry to mere abstractions. Whitman was not doing with his life what you do with yours. He was sexual, clearly in love with the meat and potatoes of the natural life. It's probably why he disturbs anti-gay people like you. At any rate, my recommendation is that you stick to pinging and those other obsessions that take the place of living an actual flesh-and-bones life in this ecstatically sexual world. I don't say this to be cruel to you. I get that you have special issues. But your pretense about being an authority on Whitman is not merely arrogant. It is also smug, bigoted, and pigheaded.

I'm thinking he should have stuck to making Whitman's Sampler candy.

Who's overinterpreting? I wrote:

"What Whitman is doing is using some very raw, sometimes primordial imagery and emotions, to express a sense of universal brotherhood, not only with mankind but with nature."

Nothing effete or overly abstract in my characterization. But it doesn't surprise me that, losing on substance, you resort to your usual facile straw-man arguments and vagueries, soleri. It's like arguing with a not-very-bright artificial intelligence program, with a set of stock responses that it, as often as not, simply misapplies.

If there is anything smug, bigoted, and pigheaded here, as well as narrow, regimented, and sterile, it's your soldierly mission to prove Whitman's supposed homosexuality by reducing his poetry to gay porno. If Whitman came back to life and professed a lifelong and abiding homosexuality, he'd still agree with me about the ridiculous misanalysis of his poetry which you advocate.

You call my reaction "fear" but there is nothing fearful in my outrage. I simply don't like your cheap, shabby tricks or the attempt to debase someone's poetic passions for socio-political purposes (in this particular case, a gay agenda).

soleri wrote:

"...your pretense about being an authority on Whitman is not merely arrogant..."

What pretense? I expressed a definite opinion, backed up by the text of Whitman's own poetry. Nowhere did I claim to be a Whitman authority.

What's arrogant is the way that you rose to this challenge: by running to the Wiki page about Whitman, and cherry picking an Oscar Wilde quote intended to support your assertion; then casting about with a search engine for a web-page interpreting Whitman's poetry from a (quite puerile, not merely homosexual) perspective -- a website 99.9 percent of whose misinterpretations are so ridiculous on their face, for anyone who has read Whitman's actual poetry, that I can only assume you'd never read it.

Now, why would you do this? Why Google some rubbish from the ether about a poet whose original, unedited work you've obviously never bothered to read, and therefore don't actually care about, while posing yourself as an authoritative interpreter of Whitman? You just can't stand idly by while I disagree with some rubbish; it makes you itch with inadequacy. So, you took your lance and charged. Now you're sitting in the mud with a foolish look on your face wondering what you can say to make yourself look good. I thought you'd stopped reading my comments, anyway?

Emil, you're a boor, a bigot, a blowhard, and, dare I say, an ass. Few if any people read your verbose comments because of your imperial assumptions to some kind of unassailable position on every subject. I get that you have a high IQ and we should all cower before your polemical wizardry. But I don't respect yours anymore than I respected that of a bigot like William F Buckley, Jr. All the pompous verbiage you employ to dazzle the rubes of this blog are lost on me. You're a complete fraud.

From soleri's Whitman link:

"A tenor large and fresh as the creation fills me,
The orbic flex of his mouth is pouring and filling me full."

This is equivalent to schoolboy sniggering when the geography teacher mentions Lake Titicaca; except that schoolboys know better and are just being bawdy, whereas soleri's link posits this (and similar excerpts) as actual evidence of Whitman's supposed homosexuality.

You take this source seriously as an authority on Whitman, then wonder why I don't take you seriously? Do you have no reading comprehension skills whatsoever? Are you deranged? Are you a simpleton? Or did you simply grasp, purblind, at this straw in your haste to obstinately and belligerently disagree with me?

Here's a tip for you: when trying to make it look as if a writer is homosexual, try not to use excerpts from a poem where he describes men as his "brothers" and women as his "lovers". Even if you insist on taking the "loaf with me in the grass" stanzas as a literal description of a sexual act (though the stanzas begin with Whitman addressing "my soul"), there is nothing in the text specifying the partner is male. And if Whitman does stop from time to time to celebrate his own masculinity, it is called Song of *Myself* ferchrissake.

soleri wrote:

"Emil, you're a boor, a bigot, a blowhard, and, dare I say, an ass."

Ad hominem is the penultimate refuge of the incompetent.


"I get that you have a high IQ and we should all cower before your polemical wizardry."

This is just the whisper of your own insecurity. If you have no substantive response, but can't bring yourself to admit error (or even the possibility of error), try maintaining a dignified silence.

How are we to know who is in error?
and should we care?
maybe we can shift to my guy
ee cummings.

Soleri, you've become increasingly erratic and irresponsible in your casual use of vituperation. You called me a "bigot" simply because I said that Walt Whitman might not have been homosexual and that the evidence you adduced is either unconvincing, patently foolish, or downright dishonest.

Nor do my remarks constitute "polemics". For an example of that, we need only consider your recent towering rage cursing Ralph Nader to "burn in hell" and castigating his admirers, simply because he ran for political office as a principled independent candidate.

That's bad enough, but in a presidential race determined by the Electoral College, claims that Nader lost the race for Democrats by siphoning the popular vote away from Al Gore are baseless. Electors in all states except Maine and Nebraska are pledged to vote for the candidate that wins the most popular votes in their state. Nader didn't carry any states, much less Florida. Unpledged candidates and those voting contrary to their pledge are rare. Nader got nearly 2.9 million popular votes and zero electoral votes. So, all your bile and personal abuse was for nothing.

The fact of the matter is that you can't think, you've got a big mouth, and you have a bad temper. That's a dangerous combination.

You're also a thundering hypocrite, calling for restraint and modesty in debate then arrogantly harranging others for opposing views. You castigate others for "verbosity" when the average length of your own comments puts you in the top two for word count. (Yes, I'm the other member of this duo; the difference is that I make no apology for writing rather than Tweeting, and I don't criticize others for what I myself practice.)

You act as though you're determined to be the Big Fish in a small pond, and run around biting the tails of strong swimmers because you're insecure, like some diva in an old Agatha Christie novel.

Speaking of hypocrisy, your recent remarks about T.S. Eliot (not only here but in other threads) seem to boast of anti-intellectualism. Having read enough of your own writings to know better, I can only shake my head at the ridiculous spectacle of soleri criticizing Honey Boo Boo for vacuity, followed by soleri criticizing T.S. Eliot for thinking.

What you really object to is not Eliot's poetry but some values or attitudes you associate with his religion or his way of life. But you can't bring yourself to publicly admit that because it isn't a valid basis for literary criticism; so you resort to a catty subterfuge and convince yourself that hypocrisy in the service of political correctness is a virtue. Slimy.

What I object to in Eliot is that he's a depressing mope. But much of his poetry is fascinating nonetheless, and well-crafted to the point of artistry. The field of poetry is all the richer for a variety of styles and subject matter, and I don't need pseudo-anti-intellectual busybodies trying to thin that bouillabaisse into simple beefstock, in the service of whatever dogma or personal antipathy they're prosecuting at the moment.

I believe we have what the call a "Love, Hate Relationship"

and its the most emotional contribution I have seen by wither participant.

P.S. The point of a presidential election determined by the Electoral College rather than by the popular vote, is that the "spoiler effect" has to be determined (or refuted) through an examination of the polling and ballot data. The common sense assumption that Nader is liberal and therefore stole votes from Gore is natural but mistaken.

Ballot level studies show that at least 40 percent of Nader voters would have voted for Bush in the absence of Nader's candidacy. In total, 62 percent of Nader's voters were Republicans, independents, third-party voters, and traditional non-voters.

CNN's Florida exit poll showed Bush at 49 percent and Gore at 47 percent, with 2 percent not voting in a hypothetical Nader-less Florida race.

None of this is conclusive, but that's precisely the point: the Electoral College camouflages the underlying voter dynamics and removes any clear basis for claiming that Nader spoiled the race for Gore.

(Short on time today.)

"Ballot level studies"? Again with the numbers!
I do not believe for a minute that 40 percent would have voted for Bush had Nader not run. And Nader in my opinion should not have run. Appears to me this seemly mild mannered frugal man had an egotistical moment.

cal lash wrote:

"I do not believe for a minute that 40 percent would have voted for Bush had Nader not run."

First, the ballot-level study in question refers to Florida ballots, not nationwide, since that is the state Nader is supposed to have spoiled by virtue of the closeness of the popular vote tally for Gore and Bush.

Second, a ballot level study uses the actual ballot images, which are marked with (a) Who the voter voted for, and (b) the political party affiliation marked by the voter. So, you don't need to believe in anything. From the study:

"Unlike surveys and ecological data, ballot images directly reveal voting behavior in its most raw form, unmitigated by hindsight, social desirability, or other intervening affects. Ballots record what voters truly did in a voting booth (of course, what a voter did the ballot booth may differ from what she intended to do). . . We analyze a collection of 2.95 million Florida county general election ballot images maintained by the National Election Study. This NES ballot image archive contains a (nearly) complete records of all ballots cast in ten counties."


This is why evidence is important, instead of just assuming that Nader is liberal and therefore everyone who voted for Nader would have voted for Gore if Nader hadn't run. Again, the CBS exit poll actually shows that Bush would have gained MORE votes had Nader not run.

True, this is not conclusive: but put these together along with some other nuances that the study linked to above doesn't fully consider in its conclusions, e.g., 308,000 registered Democrats voted for Bush in Florida, so the Democrats who did vote for Nader aren't a lock-in for Gore had Nader not been running; and the fact that many of Nader's non-Republican, non-Democratic voters wouldn't have voted for Gore anyway, even if Nader hadn't been running; and you have SERIOUS questions about whether Nader helped Bush or Gore more or hurt them about the same.

Don't forget also that whereas the popular vote difference between Bush and Gore was just 537 votes, 562 voters voted for the Socialist Workers Party candidate in Florida, and another 1,804 voted for the Workers World Party candidate; so by the "common sense" argument both of these were spoilers too, though it's questionable at best whether such voters would have opted for Gore rather than stayed at home had their own party candidates not been running.

Why Democrats, not Ralph Nader and his voters, lost Florida and the election for Gore:

"Nader only drew 24,000 Democrats to his cause, yet 308,000 Democrats voted for Bush. Hello. If Gore had taken even 10 percent of these Democrats from Bush, Nader’s votes wouldn’t have mattered."


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