Wednesday, September 19, 2012

George Will doesn't know the difference between gay sex and a gay relationship

George Will
George Will, the esteemed Pulitzer Prize winning conservative columnist, has been lauded for his prose on several subjects.

However, in the case of gay equality, he is woefully ignorant.

In a recent piece, he recounts the story of the New Mexico photographer who refused to take pictures of a same-sex wedding. Vanessa Willock successfully sued Elane Photography for refusing to photograph her same-sex wedding.

Now this case has caused a lot of controversy with even some gay advocates thinking that Elane Photography should be allowed to refuse customers.

Naturally, Will is in the corner of Elane Photography and that doesn't bother me. It is this portion near the end of his piece which disturbed me:

The Huguenin case demonstrates how advocates of tolerance become tyrannical. First, a disputed behavior, such as sexual activities between people of the same sex, is declared so personal and intimate that government should have no jurisdiction over it. Then, having won recognition of what Louis Brandeis, a pioneer of the privacy right, called “the right to be let alone,” some who have benefited from this achievement assert a right not to let other people alone. It is the right to coerce anyone who disapproves of the now-protected behavior into acting as though they approve of it, or at least into not acting on their disapproval. So, in the name of tolerance, government declares intolerable individuals such as the Huguenins, who disapprove of a certain behavior but ask only to be let alone in their quiet disapproval. Perhaps advocates of gay rights should begin to restrain the bullies in their ranks. 

So to Will, this case is about Willock "forcing" Elane Photography to recognize her "sexual behavior." It's a conclusion which left me scratching my head and wondering just when did we start talking about sexual intercourse rather than taking pictures of a wedding? As far as I am concerned, that's a huge problem.

 And it's not the only problem. Will epitomizes two concept that so many folks have when it comes to gay equality - concepts that drive me batty:

1. Gays are like whimpering dogs begging heterosexuals to tolerate us or leave us alone. People like Will batter the gay community with that "tolerance" semantic constantly. "You people are always talking about tolerance," they say, "but you can't tolerate that others don't like your lifestyle."  Tolerance is something you give to your dog after he accidentally urinates on the rug because he is your pet and therefore is dependent on you.

Too many folks think of gays as pets, i.e. that our lives are dependent on getting them to accept us. Not necessarily. Our lives are consumed with ordinary things - working, paying taxes, taking care of our families. We just don't want people like Will interrupting our normal flow based upon their ignorance. Nor do we want them to interpret the law in a way which would diminish our rights as Americans.

2. Which brings me to my second point.Why do people like Will conflate so many parts of our lives to a sex act. Willock wanted pictures taken of her wedding, not intercourse with her partner. Will's belief that this is all about "sexual activities" is the heart of so much ignorance about our lives.

Will is a married man so I know that he wouldn't appreciate someone diminishing the relationship between he and his wife to what they may or may not do in the bedroom. But yet, he sees no problem with doing that to gay couples.

I think at the heart this controversy is the fact that the lives of lgbtqs are about more than sex acts. We are talking about relationships and love, the raising of families, and the caring of our loved ones.

The irony is that while folks like Will claim that we can't move past the physical aspects of being gay, it is obvious that they neither can or want to.

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Philly Mark said...

Your well thought out analysis is correct. The way I see it, if a business is offering a service to the public they are subject to the same anti-discrimination laws. That's why a hotel cannot refuse to accommodate African-Americans or an automobile service station cannot refuse the business of a Jewish customer. However, there are usually ways - polite, discreet, and helpful - that a business can refer an unwanted patron to another service provider.

Jim Hlavac said...

This is a good take on the hetero dilemma: they are obsessed with our sex lives. Many also think our sex lives are our political position on any given subject, too. And while Mark is correct about hotels, big chain restaurants, etc, it's usually true that small businesses, privately owned, under 50 employees, are usually exempt in some ways from the discrimination laws. That's why there are signs "We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone" -- and not just in bars. I think, though too, that gay couples should argue their point to the refusers, and then go elsewhere. Why do business with someone who tells you they can't do it, or won't do it good if forced? There is always a gay friendly business, or even a gay owned one, that will service -- and then just leave the miscreants alone. Hell, just tolerate them. Suing them just makes us look bad.

RichardR said...

And how about his phrase: "disputed behaviors" ?

wtf? disputed behaviors? disputed how? by whom?