An interesting “social contract”

I think we’ll pass.

According to right wing blogger Jerry Fuhrman, the Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v Texas represented some sort of “implicit agreement” struck between the GLBT community and people like him. In this decidedly revisionist version of history, we are to believe that Mr. Fuhrman speaks for a libertarian leaning right wing that would defend our constitutional right to be left alone in the privacy of our homes. These newly discovered allies supposedly wept at the 1987 Bowers finding that there is nothing in the Constitution that “would extend a fundamental right” for GLBT people to engage in private intimate conduct, and then supposedly celebrated the historic reversal of that finding in Lawrence. I’m not suggesting here that we don’t have such Libertarian allies. I’m suggesting that, given Mr. Fuhrman’s penchant for smearing our community by trying to associate us with criminals, it’s unlikely that he’s one of them. Consider this a bullshit alert.

On the subject of gay partnerships, it was then that we found common ground. Though many of us have a deep-seated problem with homosexuality generally, we knew it was not our place to interfere in gays’ private lives. It was only right that they be left alone.

If only that were true. Mr. Fuhrman goes on to lament the “bedlam” that has ensued because of challenges to various state marriage laws – the very thing the right predicted would happen if Bowers were overturned.

Bedlam exists throughout the land because the liberal left saw society’s willingness to tolerate homosexuals as long as they kept their interactions in the privacy of their homes. They took our tolerance to be acceptance and then demanded from us sanction…

…none of this would have been necessary had the liberal left — in this instance, four renegade judges — not misconstrued our interest in tolerance and from it demanded that we sanctify homosexual relationships.

This is very much like the argument posed by “loyal opposition” commenter Jack, here – only Jack blames those citizens who have brought the lawsuits. Although his disagreement is with the courts, he suggests that these gay couples have instigated constitutional amendment efforts like Marshall/Newman, and are therefore to blame for this assault on our community. “Stop bringing lawsuits, and there will be no need for Amendments,” says Jack, repeatedly inviting (who?) to agree to a “truce.”

Likewise, an anonymous commenter on another anti-marriage equality site makes this claim regarding the “message” sent to a category of person targeted by discriminatory legislation

…that their views and interests are somehow considered out-of-bounds and not fit to be recognized by the law. Pretty much by definition, the “victims” of such a message will be a comparatively socially marginal and/or politically powerless group, or else their policy adversaries would not have been able to get the relevant constitutional provision enacted.

In other words, if you are a member of a socially marginalized group, that in and of itself proves that you don’t deserve to be protected by the constitution from mob rule. If you are a member of a socially marginalized group, and you have the audacity to use your fundamental right to petition the government, that justifies the majority foreclosing on your abilty to use that right.

And you shouldn’t have gone out alone at night, and what were you thinking, wearing that?

None of us wishes to see the gay community returned “to the closet.”

Thus spake Mr. Fuhrman. Really? What is this “closet,” exactly?

Is this not where he is demanding that we keep our families and our interest in protecting and providing for them? Let’s be perfectly clear. Being “out of the closet,” by his definition, means only that we may now enter our own bedrooms without fear of criminal prosecution.

In exchange for this fabulous generosity, we are being told to relinquish our constitutional right to petition the government for redress – a right that belongs to everyone, not just the powerful. That’s the “social contract” that we allegedly agreed to.

There seems to be a serious misconception in all of this about why people in other states have filed lawsuits, which is a disruptive, expensive, nerve-wracking way to spend any part of one’s life, and why people oppose anti-gay legislation in general. People don’t spend their time this way because they have some grand “strategy” for changing society, they do it because they feel wronged. They feel that their rights have been violated to a degree that compels them to do something about it. To even ask the question, as Jack does, “why don’t you just move to some place where you can have a domestic partnership” betrays the questioner’s inability to see GLBT people as people, not walking political agendas. Walking political agendas don’t have things like jobs and homes they love, aging family members, roots in Virginia going back generations, friends, church communities, children in school – all the things that make up the rich and complicated lives of people.

The final irony, and as Blogging the Amendment points out, his argument would be more compelling if Mr. Fuhrman didn’t need to hide it, is that these couples who are petitioning the courts are losing. The courts are, with the exception of Massachusetts, uniformly saying that this matter is for the legislature to decide, and that is where it will ultimately be decided. The Marshall/Newman amendment has absolutely zero to do with these court challenges in other states, and everything to do with setting the stage for even more heinous anti-privacy legislation that would drag Virginia back into the 19th century.

If Mr. Fuhrman were really a libertarian, he would see that.

This entry was posted in Commentary and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to An interesting “social contract”

  1. Jonathan says:

    Wow, Jerry Furhman was really taken to task by John Kitterman

    Perhaps Americans are afraid that homosexuals are becoming too “normal.” What scares people is that marriage is a new category that falls outside of previous ones about gays; it in effect desexualizes gays, and as Fuhrman’s essay revealed, conservatives want gays to go back in the closet and just have sex.

  2. David says:


    Thanks for posting this – it’s a very good, measured response. This is an example of using descriptive language for a very real phenomenon, language that I’m sure will be (wrongly) decried as a slur, or name-calling. However, the word “ignorance” has a meaning other than its common use as a slur, and you have used it quite properly here to describe the inexcusable position of Mr. Fuhrman. Thank you.