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← The Gays Are Winning – And the Religious Right is Losing: What Nontheists Can Learn from the Success of the Homosexual Rights Movement

The Gays Are Winning – And the Religious Right is Losing: What Nontheists Can Learn from the Success of the Homosexual Rights Movement - Comments

CarolineMary's Avatar Comment 1 by CarolineMary

I cannot understand the antagonism to gay marriage. As background, I'm straight with a husband, children and grandkids. But it's said gay rights threaten families. Well I have a family, it's getting bigger, even... and I disagree.

Would I be upset if a gay couple moved in next door to me or my kids/grandkids? No, there's no reason to think they'd do any harm. The littl'uns might ask awkward questions, but that's kids for you. Best thing to do is to answer honestly and say, Yes Bob and Jim (or Jill and Jane) love each other, just like mummy and daddy do. There's nothing wrong with love.

I do admit that I think it sounds a bit odd for a woman to refer to her wife or a man his husband. But I recognise that's my problem. I know I would get used to it with repeated exposure.

And so we come to the threat that "nasty evul athiests" pose to "upstanding christians" (all misspellings intentional). Ooh, talk about typecasting. But that's what the religious sheeple do.

I must admit, I look forwad to crossing the path of an evangelical xian. There's so many things I'd like to say, up to and including "why don't you grow up?"

But I live in the uk. Noisy god botherers aren't that common here. I'm about as likely to visit the bible belt as I am to fly to the moon. Less in fact, because I'd enjoy a flight to the moon, so if tourist possibilities occur and I win the lottery...

I haven't even seen any mormons or JW's on the doorstep for aaages.

Fri, 24 Dec 2010 16:12:31 UTC | #568452

Neurotic's Avatar Comment 2 by Neurotic

Imagine us gay Atheists.

Fri, 24 Dec 2010 16:29:20 UTC | #568462

SeanSantos's Avatar Comment 3 by SeanSantos

Interesting essay, although I think it could have withstood another round of editing. I think the degree of acceptance for gays is a bit overstated; I think we've definitely "won" in the sense that the outcome is not in doubt, but we haven't "won" in the sense of having caught up to other groups (and dear non-existent Lord it's still not easy to be a gay black young person in Alabama).

I do have to say that, as a bisexual atheist who has worked with gay youth alienated from their families, any time someone asks me about what harm religion does, I can knock that one out of the park. And atheists are definitely a safer community for gay people than any random combination of people. Certainly the gay people I know who were raised Catholic prefer to be at a comfortable distance from all that. There definitely is a shared enemies effect, and it's bound to come out the better for nontheists when gay marriage inevitably passes (demographic shift alone could accomplish this, since young people are so in favor).

Fri, 24 Dec 2010 17:29:55 UTC | #568494

green and dying's Avatar Comment 4 by green and dying

If there is an American group that suffers even more bigotry than gays it is atheists.

Seriously?

Fri, 24 Dec 2010 18:27:16 UTC | #568520

Rumtopf's Avatar Comment 5 by Rumtopf

Comment 4 by green and dying :

If there is an American group that suffers even more bigotry than gays it is atheists.

Seriously?

Well there was that UM study. http://www.soc.umn.edu/~hartmann/files/atheist%20as%20the%20other.pdf

Fri, 24 Dec 2010 20:12:43 UTC | #568547

SeanSantos's Avatar Comment 6 by SeanSantos

Suffering and mistrust are not the same. Judged by hate crime statistics it's certainly more dangerous to be gay, even if atheists have vague ill will from a higher percentage of people.

Fri, 24 Dec 2010 21:02:04 UTC | #568557

Ani Sharmin's Avatar Comment 7 by Ani Sharmin

Although I think there's still a long way to go in the fight for equal rights for LGBTQI people, I think Paul makes some good points. More and more people are changing their minds, so the people who favor discrimination aren't the only ones who can "vote with their feet" by making private businesses realize that there are a lot of people who will get upset about their actions.

@CarolineMary (comment #1): "Will you grow up?" is one of the many things I'd want to say to many evangelical Christians as well.

@SeanSantos:

I do have to say that, as a bisexual atheist who has worked with gay youth alienated from their families, any time someone asks me about what harm religion does, I can knock that one out of the park.

It amazes me that there are people who can look at the way LGBTQI kids are treated by their extreme religious families and still not realize the harm religion does. It's right in front of them.

Fri, 24 Dec 2010 21:09:06 UTC | #568560

Stonyground's Avatar Comment 8 by Stonyground

Very well written and interesting article.

The thing that annoys me about this subject is that the same argument has to be had over and over. To me, picking on a group of people because they are different in some way is wrong and if that principle is adopted there is no problem. But instead each individual minority has had to fight tooth and nail for equality, one at a time. Women, foreigners and people who are the wrong colour, followers of minority religions, gays and other sexual deviants, atheists, one by one these groups have achieved, or are achieving equal rights, the bigots always lose in the end for the obvious reason that they are wrong. Equally annoying is that as each of these groups gained their equality, too many of them were far too keen to pull the ladder up behind them and join in with the persecution of those who had not yet done so.

Fri, 24 Dec 2010 21:09:22 UTC | #568561

Eshto's Avatar Comment 9 by Eshto

@Stonyground: "gays and other sexual deviants"

Um... "deviants"? Might want to rethink that. I had harsher word for you, but I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt and assuming you're just ignorant and meant no offense.

Also, the idea that atheists suffer more bigotry than LGBT people is patently absurd. There are no laws that single out atheists for exclusion or discrimination. And atheist teens aren't killing themselves over it. You've gotten a few polls that say atheists would be less likely to be voted for if they ran for president. So atheists are socially unpopular. Get over it. It doesn't come anywhere near to what gay and transgender people have to deal with. Not even close.

I agree religion is no friend to gays and I make this point all the time. But the atheist movement isn't 100% aligned with us either. Atheists are better, on average, but there is still an awful lot of ignorance out there. To make this really simple, I'd rather ally with a sympathetic, gay-affirming Christian than hang out with an atheist who describes me as a "sexual deviant". In the end, gays are each others' best allies.

Fri, 24 Dec 2010 21:23:11 UTC | #568569

Steven Mading's Avatar Comment 10 by Steven Mading

The thing about that is that according to Gallup Bible literalists made up about four in ten Americans back in the 1970s, but have been steadily slipping and are now approaching a quarter. Meanwhile the folks who think the Bible is more legend than reality and think gays are a fine lot are gaining fast and will soon match and surpass the literalists

Grrrrr. I really hate this conflation between "thinks the bible was literal" and "thinks the bible was honestly telling the truth." It was a LIE, but a lie that was intended to be believed as-is without a metaphorical reinterpretation. It is BOTH literal AND "more legend than reality".

"Believes it is literal" and "Believes it is true" are not synonymous. In fact, I would even go so far as to say that calling it false requires calling it literal. A statement that is metaphorical is neither true nor false because it was never intended to express a hard fact in the first place. This is why I have such a frustrating time with people who pretend the bible was not meant literally. They don't realize it, but they ruin the ability to criticize it as false when they do that.

Fri, 24 Dec 2010 21:34:18 UTC | #568573

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 11 by AtheistEgbert

Comment 9 by Eshto :

Also, the idea that atheists suffer more bigotry than LGBT people is patently absurd. There are no laws that single out atheists for exclusion or discrimination.

You're showing your ignorance here. Being atheist is still a death sentence in parts of the world, and it used to be considered a crime in even civilised countries. Socrates was sentenced to death for atheism, although he wasn't an atheist.

Fri, 24 Dec 2010 21:38:53 UTC | #568574

Steven Mading's Avatar Comment 12 by Steven Mading

Comment 9 by Eshto :

@Stonyground: "gays and other sexual deviants"

Um... "deviants"? Might want to rethink that. I had harsher word for you, but I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt and assuming you're just ignorant and meant no offense.

"Deviant" merely means "an outlier not near the median" In other words, something unusual. A sexual preference only shared by 10% of the population IS an outlier, and it IS a deviation. The problem is that you are carrying the bigoted connotation that to deviate is to be morally wrong.

In 1850's America, being pro-abolition would have been deviant. You're the one presuming that "deviant" means "bad". Nothing in the post you responded to said that. YOU did.

Fri, 24 Dec 2010 21:39:24 UTC | #568575

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 13 by Stafford Gordon

We're all to a certain extent bisexual, and I think we all go through a more or less homosexual phase in adolescence, I know I did anyway, from which it must follow that all of us are to a degree homosexual. I employ the word homosexual because I think it's a lovely word; it just takes a little more time and effort to express.

Fri, 24 Dec 2010 21:42:35 UTC | #568577

SeanSantos's Avatar Comment 14 by SeanSantos

Comment 12 by Steven Mading :

"Deviant" merely means "an outlier not near the median" In other words, something unusual. [...] The problem is that you are carrying the bigoted connotation that to deviate is to be morally wrong.

Wrong, sir! That is the connotation that that word has in our culture. For comparison, look at racial slurs. While such a slur's denotation might be "Person of race X", it is an insult because of the connotation and history those words have in our culture. "Deviant" is much the same; while it may literally denote nothing other than "outlier", applied to a person it very strongly implies moral depravity.

Furthermore, look at the original comment:

Women, foreigners and people who are the wrong colour, followers of minority religions, gays and other sexual deviants, atheists

Notice the the word "wrong". Clearly this is written from the perspective of a person who sees straight white Christian men as the acceptable, "normal" person. I didn't think this was a problem because I assumed Stonyground was using this language intentionally and ironically, lapsing into a parodied voice of the standard bigot in order to mock him. Eshto obviously didn't see it as merely ironic, but took offense. Either way, I think it's clear that words with negative connotations were directly selected.

Fri, 24 Dec 2010 21:50:07 UTC | #568579

Rumtopf's Avatar Comment 15 by Rumtopf

Comment 14 by SeanSantos :

Comment 12 by Steven Mading :

"Deviant" merely means "an outlier not near the median" In other words, something unusual. [...] The problem is that you are carrying the bigoted connotation that to deviate is to be morally wrong.

Wrong, sir! That is the connotation that that word has in our culture. For comparison, look at racial slurs. While such a slur's denotation might be "Person of race X", it is an insult because of the connotation and history those words have in our culture. "Deviant" is much the same; while it may literally denote nothing other than "outlier", applied to a person it very strongly implies moral depravity.

Furthermore, look at the original comment:

Women, foreigners and people who are the wrong colour, followers of minority religions, gays and other sexual deviants, atheists

Notice the the word "wrong". Clearly this is written from the perspective of a person who sees straight white Christian men as the acceptable, "normal" person. I didn't think this was a problem because I assumed Stonyground was using this language intentionally and ironically, lapsing into a parodied voice of the standard bigot in order to mock him. Eshto obviously didn't see it as merely ironic, but took offense. Either way, I think it's clear that words with negative connotations were directly selected.

Basically: Go away Steven Mading, magical intent blankets don't work here.

But yeah, I assumed Stoneyground was employing irony as well. Kind of a mini poe. c:

Fri, 24 Dec 2010 23:31:41 UTC | #568604

green and dying's Avatar Comment 16 by green and dying

Comment 6 by SeanSantos :

Suffering and mistrust are not the same. Judged by hate crime statistics it's certainly more dangerous to be gay, even if atheists have vague ill will from a higher percentage of people.

Yeah, I was gonna say. Compare statistics on hate crimes, bullying, suicides, etc. and the picture will be different.

Comment 11 by AtheistEgbert

The article is explicitly about America and the present day, though.

Sat, 25 Dec 2010 00:05:07 UTC | #568617

Rich Wilson's Avatar Comment 17 by Rich Wilson

Speaking for the USA:

The big difference for me is that at least in LAW I don't feel discriminated against as an atheist. The pledge and the motto are annoying, but not THAT big a deal. They don't change what I can do in my daily life. Sure there are quirks like the NC state constitution which essentially bars atheists from public office, but we know that would get tossed in a second by the SCOTUS. I may face a lot of ignorance and bigotry, but I do feel like the 1st amendment has my back in a way that gay people don't have.

Sat, 25 Dec 2010 04:16:59 UTC | #568656

mrbrant's Avatar Comment 18 by mrbrant

This is one of the most profound articles that I have read in a long while, thank you for putting words and historical background on the fight we gays (and atheists and gay atheists) have had.

Sat, 25 Dec 2010 07:38:19 UTC | #568680

Cartomancer's Avatar Comment 19 by Cartomancer

One interesting comparison that can be drawn is to note that in Britain, at least, atheism became mainstream, unremarkable and tolerated well before homosexuality. Growing up in England in the 80s and 90s I had no problem at all with atheism - it just wasn't an issue. I would never in a million years have considered admitting I was gay though.

In America it seems perhaps that it is going to be the other way around. But, then again, our history of religious conflict is rather different.

Sat, 25 Dec 2010 12:47:53 UTC | #568728

bendigeidfran's Avatar Comment 20 by bendigeidfran

Comment 19 by Cartomancer

Put 'that' pic back up. You'll put the grrrrr in gravatar.

Nothing is often the wisest thing to say. Honesty often the worst policy. Sad truth is speaking freely will still get you hit on many issues. I have to don't ask don't tell in real life on almost everything.

Well done to the braver gays, anti-gay now achieving it's correct status as embarrassingly absurd in popular opinion.

Sat, 25 Dec 2010 13:15:58 UTC | #568731

wisnoskij's Avatar Comment 21 by wisnoskij

I would not say that Atheism is more naturally friendly to gays then religion.

Sure Christianity does say that being gay is wrong, but it says a lot of things that Christians ignore.

And from a purely scientific angle you could make a hypothesis that being gay is a birth defect. And it would be easy to make a case that defects (in all of their forms) should be removed from the human race if possible.

Now I would be inclined to believe that Atheism would be more pro gay in a real world situation simply because not believing in absolute good and evil is likely to produce more caring individuals, and Christianity does have a history of producing a lot of massacres and ethnic cleansings.

Sat, 25 Dec 2010 14:21:42 UTC | #568752

Cartomancer's Avatar Comment 22 by Cartomancer

And from a purely scientific angle you could make a hypothesis that being gay is a birth defect. And it would be easy to make a case that defects (in all of their forms) should be removed from the human race if possible.

Defect? That's rather a loaded term to use. Under what definition of "defect" would homosexuality count? Why not consider heterosexuality the defect, and work towards eradicating that? It'd make just as much sense...

Sat, 25 Dec 2010 16:06:24 UTC | #568771

Jeromex's Avatar Comment 23 by Jeromex

I think to win over the religious majority we need an atheist sitcom that would depict atheists as non-threatening, funny and cute. Then we will probably be accepted and able to freely marry in the future .. oh I guess we can.. nevermind.

Sat, 25 Dec 2010 16:34:49 UTC | #568776

Mr.Hankey's Avatar Comment 24 by Mr.Hankey

And from a purely scientific angle you could make a hypothesis that being gay is a birth defect. And it would be easy to make a case that defects (in all of their forms) should be removed from the human race if possible.>

Defect? Difference I would say. Homosexuality does not equal sterility.

Sat, 25 Dec 2010 17:27:47 UTC | #568782

HughCaldwell's Avatar Comment 25 by HughCaldwell

Atheism is not comparable with homosexuality. Atheism isn't a lifestyle. It's just having the common sense to accept that all the gods are fictitious, without exception.

Sat, 25 Dec 2010 17:39:02 UTC | #568785

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 26 by Steve Zara

Comment 21 by wisnoskij

And from a purely scientific angle you could make a hypothesis that being gay is a birth defect

Excuse me. I am gay, and not defective. Everything is in perfect working order, thank you very much.

Sat, 25 Dec 2010 17:43:11 UTC | #568786

HughCaldwell's Avatar Comment 27 by HughCaldwell

Comment 1 by CarolineMary I cannot understand the antagonism to gay marriage.

Shows you how morality changes and how quickly and completely. In the UK, before 1967, law-abiding citizens would have reported buggery to the police and the offenders would have been jailed.

Sun, 26 Dec 2010 00:19:01 UTC | #568842

DeProfundis's Avatar Comment 28 by DeProfundis

And from a purely scientific angle you could make a hypothesis that being gay is a birth defect. And it would be easy to make a case that defects (in all of their forms) should be removed from the human race if possible.

Well, Why then did you not make the case? If it so "easy"...Hm? Well, perhaps that is because it is far from easy to make a case that eradicating sexual variation is a scientific, or ethical thing to do. People (Example: Hitler in Mein Kampf) used to say the same thing about Jews (To which I am also one along with being an atheist, and gay) and look what happened to them not too long ago, or perhaps you also need a history lesson along with a scientific lesson.

Sun, 26 Dec 2010 02:06:02 UTC | #568859

sbrogdon's Avatar Comment 29 by sbrogdon

You seem to be implying that homosexuality is a choice by stating it is a lifestyle. Your sexual orientation is not a choice. You can choose to act upon your sexual impulses or not, but you can not choose whether or not you have those sexual impulses.

Comment 25 by HughCaldwell :

Atheism is not comparable with homosexuality. Atheism isn't a lifestyle. It's just having the common sense to accept that all the gods are fictitious, without exception.

Sun, 26 Dec 2010 06:38:23 UTC | #568890

rjohn19's Avatar Comment 30 by rjohn19

I think the churches are fighting the gay movement with lip service (no pun intended) only.

If I might pervert (sorry, again) statistics for a moment, gays are said to be about 10% of Americans. That number is admittedly old lore but live with it for the moment.

Atheists are said to be about 15% of the population and I think that might be on the level. The atheists over-count by including everyone who claims no religious affilliation. There are theists out there who claim no church because they'd rather spend the tithe on themselves. There are also atheists who attend church because "outing" as an atheist would be a real real career killer (see Obama). The ins and outs here are pretty much a wash so we'll settle for the 15% figure.

Now all that said, churches have falling memberships and a constant lust for cash. The population of the USA is about 300,000,000.

This means, given my faulty stats, that there are about 30 million gays and about 45 million atheists. To account for the cross-over, let's assume the same percentage of gays as the the straight population is atheist- 15%. This leaves 25.5 million gay tithes available for the bloodsuckers, if they'll just keep civil tongues in what passes for their heads.

They have no shot at any of the atheist money. So why not preach to the choir against gayness and wink-nod at your congressman to legislate the gays into the mainstream? Tell your parishoners you have no legal recourse as you laugh your sanctimonious ass all the the way to the bank.

Sun, 26 Dec 2010 07:37:10 UTC | #568896