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A few words about the discussion of gay rights and related issues. [View All]

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Skinner ADMIN Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-04-04 09:30 PM
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A few words about the discussion of gay rights and related issues.
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Edited on Thu Nov-04-04 10:12 PM by Skinner
We find ourselves in a rather unpleasant situation here, because events outside of DU have raised a rather sensitive issue: How does the issue of Gay rights effect the national electoral prospects of the Democratic party?

I will spare you a long discussion about my point of view, and boil my opinion down to one sentence: I believe that some potential Democratic voters are turned off by Gay rights, but on balance I believe that the issue helps us more than it hurts us, and I believe we can win nationally without abandoning our support of equal rights for all. But the purpose of this post is not to tell you my point of view.

The purpose of this post is to remind everyone that Democratic Underground has rules regarding anti-gay bigotry. We expect *all* of our members to support equal rights for all Americans, regardless of sexual orientation.

We have very few litmus test issues on DU. We permit members to be pro-life or pro-gun or whatever, provided that they are generally on our side.

But this is a litmus test issue, because we are talking about REAL PEOPLE, our fellow members of this community. I simply will not tolerate the idea of some DU members arguing that other DU members are not deserving of full and equal rights. This is a moral issue. If DU had existed back during the civil rights movement, I hope that we would all agree that this was not the place to discuss whether blacks deserve civil rights.

But I also need to make something else clear: Democratic Underground is a message board dedicated to the discussion of political issues, including how political issues affect the electoral prospects of the Democratic Party. It is not homophobic to discuss whether the issue of Gay rights cost us votes, provided that you are not discussing the issue in a homophobic way. But it is homophobic to scapegoat gays and lesbians in an effort to answer an extremely complex question like "why did we lose?"

So, where is the line drawn here? What is acceptable discourse and what is not? I wish there were easy answers. I would prefer not to have to make calls like this, because invariably someone gets pissed off, but it comes with the job description.

Keep the following guidelines in mind:

1. We expect all of our members to support equal rights for all people, regardless of sexual orientation. That includes the right to marry.

2. If you want to discuss this issue, you need to do so in a manner that is sensitive to the values of this diverse community. Be as clear and as non-inflammatory as possible in everything you say.

3. If you are opposed to gay rights, you are a homophobe. Don't share that particular point of view here or else you're going to get banned. You've been warned.

4. If your explanation for why we lost is based entirely (or almost entirely) on gay rights, then you are scapegoating and you're probably a homophobe. You might get banned.

5. If you are arguing that the party needs to abandon support for gay rights entirely, then you might not be an outright homophobe, but in my opinion you are not sufficiently supportive of equal rights.

6. It is not homophobic to point out the obvious truth that there are large numbers of people in large regions of the country who are opposed to gay rights. ON EDIT: It also not homophobic to point out that political candidates, particularly those running in conservative areas, may have to compromise on the issue of gay rights for the purposes of political expediency.

7. I believe that we need to focus on the question of how our party can be competitive nationally without abandoning this core principle. I believe that gay rights is not a make-or-break issue for a majority of voters in any state. The opinions of hard-core homophobes notwithstanding, my impression is that most Americans are supportive of the idea that people should be able to live their lives how they like. How do we convince potential voters that they need not be afraid? How do we convince potential voters that they should care more about their job and their health care and their children than about who some stranger falls in love with? These are the questions we need to be asking.

We are right on this issue, I have no doubt. In 40 years, we are going to look back at opposition to gay marriage as something as bigoted and anachronistic as opposition to interracial marriage.

I am sorry if some of you feel I am putting too much restriction on the discussion of this topic. I am also sorry if some of you feel I am not restrictive enough. My goal is to create a place where we can discuss the issues in an atmosphere of mutual respect.
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