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The National Education Association's Right To Discriminate in Choice of Exhibitors at Its Convention:

As I mentioned below, the National Education Association -- basically an advocacy group and a labor union -- refused to lease Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays (PFOX) exhibit space at its 2002 convention, because the NEA disapproved of PFOX's position that gays and lesbians can and ought to "make the choice to leave homosexuality." PFOX then sued, claiming that this constituted sexual orientation discrimination in a place of public accommodation, in violation of D.C. human rights law.

I argued below that the D.C. Office of Human Rights' reason for rejecting PFOX's claim -- that ex-gays aren't protected from sexual orientation discrimination by D.C. law -- was mistaken. But the NEA should still be entitled to act as it did, because of its Free Speech Clause rights.

The NEA excluded PFOX from a speech product that the NEA put together (the exhibitors at its conference), because it disapproved of PFOX's message. As Hurley v. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian & Bisexual Group of Boston recognized, organizations that create such speech products have a constitutional right to control what speech they include and what they exclude. And that's true even if the speech product doesn't have a terribly coherent message. In Hurley, the Court protected the rights of the organizers of a St. Patrick's Day parade, though the parade consisted of a bunch of marching groups, floats, and banners, and the organizers had only very rarely excluded participants as unsuitable:

Rather like a composer, the Council selects the expressive units of the parade from potential participants, and though the score may not produce a particularized message, each contingent's expression in the Council's eyes comports with what merits celebration on that day. Even if this view gives the Council credit for a more considered judgment than it actively made, the Council clearly decided to exclude a message it did not like from the communication it chose to make, and that is enough to invoke its right as a private speaker to shape its expression by speaking on one subject while remaining silent on another. The message it disfavored is not difficult to identify. Although GLIB's point (like the Council's) is not wholly articulate, a contingent marching behind the organization's banner would at least bear witness to the fact that some Irish are gay, lesbian, or bisexual, and the presence of the organized marchers would suggest their view that people of their sexual orientations have as much claim to unqualified social acceptance as heterosexuals and indeed as members of parade units organized around other identifying characteristics. The parade's organizers may not believe these facts about Irish sexuality to be so, or they may object to unqualified social acceptance of gays and lesbians or have some other reason for wishing to keep GLIB's message out of the parade. But whatever the reason, it boils down to the choice of a speaker not to propound a particular point of view, and that choice is presumed to lie beyond the government's power to control.

When an advocacy group such as the NEA puts together an exhibition -- even by soliciting people to participate, and to pay money for the privilege -- it is implicitly conveying the message that the exhibitions convey messages that are of value to the group's members, and that are broadly at least potentially sound (morally or politically). If the messages were primarily commercial advertising, especially of products that aren't themselves fully protected speech, the Hurley rule would not apply. But when someone is putting on an exhibition, whether of art or of education and advocacy, they have a First Amendment right to decide which speech to include and which to exclude.

Note that the NEA's being a specially federally chartered corporation doesn't strip it of this First Amendment right, just as the Boy Scouts' being a specially federally chartered corporation doesn't strip it of its First Amendment rights. Perhaps if the NEA got a subsidy from D.C., and D.C. could condition the subsidy on a decision not to discriminate in its events against certain classes of speakers (though that itself is not entirely clear). But D.C.'s antidiscrimination law isn't triggered by receipt of subsidies.

Finally, note that it's not clear whether D.C.'s public accommodation law should even be interpreted as applying to conference exhibitor choices, or for that matter to discrimination based on an exhibitor's sexual-orientation-related speech as opposed to the exhibitor's own sexual orientation. But even if it is interpreted this broadly (much like Massachusetts courts interpreted Massachusetts law this broadly in Hurley), the Free Speech Clause would protect the NEA's right to choose which speakers to allow into the exhibitions at its conferences.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. The National Education Association's Right To Discriminate in Choice of Exhibitors at Its Convention:
  2. Is Discrimination Against Ex-Gays Sexual Orientation Discrimination Under D.C. Law?
Randy R. (mail):
Clearly, the NEA has a right to deny PFOX a place at the table, per Hurley. I would be surprised if anyone would argue otherwise, though some undoubtedly will.

As to whether NEA *should* deny PFOX a place (which is different from whether they have the right to), I would suggest they certainly should.

The NEA was well within its rights to not exhibit to a group that is not based on any sort of science, has no transparency in its operations, and no track record of actually meetings its goals. Furthermore, PFOX has never tried to hide the fact that it is anti-gay in general, which is contrary to the message that the NEA tries to promote.

If the National Science Foundation had a conference, should they give exhibit space to the Fortune Tellers' Association? Or the American Association of Astrologers?

Same difference.
10.17.2008 2:57pm
Borealis (mail):
It is interesting that this has become a political issue -- whether or not being gay is reversible, or whether it is moral to change a gay person to being straight.

By the way, I have always wondered how to spell "putting" when you intend the meaning that doesn't occur on a golf course.
10.17.2008 3:01pm
Matthew in Austin:
Does this just apply to the DC human rights law (which is specific to sexual orientation), or to the Civil Rights act of 1964 as well? In other words, could the NEA have excluded an african-american group on the basis of race?
10.17.2008 3:13pm
Randy R. (mail):
Borealis: "It is interesting that this has become a political issue -- whether or not being gay is reversible, or whether it is moral to change a gay person to being straight. "

You betcha. It's become a political issue for this reason: Anti-gay people like to insist that being gay is a choice. Therefore, since it's not immutable, such as race, sex or age, then there should be no protections for making this choice. They believe they should be able to discriminate against gays because they are immoral.

All gay people, on the other hand, insist that they did NOT chose to be gay, that it in inherent. And therefore, we shouldn't be discriminated against. (But heck, why should anyone believe us?)

So then the anti-gay people say, even if it's inherent, you don't have to have sex. You can be celebate your entire life. I guess we have to give up listening to show tunes as well. And so any laws proposed to protect gays from discrimination are attacked because gays could easily just stop having sex and that would make them all happy. Except for gay people, of course,

What it basically comes down to is this:

1. Homosexuality is a sin
2. All sin is a choice, therefore
3. Homosexuality is a choice.

That iron clad logic will not be broken no matter how much science or personal testimony is proferred. When it's my truth against the Bible, you can betcha that the religionists will have me be the loser.
10.17.2008 3:19pm
DG:
What about the belief that being gay is a choice, at least for some, but that people should be allowed to be whatever they want? How did that viewpoint get invalidated?
10.17.2008 3:31pm
Randy R. (mail):
I don't know. You'll have to ask Richard Aubrey -- he knows all about homosexuality and it's totally wrong no matter why you are.
10.17.2008 3:44pm
eric (mail):
I was of the impression that at least some homosexuals claim that they chose their lifestyle.
10.17.2008 3:47pm
Nathan_M (mail):

What about the belief that being gay is a choice, at least for some, but that people should be allowed to be whatever they want? How did that viewpoint get invalidated?

I don't mean to hijack the thread too much (heh), but does anyone have a link to a (ideally sane and non-homophobic) site explaining the "homosexuality is a choice" viewpoint?

I don't identify as homosexual, but I know I never had anything remotely like a "choice" about being straight. I've always just been attracted to women and not men, and assumed that the reverse was true for gay men.

Are there large numbers of people who are conflicted with their sexuality, or is there some explanation I've never thought of about how gay people "chose" and straight people don't?
10.17.2008 3:55pm
whit:

All gay people, on the other hand, insist that they did NOT chose to be gay, that it in inherent. And therefore, we shouldn't be discriminated against. (But heck, why should anyone believe us?)



ALL gay people? you're full of crap.

also, fwiw, you are creating a false either/or choice.

just because somebody doesn't "consciously" choose something doesn't NECESSARILY means it is (entirely) inherent- iow heriditary.

considering that nearly every aspect of an individual's behavior, desires, etc. are PARTLY genetic and PARTLY environmental, why should we assume that sexual orientation is the (pretty much only) exception.

for example, i tend to prefer certain body types in women... this is probably partly genetic (see studies on how men choose women based on perceived fecundity, waist-hip ratios, etc.) but ALSO partly environmental (i am a strength athlete, am entrenched in the strength-athlete culture, and thus am biased towards finding somewhat muscular women attractive, at least partly because of my environment. before I was a strength athlete, i found them overly muscular, now that *i* am far more muscular than i was a runner/surfer and am around atrong/athletic women, my tastes have changed).

ideologues on BOTH sides (gay advocates and gay opponents) want to ignore science, and fill in blanks in knowledge to suit their agenda.

just as the anti-gay rights side perceive an ideoloGICAL benefit is sexual orientation is determined to be mostly/wholly environmental, many pro-gay rights advocates perceive an ideological benefit if sexual orientation is determined to be wholly genetic (iow, determined AT BIRTH).

very very few aspects of behavior are determined 100% at birth. in this respect, many advocates of this position actually sound like religious fundamentalists and have abandoned any conception of tabula rasa to embrace tabula completely non-rasa (so to speak).

imo, the best evidence thus far shows individual variation. for some, homosexual orientation was a given at birht, and for others, a combination of environmental/genetic/birth factors.

this would be consistent with pretty much most other aspects of behavior, desire, even food choices (some people cannot taste at all certain tastes from birth (100% genetic) and obviously some food preferences are partly or nearly wholly environmental choice (learning to like X).

fwiw, i am for gay marriage and gay rights generally, but i don't embrace pseudo-science or fill in gaps in knowledge to suit my agenda.

also note that any honest psychologist will tell yuo that just because something is perceived by an individual to be a natural, genetic, predetermined drive by that person - it does not necessarily follow that is. perception in this respect is not necessarily biological reality.
and fwiw, i agree with eric. are you denying that (for example) many leftist feminists claim they chose to associate sexually exclusively with women?
10.17.2008 4:04pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
In a you-don't-want-to-go-there warning, the no-choice school tells us homosexuality is genetic. Or, it could be a post fertilization error, which used to be called "sports", if I recall. But if it's not a choice, somewhere, somehow, there's some hard-wiring which, given the progress of genetic research, will shortly be discovered.
Which means it can be repaired once the biotechnology catches up to it, or aborted, once the markers are discovered.
Boy, that will give the pro-choice folks some sour belly.

IMO, the proper answer ought to be, "Hey, it's my choice and this is a free country." The not-a-choice meme is a convenient short cut with long term adverse consequences. But it's not for me to say.
10.17.2008 4:12pm
gattsuru (mail) (www):
Not all gay people assume the matter is always immutable, nor do all people grossed out by the matter assume it's a chosen behavioral schematic.

Clayton Cramer, for example, is about as anti-gay as you can get while still being rational (note I did not say correct or unflawed or sane; just that his opposition focuses on logical if biased argument), but his opposition isn't based on whether the matter is a choice or not; it's based on the part where the most vocal gay people are always... well, the most polite way to put the matter would be to say "furthering the stereotype". Well, that and it squicking the hell out of him.

On the other hand, there have been a lot of gay people pointing out that the "there's not a choice" argument was both a sure loser and not correct for them.

There are those who do fit the stereotypes on both sides, but the matter is really a lot more complicated than that.
10.17.2008 4:24pm
Randy R. (mail):
Whit, you are right, and I do agree with much what you say. Certainly, environment plays a role to a certain extent. I was never attracted to asian men at all until I spent time in Asia. Then my eyes opened up, and now I find that some asian guys are rather cute. I'm not at all attracted to black men, however, and never have been. But I suppose if I grew up in an environment such as Africa, that might be different.

All social scientists have determined that sexual orientation is set at a very early age, certainly by the age of seven. They believe it is set earlier, but it is difficult to determine that. What they consider environment is the hormones within the mother's womb, or certain factors soon after birth. What they don't believe is that a person can choose their orientation any more than one can choose one's hair. Sure you can cut it any way you like, you can dye it anyway you like, but if you are bald, you are bald.

There are some people who are bisexual. They can suppress themselves to the point that they seem heterosexual, but that doesn't mean that they are no longer bi. And if a person DOES say that they choose to be gay, I will not dispute it -- whom am I to say they are lying? I can't. But the reality is that every single gay person I have every known (and trust me, I know a lot!) have said that it is natural and a part of their being, and that they never choose it. Rather, they just are.

I would hope that people would respect that, but too often they simply won't.
10.17.2008 4:39pm
wm13:
"All gay people, on the other hand, insist that they did NOT chose to be gay, that it is inherent."

Well, I never moved in gay circles enough to know what "all" gay people say or do (I doubt anyone does), but "not a choice" was certainly not the prevalent line in the lesbian feminist circles that I used to visit with in the 1980s. The line in that time and place was "Feminism is the theory, lesbianism is the practice," i.e., lesbianism is part of a chosen identity which reflects a conscious political commitment.
10.17.2008 4:43pm
Randy R. (mail):
Richard: "But if it's not a choice, somewhere, somehow, there's some hard-wiring which, given the progress of genetic research, will shortly be discovered. "

They've been looking for the gay gene since the early 90s, and haven't found it. The latest research indicates that sexual orientation is determined by many hundreds of genes, which would make it virtually impossible to change. This to me makes sense, as not all gay people are 100% gay, as Kinsey discovered. And not all straight people are 100% straight. Some are only 95% or so. Some are bisexual, which is the middle somewhere.

"Which means it can be repaired once the biotechnology catches up to it, or aborted, once the markers are discovered.
Boy, that will give the pro-choice folks some sour belly."

I think it would give the pro-lifers some sour belly, actually. They would have to choose between abortion (a sin), or raising a boy who will grow up to be a fag despite all their efforts, which would be consigning him to a life of sin.
10.17.2008 4:44pm
Randy R. (mail):
"The line in that time and place was "Feminism is the theory, lesbianism is the practice," i.e., lesbianism is part of a chosen identity which reflects a conscious political commitment."

Lesbians are a whole nother story. All the ones I know are lesbians because they didn't ahve a choice. Yet, we all know of women who go through phases. Sexual orientation is bit different for women, in other words, and I don't understand.

In fact, I don't understand most woman at all. And that's something I'm sure my straights bros will agree with me on.
10.17.2008 4:46pm
The Oracle of Syracuse:
So, if there is a genetic root to this type of behavior, what is the evolutionary benefit of the behavior?
10.17.2008 4:54pm
gattsuru (mail) (www):
[quote]Are there large numbers of people who are conflicted with their sexuality, or is there some explanation I've never thought of about how gay people "chose" and straight people don't?[/quote]

Well, depending on what source you look at, somewhere between 2% and 5% of the American populace self-identifies as bisexual, plus an addition portion which self-identifies as straight but still has had sex with those of the same gender (a very odd group, since they have drastically different results on a lot of metrics than self-identified gay men or lesbian women, even if they only have sex with people of the same gender).

But 'conflicted' really isn't the right word. Most of society does go one way or the other rather drastically (more's the pity), and most people get into a single sort of relationship and stick with it rather than broadening their horizons.

It's not particularly hard to reconcile this with the whole choice matter, especially given that most people never really try the other side of the fence, or give up on it after a single bad experience.
10.17.2008 5:01pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Randy.
You need enemies, of the kind American Jews need. Scary but, as you know, not all that actually dangerous. That way you can have solidarity, raise funds, feel deliciously special. Without having to be take the risks involved in naming the guys who are really doing you and your group(s) harm.
But the pro-lifers aren't where you'll find them any more than Jews will find the enemies they so badly want among American conservative Christians. So that was a swing and a miss.
If, as you say, genetic repair is not practical, the markers may still be available prior to birth. Still, since no feminists care about abortion for sex selection against girls--might be the crack in the dam to complain--nobody will complain about abortion against gays.
Right?
But if they do, what's anybody going to do about it? There's still Roe.

Stick to "it's a free choice and this is a free country".
10.17.2008 5:04pm
gattsuru (mail) (www):
So, if there is a genetic root to this type of behavior, what is the evolutionary benefit of the behavior?


Evolution does not work that way.

The theme park version you learn in high school says it does, but the matter is much more complicated. Individual behaviors and concepts do not exist in a vacuum. A single can have dozens of different results, and the reasons that it even activates are not fully understood. When you get to a matter believed to have dozens if not hundreds of underlying genetic causes, each individual one could have subtle beneficial results.

Moreover, the matter does not need to be helpful to survive. The gene for sickle cell anemia is (as far as we can tell) not particularly useful, but it didn't kill our plainswandering ancestors until long after they had children, so the evolutionary cost was no significant. That's all it takes for a genetic marker to be added in.
10.17.2008 5:08pm
Anatid:

whit:

just because somebody doesn't "consciously" choose something doesn't NECESSARILY means it is (entirely) inherent- iow heriditary.

considering that nearly every aspect of an individual's behavior, desires, etc. are PARTLY genetic and PARTLY environmental, why should we assume that sexual orientation is the (pretty much only) exception.


The current scientific evidence suggests that, as you said, it is a matter of gene expression. The problem is that popular science doesn't understand what gene expression is, so if you're using that to learn about the nature versus nurture debate, then you're going to fall short.

A tremendous amount of gene expression occurs during fetal development. Some genes switch on, some genes switch off - even identical twins have very different personalities from a young age. The strongest case for the source of homosexuality right now is that it's an instance of hormone levels in utero affecting the expression of certain sex-related genes, specifically, regions of the brain concerning sexuality. There is very likely genetic variation in which embryos are more likely or less likely to have this less-usual expression occur.

The neuroscience is quite firm, though, at least for male homosexuality. The part of the brain that lights up on an fMRI in response to male musk pheromones is the same in a heterosexual female and in a homosexual male.


Randy R.:

Lesbians are a whole nother story. All the ones I know are lesbians because they didn't ahve a choice. Yet, we all know of women who go through phases. Sexual orientation is bit different for women, in other words, and I don't understand.


Studying the science behind female homosexuality is much more difficult. Brain regions are much more indistinct and it's much harder to get clean, useful data, so the conjectures we could currently draw for homosexuality in males cannot currently be assumed for homosexuality in females, although it'll be interesting in upcoming years to see what future studies can find.

Considering the number of women I know, though, who have been mistreated horribly by family and community because of sexual orientation, I find it hard to believe that they'd have chosen that life.
10.17.2008 5:12pm
The Oracle of Syracuse:
gattsuru,

Evolution does work that way when we're talking about behavior related to the propogation of the species.

Your claim that a trait needn't be particularly helpful in order to be perpetuated genetically is absolutely true, but beside the point. Homosexual behavior, in and of itself, is completely and utterly wasteful with respect to its utility in the cause of propogating one's genes. Being gay, at least being exclusively 100%-of-the-time gay, is not a trait that is "not particularly helpful" to the propogation of one's genes, it is positively antithetical to it. To put it bluntly, if homosexuality had a genetic cause, it would have been bred out of the species a long, long time ago.
10.17.2008 5:22pm
jfb2252:
The gene for sickle cell anemia provides for a partial defense against malaria. See
http://sickle.bwh.harvard.edu/malaria_sickle.html
10.17.2008 5:28pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Gattsuru.

The sickling trait in the red blood cells is a recessive which has the function of delaying the decrapitation of the body when infected with malaria.
It is higher in proportion in malarial areas, more in Med Europe than in Scandinavia, more in people in and from the Congo Basin than the East Africa highlands.
As a recessive, it is helpful. When two recessives get together, we have sickle cell anemia. This is a down side, but, net, sickling is helpful in malarial areas. Not so hot elsewhere, nor in areas where malaria is under control. Then you have the downside with a useless up side.
You need another example.

Somebody said homosexuals,although in minor proportions, contributed to the ancient hominids and prehistoric groups by paying their way as the hetero men did, and by their prediliction for affection for other men, ephebiphilia particularly, were additional support for them without having to spread their portion of the hunt's take-home to their own families. The remaining het men were sufficient to fertilize all the females. Interesting speculation, and, if true, could explain how the trait continued. Groups whose het men carried enough of the genes necessary to create a homosexual from time to time would prosper, compared to others.
10.17.2008 5:32pm
whit:

All social scientists have determined that sexual orientation is set at a very early age, certainly by the age of seven. They believe it is set earlier, but it is difficult to determine that. What they consider environment is the hormones within the mother's womb, or certain factors soon after birth. What they don't believe is that a person can choose their orientation any more than one can choose one's hair. Sure you can cut it any way you like, you can dye it anyway you like, but if you are bald, you are bald.




it's interesting that the age is seven. consider the old catholic church saw, that "give us a child until the age of 7, and he's ours for life", which is obviously not always true, but you get the point.

the problem with the word choose (and i never said gay people in general choose to be gay- that's usually NOT the case), is that it doesn't work like that.

in the instance of being attracted to muscular women (the environmental thang combined with the genetic thang), i didn't CHOOSE to do so, but my environment has definitely had a big influence.

even the "gay people can be fixed" people don't really go with the choice thing. iow, even they think it's difficult and a process to "change", not that it's like choosing the medium rare, or the well done steak (the latter choice being a real abomination, fwiw.)

anatid, I'm aware of gene expression, and that is exactly my point. it IS more complex than the binary - either it's a choice or it's not argument.


consider this quote by francis collins, respected geneticist.

"The evidence we have at present strongly supports the proposition that there are hereditary factors in male homosexuality — the observation that an identical twin of a male homosexual has approximately a 20% likelihood of also being gay points to this conclusion, since that is 10 times the population incidence. But the fact that the answer is not 100% also suggests that other factors besides DNA must be involved. That certainly doesn't imply, however, that those other undefined factors are inherently alterable."

that is pretty much where i stand.

hereditary factors? yes
other factors besides DNA involved? yes.

it is NOT as simple as the ideologues on either side, wish to portray it.
10.17.2008 5:33pm
Nathan_M (mail):

To put it bluntly, if homosexuality had a genetic cause, it would have been bred out of the species a long, long time ago.

I don't know what the current scientific thinking is, but I have seen theories put forward about how homosexuality could be evolutionarily efficient. For example, someone without children might have helped raise their siblings' children, resulting in their nieces and nephews being more successful. Since a niece or nephew shares 25% of one's genes (as opposed to 50% for a son or daughter), in evolutionary terms having two nieces is equivalent to having one daughter. This would be one mechanism by which genes tending to cause homosexuality could be selected for.

It could also be possible that homosexuality is not selected for, but other traits in genes that cause homosexuality are. Take, for example, sickle cell anemia. If a person has two copies of the gene which causes this disease he contracts the disease, which is bad. But having only one copy of the gene does not cause sickle cell anemia, but does grant a resistance to malaria. Thus, the gene that causes this disease was/is actually selected for in parts of the world where malaria was a serious problem, such as sub-Saharan Africa. I very much doubt there is such a simple relationship between a gene and homosexuality, but it is always possible for a gene(s) with some ill effect (if homosexuality is, actually, selected against) to have other beneficial effects which cause it to be selected for.

I have never seen any suggestion that something similar to sickle cell anemia occurs with homosexuality, but that is an example of how a categorical statement like the one you made could be mistaken.
10.17.2008 5:45pm
Michael B (mail):
"But the NEA should still be entitled to act as it did, because of its Free Speech Clause rights."

Precisely. And that's an entirely viable interpretation and application of the law.

Still, it's more than a little revealing that the D.C. Office of Human Rights' rationale - "that ex-gays aren't protected from sexual orientation discrimination by D.C. law" - was resorted to, even though they could have relied upon a standard and perfectly viable interpretation of applicable law.
10.17.2008 5:51pm
crane (mail):
Population Genetics 101:

Genes that tend to benefit the evolutionary success of an entire population are not necessarily good for the reproductive success of every individual who carries them.

For example, individuals who have one copy of the sickle-cell gene and one normal, non-sickle version of that gene get protection against malaria, compared to people with two normal copies of that gene. Naturally, when two sickle-cell carriers breed, there's a 1-in-4 chance that the child will have two copies of the sickle-cell gene, which causes sickle-cell anemia. But since malaria was such a problem in the region where the sickle-cell gene evolved, having the gene and accepting the rate of anemia was a better deal than not having the gene and dealing with malaria.

The obvious answer to why homosexuality hasn't been eliminated by evolution, then, is that it's a side effect of something else that's too valuable to get rid of. I have no idea where I read this, so no link, but I recently saw a study that showed the female relatives of gay men tended to have more babies than average. Their conclusion was that the same set of genes caused both - in other words, it's not a gene for being gay, it's a gene for being attracted to men. And the effect it has on a woman's reproductive success is so large it outweighs the evolutionary loss of having the occasional son turn out gay.
10.17.2008 5:56pm
crane (mail):
Dang, other people covered the same ground while I was typing.
10.17.2008 5:59pm
DeezRightWingNutz:

The obvious answer to why homosexuality hasn't been eliminated by evolution, then, is that it's a side effect of something else that's too valuable to get rid of.


Fashion sense?
10.17.2008 6:24pm
Randy R. (mail):
Richard:" You need enemies, of the kind American Jews need. Scary but, as you know, not all that actually dangerous. That way you can have solidarity, raise funds, feel deliciously special."

Sorry, your comment is too inchoherent and I can't understand it. We DO have enemies, and I certainly don't need to find more. One need only to read the websites of Focus on the Family, or the Family Reseach Council, to find a few.

As for abortion, there may indeed come a time when there are indicators of likelihood of a child's sexuality, just as there are already for down's syndrome. There may well be some pro-choicers out there who would abort a fetus knowing it will likely be gay, and that would be sad. Therefore may will be some pro-choicers out there who will nonetheless abort the fetus under the lesser of two evils rationale, and that would be sad. But there isn't a heck of a lot we can do about it, regardless of Roe. If a woman wants an abortion badly enough, she will get one.
10.17.2008 6:25pm
The Oracle of Syracuse:
crane and Natham_M present interesting theories. However, with the possible exception of the study of the female relatives of gay men, they remain unsupported by empirical evidence.

I've no reason to doubt crane's good faith, so I would take his reporting of the study as accurate. I would question, however, whether the study provides evidence in support of the proposition the researchers believe. In modern society, the primary factor in determining a woman's fecundity is not her attractedness to men (or attractiveness, for that matter); it is her motivation to have children. Thus, if anything, the study would show that female relatives of gay men want to have more children than other women.

In fact, the study could just as easily be interpreted with the causal arrow pointing in the direction opposite to that posited by the researchers: recognizing that her gay male relative will in all likelihood not reproduce, the female relative will be more likely to want to have more children, in order to pick up the slack.
10.17.2008 6:35pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Randy R.
You prove my point about enemies. Focus on The Family are as dangerous as an old sofa pillow. But it's a lot better to be thinking about them than, say, radical Islam. Those guys are REALLY scary. Ignore them and pretend Dobson is the real bad guy.
You'll be happier, and you still get all the bennies of having an enemy.
10.17.2008 6:51pm
Nathan_M (mail):

But it's a lot better to be thinking about them than, say, radical Islam. Those guys are REALLY scary. Ignore them and pretend Dobson is the real bad guy.
You'll be happier, and you still get all the bennies of having an enemy.

I suspect any American is more likely to be hit by lightning than injured by a radical Islamic terrorist, but leaving that aside, don't radical Islamists tend to be at least as homophobic as they are anti-Semitic? I sure don't remember the last time Iran sentenced someone to death for being Jewish.
10.17.2008 7:15pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Nathan.
That's my point. American Jews and homosexuals can comfort themselves by shivering in fright at the thought of Dobson.

You think Israeli Jews have the same priority?
10.17.2008 7:24pm
Nathan_M (mail):
I suppose an enemy like Dobson, who wants to throw you in jail for violating archaic sodomy laws, demonizes you to the point he attacks cartoon characters like SpongeBob SquarePants, and wants to deny you basic rights like the ability to marry and have a family, is a bit less frightening than someone who might kill you.

But if the New York Times and ACORN are enough to energize conservative Republicans to fight off their oppressors, I'm sure Dobson and his ilk are more than sufficient.
10.17.2008 7:37pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Nathan.
Sounds like you've got your banky all hugged up around you.
You'll sleep well.
Problem is with crap like the Sponge Bob thing. We all know it's false, just as you do.
That's why your concern about the non-enemy enemies is so transparently a matter of escaping nasty reality.
10.17.2008 8:19pm
Sarah (mail) (www):
So, so many posts and hardly any criticism of the NEA itself... here I thought this blog was full of rabid libertarians. ^_^

The NEA should let whoever they want into their conventions, and keep whoever they want out. They should also refrain from forcing people to be members of their organization just because they want to teach in a given state. Oh, well.
10.17.2008 9:42pm
Randy R. (mail):
Richard, you really are incoherent. Of course we are concerned about radical Islam. But I don't see any major figure in the US who advocates radical Islam and has a strong following. Do you? And I don't see radical Islam taking hold in any state in the union any time soon. And if it does, I am hoping that the Constitution will protect us, but that might not be enough, I admit.

Sorry, but Dobson has a strong following, and many people read his materials and listen to his programs. He has had a big influence on the Bush administration, and is welcome at the White House.

Ditto for the late Jerry Falwell (thank God he's gone to his reward), Alan Keyes, Gary Bauer and so on. The Mormon church is pourinig money into California and whipping up a lot of anti-gay feelings. These aren't the only ones, but just the biggies.

Words do have power.
10.18.2008 1:20am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Randy R.
Sure, Randy. You'd get along just fine on some campus which thinks the Muslim Student Association is an accredited victim group. Just like Jews have to keep a low profile.
But keep worrying about Dobson.
10.18.2008 9:48am
Eric E (mail):
I'm not convinced that this is clear-cut.

1.) Presumably, the convention center is publicly owned and rented to NEA. NEA couldn't prevent someone from using the convention center's restrooms because it doesn't lease the restrooms for its advocacy purposes. The city could simply return to NEA the cost of leasing one space on the convention floor and instead lease that space to PFOX, no? If NEA hasn't paid for the space, then it isn't entitled to its use for any purpose at all. That scenario would seem to be different from Hurley because the parade was a moving target and required use of whole street for a given period of time. We also don't know how much money is being charged by NEA for a booth. Is NEA making money from leasing booths? Why is that not a public accommodation itself? After all, leasing the whole space is expensive and the NEA provides, in effect, a real estate service when it sublets publicly owned property to individual vendors that they could not otherwise afford. Hurley has no similar features in that any group can apply for a permit to peaceably walk down the sidewalk conveying their message at minimal cost.

However, the Office of Human Rights notes that ex-gays are not protected from discrimination in public accommodation. Therefore, DC could choose to deny use of its property on the basis of status, no? And so it would seem that the reasons given were more legally applicable than the Hurley argument.

2.) "If the messages were primarily commercial advertising, especially of products that aren't themselves fully protected speech, the Hurley rule would not apply. But when someone is putting on an exhibition, whether of art or of education and advocacy, they have a First Amendment right to decide which speech to include and which to exclude."

This doesn't make sense. 'Products' are goods and can not be 'fully protected speech.' Could a convention of booksellers deny participation to a specific vendor because they didn't like the content of that vendor's books?
10.18.2008 7:02pm
Eric E (mail):
I take it, then, that speed in which one posts with off-topic material is more likely to be of interest to readers of the blog than thoughtful posts that address substantive issues?

1) There would seem to be additional problems with the statement 2) above, as well. Art usually does not have clear messages, and if the observer has the right to exclude art based on message, he has the right to exclude based on status, race, religion or any other attribute as well. In Hurley, the court noted that gay, lesbian and bisexual Irish-Americans were not prevented from participating in the parade - only from conveying a specific message.

But what if the GLB Irish-Americans had been parading artwork of pastoral or gritty working class scenes of Ireland? The organizers could then deny the GLBs permission based on their status by claiming, "That's gay artwork and sends a message of gay advocacy."

Now who's right?

2) The distinction between commercial advertising and artwork isn't that clear either. Fully protected political speech or advocacy is intended to be repeated and freely disseminated so as to effectuate change. But artwork is often displayed to promote the commercial interests of the artist himself, and, as Andy Warhol made clear, the subject of the artwork is not its message or artistic content. Was he promoting soup? So, Eugene, how would that distinction be made?
10.20.2008 4:19am