The Debate that Dare not Speak its Name

Carrie Lynch at What's Left and Seth Zlotocha at In Effect both link to a Salon article taking note of a rather peculiar absence in the recent federal debate -- gay families. David Link, writing in today's LA Times, picks up on this theme. As he notes, according to most of what we heard this week, "this is an argument of heterosexuals, by heterosexuals and for heterosexuals."

So what gives?

Carrie notes that it's because supporters of these bans don't want to talk about real people:
The reason they don't talk about gay people in the debate is because it's harder to point at actual people and blame them for a bunch of problems they didn't commit than to talk about all the problems in society and blame them in a round about way.
Seth notes the rhetorical benefit to supporters. Not talking about gay people makes it easier to link us to problems completely unrelated to us, like divorce rates and dead-beat dads:
It's a nifty rhetorical tool -- talk about broad societal troubles under the guise of a topic about people who have no direct impact on those problems. Thus, in effect, the topic of the conversation becomes rhetorically linked to the discussion at hand despite the fact that the topic itself is never really even mentioned in the discussion.
And Michael Scherer, who authored the Salon article, thinks it's because the actual data related to gay families don't support the arguments supporters make:
Given these facts, it is perhaps understandable that activists who argue against gay marriage focus their fire on the failures of heterosexual marriage. It is also understandable that journalists, who are themselves largely baffled by the paucity of data behind the argument, focus on reporting about the politics of the issue.


At 10:33 AM, Blogger Rebecca said...

All true points.

Haven't read the Salon article, yet, but I would suggest, too, that the lack of discussion is because the far right's real rhetoric, used amongst the already-converted, doesn't sit well with the general public anymore.

Referrals to how depraved gay people are, references to AIDS, the discussion about homosexuality on its face rather than the relationships and families - these things don't fly as well in public discourse anymore. They certainly do amongst the far right (especially fundamentalist theocrats and the KKK-types) and it is certainly used there, but you'll see in the public face of their arguments that they mostly leave these things out.

Aiming this kind of speech directly against a specific family, I'd imagine, wouldn't go over well, either.

The other reason they'd like to keep real families out of the discussion is because it would allow the public to see just how annoying normal many of our families are.

And if we're just joe schmoe who lives down the street, then more people will see the reasonable-ness of civil recognition of our families.

All the more reason we need to show the public our lives and truth.


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