Friday, December 16, 2005

Where I Stand

As several of you know, I make a fairly regular habit of checking and responding to the comments on this blog and others -- a minor violation of good blog technique, which rather tersely tells you to save your writing time for the main board instead of wasting it elsewhere, but good fun nonetheless.

Occasionally a post that generates lots of comments, such as my commemoration of the boycott that never was over the agreement that wasn't either, will turn up, besides brickbats, a comment that I feel would be best answered out here in public, such as this.

Out of curiousity. Seems like you have a deep disdain for gay rights organizations. Would you prefer that all gay rights organizations simply close shop and let individuals fend for themselves? Or do you see SOME good in their efforts. I know they are mostly that why you dislike them so much. Blinded by party?

First off, the commentor would be right on one count -- I do have a rather deep disdain for some gay rights organizations, particularly the large national ones. That should be clearly apparent to anyone who reads this blog, especially certain posts on it.

Actually, though, I DO see some good in their efforts. When HRC, NGLTF, and others act in accordance with the reason for their existence, which is to protect, promote, and advance gay issues and concerns, they do rather well -- surprisingly well. There's nothing wrong with gays presenting an allied front on things that directly concern us, and the massing of resources is both sensible and effective.

However, what happens frequently -- far too frequently -- is that these groups stray from the reason for their existence and waste the resources massed within them on items that are, at best, somewhat counterproductive and, at worst, suicidal for gay rights.

Consider, for example, abortion.

Both NGLTF and HRC take the position of unrestricted abortion -- that it should be allowed anywhere, at any point in the pregnancy, without parental or spousal notification. Both make wild arguments that preserving unlimited abortion is somehow linked to "gay rights".

Unfortunately, upon review, we find that abortion is, by and large, a standalone issue; the decision of Roe v. Wade is less an affirmation of the "right to privacy" under which these groups huddle than it is an expansion of said "right", as elucidated in the cases Eisenstadt v. Baird and its precursor Griswold v. Connecticut, from methods of contraception to methods of infanticide. Minus Roe, the "right to privacy" as applied to private sexual conduct would still exist; what would not is the block on individual states preventing them from making legislation restricting or eliminating abortion.

The reason this is a doomsday scenario for abortion-supporting groups is obvious. Polling shows that, while a majority of Americans do not support completely banning abortion, only twenty-six percent support the current position Roe mandates, which is "legal in all circumstances". Strong majorities (69% and 64%) support parental and spousal notification, respectively; a strong plurality (39%) support abortion being legal in "only a few circumstances", while 16% support a ban in all circumstances and an additional 16% support abortion being legal in "most circumstances".

In short, were it not for Roe, the majority of states in this country would have laws restricting abortion, most likely to only in the case of rape, incest, or imminent danger to the life of the mother. However, according to the statistics on why women have abortions as compiled by Planned Parenthood's Guttmacher Institute, that would limit legal abortions to, at best, 14% or less of the abortions currently performed (combining rape, incest, and "physical problem with my health"), dropping the number of abortions performed in the United States from approximately 1.3 million annually to less than 200,000.

The effect on the finances and reach of the abortionist groups would be catastrophic. With abortions costing an average of $500 each, that represents $550 million in lost revenue annually -- revenue that is needed to support their political donations, maintain their influence, and maintain themselves. However, what these groups have realized is that there are more than enough minority groups whose aspirations and requirements for flashy campaigns and headquarters exceed their financial reach and fundraising capability; for a little cash, the undying love of these groups can be bought, providing additional operatives and political cover at a very low price. The fact that this comes at the price of being bound to positions that the majority of Americans do not support seems to elude these minority groups, who see only the dollar signs and not the long-term consequences.

Unfortunately, several of our national gay rights organizations fall well into that category of "easily purchased". In my opinion, Joe Solmonese's, for one, primary qualification to lead HRC had nothing to do with his skill or management expertise; it had everything to do with his record of not letting gay rights get in the way of other concerns like abortion stances or party affiliation. Thus, he was an excellent choice to lead an organization that spent a bare $100,000 on fighting Missouri's antigay state constitutional amendment, but blew easily that much and more on a lavish gala to celebrate the selection of a pair of candidates who supported and praised it.

As I stated in my previous post, I have no problem with supporting Democrats. What I DO have a problem with is supporting antigay bigots, or worse, calling them "pro-gay" and "gay-supportive", BECAUSE they're Democrats. "Gay rights" organizations like HRC are particularly susceptible to this problem because their main organizational leaders, like Hilary Rosen, Michael Berman, and others, are paid lobbyists for the Democratic Party.

Simply put, I'm fine with gay rights groups that focus on gay rights. When they waste money on antigay candidates (like HRC) or on expensive ad campaigns at the expense of grassroots activism because of personal vendettas (LCR), that's when you start to see NDT get pissed at them. The same goes for the gay media.


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