Gallagher: King & Spalding Proves Gay People Aren’t Really Oppressed Anymore
May 02, 2011 5:23 pm ET by Carlos Maza
Chairwoman of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) Maggie Gallagher wrote an op-ed for Yahoo News Wednesday criticizing the law firm of King & Spalding for withdrawing its commitment to defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in federal court. Her piece is an uninspired run-down of conservative talking points on the issue: everyone deserves a lawyer, gay groups are bullies, Paul Clement is a hero, etc.
Her last few sentences, however, are remarkable:
It's important for all of us to remember that life for ordinary gay people can still be difficult, even as a powerhouse gay movement flexes its cultural, financial and behind-the-scenes political power to repress the rights of others to organize, speak, donate and now hire a lawyer to defend marriage.
One thing is clear: This is not a movement that needs extraordinary intervention by the courts to protect its rights. As one blog comment put it: "Making a blue-chip law firm drop the federal government as a client? Oppressed groups don't usually have that kind of clout."
Time for the rest of us to learn how to organize to defend our rights, too. [emphasis added]
So according to Gallagher, getting one law firm to stop defending a fifteen-year-old statute that denies millions of gay and lesbian couples the over one thousand federal benefits that come with marriage is a sign that gays and lesbians aren’t really an oppressed group anymore.
In reality, Gallagher uses the King & Spalding controversy to prove a point she’s been trying to make for quite a while now: gays and lesbians are politically powerful and thus don’t deserve additional legal protection.
She isn’t alone in her position, either. Carl M. Cannon, Washington Editor for RealClearPolitics, interpreted the King & Spalding debacle similarly:
This propensity to look through a wider lens might prove significant. Specifically, I wonder whether the ease with which HRC caused King & Spalding to capitulate might cause Tony Kennedy to reach an obvious, real-world conclusion: namely, that gays and lesbians are far from powerless, and are doing just fine without any "heightened" protections. If it comes down to that, the campaign against Paul Clement would have backfired -- and produced its own rough justice. [emphasis added]
Both Gallaher and Cannon are mimicking a tactic used by many conservatives to oppose the expansion of LGBT rights. Anti-gay advocates consistently attempt to create the illusion of a “powerhouse gay movement” in order to downplay the discrimination, isolation, and disempowerment that still plague the lives of countless LGBT Americans. Persuading people that gays and lesbians are powerful (and thus don’t need additional help) is an essential component of both their public relations and legal strategies:
Today, the homosexual activist movement is a juggernaut, racking up success after success. Even the occasional losses, such as voter rejection of same-sex marriage in the 2004 election, are simply the expected "one step back" in the time-honored "two steps forward one step back" mode of most long-term political wars.
Multitudes of activists – with almost limitless time and energy to devote to advancing their agenda, largely unencumbered by any need to change diapers, pay for dental braces, or attend their children's soccer games, as do most heterosexual married people – have succeeded in their goal of transforming society. As public relations campaigns go, it’s been an unqualified success. [emphasis added]
Far from being politically powerless, self-allegedly gay activism has in recent years demonstrated enormous political "clout" relative to gays’ population numbers. Combining economic and educational advantage with high-pressure lobbying tactics, gay activists have ridden waves of tolerance emanating from the sexual revolution to a position of almost irresistible influence in today's America. [emphasis added]
Daniel S. Garcia and Robert E. Regier, writing for the anti-gay hate group the Family Research Council, calls LGBT protections “dangerous” and unnecessary:
Essential to the homosexual agenda is the idea that homosexuals are fighting for basic civil rights denied them by an oppressive society. This argument strikes a sympathetic chord among many Americans, whose decency and sense of fair play demand that all people be treated fairly.
However, a closer look at the truth about homosexuality and the political goals of the 'gay rights' movement shows that homosexuals are not an oppressed minority, that opposition to special legal protection for homosexuality is not bigotry, and that extending such protection is dangerous to individuals and society. [emphasis added]
Erik Rush, writing for WorldNetDaily, says the time of homosexual oppression has passed:
More disgusting still is the fallacious premise for all of this, being that homosexuals are somehow oppressed in America. They are not. Equating the opposition of Americans toward gay "marriage" (an oxymoron anyway) with oppression, and labeling all who do not unconditionally embrace the gay political agenda as homophobes is beyond disingenuous. Yes, there was a time when gay people had a legitimate reason to be fearful for their safety, their jobs, and their reputations – but that time has passed. [emphasis added]
Anti-gay advocates will find any excuse to deny that gay and lesbian Americans make up a real, oppressed, and disempowered minority group. Depicting gay rights groups as well-funded “powerhouse[s]” helps reinforce the ridiculous and dishonest right-wing narrative that those who want to be treated equally under the law are the real bullies.