Monday, February 13, 2012

Salon Piece on Maggie Gallagher

Here's an interesting, humanizing portrait of Maggie Gallagher, perhaps the most active and well-known opponent of same-sex marriage.

In Mark Oppenheimer's framing of Gallagher, her early pregnancy, followed by abandonment by the father, contributed to not only her opposition to same-sex marriage but also to her anti-feminism. He writes:

"Gallagher was years ahead of her time in arguing, as writers like Kay Hymowitz do today, that contemporary society has left men without a role. 'We will never find a solution to the New Man shortage, unless we jettison gender neutrality,' Gallagher writes. 'Men need a role in the family. What men need, loath though we are to utter the word, is a sex role.'”

In all, I found it to be a glum read.

Gallagher's pessimistic thesis is that men are naturally hard-wired to impregnate women and then abandon them and the resulting children. It is a view that sees non-heterosexual men, and men who stick around without the carrot/stick of Traditional Male Supremacist Gender Roles In Marriage, as aberrations- as people motivated by "ideology" rather than their True Male Nature.

So, even while Oppenheimer makes a note of stating that Gallagher doesn't "seem" motivated by anti-gay animus, the subtext of the piece, whether accurate or not, invites the reader to infer that Maggie Gallagher is basically a nice person but because she had an out-of-wedlock child with a man who left her, other women, feminists, and gay, bisexual, and lesbian people must pay. Basically, I can't marry my partner because all men who have sex with women are essentially deadbeat dads, and when same-sex marriage is legal men, who are apparently very easily confused, start thinking that it's extra okay to abandon their children.

In any event, it is interesting that Oppenheimer explores Gallagher's alleged Un-Bigotedness. Gallagher utters the word bigot more than practically any LGBT advocate I've ever met or heard. And, it often comes when she's accusing LGBT advocates of "defaming" opponents of same-sex marriage with the label.

Not being privy to her thoughts, I don't know if she's a bigot or if she hates LGBT people.

From what I've read of her various NOM fundraising appeals, blog posts, and letters, she doesn't actually appear to think much about us at all. Our rights, human dignity, and needs to protect our families just don't seem to be a concern of hers, let alone a factor in weighing the competing interests of "marriage defenders" and same-sex couples.

The sad truth, though, is that most people in Western societies do have biases against homosexuality and LGBT people. Even many of us LGBT people have these biases. It is the result of living in a heterocentric/heterosupremacist society that regularly and pervasively communicates to us that heterosexuality is the default normal and best way of being human.

It actually takes a lot of work and thought to overcome these biases, and even with that work it doesn't appear that all people can completely overcome these biases.

So, I guess what I'm left thinking is, if I harbor some anti-LGBT animus and I'm a lesbian who supports marriage equality, affirms the equal human dignity of LGBT people, and I regularly work to counter the biases against LGBT people, why on Earth would I ever assume or believe that Maggie Gallagher, or any opponent of same-sex marriage for that matter, doesn't harbor some anti-LGBT animus?

Unfortunately, that's exactly what this conservative politically-correct "don't you dare call us bigots" culture asks from us. As long as some people push the animus deep enough inside of themselves so much that they don't ever have to think or talk about the people on the receiving end of their policy positions, I guess it's all good. No need to re-think things. No need to actually talk to LGBT people about our human dignity. Because really, the important thing is that people don't get called bigots.

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