Civil Liberties

"The gay movement should always, always be about expanding freedom for everyone, even bigots"


So says Andrew Sullivan, in a pretty persuasive (to me) chunk of writing about the controversy over Barack Obama inviting Prop. 8 supporter Rick Warren to give the inaugural invocation (on which, make sure to read Katherine Mangu-Ward's piece from Friday). Excerpt from Sullivan:

Virtually Normal was an attempt to construct a theory for gay civil rights which rests on as much freedom and as little power as possible. I want to live in a free society alongside people who genuinely believe I am a sinner destined for hell—and I want to get along with them. I am concerned (but not obsessed) with changing their minds, but totally repelled by the idea of coercing or pressuring them to do so. I am simply interested in having the government treat me as it would treat them. Once we establish that, we can all believe and say and argue for precisely what we want. May a thousand theologies bloom.

So I oppose hate crime laws because they walk too close to the line of trying to police people's thoughts. I support the right of various religious associations to discriminate against homosexuals in employment. I support the right of the most fanatical Christianist to spread the most defamatory stuff about me and the right of the most persuasive Christianist to teach me the error of my ways. I support the right of the St Patrick's Day Parade to exclude gay people—because that's what freedom of association requires. In my ideal libertarian world, I would even support the right of employers to fire gay people at will (although I am in a tiny minority of gays and straights who would tolerate such a thing). All I ask in return is a reciprocal respect: the right to express myself freely and to be treated by the government exactly as any heterosexual in my position would be treated.

I deliberately framed my own case for gay rights away from forcing or even pressuring any other citizen to accept me—because that impedes their freedom and, in my view, the gay movement should always, always be about expanding freedom for everyone, even bigots. That's why I focused on the government treating gays and straights alike.

Whole thing here. Reason on gay/lesbian issues here, including:

* Walter Olson's 1996 review of Virtually Normal, in which Sullivan "emerges much more clearly as a partisan of classical-liberal, if not quite libertarian, views."

* Senior Editor Jacob Sullum more recent argument that "legal equality does not mean requiring universal acceptance of homosexuality," and

* Jonathan Rauch's 2004 examination of "what Friedrich Hayek can teach us about gay marriage."