Moderate Republicans, For What They’re Worth

Most of the mainstream Republican Party presidential candidates advocate extreme positions on immigration, including mass deportations. They deny the reality of climate change science and evolution. They think torture is fine, oppose gay marriage, and remain silent about the murder of abortionists. Amid this shift to the right, some “moderate” Republicans say they’re still a legitimate voice within the party. But does it matter?

Hillary on Instagram

Hillary Clinton on Instagram

The Hillary Rodham Clinton campaign is now on Instagram, with a light joke about “Hard Choices”: a reference to a photo of her pantsuits in red, white and blue. It’s part of the effort to make a politician with blood-soaked hands look like just another ordinary American grandmother…and it just might work.

Guest Blogger Post: Gays Are Being Set Up As Scapegoats

Susan here. In the UK, gays are about to gain marriage rights. While I’m happy about this, I’m not so happy that the British people are having austerity forced upon them at the same time. Social justice has to be implemented across the board, not just to one identity group. Why? Because divide-and-conquer is the basic technique which the Elite uses to rule, and giving rights to one group while depriving other groups sets the former up to be scapegoated. I think it’s imperative that gays orgs express their full condemnation of the forced impoverishment of the British people as a whole.

SYNDICATED COLUMN: Will Polygamy, Adult Incest, Prostitution, Masturbation, Adultery and Obscenity Be Legalized Next? Let’s Hope So.

Privacy is a basic human right. Yet, for 200+ years, Americans have tolerated “morals laws” that told us who we could marry and what sexual positions they were allowed to enjoy.

You couldn’t marry outside your “race” in every state until 1967. Oral and anal sex were illegal until 2003. But morals laws are doomed. Courts are throwing the government out of our bedrooms.

Puritanism is dying hard. Some people still want the police to regulate our sex lives. In his dissent to the 2003 Supreme Court decision striking down anti-sodomy laws in Texas, right-wing Justice Antonin Scalia complained that the SCOTUS had undermined “the ancient proposition that a governing majority’s belief that certain sexual behavior is ‘immoral and unacceptable’ constitutes a rational basis for regulation.”

The ancient stupid proposition.

Agonizing about an imminent “massive disruption of the current social order,” Scalia predicted ten years ago that, after the government relinquishes its power to govern personal sexual behavior and accepts that what happens between consenting adults in Americans’ bedrooms is their own damned business, “every single…law” against “bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication, bestiality, and obscenity” would fall in the wake of Lawrence v. Texas.

“This effectively decrees the end of all morals legislation,” Scalia said.

It looks like Scalia was right about that. Bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication and obscenity will likely be legalized in the near future. (But not bestiality. Animals can’t consent, so hands off Fido and Mittens.)

Thank God!

Lawrence has been repeatedly cited by judges ruling in favor of same-sex marriage.

Next to go: Laws against polygamy and bigamy.

Citing Lawrence, a federal judge recently declared parts of Utah’s anti-polygamy statutes unconstitutional. The U.S. Constitution, Judge Clark Waddoups ruled, protects Americans from “unwarranted government intrusions into a dwelling or other private places” and allows “an autonomy of self that includes freedom of thought, belief, expression and certain intimate conduct.” Which includes butt sex. And having multiple spouses. Assuming you can handle them.

Legal experts say though the politics are different than they are for gay marriage — there isn’t a big, well-funded polygamist-rights movement — it’s only a matter of time before anti-polygamy laws get thrown out. Right-wingers, reeling from the fact that gay marriage has been made legal in 14 states, are freaking out about polygamy.

“Same-sex marriage advocates have told us that people ought to be able to ‘marry who they love’ but have also always downplayed the idea that this would lead to legalized polygamy, a practice that very often victimizes women and children,” Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, a Christianist group, said in a statement. “But if love and mutual consent become the definition of what the boundaries of marriage are, can we as a society any longer even define marriage coherently?”

Heaven forbid that “love and mutual consent” become the defining requirements for marriage!

Nothing lasts forever — not in a nation with a 50% divorce rate — but it’s clear that same-sex marriage will eventually be the law of the land.

Polygamy logically follows. “Liberals and libertarians tend to believe private sexual conduct between consenting adults ought to be beyond the reach of the law,” as Conor Friedersdorf writes in The Atlantic. “Applying that principle consistently would seem to carve out a decriminalized sphere for polygamous families.” Also, one assumes, for those organized around polyandry (one wife, multiple husbands).

It is estimated that there are 30,000 to 50,000 polygamous families living in the United States.

When gays and lesbians began agitating for the right to be married, I didn’t understand why they’d want to. Obviously, the legal protections, tax benefits and healthcare advantages are nice. But wasn’t one of the best parts about being gay that you couldn’t get married?

After mulling it over, same-sex marriage passed my one-question test for proposed changes: What harm might result? I couldn’t think of any. The best argument against same-gender that it “violates the sanctity of marriage.” Which is a set of words strung into a meaningless phrase. What sanctity? How does gay marriage hurt straight marriage? It can’t. It doesn’t. The same is true of polygamy and Scalia’s other bugaboos.

Same-sex marriage has been a rapid, and radical, change. Yet now, most Americans agree with me that it’s a good idea.

Let freedom march on. Including the freedom to jerk off.

As Justice Scalia said, there is no longer a constitutional basis for laws against masturbation. In Connecticut, where prisoners are banned from self-pleasure, it is time to let inmates touch their nutmegs. In Alabama, where you can yank it with your bare hands but not with the aid of a device, let a thousand Fleshlights sing.

Let us join the civilized world by decriminalizing the 50% to 70% of married Americans who have sex with people who are not their spouse. “In nearly the entire rest of the industrialized world, adultery is not covered by the criminal code,” The New York Times reported in 2012. In the U.S., on the other hand, cheating is a crime in 23 states, and, for members of the military, grounds for court-martial.

In Minnesota, single women who have sex at all are subject to one year in prison plus a $3000 fine.

Prosecutions for adultery are rare but not unheard of. “Just a year after the Lawrence decision, John R. Bushey Jr., then 66, the town attorney for Luray, Va., was prosecuted for adultery and agreed to a plea bargain of community service. A year later, Lucius James Penn, then 29, was charged with adultery in Fargo, N.D. In 2007, a Michigan appellate court ruled that adultery can still support a life sentence in that state,” reported USA Today.

Many arguments in support of moralizing legislation focus on the effect of targeted behavior on the vulnerable, including women and children. Moralizers miss that their proscriptions increase abuse by driving victims underground. For example, polygamous religious cults use their illegal status to isolate children, forcing some to marry against their will. Because they’re in secret compounds, they can’t call the police. Prostitution is most dangerous in states and countries where the oldest profession is illegal.

As gays and lesbians marry, there is zero sign of Scalia’s “massive disruption of the current social order.” To the contrary: morals laws are the disruptive force. Laws against victimless crimes subvert the primary purpose of law: to promote the common good. Laws that ban behavior that is widespread (such as adultery and masturbation) effectively criminalize the majority of citizens, which undermines respect for government.

Society can and will debate morality. It should not enforce moral judgments about personal behavior through the courts.

Moral laws are immoral.

(Support independent journalism and political commentary. Subscribe to Ted Rall at Beacon.)


Coming Out

Republicans with gay family members are coming out for gay rights, saying that familiarity breeds respect.

Freedom Marches Forward

Gay marriage seems to be a historical inevitability. Let the self-congratulatory gladhanding begin! Who cares if we can’t make real progress on truly important issues?

SYNDICATED COLUMN: Gays and Lesbians: Sucked in by the Far Right

What Happened to the Wild, Free Gay Movement of the 1970s?

I miss the gays of the 1970s.

Before AIDS made them fearful.

When they were wild. On the fringe. A threat to decent society.

Decent society sucks.

I miss the gay-rights movement that came out of Stonewall. I miss the hilariously profane gay pride parades that prompted upright straights to assert, with a (ahem) straight face that if only gays didn’t act so flamboyant, so disrespectful, so gay – then straight society might well condescend to “tolerate” them. (Accept? No way. Approve? Obscene!)

“The speed and scope of the movement are astonishing supporters,” The New York Times points out this week. And hey, if playing Ozzie and Harriet behind a white picket fence is your thing (or Ozzie and Ozzie), congratulations. This is your moment.

But gays and their straight allies are deluding themselves if they believe that achieving marriage equality is anything but a pyrrhic victory for liberals and progressives.

A sign carried by a demonstrator at the high court hints at the sad truth: the marriage equality movement isn’t propelling gays forward, it’s keeping all of us back. “Gays have the right to be as miserable as I make my husband,” read her placard.

Yay for assimilation.

Gays and lesbians may not all realize it yet, but adopting the cultural trappings of America’s hegemonic majority culture is a tragic, disastrous, suicidal move. This is why those fighting for the right to enter into state-sanctioned monogamous marital pacts are finding that they’re pushing against an open door.

Right-wing support for marriage equality ought to make gays suspicious. Theodore Olsen, arguing against California’s anti-gay marriage proposition in one of the two cases before the Supreme Court, co-founded the Federalist Society and argued in favor of the judicial coup d’état that installed George W. Bush in 2000. Several possible Republican presidential candidates have endorsed or softened their positions on gay marriage. And 80% of voters under age 30 are for it. Even on the right, gay marriage has few enemies left.

Why would it? As Jon Huntsman wrote in The American Conservative recently, “Marriage Equality Is a Conservative Cause.” Olsen adds: “The fact that individuals who happen to be gay want to share in this vital social institution is evidence that conservative ideals enjoy widespread acceptance.”

Close but not quite. The sad truth is that the LGBT movement has abandoned its progressive roots. It has become a conservative movement.

“From asserting a powerful political critique of the heterosexual organization of society – to which monogamous marriage between two people is central – the loudest, strongest sections of the gay movement have set their sights on becoming just the same,” mourns Ray Filar in a UK Guardian piece titled “How Conservatives Hijacked the Gay Movement.

Not convinced? Think about the other big LGBT issue of recent years: trying to convince the government of the United States to allow openly-“out” gays and lesbians to join the military so they can kill Afghans and Iraqis. Wouldn’t it have been better for them to argue against militarism? To say that no one, gay or straight, should kill Afghans or Iraqis?

When oppressed Afghans and Iraqis can’t count on solidarity from oppressed Americans, the terrorists who run the Pentagon and CIA win.

Back in the 1970s, Michael Warner reminds us in his 1999 book “The Trouble with Normal,” gays weren’t trying to assimilate into the toxic “mainstream” cultures of monogamism and empire. Instead, they were pointing the way toward other ways of life.

Gays didn’t want the “right” to kill the Vietnamese.

I don’t get it. The big advantages of being gay were that you didn’t have to get married or go to war. Why give that up?

Most liberation movements ultimately seek to advance society overall. For example, men who want to raise their children have benefited from feminism. After the Stonewall riot the gay movement struggled to free not just gays, lesbians, bisexuals and trans people, but straights as well from a dominant heteronormative narrative that oppressed everyone. They pushed to destigmatize sex and the expression of sexual identity, and presented alternative means of sexual bonding and child-rearing such as triad and polyamorous relationships.

Of course, these “wild and crazy” approaches merely recognized demographic reality: by 2000 nontraditional families outnumbered the “normal” nuclear family headed by a father married to a mother with children.

Filar mocks the conservatives running today’s gay movement: “We’re just like you, honest! Please like us!”

It would’ve been so much better if we – the straight “normal” majority – had become more like gays. The gays of the 1970s, anyway.

(Ted Rall’s website is His book “After We Kill You, We Will Welcome You Back As Honored Guests: Unembedded in Afghanistan” will be released in November by Farrar, Straus & Giroux.)



I draw cartoons for The Los Angeles Times about issues related to California and the Southland (metro Los Angeles).

This week: The U.S. Supreme Court is poised to take up the issue of gay marriage in California as soon as Friday morning. The moment has prompted nervous debate within the gay-rights movement about the best path to achieve gay marriage. If the justices opt not to hear the Proposition 8 case, then a federal appeals court ruling that found the 2008 state ballot measure banning same-sex marriage unconstitutional would stand, clearing the way for marriages to begin. If the justices take up the case, a ruling would not come until next year and gay marriage would remain on hold until then, or longer depending on how the court rules.

Say Anything

As Republicans switch their talking points back and forth over taxes and Obamacare, it’s worth remembering that this is merely the latest example of their willingness to say and do anything to get their way in an argument.