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Log Cabin, Karl Rove and Gay Marriage

Just over two months ago, I noted how Log Cabin’s reaction to the Massachusetts’ legislature’s decision to block a referendum on gay marriage echoed those of the other gay groups. Log Cabin seems so eager to be liked by the national gay groups that I have dubbed them Sally Field Republicans.

Last week, with the president announcing the retirement of Karl Rove, we saw this once again. Log Cabin’s leadership criticized this Republican political strategist’s record in terms nearly identical to those of the leaders of left-wing gay organizations.

Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Joe Solmonese told the Washington Blade:

Karl Rove perfected the political strategy of distort and divide and too often the lives of gay Americans were used as fodder for that strategy. . . . . Rove earned his legacy as a hero of the anti-equality, anti-gay right wing, and will forever be remembered for that.

Echoing Solmonese’s remarks, Log Cabin president Patrick Sammon said:

It’s disappointing and unfortunate that Karl Rove pursued the strategy he did in 2004. . . . He went down that course and divided the country and it was a mistake, and I think history will judge him harshly because of it.

While the latter’s rhetoric wasn’t nearly as mean-spirited as those of the HRC chief, his reaction was nearly identical.

It seems sometimes that the leaders of gay organizations, just like their counterparts in the Democratic party and liberal punditry, blame all manner of ills on Rove (when they’re not blaming them on his soon-to-be former boss). Were it not for his diabolical machinations, they claim, the marriage initiatives would not have appeared on state ballots in 2004.

Yet, while there is some evidence that Rove was not averse to using the initiatives (once on state ballots) to drive evangelical turnout (even if that doesn’t seem to have increased the president’s margin in 2004), there is no evidence he was responsible for putting these pernicious proposals on state ballots.

It’s absurd to blame Rove for using this issue to divide the country. It was not Rove who created the division, but those who would use the courts to decide an issue without giving the people a say in the matter.

Those who pin the blame on Rove for spearheading these initiatives ignore the reality of the grass-roots efforts to put them on state ballots — and the margins by which they passed, even Oregon and Michigan, margins which, in 2004, exceeded the president’s own margin of victory in every state where they appeared on the ballot.

No, Rove did not use gay marriage to divide the country. The issue was already dividing the country. To be sure, we can (and should) criticize him for exploiting that division. And fault the president and other leading politicians for failing to promote a strategy to heal the divisions, addressing both the need to recognize same-sex unions as well as the concerns of the opponents of gay marriage.

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Of Ancient Humans & Homosexuality

One reason I study myth is because I believe these ancient stories (told and retold over millenia) can help us better understand ourselves. And as a gay man, seeking stories which allow us to make better sense of our situation, seeking intimate relationships with those of our own gender, rather than with those of a different gender as do the great majority of our species.

I have studied the so-called berdache tradition of the Native American Indians, only to find that while many of these traditions allowed same-sex unions, they always required one of the partners to assume the role, including costume and social obligations, of the other gender–and not always by choice.

As I study the role of the goddess Athena in the lives of the Greek (male) heroes, I am doing some background reading on the goddess culture that supposedly held sway in pre-literate Europe. In reading one such book, Jean Markale’s The Great Goddess: Reverence of the Divine Feminine from the Paleolithic to the Present.* In his introduction, he makes an interesting observation which leads me to wonder about ancient attitudes toward sexuality:

It is plausible, though not certain, that the first humans were unaware of the exact role of the male in procreation, not having established a causal relationship between coitus and parturition.

Assuming that this conjecture is accurate, would our preliterate forebears then have accepted homosexual relations as natural when they occurred or did they already have fixed notions of gender?

Once our ancestors discovered the link between heterosexual intercourse and progeny, perhaps they began to devalue same-sex relationships, relegating homosexuality to a variety of initiation rituals, some of which were still practiced in the last century in a Melanesian cultures. (And may well still be followed in some isolated tribes.) For it does seem that many of the proscriptions against homosexuality serve to promote procreation.

Perhaps anthropologists have studied this and have provided research to support their theories. And given this blog, I can post an idea that came to me while reading the book. That said, we’ll never really know how our primitive ancestors treated sexual difference. But, we can wonder.

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*The book seems to lose focus after its solid introduction. Not only that, he discusses numerous archeological artifacts without providing any illustrations.