Friday, October 15, 2004

Kerry and Lesbians

One critical fact seems to be under reported in the controversy surrounding Senator Kerry (and Edwards) public and uninvited use of Mary Cheney as an example of the inflexibility of sexual orientation. Senator Kerry says that lesbians and apparently all people have no choice in their sexual orientation. But many who engage in homosexual activity report in their own words that they have a choice.

Lets review the context:
SCHIEFFER: Mr. President, let's get back to economic issues. But let's shift to some other questions here.

Both of you are opposed to gay marriage. But to understand how you have come to that conclusion, I want to ask you a more basic question. Do you believe homosexuality is a choice?

BUSH: You know, Bob, I don't know. I just don't know. (emphasis mine) I do know that we have a choice to make in America and that is to treat people with tolerance and respect and dignity. It's important that we do that.

And I also know in a free society people, consenting adults can live the way they want to live.

And that's to be honored.

But as we respect someone's rights, and as we profess tolerance, we shouldn't change — or have to change — our basic views on the sanctity of marriage. I believe in the sanctity of marriage. I think it's very important that we protect marriage as an institution, between a man and a woman.

I proposed a constitutional amendment. The reason I did so was because I was worried that activist judges are actually defining the definition of marriage, and the surest way to protect marriage between a man and woman is to amend the Constitution.

It has also the benefit of allowing citizens to participate in the process. After all, when you amend the Constitution, state legislatures must participate in the ratification of the Constitution.

I'm deeply concerned that judges are making those decisions and not the citizenry of the United States. You know, Congress passed a law called DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act.

My opponent was against it. It basically protected states from the action of one state to another. It also defined marriage as between a man and woman.

But I'm concerned that that will get overturned. And if it gets overturned, then we'll end up with marriage being defined by courts, and I don't think that's in our nation's interests.

SCHIEFFER: Senator Kerry?

KERRY: We're all God's children, Bob. And I think if you were to talk to Dick Cheney's daughter, who is a lesbian, she would tell you that she's being who she was, she's being who she was born as.

I think if you talk to anybody, it's not choice. (emphasis mine) I've met people who struggled with this for years, people who were in a marriage because they were living a sort of convention, and they struggled with it.

And I've met wives who are supportive of their husbands or vice versa when they finally sort of broke out and allowed themselves to live who they were, who they felt God had made them.

I think we have to respect that.

The president and I share the belief that marriage is between a man and a woman. I believe that. I believe marriage is between a man and a woman.

But I also believe that because we are the United States of America, we're a country with a great, unbelievable Constitution, with rights that we afford people, that you can't discriminate in the workplace. You can't discriminate in the rights that you afford people.

You can't disallow someone the right to visit their partner in a hospital. You have to allow people to transfer property, which is why I'm for partnership rights and so forth.

Now, with respect to DOMA and the marriage laws, the states have always been able to manage those laws. And they're proving today, every state, that they can manage them adequately.

Apparently Senator Kerry can speak with confidence about all lesbians, even the daughter of his opponents. He must be painfully unaware however that young women are far less certain about their sexual orientation than He is. Perhaps Kerry missed this article in the Washington Post:

Social scientists say that 5 percent to 7 percent of young people are gay or lesbian, and that teenagers are starting at younger ages to have same-sex sexual experiences: 13 for boys, 15 for girls.

But those figures don't begin to tell the full story about today's girls because girls, more often than boys, experiment with their sexuality and resist being placed in any particular group.

Chanda Harris, a junior at High Road Upper School in Beltsville, is one of these girls. She's standing outside Union Station on a cold Friday night, waiting for her girlfriend and holding three giant helium balloons in celebration of her friend's birthday.

The girls around her from various high schools -- Bladensburg in Maryland, Anacostia, Ballou, Cardozo and Coolidge in the District -- converge to hear what she has to say.

She started going out with girls when she was 14, following a breakup with her boyfriend.

"At first I thought going out with a girl was nasty," she says. "Then I went to a club and did a big flip-flop. I've been off and on with girls and guys since then."

Another girl, a junior at Anacostia High, says her first love was a guy now in the Marines and stationed in North Carolina. She dated Kenny for two years and his picture adorns her bedroom wall.

But now she's dating a female high school basketball player. "Whoever likes me, I like them," she says matter-of-factly.

A world away, on the campus of Brown University, Chloe Root, a sophomore with a penchant for bright-colored, funky skirts from secondhand stores, also prefers to keep her options open.

She had her first crush on a girl at age 12 but dated guys, including one with whom she thought she was in love, until her senior year in high school in Ann Arbor, Mich. Then she fell in love with a girl a year behind her in school and has been going out with her ever since.

"If something happened to my relationship with Julie, I could see myself with a boy again," Root says. "There are some days I notice I'm thinking girls are pretty, and other days I'm thinking there are a lot of good-looking guys at this school."

So are these girls bisexual? Perhaps. But they prefer descriptions like "gayish," questioning, even "queer" -- an umbrella description so broad, according to Root, that it encompasses straights as well as gays.

Try this on, Mr. and Mrs. America: These girls say they don't know what they are and don't need to know. Adolescence and young adulthood is a time for exploration and they should feel free to love a same-sex partner without assuming that is how they'll spend the rest of their lives.

"I like women only right now," says Cary Trainor, also a Brown sophomore and a self-defined lesbian since high school. "But who knows where I'll be in 25 years?"

Kerry must only know lesbians who say they have no choice in their orientation. He apparently doesn't know Mary Cheney but he's free to speak for her on the matter. Kerry doesn't seem to know or take seriously the "nuanced' reality of young people making choices about their sexuality. Perhaps this isn't about understanding homosexuality at all but (as some have suggested: Kaus and Fineman) a shameless attempt to foment anti-gay bigotry against the Bush campaign. Whatever the motivation, Kerry seems to have a very unscientific view of sexuality (while claiming to let science reign), preferring selective anecdotes (even inappropriate ones) to anything resembling hard data.

No comments:

Interesting Stuff