Scott Yenor
Scott Yenor

At Witherspoon Institute’s pseudo-intellectual blog edited by Ryan T. Anderson, Dr. Scott Yenor offers: How the New Corporate Elite Sold Same-Sex Marriage to the American Public. Do tell. It is part book review and part polemic. Yenor and the book are both wrong (I will get to that later). The subtitle reads:

Darel Paul’s meticulous, courageous account of how the elites brought same-sex marriage to America deserves to be read by all who would understand where we are and where we’re going.

For clarity:

Darel E. Paul’s From Tolerance to Equality: How Elites Brought America to Same-Sex Marriage provides a revealing, well-documented set of answers to these questions. Everyone concerned about the future of marriage and the culture wars should be familiar with this indispensable book. Same-sex marriage sits at the confluence of the sexual and managerial revolutions, affecting and reflecting profound changes in family life and the workplace.

Yenor is an accomplished academic; a professor of political science at Boise State University. It surprises me that he is trafficking in so-called elites. Tenured professors are elite in some circles. Elite athletes are admired. Elite hotels are luxurious. Our Supreme Court is comprised of justices who attended elite universities. Darel E. Paul is a professor of political science at the very elitist Williams College.

In 2008 Sarah Palin used the term “elite” to describe people who knew more than she did (a majority of our citizens perhaps). Palin then defensively defined the term as people who think they are better than everyone else (she reads minds). Trump uses the term to pander to his constituency. Who are more elitist than GOPers?

Paul and Yenor are using elite as a pejorative. Elites are, apparently, people who conspire to effect something that they do not like. Neither Paul nor Yenor approve of same-sex marriage; or gay people for that matter.

The ruling in Obergefell applied to 14 states. To put it another way, by the time Obergefell was decided, 36 states recognized same-sex marriage. I am not diminishing the importance of Obergefell — not at all. What I am trying to establish is that, in many ways, marriage equality came to the United States in 2013 via United States v. Windsor.

Why is that important? Same-sex marriage started with one state (Massachusetts) 14 years ago. It expanded to most of America three to five years ago and the entire country three years ago with Obergefell. Neither Paul nor Yenor are celebrating the people they deem responsible for marriage equality. Therefore, they offer, as a given, that marriage equality is bad for the United States.

It seems to me that they have an intellectual obligation, with 14 years of experience, to offer evidence of the negative consequences of marriage equality. Neither seems to do that. At least for Yenor, who has also written about “gender ideology,” he seems to embrace Catholic dogma as truth — oblivious to all contradictory evidence.

Yenor describes the conspiracy:

In so arguing, [Darel] Paul opposes the simple, self-congratulatory liberal narrative of the triumph of same-sex marriage through moral progress. This narrative, present in scores of books and articles, pits the ascending Children of Light against the persistent, bigoted Forces of Darkness.

The Children of Light normalize homosexuality and accept same-sex marriage because of their personal experiences with diversity and homosexuality. When a friend or relative comes out of the closet, Children of Light empathize with their plight and admire their courage. They come to see that homosexual persons are normal and quite admirable through this contact. The normalization of homosexuality and the acceptance of same-sex marriage are thus, for liberals, acts of enlightened imagination akin to a personal conversion. Our former disgust with homosexuality turns to an affirmative humanity, as Martha Nussbaum argues. This liberal morality tale applied to race relations and immigration yesterday; homosexuality today; tomorrow it will explain the acceptance of transgenderism.

“Normalize homosexuality” is usually a religious phrase describing something that society should not do based on some form of Christian dogma. In point of fact, homosexuality is normalized when we accept the scientific fact that the continuum that is sexual orientation presents natural variations in human sexuality that are perfectly normal. Regarding his last sentence, we do not have to wait for tomorrow. People who embrace the science realize that gender is also a continuum that, in some cases, is incongruent with natal sex. We are thus compelled to accept transgender people as also perfectly normal unless we choose to ignore an abundance of evidence.

Most people are heterosexual and most people have gender congruent with natal sex. Some people are different. Those differences make some other people entirely irrational. The ancient chronicles that those folks are slavishly devoted to were not authored by people who understood either sexual orientation or gender identity. They were, in some cases, a few thousand years short of the science. Two learned men, full professors with PhDs are arguing that dogma takes precedence over science. That should embarrass them.

Yenor continues:

Paul contradicts this liberal narrative. Personal acquaintance with homosexuals, for instance, is more an effect of political opinions than a cause: people have contact with homosexuals because they first admire them. Furthermore, liberals do not consistently tolerate or affirm all of those they come into contact with. Those who come to have favorable views of homosexuality and same-sex marriage continue to have unshakable and deep prejudices against poor whites and Christian fundamentalists, even after they come into contact with them. Such “liberals” are, Paul shows through survey data, among society’s biggest haters, in fact.

Huh? There are many reasons that people have contact with gay people. Over the last 40 years or so, gay people have become increasingly comfortable with accepting who they are. It’s not a choice fellas. Prejudice decreases with acceptance of science which encouraged more people to come out with decreased prejudice which encouraged more people to come out. It is the cycle of events that the Church dreads and would like to somehow reverse by somehow making gay people straight. It is called delusion.

“Those who come to have favorable views of homosexuality” expresses bigotry perfectly. Why should anyone have a favorable, or unfavorable, view of a sexual orientation? It is abundantly clear that Yenor disapproves of gay people — probably out of religious devotion. It doesn’t make any sense. It is comparable to disapproval of redheads or left-handed folks. I suspect that even Robert P. George and Ryan T. Anderson accept the proposition that sexual orientation is organic and involuntary. Their “solution” is that we should all be eunuchs. That, in turn, eliminates marriage equality. These people already lost the argument.

The idea that those who do not disapprove of gay people then disapprove of poor whites and Christian fundamentalists is irrelevant. Personally, I tend to disapprove of Christian fundamentalists if and when they attempt to impose their religious views on public policy. I tend to disapprove of Christian fundamentalists if and when they demonstrate bigotry towards LGBT people. Religion does not provide a civility pass. And, by the way, I tend to think less of people who embrace the preposterous notion that my sexual orientation is a choice.

Yet, my real disdain is reserved for Christian fundamentalists who negatively affect LGBT children. It is inexcusable. LGBT people are not going to be cured or converted. Trying to conform the real world to Christian mythology has real consequences for LGBT youth whose only crime is that they are different. That does not express a prejudice. It is a reaction to actual events. And I haven’t even touched on the notion that I am twice “blessed” as a gay Jew.

Some familiar doctrine:

Public acceptance of same-sex marriage presupposed the normalization of homosexuality, and the normalization of homosexuality presupposed the sexual revolution. The sexual revolution—a combination of sexual liberty and second-wave feminism—remade opinions about family life that had long governed the American family.

Does this guy even realize that he is expressing the idea that gay people are abnormal? Different is not abnormal! Abnormal presupposes that the difference is to be disapproved of. The very idea that people can approve or disapprove of a sexual orientation is absurd. Blaming the so-called sexual revolution for everything that they do not like is often spouted by Jennifer Roback Morse. The simple fact is that more people stopped disapproving of gay people as more gay people came out which prompted more people to come out and so on.

At the risk of repeating myself, people who accept the science are more likely not to disapprove of gay people (which is not the same thing as approving of gay people). Disapproval is often expressed as shame. Shame is intended to make people change which defies the reality of the immutability of sexuality.

This new sexually progressive model of family life endorsed the normalization of homosexuality as an expression of its commitment to sexual autonomy and embraced same-sex marriage for its equality in partnership. Yet this new model was not immediately endorsed, and it still probably does not enjoy majority support in the country.

Yenor is delusional. Two-thirds of our citizens approve of same-sex marriage and it has less to do with sexual autonomy than the fact that gay people were raising children from previously heterosexual marriages that they were unable to sustain.

Marriage equality is apparently an ideology:

How did this ideology gain ascendancy in American law, where government is by the consent of the governed? The short answer, for Paul, is through the influence of the learned professions and the acceptance of a new corporate ethic.

It is a form of projection. People who are captives of religious ideology presuppose that everything else is part of an ideology. Lately they have been throwing around the ridiculous notion of gender ideology. Ideology expresses a belief system which is based on faith. Acceptance of people with different sexuality is based on social and medical science. Science is based on evidence.

The Importance of the New Managerial Elite

Only when America’s corporate managerial elite embraced homosexuality and same-sex marriage as an essential expression of diversity did America cross the “cultural Rubicon.” Normalization of homosexuality and acceptance of same-sex marriage became class values for our new class of corporate managers—those employed as public administration officials, financial managers, computer system analysts, computer scientists, college professors, lawyers, physicians, and other high achievers.

How many times is this guy going to regurgitate the notion of normalizing a perfectly normal sexual orientation? In any event it is obvious that both Yenor and Paul are academics inexperienced in real-world business. The reason that business executives stopped discriminating against gay people is the bottom line expressed in dollars and cents. In order to compete for customers businesses must compete for talent. Lopping off about 5% of the pool would mean that those folks would be snapped up by disinterested competitors. “Managerial elite” seems like something positive to me but that is not their intent. Using the word elite in this way is just intellectual laziness.

There are some companies that make a social commitment. Starbucks comes to mind. However, most of the companies who strive for perfect scores in HRC’s corporate equality index do so because it is good for business. Aside from getting a larger talent pool consumers are attracted to companies that place importance on diversity.

While LGBT people comprise perhaps 5% of the population, I have theorized that 40% to 50% of the population have a close family member who is LGBT. Most — not all but most — of those people are going to avoid patronizing discriminatory businesses. It’s not a conspiracy — It is all about the economic bottom line. It is something that folks like Yenor will never understand.

Corporations built diversity-centered human resources departments to spearhead these and other celebrations of cultural diversity. They won approval from the Human Rights Campaign, a gay-rights activist group. These corporations marketed to America an acceptance of homosexuality. Gay was more than OK. Many managers left religion, patriotism, and the pursuit of family life behind. Instead, their lives were given meaning by their devotion to careers celebrating cultural diversity, and celebrating homosexuality is the key expression of that diversity.

“Celebrating homosexuality.” How often have we heard that phrase? It is usually expressed as something that we supposedly compel people to do. Denying service to gay people is excused by the notion that the gay or gay couple wanted the proprietor to celebrate their sexual orientation.

Once and for all they need to get it through their heads that we neither seek nor require their approval. Approval and shame are the two currencies of religious zealotry. Both are counterfeit. Their self-assessed power is derived from a system of approval and shame. We do not accept that system of capacity. We reject it and they cannot cope with the loss of the means to control us.

Eventually this come to an intellectually dishonest conclusion:

It took forty years for elites to bring us the normalization of homosexuality and acceptance for same-sex marriage. They are using the same techniques now to achieve transgender rights, and success may be on the horizon. A country in which such serious erosions of fundamentally important institutions happen so swiftly may be a country celebrating equality, but it is neither a free nor a self-governing country. Darel Paul’s meticulous, courageous account of how the elites brought same-sex marriage to America deserves to be read by all who would understand where we are and whither our democracy is tending <sic>.

Where oh where is the evidence that the acceptance of LGBT people makes our country less free and not self-governed? Where is the evidence that LGBT acceptance somehow impairs our democracy? A basic tenet of a working democracy is that a minority should not be tyrannized by the majority. Our Constitution and our very system of government provides important safeguards. Nevertheless, a majority of Americans have come to the realization that being LGBT is not a choice and that it is immutable. Once you accept that basic fact, it becomes difficult to discriminate.

Yenor never uses the term Homosexual Agenda yet he describes a conspiracy to effect just that.

The use of the word whither is somewhat archaic and I assume that he means trending in contrast to tending. Archaic describes the kind of thinking that goes into Paul’s book and Yenor’s review. Ultimately both are the product of irrational devotion to those ancient texts and the supposed teachings of people who were similarly devoted to those same chronicles many centuries ago. The texts and the teachings are no more relevant to sexuality than they are to space flight. It is going to take some time for that to sink in.

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By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.