Waymon Hudson

Values Voting

Filed By Waymon Hudson | January 04, 2008 2:19 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: conservative politics, evangelical Christian, politics, values voters

With Mike Huckabee’s ascension to GOP front runner, the role of so-called “values voters” are once again at the forefront of media coverage. My disgust with this block of voters was challenged by one of these conservative evangelicals in a recent discussion I was having. His argument was that by allowing LGBT issues to influence my vote, I was doing the same thing I accused his ilk of: imposing my views on others at the ballot box.

It’s actually an interesting argument. Do evangelicals and LGBT advocates really have more in common than they care to think? Are LGBT voters really just the mirror image of conservative values voters because of the importance they place on social issues?

The more I thought about it, he was right. I am a values voter. I use my views on social issues to shape who I vote for.

So what separates me from the conservative, anti-gay, evangelicals? Am I just as bad as the people I despise?

I admit that my values and views on LGBT rights are one of my top voting priorities. I also admit that I find most conservative social views deplorable. What separates me from them, however, is how my values and beliefs would affect others and their lives.

Let’s break it down.

I believe in marriage equality, hate-crimes laws, and non-discrimination policies. The evangelicals think that anything with a LGBT attached to it is morally wrong and should not be supported.

My beliefs really don’t affect anyone but me. If I get married to my partner, it won’t have any affect on the conservative voter or their marriage. Neither will protections against anti-LGBT crime and discrimination. These values simply expand my rights without any effect on the opposition. I am improving my life without hurting others or their rights.

The beliefs of the evangelicals, however, are all about interfering in the lives of others and imposing their personal values on the entire nation. The constitutional bans on gay marriage directly affect me and my family, while at the same time not having any impact on their lives. When conservatives oppose hate-crimes legislation and non-discrimination policies it harms me and my life, yet again takes nothing away from them.

Their entire argument against LGBT issues is based on personal moral disdain, rather than any real tangible evidence that it would harm them. All of the conservative social values and voting priorities are about taking away the rights of others and imposing their view on the world, while at the same time not messing up their personal status quo.

So do I vote my social values? Absolutely.

I value equality and respect for all people.

I value expanding the rights of people, not taking them away.

I value the rights of others to live their lives without imposing my beliefs on them.

That’s something the evangelicals should take a lesson in. By preserving their own rights and stripping away the rights of others, they have lost all sense of values and morals.

So, I guess my evangelical debater was right. I am a values voter.


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Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | January 4, 2008 2:59 PM

Absolutely right, Waymon. Of course, the evangelical "values voters" often reply that we are in fact affecting them, if for no other reason than they have to be exposed to any views or exercises of liberty that don't comport with their own world view. The thought of our very existance, let alone our relationships, pollutes their moral atmosphere.

These values simply expand my rights without any effect on the opposition. I am improving my life without hurting others or their rights.

Except that it would take away from others.

Like job protections - if people can sue their employers and take some money from them, that hurts the employer.

Which is probably why big business is invested in maintaining homophobia and opposing anti-discrimination legislation. Sure, they put out a statement against the anti-marriage amendment in Indiana, but it's not like they were waving the ENDA flag.

Not saying that it isn't justified or good, but it does get to what Barney Frank said when asked why a trans-inclusive ENDA wouldn't get through after a trans-inclusive hate crimes legislation did - it's easier to advocate throwing people in prison to advocate taking money away from businesses.

Prisoners don't vote, businesses buy up votes.

I think this extends to marriage - I'd argue that it does affect others' marriages, straight marriages, in that marriage gains some of its value not just from the material/financial benefits it confers on its participants, but also from its social cache. Marriage existing means that some people are going to have an "unmarried" status, and even gay political wonks are willing to defend that hierarchy as beneficial.

I'm not saying that your political positions are "wrong", I'm just saying that they do impose on other people. Job protections take money from businesses, hate crimes leg keeps people in prison longer, and gay marriage takes away from the social cache homophobes find in the institution.

Have fun being a values voter, though! :)

PS. But I think that the person with whom you were arguing is flat wrong. How can two opposite positions be of equal value or effect? Sheesh.

Only in a place where meta-politics replaces substance could that work.

In other words, America. LOL.

It's ridiculous that their whole argument is based on personal moral disdain, rather than any real proof that LGBT people harm them. What's more ridiculous is that the American people even accept the "that's just gross" argument as a valid one.

I fail to see, as any logical person would, how my life and values in any way impacts conservatives. If their morals and “way of life” are so easily affected by me just living, perhaps evangelicals are not as strong in their beliefs as they think.

I’ll take my values over theirs any day.

I understand what you are saying, Alex, but I'm not sure I completely agree.

Both arguments about non-discrimination laws hurting businesses and hate-crimes legislation keeping people in jail longer are cases of criminal or morally wrong behavior being punished. By saying my beliefs in these protections impose on others by punishing wrong behavior is skewing the issue. By your way of reasoning, any laws that punish anyone or penalize wrong behavior should be gotten rid of. It's not really a valid or realistic point.

And again, marriage equality has no tangible affect on conservatives other than making them uncomfortable. That's not a reason to deny others rights.

But yes, I am enjoying my new role as a values voter. :)

I wasn't saying that your positions are invalid, and I wasn't saying that those laws should be opposed.

I think that we have to recognize that our political positions both materially and intangibly affect others in order to advocate them and in order to properly understand their full ramifications.

Just because a law affects someone or hurts someone doesn't mean that it's wrong. If it does anything then it is going to affect people.

Just like marriage - what would be the point of being married if people didn't think it was better than being unmarried?

And "making conservatives uncomfortable" is a reductive way of looking at what I am actually getting at; if they feel uncomfortable, who's to say that they're not being affected?

Umm, as a lawyer, I think some definition of "values" might be helpful here, because Waymon seems to be conflating the Christian sense of the word (meaning "follow our way or be placed in a concentration camp") with the more usual and generic sense of the word, by which everyone vottes according to his or her values. Once this is established we see the difference between the right and the left and understand why their position is so extreme -- they want to limit and constrain us -- whereas we are happy to have them live, so long as they leave us alone (and grant us equal rights). Or in other words, the danger we are fighting is very real, whereas the one they are constructing is very abstract and meangingless (and hence even scarier).

"the danger we are fighting is very real, whereas the one they are constructing is very abstract and meaningless (and hence even scarier)"

I agree with you completely, my reclusive friend.

As for the definition of the word "value", that was part of my point. Conservatives have taken the word and turned it into something very mean-spirited and restrictive, while my statement of being a new "values voter" is more in line with the accepted, normal sense of the word. :)

Alex-

Again, I understand what you are saying, but there is a huge difference in how the laws we advocate would affect people (like your examples of punishing businesses and criminals that harm others) and the way laws evangelicals want would affect people (stripping people of rights for no other reason than the "I don't like you" factor, not any tangible harm). Of course the laws we want have an affect, they answer a tangible and real harm being done to the LGBT community. Evangelicals don't have that same goal. Theirs is punishment against a group of people they simply don't like.

And saying that conservatives are being affected because they are uncomfortable as an argument against gay marriage is really kind of silly. It's not at all reductive to say that conservatives have no tangible impact on their lives from gay people (especially marriage). It's simply fact.

It's hard to believe that you understand the point I'm making when you keep mis-representing it.

And saying that conservatives are being affected because they are uncomfortable as an argument against gay marriage is really kind of silly.

I didn't say that was an argument against gay marriage, I said it as a realization that there is an affect on others.

The big idea here is that I don't think that queer activisms will get anywhere substantive by repeating over and over again that accepting us means that nothing has to change. People will be affected, people will have to change their actions, and privilege will be lost. Things will have to change, and they will be painful for some people. That doesn't mean that we shouldn't try to achieve those changes, it just means we should clearly define what we're talking about so that we know where our enemies are and can respond to their arguments and criticisms with something more substantive than saying that they're silly.

I'd go a bit further into your slippage between "evangelicals" and "homophobes"... but it's been a long day.

Seriously, post was Dugg and everything. I appreciate what you had to say, Waymon, I just don't see queer-acceptance as happening from anything besides a fundamental change in the way a large group of people think and act, and people don't like to change the way they think and act.

Alex-

I am trying to watch my slippage between "evangelicals" and "homophobes". We all know I have religion issues. Thanks for the reminder :) I was using evangelicals in the political sense (meaning socially conservative, often anti-LGBT voters) not meaning all religious folks.

As for changing the way people think, I agree with you completely. Queer-acceptance can only be accomplished by education and outreach. People will be made to feel uncomfortable when they are forced to see outside of their own experiences and view points. That doesn't mean, however, that their personal lives will be substantively affected or harmed by the change.

And I never said nothing has to change with LGBT rights. I fully agree things will have to shift and, yes, some people may have to change their actions. But I don't really see what "privileges" will be lost by conservatives if LGBT people gain equal rights. We aren't looking to go into their homes or churches and take over; we just want the same rights and benefits that they get.

I think this boils down to a discussion on the word "affected". I think people being made a bit uncomfortable by LGBT rights is something very different than the real harm done when to us when values voters pass anti-gay legislation. It's really an argument of degree. I'm not saying you are wrong that people being made to be uncomfortable is in some way affecting them emotionally, but it is different from the everyday, tangible affect that LGBT people experience from anti-LGBT legislation.

Sorry to exhaust you today, by the way. Blog discussion can be very tedious and tiring.

;)

I'd like to see Alex expand this into it's own post. Good discussion going on here guys!

The big idea here is that I don't think that queer activisms will get anywhere substantive by repeating over and over again that accepting us means that nothing has to change. People will be affected, people will have to change their actions, and privilege will be lost. Things will have to change, and they will be painful for some people. That doesn't mean that we shouldn't try to achieve those changes, it just means we should clearly define what we're talking about so that we know where our enemies are and can respond to their arguments and criticisms with something more substantive than saying that they're silly.

they have lost all sense of values and morals.
Indeed, i think they have just twisted their values or they forgot the real values along the way. Actually, i think they have become stupid and follow what their leaders say... so they are lazy, stupid or just jerks.
intellectually lazy. We should always be on guard for such laziness ourselves, btw. not everything our leaders say is gospel. it's our job to keep them honest. When the people lead, the leaders will follow.
how's that for lazy typing? lol
Thinking about others, changing attitudes, learning new truths, doing your homework, forming an educated opinion, that takes a bit of work, change is not always comfortable.
I really am loosing patience with these people. Winning hearts and minds is hard work. lol
we are pro family.
we are values voters
And i believe time will tell, that we have taken the moral high ground.

Waymon~ Blog discussions are only tiring if the participants are invested in them. It's a sign of a good discussion to me.

But just one last thought, lol, and then I'm off to buy a baguette:

But I don't really see what "privileges" will be lost by conservatives if LGBT people gain equal rights.

I'm just going to ask: Why does queer oppression exist if it doesn't benefit (privilege) non-queer people?

In the words of Dr. Phil: People don't do things that don't work for them. Even if it is, as Michele O'Mara calls it, seeking one's "highest high" instead of one's "highest good", or even if it's the good feeling people get from helping others, people rarely do anything that they don't think will benefit them.

In other words, that "uncomfortable" feeling they get when they think about two dudes or two womyn marrying comes from somewhere. How is that discomfort benefiting them... or someone else in a position of power?


Bil~ I have a few longer essay posts in me (Friday's was going to be about textuality or something like that), but there's been so much content these past two days! Gawsh, 20 posts in one day!

Alex-

I hope you enjoyed your baguette. :)

I understand your point on the "benefits" being lost by conservatives if LGBT gain equality. Oppression of a minority always benefits someone, if for no other reason than reinforcing the moral authority and dominance of the oppressive group.

I do take issue with calling them "privileges", however. I think it is dangerous to call the oppression and degradation of a group of people a privilege. It's just a word usage that makes me uncomfortable. Are they losing privileges by LGBT's gaining rights? Not really. They are losing the ability to denigrate a group of people, which isn’t really a privilege in my book.

And the loss of moral superiority conservatives get from beating up on gay folks isn't a tangible harm. It's not even comparable to the very real harm that conservative voters do to LGBT people.

So yes, conservatives are, in some intangible ways, affected by LGBT rights. They lose a bit of superiority and the "benefit" of oppressing LGBT people.

This goes along with my original line of thinking that the values we fight for as a community differ from theirs because we look to expand rights and liberties, while they look to keep in place oppressive and restrictive laws.

"we are pro family.
we are values voters
And i believe time will tell, that we have taken the moral high ground."

Banshii-

I couldn't have said it better myself.

Cool.

I'm inspired to post on this as this post is falling off the front-page. Just a note on usage - I was using the word "privilege" in the way that civil rights activists would describe "white privilege" or feminists would describe "male privilege". It wasn't meant to imply that it was the way that it should be.

Perhaps it's a dangerous way to talk about it (I don't really see why), but it's the vocabulary we have at this point.