NOM political director's latest should offend many

I've written on a couple occasions about the anti-LGBT movement's attempts to turn the modern court fights over marriage into a new Roe v. Wade.  Specifically, I once wrote a lengthy article about the National Organization For Marriage's trusted campaign manager and political director, Frank Schubert, who has been insistent that the marriage fight is just like the protracted fight over reproductive freedom.  And I noted the obvious flaws there.

Unfortunately, rather than wise up and listen to fellow conservatives like Jonah Goldberg, who have encouraged Republicans to stop making this flawed link between abortion and marriage, or TV hosts like Joe Scarborough, who noted the obvious difference in trend lines on the two issues, Mr. Schubert is doubling down on his efforts to turn marriage into a forty-year fight that will keep "culture wars" flaring and keep NOM in busine$$.  But this time, I think he might have gone far enough to offend even some of the ardent members of the self-branded "pro-life" community.  Here's the gist from longtime activist, Sirius/XM host, and Huffington Post Gay Voices Editor-at-large Michelangelo Signorile:

On a panel at VVS titled "The Future of Marriage," Frank Schubert, the mastermind strategist of the Proposition 8 campaign and other marriage ban campaigns across the country, said that if by chance marriage equality opponents lost at the high court, as pretty much happened yesterday, they would have to go the route they did with abortion after Roe v. Wade. They'd have to seek "incremental" wins, he said, as they did then, chipping away slowly at abortion rights, which of course has been very successful. Schubert then said they'd have to the find the gay "version" of "partial birth abortion." I almost fell off my seat on that one.

FULL REPORT (with audio): The Right's New Strategy After Gay Marriage Loss: Finding the Gay 'Partial Birth Abortion' [HuffPo] 

A gay "version" of "partial birth abortion"?  Let's consider this.

I've already examined the vast differences between the two issues.  I've also noted how the attempt to link resistance to abortion to resistance to marriage equality actually shows how the far-right's efforts in both areas are often guided more by politics than by true passions.  I won't be rehashing my thoughts again here; it's all laid out in this post, also directed at Schubert, for those who care to hear my stance.

But I will focus on this new idea of hunting for a gay "partial birth abortion," because it is particularly revelatory.  For starters, let's talk about the idea that there even is such a thing.  Despite the noise, marriage is a fairly cut-and-dry idea.  You have an institution called marriage, which civil government licenses and recognizes.  Couples choose to enter into marriage, and sometimes they exit out of it.  While there are civil unions, common law marriages, domestic partnerships, and other variants, it's hard to see how there is some sort of same-sex marriage permutation that will alienate or rally the public more or less than they already would be.  It's hard to even understand where Mr. Schubert thinks he will find this "partial birth" marriage.

Let's circle back to the political aspect.  As I said, I have opined already about how overtly political the abortion-marriage link is to begin with.  It's clear that people like Schubert are trying to recruit from the much larger "pro life" movement, in hopes of building a broader political coalition that is not as defined by extremism as the current marriage movement so fully is.  But with this exceedingly ridiculous "partial birth" idea, Schubert is only solidifying that truth.  First off, "partial-birth" is not even a medical term—it comes from political operatives, not from doctors (the National Right to Life Committee is often attributed as its creator).  However, Schubert knows that polling consistently shows that support falls off whenever the phrase "partial birth abortion" comes into question. Since he is seeking some sort of political wedge or maybe even scandal that he thinks will help him score political points against the marriage equality movement, he is invoking this idea and this language in order to make it seem like there is going to be a more controversial element to come—something he clearly hopes there will be, and one that he will likely work hard to find.  I suspect this could get very ugly over the next few years, as Frank Schubert and his allies go hunting through people's lives and families in order to find this political talking point.  I fear that the whole business about bakers and florist being "forced" to serve gay people is just the beginning.

But most importantly, let's discuss how fundamentally dismissive and even offensive Schubert's "partial birth" idea is to his own movement.  Frankly, if I were on his side of the abortion debate, I would be quite angry, bordering on outraged, by Mr. Schubert's apparent believe that this one focused conversation could be so easily transferred.  This is a community that demands life begins at conception and argues that "partial birth" is of particular concern.  And yet here we have a man making casual, almost off-handed reference to it and misapplying it to a completely different fight—one that is all about respecting certain humans lives and their capacities to love?  Sure, that flawed transfer is offensive to same-sex couples and all of our supporters, who know that love, family, and marriage rights are far more than just some political football that can be tossed to whatever separate issue the detractor thinks convenient.  But it's also highly offensive to those who have committed themselves to the conversation over women's rights and reproductive freedom—on both sides, frankly—to have this man come in and insist that a highly complex and emotionally charged conversation about medical ethics, faith, justice, and human existence is some sort of a fruit that he can cherry-pick for his own punditry. And paycheck.

Right now the marriage movement is in desperation mode and so is saying and doing whatever they think might stick.  And since they've so fully bought into their own press releases, few who operate under the auspices of the "protect marriage" phraseology are likely to think critically enough about these sorts of things to see the pitfalls in their own language.  But I'm confident the American public can and will.  I truly believe that if Mr. Schubert starts going around talking about "the partial birth abortion of same-sex marriage," even some who line up outside of Planned Parenthood with signs and slogans will stop and say, "Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa—just a minute, marriage man!"  The coalition Mr. Schubert helps to build with rhetoric like this might be an unintenional one.

Issues: