Use of homophobe

Mark Graber mgraber at
Sun May 10 14:25:09 PDT 2009

I suspect our "homophobe" debate is going to go nowhere, in part because the issue is really one of argument, not of emotional state.  Or, rather, the issue is sufficiently mixed as to complicate debate.

The first question is do good normative reasons exist for thinking persons have reasons to object to gay conduct or gay marriage.  Increasingly, persons from my spectrum of the political universe are coming to the conclusion that a) not only consent adults have the right to marry the person of their choice, but b) there are no very good arguments to the contrary.  In this vein, we do see discrimination against gays as equivalent to discrimination against persons of color, because no good rational reasons exist for either.  In this respect, I should add, most people from my spectrum of the political universe think b) is wrong with respect to abortion, that while most think abortion is a right, most also think a reasonable person might think otherwise.  If this is right, then the question whether someone is a homophobe, racist, child-murderer, or otherwise depends on good arguments can be made in support of their position (even if we think those arguments, at the end of the day are wrong).

The second question is whether people are making distinctions between immoral conduct that make sense within a certain moral code.  Whether, for example, the Catholic church can be censured for homophobia for denying communion to a politician who supports gay marriage (no idea whether this has occurred), but not politicians who support capital punishment depends on whether within the Catholic faith, a plausible distinction exists between the two.  Again, we can only determine whether people are acting on emotion if we first discredit their reasons.

A third consideration is a burden of proof.  In my contacts with members of the list who exist on the other side of the political spectrum, I have always found them to be intelligent decent human beings.  Maybe have beliefs I find bizarre (some have said this of me as well!).  I don't understand why it is not obvious that people should not marry who they please.  Maybe that is a limit of my intelligence.  But may I suggest that, for purposes of keeping this list valuable we should simply claim not to agree or understand arguments, rather than assume they are rooted in deep--rooted emotional needs.  This may mean I require the Christian couple to rent to a gay couple and others will disagree strongly.  But it will keep a conversation going, which seems important.


>>> Rick Duncan <nebraskalawprof at> 05/10/09 4:54 PM >>>
It seems that Paul is the one who needs to overcome his fear and hatred of a person (the Christian photographer) who conscientiously is opposed to participating in a gay wedding.

I don't know of any religious restaurant owner who refuses to serve homosexual diners. It seems that Paul is the one who can not grasp the difference between taking an active part in a sinful action (a photographer at a homosexual wedding) and merely serving a hamburger to a sinner. 

And even here, what about the religious animal rights activist who owns a vegetarian restaurant and refuses to serve a hamburger to a meat-eating customer. Is she an intolerant person, or merely one who wishes to serve only the products she believes are morally acceptable? Just as she serves only morally acceptable products (vegetarian food), the Christian photographer provides only morally acceptable services (traditional weddings only).

What about a Quaker landlord who refuses to rent a commercial building to a gun dealer? Bigot? Or conscientious objector?

I think Mark was right--gay rights supporters use the word homophobe as a weapon to try to discredit those who have a different view about human sexual morality and marriage. 

The Christian photographer who refuses to participate in a homosexual marriage has done nothing shameful or wrong; and any law that makes it unlawful for a religious objector to decline to participate in a homosexual wedding is an unjust and intolerant law.

Rick Duncan 
Welpton Professor of Law 
University of Nebraska College of Law 
Lincoln, NE 68583-0902

"And against the constitution I have never raised a storm,It's the scoundrels who've corrupted it that I want to reform" --Dick Gaughan (from the song, Thomas Muir of Huntershill)


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