Surprising support for gay marriage in south


Given some of the (intended to be negative, I’m told) stereotypes of homosexuals as oiled, leather-clad, writhing sybaritic orgies just waiting to break out at any moment, I’m a trifle surprised that there wasn’t a certain countercurrent of support earlier.

You’d think that traditional moralists would be all over the fact that even heathen godless sodomites are clamoring for access to an institution that has hit… shall we say… a bit of a rough patch among its traditional userbase.


Why is it “surprising” ??? Or is the assumption that all of us in the South are inbred rednecks ??? There’s quite a bit of prejudice here. . . .but it’s not anti-gay.


There’s nothing “surprising” about UK Conservative support for gay marriage. UK Conservatives have always been to some extent an alliance between the socially conservative and economically liberal and those who are both socially and economically liberal. The former had big problems with gay marriage, the latter strongly pushed for it, despite the political pain its caused. Of course, the left in politics is always very keen to claim they’re the only people to care about equality, but they would, wouldn’t they?

Given how few of the actual words in the Bible the people who believe every word in the Bible to be literally true actually believe, or seem even to be familiar with, this is at least fully consistent with modern fundamentalism.

The implied sharp drop-off in homophobia is certainly a pleasant surprise, but the accompanying demotion of Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 (no homosexuality) to the territory of Leviticus 19:27 (no trimming your beard) and 19:19 (no companion planting in your fields, cross-breeding varieties of livestock, or wearing mixed fibers) is not surprising beyond that.


I contributed to the campaign for Southern Marriage Equality. My family has long supported gay rights - we have many friends who are gay, people who have shared with us very openly the problems they have faced. Just as many people in the South may have a best friend who is black but still use the N word casually to describe all those other people who are trashy, there are many people who have an out and proud uncle or friend but who still do not connect their casual use of the F word to hurting their friends and family.

I still have friends in rural Alabama and some of the Facebook conversations going on about it on their pages are pretty hard to read - there are people who truly believe God thinks its a sin, and no matter how articulate the argument is made, I see very little movement among that group. And yes, there are a lot of people who subscribe to fundamentalist Christianity in the South, particularly the rural South whether there is little other social life outside of the churches and conforming to the groupthink is very important. And there are issues in the African American community, too.

I think that if someone is going to really budge the needle it’ll be a couple of things that make it happen 1) Get all the people who could give a crap about religion - and there are a lot - to raise their voices against the well organized churches and 2) get persuasive speakers into the churches to start to move the conversation away from one note (sin sin sin).

This is a beautiful article about a preacher whose son was gay and the struggle he had to break with his own teaching on this subject - it reaches so beautifully beyond the stereotypes - I highly encourage you to read it:


Yes they would

I strictly adhere to Leviticus 25:44

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That’s more or less what happened with German conservatives. Now that fewer and fewer people seriously care about gay people being gay and we have had at least limited “registered partnerships” for a while without the world coming to an end, they decided that gay people formalizing their relationship are “living conservative values”.

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I know the South isn’t the only part of the country where historically ingrained prejudices are still widespread, but there is a grain of truth to the stereotype. While I cringe every time someone from a more northerly state paints the South with broad strokes I cringe even more every time an elected official like Stacey Campfield or Richard Floyd says something that seems to confirm their view.

Edit: I just want to point out that it’s not just what Campfield and Floyd say, it’s also what they try to do through legislation.

We’re not all like that, but I live in what is supposedly one of the more liberal counties in Tennessee–known as a pale blue dot in a sea of deep red. And having seen Amendment 1 pass in this county with 67 percent of the vote (and more than 81% state wide with every county voting for it) less than ten years ago I do understand calling this shift “surprising”. As the article says support has “risen from 22 percent in 2003 to 48 percent in 2013”. That is surprising.


Think there are two things going on here:

  1. As more gay people come out, those who had been opposed to homosexuality because they had visions in their heads of hairy bikers dancing around naked and grabbing every man who walks by are seeing that most gay people are pretty much like straight people, most boring, just trying to get by in life, with a small percentage who are showy about their sexuality (which in my opinion is actually more prevalent in the straight community than the gay community), their old fears fade away as being unfounded. For my parents it was when their square dance caller came out. They knew him for years and had great respect for him. Once they saw gay people were real people instead of a joke in a Police Academy movie, they changed their minds.

  2. Must of homophobia wasn’t real but rather was based on a fear of being identified as being homosexual. As more and more people are speaking up in support of sexual orientation equality, many who used to make negative comments about homosexuality feel comfortable with having a live and let live attitude about it without fearing that will automatically get them labeled as homosexual themselves.

Both of these play into the undercurrent of gentility that runs through Southern culture. Now that homosexual people are being seen as regular people instead of freaks, being rude is considered unacceptable behavior. Which isn’t to say there isn’t still a long way to go. There are always going to be some people who are genuinely homophobic. There are going to still be some who have their own sexual identity issues that they’ll project onto others. And of course there will always be a some ministers that preach hate against homosexual people just like there are still some ministers that are against interracial relationship or per-marital sex. But overall things are snowballing and in a region that values at least the appearance of being neighborly, this is creating large and quick changes in attitude.


I know, right? Even though it was a bunch of hypocritical Northerners who kept voting for Jesse Helms.


Your surprise that UK Conservatives have embraced gay marriage explores your own ignorance of UK politics than any change in direction.

Like any political party the tories are a coalition of different philosophies, one of the strong ones being a variant of Libertarianism.

Many Conservatives simply do not see marriage and many other social issues as any business of the state, as long as no coercion is involved, so if gay people want to get married, why should I, or the state acting in my name get involved ?

Your ignorance of UK politics could be partly remedied by reading the excellent diaries of Chris Mullin, a former left wing Labour minister who as such is hardly a friend of the Conservative party, yet who describes his first hand experiences of David Cameron (FYI he’s now the UK Prime Minister) as having “fine libertarian instincts”.

Recall that to get to be a UK prime minister you have to be smart, a PhD in History (Gordon Brown), a degree in Chemistry from Oxford (Thatcher), Oxford academic (Wilson) or be capable of writing Nobel Prize class literature (Churchill).

Imagine any president since WWII was presented as your dentist, would any rational person open their mouths and say “drill away ?” Ask either Clinton what neo-endogenous growth theory is and they will smile and say “aw shucks” and tell you of the time they dodged non-existent bullets in a city they didn’t visit. Can GW Bush even read ?

In the US being the son of a former president (Bush) or having slept with one ( Hilary Clinton) seem to be more appropriate than brains or integrity and your direct experience of a wholly corrupt system run by morons seems to have confused you.

In the UK, all but the most religious have gotten over gay marriage years ago, indeed the state Church, called (please don’t be confused by this) "The Church of England#2 is almost wholly run by gay men. Part of Mr. Cameron’s is to guide the Queen in choosing senior members of what is probably the largest gay organisation in the world, he has no problem with this and any number of his party are openly gay.

David Cameron is merely tidying up the loose ends left behind by Tony Blair (Oxford) and got there on merit not because of his dad, unlike the USA), and deeply religious, (hence deep friendship wth GW Bush).

The UK has never had criminal laws preventing blacks from marrying whites, so David Cameron can’t repeal them (something both Democrat and Republican elected representatives fought to keep) and since slavery has ever been legal in Britain, it didn’t get expressly banned until the 21st century. In contrast America locks up a scary % of its black people and makes them carry out menial work for the benefit of firms that make “donations” to US politicians of both parties.

If you weren’t American, you’d know that even individual state governor elections in the US are more expensive than in the UK which has an economy and population several times that of any US state has to elect 650 MPs

The money is the reason your elected reps are hostile to things that the UK embraced a decade ago, US citizens choose to donate and support people with homophobic views. No one makes them do this, it is a free and informed choice, you can’t have politicians better than the decision making ability of their voters.

I am of course unkind, you do know all this, but like other Americans you vote for people you know for a fact are wholly corrupt, there is not an American senator who if he had accepted that degree in bribes would not be in jail in many other countries.

You also seem to genuinely believe that this is a “conservative” thing, the partisan nature of politics in a country that has a higher illiteracy rate than many 3rd world states have failed to deliver you any degree of objectivity.

The short version (and I know how Americans like short and simple) is that David Cameron is a mainstream UK politician doing nothing special in UK terms because he happens to believe in it. He hasn’t been bribed to do it, nor is pandering to an important electoral group because a) most UK gay people don’t actually care about his marginal reform, and b) most won’t vote for him whatever he did.

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Thank you, never thought of it that way before, but so true!


Are you being… ironic? I honestly can’t tell, or if you’re taking offense at a statistical reality. After all, Southern states, especially the Southern Bible belt, are well known for “social conservatism,” a view reinforced by hard data such as opinion polls that show a lack of support for gay marriage in the South, Southern politicians with offensive anti-gay rhetoric, a lack of basic gay rights in some Southern states (which insist - completely unconstitutionally - that they have the right to criminalize gay sex), etc.


I’d wager its about the money as much as anything. Weddings can be big money for property and business owners, and gays are perceived as willing to spend on fancy social events.

Uh, the last time ANYONE voted for Jesse Helms was 1996. You need to update your attacks on the South: at LEAST use something SEMI-recent, like Gov. Mark Sanford. . .

I think Atlanta has the 3rd highest per capita gay population in the US.

Of course most of what you hear about the south is said by people who aren’t there.


No, I’m taking offense at the implied statement that the South is inherently prejudiced, hence, acceptance of single-sex marriage is “surprising”. . . .

Additionally, the South is NOT monolithic. What is considered acceptable in some areas is totally unacceptable in other areas. . . . JUST LIKE EVERYPLACE ELSE. . .


Well, that destroys his credibility, then.

You display your own ignorance of American politics by (among other things) painting Bush and the Clintons with the same brush. A folksy attitude doesn’t imply ignorance. Clinton was a Rhodes Scholar who studied at Oxford, and received his J.D. from Yale Law school. Hilary was a noted legal scholar, and is a former US Senator and Secretary of State.

Edit: Still LoLing at “ignorant American” insults aimed at Beschizza and your cleaning up of England’s civil rights record. (Hint: England and Wales incarcerate black men at a much, much higher rate than the US does.)