Someone Better Tell Gary Delong To Stop Patronizing Gay People For Votes

Sometimes when you are running in a district full of people who hate your party, and when your own campaign is down by 20 percentage points in a fast approaching election, you start to do crazy things. In Gary Delong’s case, he is risking pissing off his incredibly anti-gay party and his own homophobic endorsers by at least trying to attach the “social moderate” label to his candidacy. In a recent canned editorial column in the Press-Telegram, Delong was described and quoted in the most moderate way possible:

The fiscally conservative Long Beach councilman is running for the new 47th Congressional seat and said during a recent editorial board meeting that he is pro-choice, environmentally friendly and supports gay marriage.

….

“Clearly, I’m more socially liberal,” said DeLong, who handed the editorial board a campaign pamphlet that did not note his party affiliation.

“Think of any other social litmus test, and you would probably find me more of a moderate Democrat in my social views,” he said. “I’m not running as a member of a party, I’m running for everybody.”

Beyond the idiotic idea that a “fiscal conservative” can also be a “social moderate” (unless shitting on poor people is a morally acceptable in this district), the acceptance of Delong in the press as someone who is “pro gay rights” encapsulates both the awful status of professional political journalism, and the patronizing nature of the Delong Campaign. In the 21st century voters who believe in marriage equality and human rights expect more than just blatant pandering from their politicians, they expect a firm commitment and a proven record of support.

Let’s breakdown why Mr. Delong’s personal beliefs on this subject are completely worthless tidbits of disingenuous information.

First of all, if you are someone who believes that equal rights for gay people, including the right to marry, you might be surprised that there is an extremely strong constitutional argument to support your ideology. Let’s go to our friend the Fourteenth Amendment for an appropriate starting point:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

The bolded sentence there is key to understanding why Delong is full of shit on this issue. The 14th is a powerful Amendment providing people who society has traditionally hated a slew of rights and protections that they otherwise would not have (we literally fought the Civil War in order for it to exist). When you understand the impact of the 14th on the marriage debate, you can fully grasp why Delong is merely sucking up to voters rather than providing an actual preview of his policy platform on the off chance that he is elected to congress this fall.

The Supreme Court in Loving v. Virginia declared that marriage is a “fundamental right” under the Constitution. This means that all laws that restrict this fundamental right must survive what is called “strict scrutiny” – which is fancy lawyer talk for saying that their better be a good goddamn reason for the government to restrict this right and the law must actually accomplish that reason in the least awful way possible. Furthermore the 14th also requires “equal protection” under the law. This concept becomes important because after Lawrence v. Texas in 2003, it seems that explicitly anti-gay laws are all possibly unconstitutional as they do not further a “legitimate state interests” and do so in a way that pretty blatantly discriminates against a possibly “suspect class” of citizens.

Given this information  you might be wondering: why exactly does this issue matter in a Congressional race? If the courts are trending to enact marriage equality doesn’t that negate whatever opinions that a single policy maker has on the issue? Well unfortunately history tells us that whenever a court interprets the Constitution in a way that prevents the law from reflecting bigotry, Congress tends to react negatively and throw a hissy fit instead of complying with the courts.

After legal discrimination on the basis of race was overturned by the courts in Brown, it still took Congress over a decade to pass substantial legislation to enforce civil rights like voting or equal access to public facilities. It is same story for women. Fespite the clear constitutional precedent against gender discrimination and restrictions on a woman’s reproductive rights, they are still frequently targeted by both state and federal legislators who have enacted viciously sadistic laws to score political influence with conservative voters. Either of those scenarios could easily happen again if the courts were to interpret the Constitution as supporting equal rights for gay people. Therefore it is imperative that there are supportive members of congress in place to enforce any mandate from courts to overturn existing discriminatory legislation, and to enact new laws that explicitly protect the civil rights of gay people. Nothing Delong has ever said demonstrates that he would act in such a manner if he were to be elected.

Delong’s statements on this issue are deliberately vague (which is not a big surpise) because his party has decided to try its hardest to court the bigots who returned the White House to George Bush in 2004. It maybe hard to remember, but at the time a full 2/3rds of the country was against gay marriage, and the GOP then (as it does now) supported a Constitutional Amendment that would specifically deny gay people the right to marry. Since then times have obviously changed, as evident by new polling on the issue, and on the Democratic Party’s decision to include marriage equality and support for anti-discrimination laws right into their national platform. Even the President, who used to explicitly state his opposition to marriage equality, has finally decided to “evolve” into personally endorsing gay marriage.

Now you might look at Obama’s views on the subject and conclude that they are exactly the same as Delong’s, and you would be right. However context matters when comparing the case of Obama to Delong on the issue of gay rights. While Obama stopped well short of supporting the issue in the way that someone like me would like him to do, his record on gay rights is simply fantastic. Prominent gay rights advocates like Andrew Sullivan (friend of the blog) and Dan Savage have been and continue to be extremely vocal in their support of the President and his accomplishments in ending DADT, supporting anti-bulling intaitaives, signing the Matthew Shepard Hate Crime law, or any of the myriad of other policy successes that demonstrate Obama’s commitment to equal rights for all.

Gary Delong on the other hand told a newspaper that he supports gay marriage. Oh, and he went to his first pride parade this year (how convenient). Those two “accomplishments” are the entirety of his involvement with the gay rights movement.

Gary Delong might have gay friends. He appeared in this year’s gay pride parade. He is also personally supportive of gay marriage. However all of these facts are completely meaningless in the context of his actual intentions of enforcing what is without a doubt, a fundamental civil right for all American citizens. Unless Delong clearly says “I believe in the fundamental right to marry, and I believe that laws that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation are unconstitutional”, he is lying through omission about his true intentions as a policy maker. Delong’s campaigning on this issue is nothing more than a cynically patronizing attempt to trick voters who do not fully understand the complexities of their own civil rights. It would be nice if the press called him out on this.

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About stefanbc

I am an attorney who works mainly in criminal defense, child welfare, and medical marijuana advocacy. I live in Long Beach with my wife and four pets. View all posts by stefanbc

10 responses to “Someone Better Tell Gary Delong To Stop Patronizing Gay People For Votes

  • Tyler

    DeLong says he supports gay marriage. It sounds simple because it is simple. As you pointed out, the whole idea behind supporting gay rights is anti-discrimination. People want to know his stance on discrimination – his response clearly shows where he stands. It is in stark contrast to most republicans, right? I don’t think it’s necessary for him to include a constitutional argument when, frankly, the audience doesn’t care.

    I think it’s too negative to question the man’s motives when there is no evidence to support those allegations. If he had a history of documented lying, policy flip-flopping, etc then an argument against his intentions would be acceptable. Here it is just an ad hominem attack without substance.

    DeLong is an excellent choice for the moderate democrat voter as an alternative to Lowenthal, who is a nowhere near moderate. Lowenthal has a dismal record on jobs and the economy as a state legislator – he’s so far-left that he wants to ban free public parking. Polls have also shown that average voters are generally more fiscally conservative.. DeLong’s economic views and his support for equal rights/gay marriage should certainly cement him as the candidate of choice for moderate democrats and independents.

    • stefanbc

      The nice people whose basic civil rights care about the constitutional issue here, as do the courts which interpret the laws that legislators (like for example, congressmen) are responsible for crafting. Ignoring the existence of fundamental rights is what has allowed blatantly unconstitutional laws and initiatives like DOMA and Prop 8 to become official policy. Furthermore, if this is such a non-issue for voters, why in the hell is Delong making a point on providing this specific aspect of his campaign directly to the editorial staff at our local newspaper? Obviously he seems to think that it is rather important to his dwindling chances at being elected in November.

      Delong’s economic views a) are a complete mishmash of hardcore right-wing ideology and meaningless platitudes and b) lack any specificity on which to judge their objective merits. Furthermore (just to bring things back to the original point here) the idea that we can separate “social” issues from anything else in a politician’s platform is ludicrous- and the 2010 wave election pretty much proves that fact. Delong, if he were to be elected, would be a member of the most united, yet blissfully insane Republican caucus that has ever existed in modern politics. Do you think after accepting max contributions from Paul Ryan, Eric Cantor, and John Boenher that Delong is seriously going to vote differently from them on any piece of significant legislation? HA!

  • Tyler

    Also, an aside worth considering that makes me question the intellectual honesty of an equal protection argument… It appears to be less equal protection and more about abolishing the historical taboo associated with homosexuality.

    If you look at the laws that have been enacted legalizing gay marriage you will notice they still prevent marriage between two consenting same-sex adults that are related. What state interest is served by preventing two male cousins from marrying? Likewise, what state interest is served by preventing a brother/sister from marrying if one is infertile? None, it just has a stigma associated with it.

    My point is the same argument can be used by each group. It isn’t a slippery slope argument – it’s a matter of true equal protection under the law or more legal discrimination. Until recently these lifestyles (including homosexuality) had been considered taboo and thus vilified. Now that homosexuality is culturally acceptable though we are trying to grant equal protection status to its members. It’s equal protection or it’s not: there is no inclusion in the 14th or any court case I’ve seen that included a comparative analysis of taboo level to equality. In fact, there can’t even be an argument about a hardship on the state from deformed incest babies from a homosexual couple.

    Thus couldn’t it be said that liberals are pandering for votes from the gay rights movement since they don’t support other discriminated groups that have the-exact-same-argument? I don’t personally believe that, but I think it’s a valid argument as long as their is no true equal protection support from liberals. At least conservatives are honest about discriminating, right? :p

    It seems to me that if liberals were truly anti-discrimination the best solution would be to adopt a libertarian-style stance to the state-sanctioned institution of marriage and relegate it to the private sector. But this would be counter-productive to a large, centralist government. Or they could push for true equal protection… but then the masses would still associate homosexuality with other sexual taboos and support for the movement wouldn’t be as high.

    Thoughts?

  • DaisyMae

    Gary DeLong will say whatever he thinks his audience of the moment wants to hear.
    If you are tempted to believe that he is a man of the people, please remember that he holds his monthly Council meetings with the public in the middle of a week day, AT A YACHT CLUB, with $15 sandwiches. Yes, you can attend without paying the $15, but you must sit on a folding chair behind the diners at the edge of the room.

  • Long Beach Press Telegram Deletes A Poll After Their Preferred Candidate Gets Trounced In It « The Wretched of the Snark

    […] Maverick-ery candidate started to lose by 50 or so points. Kind of lame even for a newspaper that admitted to just re-publishing Delong’s white paper on gay marriage and abortion without asking him a single question about his […]

  • Gary Delong And The Dangers Of Electing “Moderate” Poseurs « The Wretched of the Snark

    […] pointed out makes such laws preventing this abhorrent practice effectively useless. Likewise Delong has yet to comment on his whether his support for gay marriage means that he ascribes to the broader…, which would allow them to use the courts to enforce these rights. What may seem like a simple […]

  • Michael Ejercito

    Maybe one reason that DeLong has not stated that same-sex marriage” is a fundamental right is because it is not. As the DoJ explained in a brief it filed in Smelt v. United States, No,. 09-00286 (C.D. Cal)

    Finally, regardless of whether same-sex marriage is appropriate policy, under current legal
    precedent there is no constitutional right to it, and that precedent is binding on these parties and this
    Court
    . While the Supreme Court has held that the right to marry is “fundamental,” Zablocki v.
    Redhail
    , 434 U.S. 374, 383-87, 98 S. Ct. 673, 54 L.Ed.2d 618 (1978), that right has not been held to
    encompass the right to marry someone of the same sex. To the contrary, in Baker v. Nelson, the
    Supreme Court dismissed a claim that the Constitution provides a right to same-sex marriage for
    lack of a “substantial federal question.” 409 U.S. 810, 93 S. Ct. 37, 34 L.Ed.2d 65 (1972) (Mem).
    In Baker, the Minnesota Supreme Court had rejected the contention that a State statute limiting marriage to one man and one woman violated federal due process and equal protection principles.
    The court found no “fundamental right” to same-sex marriage, 191 N.W.2d at 186-87, and concluded
    that the traditional definition of marriage effects no “invidious discrimination,” and that the
    definition easily withstood rational-basis review. Id. at 187.
    Invoking the Supreme Court’s then-mandatory appellate jurisdiction, see 28 U.S.C. § 1257(2)
    (repealed 1988), a same-sex couple sought review of those rulings. See Jurisdictional Statement,
    Baker v. Nelson, No. 71-1027, at 3 (Attachment 2 hereto)9 (questions presented include whether
    denial of same-sex marriage “deprives appellants of their liberty to marry . . . without due process of
    law under the Fourteenth Amendment” and “violates their rights under the equal protection clause
    . . .”).10 Upon review, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal “for want of a substantial federal
    question.” 409 U.S. at 810.
    The decision in Baker has precedential effect and is binding here. As the Supreme Court has
    explained, a dismissal for lack of a substantial federal question is a decision on the merits. See
    Hicks v. Miranda, 422 U.S. 332, 343-44, 95 S. Ct. 2281, 45 L.Ed.2d 223 (1975). Referring to an
    earlier appeal that had been dismissed for lack of a substantial federal question, the Court said in
    Hicks:
    That case was an appeal from a decision by a state court upholding a state statute
    against federal constitutional attack. A federal constitutional issue was properly
    presented, it was within our [mandatory] appellate jurisdiction . . . and we had no
    discretion to refuse adjudication of the case on its merits . . . . We are not obligated to
    grant the case plenary consideration, and we did not; but we were required to deal
    with its merits. We did so by concluding that the appeal should be dismissed because
    the constitutional challenge to the California statute was not a substantial one. Id. (emphasis added). As the Eighth Circuit has observed, therefore, the Supreme Court’s dismissal
    in Baker is “binding on the lower federal courts.” McConnell v. Nooner, 547 F.2d 54, 56 (8th Cir.
    1976) (per curiam); accord Adams, 673 F.2d at 1039 n.2 (acknowledging that Supreme Court’s
    dismissal in Baker “operate[d] as a decision on the merits”). Moreover, “dismissals for want of a
    substantial federal question without doubt reject the specific challenges presented in the statement of
    jurisdiction.” Mandel v. Bradley, 432 U.S. 173, 176, 97 S. Ct. 2238, 53 L.Ed.2d 199 (1977).

    Brief of Defendant United States in Support of Motion to Dismiss, Smelt v. United States, No. 09-00286, at 28-30 (C.D. Cal)

    Barack Obama, Dick Cheney, and Andrew Cuomo also believe that same-sex “marriage” is not a fundamental right even if it is appropriate public policy.

    • stefanbc

      That is a completely valid position to take on the issue, and when Delong himself states it instead of blandly asserting “I’m for gay marriage” I will stop accusing him of consciously deceiving voters about his actual views for political gain.

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    […] demurred and instead replied with a word salad of meaningless conservative platitudes (or just outright lied by obfuscation). By the time the debates rolled around Delong was so incensed that people actually cared about his […]

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