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There’s a Reason Gay Marriage Is Winning, While Abortion Rights Are Losing


There’s a Reason Gay Marriage Is Winning, While Abortion Rights Are Losing

Katha Pollitt

Why are reproductive rights losing while gay rights are winning? Indiana’s attempt to enshrine opposition to gay marriage under the guise of religious freedom provoked an immediate nationwide backlash. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has allowed religious employers to refuse insurance coverage for birth control—not abortion, birth control—to female employees; new laws are forcing abortion clinics to close; and absurd, even medically dangerous restrictions are heaping up in state after state.


Thank you, Ms. Pollitt for covering all bases on this one.


Excellent article and so very very true.


Wow, thanks so much for this. My own take was that there are enough rich white gay men pulling the levers of power to legitimatize and legalize gay marriage, compared to the ever-growing restrictions on abortion, which is a “women’s issue.” Thanks for expanding my understanding on this.


Basically, gay marriage is “trendy”, with shows such as “Glee”. Abortion is not.


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The gay boys got taken care of by lesbians in the AIDS crisis - lesbians making/delivering meals, providing care and chore services to the boys. Do the boys work for abortion or domestic violence or other women’s concerns? Not much. Some.

Face it, it’s time for a New Feminism - not based on jollying the boys with how sexay we are. New Feminism the same as Original Feminism. A class vieew of the rights and priveleges of female sex. People with vagina, ovary and vulva power.

Women’s empowerment. Women’s liberation. Women’s sovereignity.


Time to disconnect from the information streams? Ironic, posting that here. :wink:


Gay marriage co-opts another “out” group into the mainstream where they can be made an ally against the poor and foreigners who “threaten American interests.”

Like women, who are 40-50% Republican, many gay men and lesbians will start turning away from other aspects of the progressive agenda that won them their place in the mainstream now that they no longer need to fight their own fight.


“Abortion rights” is losing for a whole bunch of reasons missed in this article, all of which relate to the way the issue is conceptualized. In short, “abortion rights” is an extremely limited way to conceptualize a huge issue which goes well beyond just the issue of “abortion”. This article subtly accepts this limitation in its first paragraph by casually equating contraception with abortion. I know the writer didn’t mean to do this directly, but the connection is there, in this piece, and throughout the “abortion rights movement”. This thinking is critically flawed, for at least three reasons:

  1. The rate of medical (i.e. not “spontaneous”) abortion has been declining for decades, compromising its potency as a political issue because it directly affects fewer and fewer people each year.

  2. The language of “abortion rights” turns off many who might be allies. The LGBT movement is quite familiar with this phenomenon, and called the fight “marriage equality” (not “gay marriage”) for good reason — focusing on “marriage” and “equality” diverted attention from the “gay sex factor”.

  3. “Reproductive rights” encompass a range of issues much broader than abortion per se, and which impact far more people directly. Indeed, “reproductive rights” might be seen as part of the larger concept of “right to privacy”. Both of these concepts appeal to men as well as women — in other words, (some) men could be utilized as allies. But even the leaders of the repro rights movement seem to have blinders on, and ignore the potential of “privacy” and “contraception” as political issues.

I believe it was in 2007 (when Democrats had briefly regained Congressional majorities) that Nancy Pelosi promised a full political push geared around contraception (not abortion). The announcement was attended with great fanfare…and like similar pronouncements before, was never heard of again. The failures of the “abortion rights” movement could largely be ascribed to its narrow focus and narrow coalition.