It's time to codify into the Bill of Rights of the Constitution the explicit rights to privacy and consenting adult intimate association.
The new millennium can start with this reaffirmation of personal liberty, if we are willing to redefine the role of government. People should have the right to determine their on ends as long as they are willing to accept accountability for their actions. Government should withdraw from social engineering. Attempts by government to propagate tribal or community, as opposed to individual, standards of morality encourage people to blame others for their "oppression" and eventually facilitate tyranny:
Less government meddling does not make "moral issues" go away. Indeed, a public culture, enforced through the free market and by voluntary civility, should encourage "family values" in the best sense. These values include the ability to make and keep commitments to other people, and the recognition of personal limits.
As a gay man, I have watched society evolve towards an unprecedented sense of individualism and autonomy, sometimes with confused results. I was thrown out of college in the early 60's for "telling" the Dean of Men, but served in the military anyway after being rejected three times for the draft. In the 90's, I have been active in underground efforts to lift the military ban.
Liberal politics now offer little to gay people. Their position stress "immutability" and sometimes leave the impression that gay people should not have to answer for themselves (as with health issues). They are left with the awkward problem of distinguishing homosexuality from other "vices" which supposedly undermine the family, social discipline and common virtue.
It is better to re-examine moral issues from the position of holding every individual accountability for himself or herself.
The book examines in detail many current issues, such as the military gay ban, the "special rights" conundrum, gay marriage and parenting, in the context of broader issues such as the change in the place of the family and in the workplace.
The book presents several challenging arguments:
(1) Government, acting in the best of intentions, drastically interferes with personal lives with its social engineering. My own personal story will show this.
(2) The world is still a dangerous place. History shows that personal liberty has been circumscribed by society's ability to afford it. Today, however, society cannot afford not to have it.
(3) The military ban debate today
bears a curious parallel to the debate over the draft and deferments during the
(4) The biggest cause of "homophobia" is personal insecurity with respect to one's own gender roles. Much of what sounds like "moral" or "family values" in today's debate is a refection of the discomfort with loosened gender roles.
(5) Homosexuality is indeed much more than sex. It can be "chosen" proudly as an expression of personal identity.
(6) Personal freedom invokes a paradox: to have freedom, one needs commitments to others and one needs to respect limits in order to get things done. This is indeed a "moral value."
(7) The gay community as we know it now very nearly went out of existence in the mid 1980's during the AIDS crisis.
(8) The main solution to employment discrimination is a more competitive and entrepreneurial workplace, not just passing more anti-discrimination laws (ENDA). A workplace that provides opportunity likewise expects people to respect limits.
(9) There is a direct connection between personal self-governance and economic self-governance.
(10) The American people should decide how they want their Bill of Rights to read and should offer proposals to modernize it. I offer one myself.
(11) Probably the biggest "moral" issue today is the willingness of people to make substantive commitments to others. There is both tension and congruence between person self-actualization and loyalty to others. In practice, family and business loyalties often interfere with full presentation or appreciation of truth.
This proposal was written in March 1996, fifteen months before the book's publication.
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