ACLU lawyer Chase Strangio attacks gay marriage—and marriage in general

November 19, 2022 • 11:24 am

Andrew Sullivan’s latest column on gay marriage led me to a hateful Instagram post by Chase Strangio, Deputy Director for Transgender Justice and staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). We first met Strangio, a transgender man, when he called for a ban on Abigail Shrier’s book Irreversible Damage, a book that I (and Harriet Hall) found quite engrossing (and disturbing). After Hall’s positive review was published on the Science Based Medicine site, two editors, Steve Novella and David Gorski, retracted it (see here), and it was published at the link above. (You can see more of my posts on Strangio’s shenanigan’s here.)

Regardless of what you think of Shrier’s book, no ACLU lawyer should be calling for book banning!

But I digress.  Read Sullivan’s column by clicking on the screenshot (and subscribe if you read it often):

I was surprised by one thing about Sullivan’s column, which was prompted by last week’s Congressional push to repeal the 1986 Defense of Marriage Act, a law that defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman. But it also allowed states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages that were legal in other states. As Wikipedia notes, “All of the act’s provisions, except those relating to its short title, were ruled unconstitutional or legally devoid by Supreme Court decisions in the cases of United States v. Windsor (2013) and Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), which invalidated the law and any enforcement it had.”

The latest Congressional action, then, in promoting a new bill (the “Respect for Marriage” bill), was largely symbolic, but it will pass since many Republicans in Congress supported it in a test vote. It was also a way to prevent the Supreme Court from somehow resurrecting the Defense of Marriage act, as Clarence Thomas muttered threats about gay marriage during the hearing on the Dobbs case.

At any rate, Sullivan describes opposition to gay marriage (and to the Respect for Marriage bill) by the right, which is expected, but also by many LGBTQIA+ people on the Left. This opposition, which isn’t new, is what surprised me, but it’s been a recurring theme. As Sullivan notes,

One more thing: some now argue that marriage equality was the gateway drug, as it were, to attempts to undo the sex binary, and has inevitably led to today’s illiberal, intolerant LGBTQIA+ movement. But what this fails to grasp is that the arguments for marriage equality were opposed by these extremists in the first place (and still are by many). Marriage was not the first step in a slippery slope of left-extremism; it was a key and seismic move by centrist gays and lesbians in the precisely opposite direction!

Marriage equality was disdained by the “queer” left for decades. They saw what it was: a liberal attack on leftism, and a conservative attack on reactionism. That move to the moderate center appalled them. Even now, one of the chief leaders of the current LGBTQIA+ movement, Chase Strangio, is mad that the RFMA is meeting success:

I feel an inexplicable amount of rage witnessing the Senate likely overcome the filibuster to vote to codify marriage rights for same-sex couples … I find it disappointing how much time and resource went into fighting for inclusion in the deeply flawed and fundamentally violent institution of civil marriage. I believe in many ways, the mainstream LGBTQ legal movement caused significant harm in further entrenching the institution of marriage as an organizing structure of US civil society.

They never wanted to join a “heteronormative,” “patriarchal,” “fundamentally violent” institution. They despised the center and the mainstream and the religious. They wanted to destroy marriage, not include gays in it.

I couldn’t believe that Strangio would really issue a hateful statement like that, showing his “rage” against a bill that would support gay marriage, and describing marriage itself as a “deeply flawed and fundamentally violent institution.” Where is he coming from?

And, sure enough, here’s Strangio’s instagram post, verifying Sullivan’s report. Read what he says:

Strangio is a man full of hate, and an unbalanced man whose views and actions undercut the liberalism and historical stand of the ACLU.  He is doing the organization no good. I rarely call for someone to be fired, but, as a long-time friend of the ACLU, I think they should let him go.

I’ve put a screenshot of the Instagram post below should it be removed. Click “Read more” if you want to see/recover it:

25 thoughts on “ACLU lawyer Chase Strangio attacks gay marriage—and marriage in general

  1. Wokeness asserts that everything about Western civilization — including marriage, capitalism, science, maths, ideas of objective truth — was constructed by straight, cis, male, white people for the primary purpose of “oppressing” everyone else (queer, non-binary, non-male, people “of color”). Hence all of it needs to be overturned.

    1. Yes some have argued this is the difference between “gay” and “queer”: aspiring to acceptance & coexistence vs. aspiring to burn it all down.

    2. This is not much different than the most radical organizations of the 1960s and ’70s such as the SDS, or the more recent anti-WTO protests and the occupation of downtown Seattle a few years ago. A lot of these protesters believe that Western society is so oppressive that it needs to be torn down and replaced with some sort of communal living.
      They’re a gift to the political Right. They’re the ones who came up with Defund the Police.

      1. Isn’t that what the people who used to run the now collapsed crytpo exchange FTX were trying to do, they certainly were not in a traditional marriage arrangement and they ran the company on the basis of ‘…whatever feels right is…’

        Of course now they are looking at all kinds of potential charges.

    3. Marriage (and, in a large sense, science, maths, and belief in an independent reality) is not found only in Western civilization, but in virtually all human cultures. So, “all of it needs to be overturned” refers to, well, all of everything. This impulse used to be called nihilism, but nowadays, and especially in academia, it presumably enjoys the honorific designation of
      “Critical Theory”. Maybe Critical Strangio Theory?

  2. Strangio is livid that he and his cohorts are ever so slightly no longer setting the parameters of the trans debate. In other words, the NYTimes and Reuters are now actually asking very, very polite questions about puberty blockers, etc. To Strangio, this is an unpardonable transphobic attack and is lashing out all over:

    In terms of gay marriage, I lived through that entire cycle and remember how many gays, the more radical contingents, loathed gay marriage and attacked Sullivan. Once George W. Bush and the right starting attacking it, more people starting supporting it because the right was attacking it so….you just had to oppose the attacks!

    BTW, Sullivan was key to putting gay marriage in public currency with this 1989 essay in the New Republic, when it was owned by Marty Peretz:

  3. Very strangio “dude”. His female partner identifies as lesbian. How does that work if Chase is now supposedly a male?? I have no issues with whatever anyone wants to do sexually, but why does everyone have to “identify”??

  4. Ms Stangio needs to stop taking testosterone. Then she wouldn’t he filled with so much “inexplicable rage.” Her Twitter screed is full of old-Left, Andrea Dworkin, angry feminist stuff. No man talks that way. Trans men aren’t men.

      1. The radical feminists were always one of those groups that were hard to place in the left/right dichotomy. They favored a radical restructuring of society, but also opposed opening up social discourse to a lot of groups on the basis that those groups were hostile agents in society. So women needed complete autonomy in their lives, but pornographers needed to be shut down because they were arch-representatives of the patriarchy.

  5. I’ve always felt that if you are arguing for a very heterodox position you should at least have the respect enough to acknowledge that, and defend that position with extra care and diligence. Almost the entirety of the world is either married or looking for a partner, and it forms one of the core identities of their lives. Even polyamorous couples by definition have a primary relationship. To just dismiss that institution wholesale as beneath consideration is the height of arrogance and an example of how out of touch with reality many of the people who seek to define our reality are.

    1. Yep. But it sounds like you (and I) like systems that work, and at the same time allow for some give in the system. Just to allow those who don’t conform with the majority their own space. Fair enough I say.
      But… those who want to make a name for themselves (Shapiro and Strangio) as fighters, the Righteous, revolutionaries, have another agenda – their own narcissistic one.

    2. To boot, a “marriage,” or any type of life partnership, can look precisely as its participants wish it to look … courtesy of “evil” Western notions of individual autonomy, freedom of choice and the like.

      Strangio seems utterly deranged by trans-mania. It’s hard to accept that the ACLU has plunged so deeply down the trans rabbit hole.

  6. … Sullivan describes opposition to gay marriage (and to the Respect for Marriage bill) by the right, which is expected, but also by many LGBTQIA+ people on the Left.

    That being the case, the unanimous support by Democrats — House and Senate — in voting in favor of the Respect for Marriage Act demonstrates the utter failure of radical elements within the LGBTQIA+ movement to make any inroads with congressional Democrats.

  7. I see no reason for the state to recognize marriage of any sort. This can be done by one’s social group be it church or a country club. All the state has to do is recognize contracts between two or more people providing the civil “benefits” and obligations of what is now included in marriage.

    1. Well, there are all sorts of tax benefits, help for buying homes, and tons of other things. These wouldn’t be possible without that recognition, as then anyone could just say, “yep, we’re totally a committed couple, so give us tax breaks, benefits, and money.” Not to mention child custody, divorce settlements, and myriad other issues that rely on two people committing to each other in a way documented by the state.

      1. Those benefits have to be financed by someone. Increasing the pool of people able to claim them, and therefore their aggregate cost, was one of the objections to recognizing civil marriage (or common-law unions) between two co-habiting people of the same sex. These objections had greater force in the United Sates perhaps than in Canada where there was, and is, no tax benefit to being married (by licence or by common-law) if both spouses earn income. The only exception is the ability to split pension, but not other, income with a spouse, a tax provision made decades after same-sex marriage was recognized.
        Perhaps because the tax cost of recognizing same-sex unions as marriages was so small here, the other benefits were more compelling: such as adoption, substitute decision-making, inheritance, child support (“palimony”), pension and real-estate survivorship rules, All these work out much better for the weaker party when a marriage breaks up than when two room-mates sharing rent go their separate ways.

        Under a mature Family Law Reform process, it matters little legally whether a cohabiting couple in a relationship are married or not. At issue is whether they are legally a couple. Say a single mother takes up with a well-off woman who supports her and her child financially. The well-off woman tires of the relationship after two years and a day and leaves it. Pre Obergefell, the well-off woman is off the hook as the two were just roommates. Proof of an intimate relationship would not have changed anything. Now, the well-off woman will have obligations to the child under family law as they were a common-law marriage. And of course had they been legally married, those obligations would have kicked in on the marriage date.

        Marriage is good for society. Its enthusiastic uptake by gay people, signifying that they want to accept legal spousal obligations to each other is to be applauded.

  8. Sullivan’s piece refers to “Clarence Thomas’s lone, cranky dissent in Dobbs[.]”

    Actually, Thomas joined Samuel Alito’s majority opinion in Dobbs. Thomas also wrote a separate, cranky concurring opinion for himself. Thomas’s separate concurrence went beyond the majority opinion, reaching out to address issues not squarely before the Court in Dobbs, but it did not contradict anything contained in Alito’s majority opinion.

  9. It would have been helpful if Strangio explained why “civil marriage” (no issue with religious marriage?) is an intrinsically violent institution. Marriage is just a contract between two people. What they make of their relationship is up to them. Just more corrosive nonsense from the Progressives. But I forget: making sense is an aspect of white supremacy.

  10. “I am now 40 and wear reading glasses (a new development).”

    Is this not a little ableist? As someone who has had to wear glasses [and not just for reading] since the age of three I feel triggered by this belittling of my lived experience.

  11. As I recall there were many trans activists who were opposed when we were fighting for marriage equality because they felt it was taking precedence over their causes.

  12. When Strangio says that marriage is a form of “violence”, he is using the word in a way similar to Johan Galtung, an extremist sociologist. “Violence”, in this sense, means simply anything that supports capitalism and liberalism. Fighting against “violence” means supporting anything related to communism or anarchism.

  13. I don’t know why people see Strangio or Shapiro as serious people – either of them.
    Maybe that’s just me.

  14. I think, but I maybe mistaken, Strangio took too much testosterone, that would explain the aggressiveness

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