I received a direct appeal from a political scientist asking me to boycott the next meeting of the American Political Science Association meeting. Why? Because it will be held in Louisiana, a state that passed a law "defending marriage." That is, the state passed a law to discriminate against gay and lesbian couples, not just prohibiting marriage but denying heaps of legal rights. There are a pile of stories that document the harm that such laws cause. I am and have long been against discrimination against gays and lesbians, that these laws are abhorrent--once I got over my high school-induced homophobia. These kinds of laws seem designed to cause pain and suffering, which should never be the purpose of public policy. They are mostly the product of politicians using hate to divide and conquer.
Having said that, will I boycott the APSA? I was not sure when I started writing this blog. I do support boycotts of businesses that discriminate, but am a bit more uncertain about boycotts of cities when policy is made at the state level. Having said that, the list of people who are boycotting are an impressive bunch, including a number of people whose judgment I respect. I started this post leaning one way, but in trying to write this post, I could not really come up with good arguments to go to APSA in Louisiana especially after reading the arguments by the boycotters.
To be clear, this is not really a huge sacrifice on my part. The idea of New Orleans in late August/early September, hot, humid and in the middle of hurricane season, was not very attractive. I will not have any of my own students on the market this fall to promote at APSA so it is not as if I am sacrificing my interests or those of my students. But I do like the big conferences to see old friends, to meet my virtual friends in person, to meet up with co-authors, and see what the latest research looks like.
I hope that things change by 2015 or else I may end up missing the International Studies Association two years in a row (New Orleans and then Atlanta). Oh, by the way, have I ever mentioned that bigotry is damned inconvenient as well as being antithetical to the core beliefs espoused by, well, Jesus if one believes in him?