"Marriage. It just doesn't seem worth it anymore,"
and other crazy ideas from the radical right.
So in the past couple weeks, people have been going seriously
nuts about gay marriage. And by "people," I mean "homophobic
demagogues like George Bush,
and Rick Santorum."
As the Bush (re-)election campaign gears up, the Republican party has
decided that this is Their
Big Issue, hoping that it will galvanize voters and distract everyone
from the economy, Iraq, Halliburton, Plame,
Guard records, and the various other
screw-ups and scandals the administration is famous for.
I personally believe this is going to come around and bite the Republicans
on the ass big-time. They're seriously misjudging the electorate. While
I don't think the majority of voters are big-time supporters of gay rights,
I think there is a large silent majority out there who just don't care.
They're willing to live and let live, and making a huge deal about this
isn't going to get these folks on your side.
But let's take a look at these arguments, shall we, and see just how
nuts they are?
1. This will devalue marriage as a whole.
This is by far the most frequent
argument, and also by far the most confusing.
Why does anyone else getting married affect your own marriage? I mean,
I've met some serious idiots with high school diplomas, but that didn't
make me want to toss mine in the trash. And if Newt
Gingrich's marital infidelities don't devalue marriage, how does a
committed gay couple do it? More importantly, where are these folks getting
the crack they're smoking?
Really, this argument just makes me sad for the people making it. Because
it means that their relationships are less about their love for each other,
and more about their love of being in an elite club that other people
can't join. I mean, seriously, folks. If a couple of lesbians getting
married in San Francisco is all it takes to destabilize your marriage,
you have way more problems than I can address here, and I don't think
any of them actually have to do with those lesbians.
2. It's not what the Bible says.
Unlike most of these arguments, this one is true as far as it goes. Yep,
the Bible really doesn't come down in favor of same-sex marriage.
But you know what? Who cares? That's a religious argument; this
is a political issue. Last I checked, we still have the separation
of church and state (though Christian fundamentalists keep trying
to erode it).
So this argument? It doesn't matter! Because our country's guiding document
ain't the Bible. It's that Constitution thing the kids are all talking
about these days. And the Constitution actually has an interesting thing
to say about the church and the state, which is that they are separate.
Hey, that's our word for the day. Can you say it at home? Se-pa-rate.
You know what that means? It means they're not together. Different. Don't
have anything to do with each other. Mm hm. So whether the Bible says
that gay people can't marry, or that you should throw your virgin daughters
to an angry crowd to protect the sanctity of your hospitality, it really
should not affect how we conduct our politics and make our laws. This
is not a religious state, and I for one would like to keep it that way.
3. The state is getting mixed up in religion by forcing churches to
marry gay people.
First off, oddly enough, people who argue #2 also tend to argue #3, and
I'm sorry, but you just can't have it both ways. And among ridiculous
arguments, this is one of the most ridiculous. Just because the state
allows it doesn't mean someone's going to come to your local Baptist Church
and start bustin' heads if they don't marry gay people. (I mean, to each
other. I'm guessing that gay people get married in the Baptist Church
all the time
just not to other gay people.) The state allows divorced
people to marry, too, but that doesn't mean anyone ever forced the Catholic
Church to give its blessings to second and third marriages.
I'd also like to point out what my friend Cindy - a Unitarian Universalist
minister and the person who's going to officiate at our own wedding -
had to say about this when she testified in front of the Massachusetts
legislature. She pointed out that it is her religious belief that
same-sex couples should be able to marry, and should have
the same rights as other couples. The fact that the state does not allow
such marriages means that the state is actually infringing on her right
to freely exercise her religious beliefs.
Go chew on that, Pat Robertson!
4. Marriage is all about having kids.
This is an interesting
one if you actually follow the logic through. The only gay couples
that would be categorically excluded here are gay men, because I think
we're all pretty clear that lesbians + sperm donor = baby. But there are
other couples out there, couples who aren't gay but who also aren't having
kids, and this argument means we'd need to exclude them, too. By this
logic, infertile men and women, women over 50, and any couples not intending
to have children should also not be allowed to marry.
This argument raises so many more questions than it answers, really.
Following it through to its logical end puts you well in the realm of
fascism, since you end up setting up mandatory fertility checks for anyone
applying for a marriage license. And boy, that sounds like the
kind of state we'd all just love to live in.
5. Homosexuality is inherently unhealthy and so the state should not
sanction this kind of behavior.
This is Governor
Terminator's argument, in brief: "In the next city it'll be handing
out licenses for assault weapons. In the next it'll be someone handing
them out to sell drugs." Wha huh? (And isn't he in favor of
assault weapons? Or is that just onscreen?) This argument is one of the
most offensive (and in this bunch, that takes doing). It links homosexuality
and disease, and as such is a cousin to the argument that (male) homosexual
sex, rather than risky sexual behavior of all stripes, causes AIDS. Which,
for one, is patently false; it's unsafe sex, not sexual partner choice,
that puts you at risk for AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases. For
another, if you're basing "right to marry" on "risk group
statistics," this argument seems to completely ignore the existence
of lesbians, who are in pretty much the lowest risk group for any kind
of STD. And as Josh
Marshall points out, heterosexuals are also at a pretty high risk
for AIDS and STDs, so if you're going to make this argument, you'll probably
need to outlaw male-female and male-male marriages, and "more or
less [let] the lesbians just run wild."
Which, as he also notes, may be the stuff of secret late-night conservative
fantasy, but it's not what they're saying in public
6. Well, gay people are promiscuous. That's not what marriage is about!
OK, to look at some prominent
right-wing lives, you'd think marriage was all about promiscuity and
infidelity. (This hypocrisy is the target of the "Fidelity
Pledge," which asks supporters of the "Defense of Marriage
Amendment" to pledge that they will uphold their own rhetoric and
not commit adultery
let's see how many signatories they get
Secondly, there are plenty of people, gay, straight, and bi, who prefer
not to commit to a single partner. Bully for them, if they can pull it
off and be honest about it. But you know what? For fairly obvious reasons,
these are not the ones lining up outside the judges' office in San Francisco.
The ones getting married are committed to their long-term relationship.
7. This is activist judges legislating against the will of the people.
First of all, when I think "activist judges legislating against
the will of the people," the first thing that springs to my mind
is not Massachusetts or San Francisco, but the Supremes' decision (legally
shaky at best) to halt the Florida recount and install George Bush as
president. But maybe that's just me.
Secondly, a lot
of these decisions are being made by legislative or executive decisions,
not judicial decisions. It was the San Francisco mayor who gave the go-ahead
to the city, and it was the California legislature that adopted civil
Finally, lest we forget, there was a similar outcry in 1967,
when the Supreme Court declared that anti-miscegenation laws were unconstitutional.
Yes, that's right: until 1967, there were many states in this country
where marriage between a white person and an African American person could
get them both thrown in jail. The Supreme Court put an end to this, and
yes, some people got very, very angry about that decision. But it was
the right thing to do. That's part of the job of the judiciary - figuring
out what's right, whether we the people like it or not. Sometimes that
makes them activists. That's what the Constitution calls on them to do.
8. This will cause serious civil unrest.
If we'd let that stop us, we never would have passed any civil rights
bills in this country. Remember how the end
of "separate but equal" schooling caused serious rioting
and unrest among racist whites? Do we let right-wing radicals who're willing
to take to the streets to voice their intolerance dictate what we can
and cannot do? This is the argument of the coward
who's unwilling to stand behind what's right, because maybe someone will
And finally, to get back to my original point, Republicans are seriously
overestimating how much people generally care about this. I don't think
that most people are going to be willing to riot in the streets just because
Adam and Steve are getting
married down at the courthouse. They may complain about it with their
buddies at the local church and/or bar, and if they're really motivated
they may write to their congressperson, but in the end, I think most Americans
are considerably more interested in whether they'll have a job next year
than in whether that nice gay couple down the street can file their taxes
jointly this year.
28. February 2004
© 2004 NoAura Productions.
All rights reserved. Ask before you borrow!!