One of the most favorite things I do with my phone is listen to NPR podcasts during the commute. The Diane Rhem Show is one I listen to a lot. The other day I was listening to a show discussing the anti-gay marriage amendment that was recently passed in North Carolina. Diane's always good about making sure she has representatives from both sides of an issue. Representing the
religious conservative bigots viewpoint was Maggie Gallagher, president, Institute for Marriage and Public Policy.
I was a little worried I'd end up in a rage listening to the discussion, but honestly, these days Maggie and her cohorts just strike me as pathetic and sad.
It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change. -Charles Darwin
Give my love to the dodo, Maggie.
There were a couple of things that struck me about the conversation. For one, I never once heard the phrase "sanctity of marriage." Apparently conservatives are wising up to the fact that such religiously charged language isn't necessarily helpful to their cause. Marriage is merely "unique and special" these days.
The disadvantage of podcast listening is there's no opportunity to join the conversation. Not that my chances of getting in a call are much better than a snowball's in Hell. Still, I would really have like to ask Maggie about her old and tired arguments about procreation and child rearing. To start, marriage is not a requirement for procreation. Period. There really is no discussion there. Asserting that marriage and procreation are somehow dependent on each other is little more than wishful thinking.
I'll just completely sidestep the laughable assertion that opposite sex unions are inherently more stable.
As for child rearing, that the whole "a child needs a mother and a father" business doesn't really hold water by any objective standard. A stable, loving home is more important than the sex of the parents. But let's go ahead and assume that her assertion has merit. If opposite sex marriage is so fundamental to the proper functioning of society and the proper education of children, why isn't Maggie's organization putting as much effort in to dismantling divorce? To enforcing adultery laws that are still on the books all over this country? To advocating stricter marriage license requirements? Maybe some kind of mandatory "Matrimony Ed." You know, some analog to driver's ed? How about periodic evaluation by a licensed professional to assure the home remains stable and caring? Why isn't she working to reversing women's rights so a woman has few options except to stay home and raise the kids? That's "traditional" marriage.
Even though Maggie seemed to take umbrage at claims by her opponents that those who share her views are bigoted and hateful, I don't know what else you would call it. There's an obviously double standard. One group is given far more leniency (a.k.a. privilege) than another. Her statements that "anti-miscegenation laws were wrong and should have been dismantled, but this is different" display either a stunning dishonesty or a remarkable ignorance of how societies try and preserve power and the status quo.
Over at thinkprogress.org, Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) is quoted on the subject of gay marriage.
So, pretty soon, if you don’t set parameters, you don’t have any parameters at all, the license means nothing — the marriage means nothing. It’s their right to marry whoever they want, but we’re saying marriage is between a man and a woman. So, there’s a difference there. But it’s not a right in the Constitution as far as that goes either. It’s not a right of anybody — of a 3-year-old to be able to drive a car. You know, the government has set some parameters that they think is correct.
OK. Having worked as a counselor for troubled adolescents, I would be happy to testify that the license doesn't mean anything as it is. It's little more than a genital check. I once worked with a young man whose parents, heterosexuals as it happens, were both on disability for mental health issues. They had produced three children, all of them struggling, at least two of them basically living on the streets, because their parents are barely capable of functioning as individuals, much less as parents. But as long as there's a penis and a vagina involved
society conservatives don't care. We can't interfere with an individual's God given right to f*** up their kids.
If the government is setting parameters, they need to justify said parameters with real, measurable outcomes that demonstrate the state has an interest in monitoring and controlling said outcomes. I have yet to see any such data regarding GLBT folk. In fact, the data currently suggests GLBT folk are no better or worse at parenting than their heterosexual counterparts. Therefore, the state has no interest in preventing GLBT people from marrying. On the other hand, how much money do you think the state spends on treatment and incarceration of adolescents and adults who come from dysfunctional homes? It would seem there's a manifest budgetary consideration, but the state chooses not to involve itself in questions of parental fitness for heterosexuals...that is until it's too late and the damage is already done. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, right?
A 3-year-old and a car...really? That's just stupid and absurd. A 3-year-old is incapable of driving a car. A paraplegic is incapable of running a footrace. A blind person is incapable of describing the color of a sunset. GLBT folk are perfectly capable of loving and bonding. A more correct analogy would be forbidding someone a driving license because they are missing a finger on each hand and cannot therefore grip the wheel in exactly the same way as 10-fingered individuals.
I once saw a sign at a little tourist shop in Austria that said, "Vor inbetriebnahme des Mundwerkes Gehirn einschallten." Roughly translated: Before opening mouth, engage brain. I swear some conservatives don't even have a working clutch.
There’s no reason that the government should prevent homosexuals from entering civil marriages because some religions object to the concept, any more than the government should ban atheism because some religions object to it.
I don't know who Lisa Pampuch is. There are dozens of her on the Net. I couldn't find the original source of the quote either, but it's everywhere. I'm thinking it has something to do with how eminently reasonable it is. Of course, as this Lisa Pampuch points out, reason has little to do with the religious experience.
When asked what he would do if Camping* is wrong again, Rick LaCasse, who witnessed Camping’s 1994 failure, said: “I can’t even think like that. Everything is too positive right now. There’s too little time to think like that.”
UPDATE:This Lisa Pampuch, cited above, is the Lisa Pampuch who has thoughtfully provided links to the original article in the comments. Thanks, Lisa.
*Camping is currently predicting the rapture will occur on May 21, 2011. Obviously, it wasn't 1994.
Governor John Huntsman has come out in favor of civil unions and supports the Common Ground Initiative. A republican. In Utah. Who'd have guessed? I guess miracles haven't ceased.
Freedom to Marry Week. Get Involved.
Isn't this just special. Supporters of Prop 8 let slip in an amicus brief they don't really think that ministers will be forced to perform marriages that are contrary to their beliefs. Interesting since we keep hearing that saw over and over and over...even during the Prop 8 campaign. "If we let the gays get married in a court house the next thing you know we'll be getting sued and be forced to perform marriages in our houses of worship!"
Or not. But that's okay. Jesus doesn't mind a little dishonesty as long as it's for a "good cause."
Tom Hanks recently made a bit of stir by calling Mormons un-American. Apart from the minor issue I have that that seems to be the ultimate slur anyone can sling these days, whether right left or somewhere in between, it was the Church's official response that just boggles the mind.
Expressing an opinion in a free and democratic society is as American as it gets. (Fox News)
What most members of the Mormon church just don't seem to comprehend is they are not just "expressing an opinion." They can write letters to the editor till the cows come home. They can stand on the street corner and exhort passers-by to heed their call. They can stand on the roof-tops and shout their message of "the restored gospel" all they want and no one would even care (except perhaps their neighbors). People might complain about the little boys knocking on their doors, but no one is trying to make it illegal.
What they have done in California is not simply express an opinion. They've conspired to make their beliefs the law of the land. What Tom Hanks' comment missed (because he isn't LDS) and what members of the Mormon church deliberately ignore is Prop 8 is not just un-American. It's un-Mormon.
The LDS Church has what is known as The 13 Articles of Faith, sort of a Mormon creed originally written down by Joseph Smith, intended to summarize the beliefs of the church. Every good Mormon child has them memorized by the time they are twelve. Article of Faith #11 states
We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.
I wonder if they've started teaching the kiddies the 2008 addendum to #11: "...unless you live in a jurisdiction where we have enough political clout to give our beliefs the force of law, in which case we will do everything in our power to make sure you live as we see fit."
Valerie Mills of Bountiful's Citizens for Families argued the "collapse of traditional marriage" is leading to high rates of child anxiety and obesity.
OK. I lied. The collapse of traditional marriage has nothing to do with gay sex, gay marriage or gay rights. It's about toxic heterosexual couples who lack the maturity and relationship skills to even be in a relationship, much less be a parent or get married. Heterosexuals have done a fine job of demolishing marriage without our help.
Oh, but don't lets talk about the failings of heterosexuals. Let's just blame the gays.
Much has been written and said about Prop 8. I've remained largely mum on the subject mostly because I have a hard time getting too worked up about it. Amending a state constitution isn't nearly as difficult as amending the national constitution. Obviously. If it can be amended once it can be amended again. I also think people have over estimated California's ability or desire to completely embrace GLBT folk. (Just like we continue to overestimate Democrats' willingness to support us on Capitol Hill.) San Francisco and West Hollywood are just two very small parts of a very large state. Still, every other similar measure has passed by huge margins: 20-40%. Prop 8 passed with only 4%. That is progress. It really is only a matter of time.
To some degree, I don't get worked up about it because I just can't. It's just too upsetting and I don't want to go around angry all the time. Always in the back of my mind is the thought that were my family living in California, I know exactly how they would vote. It's also very disturbing and is really a slap in the face to hear blatant and deliberate misinformation coming from someone who should know better. I'm looking at you Thomas Monson. Oh, sure, you and the Twleve have remained largely mum on the subject, leaving most of the talking to a lowly President of the Seventy, but you're not fooling anyone. Claiming that the church has only donated $250K to passing Prop 8, all the while encouraging individual members to give generously of their time and money is dishonesty worthy of any Pharisee.
As much distance as the Mormon church tries to put between itself and polygamy, it's own history with marriage is dubious at best. Every argument used today against gay marriage was used in the 1880s against polygamy. Perhaps they can continue to delude themselves they "are not anti-gay. [They are] pro marriage between a man and a woman" because they aren't advocating seizing the property of GLBT folk or advocating terminating their citizenship. Mormons threw their weight around in California because they could. Mormons have always had a very strong presence in California. You didn't hear so much about Mormon involvement in Massachusetts, not because the Church wasn't telling it's members there the same thing it was telling its members in California, but because Mormons aren't a power player there.
Mormons, like most religious groups, suffer from unbelievable arrogance. If their actions are divisive and hurtful it's not because they are assholes. It's because everyone who disagrees with them is not prepared or ready to hear the "true" message of God. No one seems to have caught on that we all worship a god who is most like ourselves. You worship a God who advocates persecution and arrogance because that's who you are. It really has nothing to do with some immutable truth. It's been a while since I read the Doctrine and Covenants, the Mormon scripture from their early history as a church. I seem to remember, however, that God was constantly chastising them for being arrogant and rude to the people around them. We they complained about being driven out of still another town, often as not, his response was, "Well, you asked for it!" Is the Mormon church somehow more true today than it was in 1850? Is that why it's okay to be a political bully now?
The church at times has preserved that which is immoral and unethical. Called to combat social evils, it has remained silent behind stained-glass windows. ... How often the church has been an echo rather than a voice, a taillight behind the Supreme Court rather than a headlight guiding men progressively and decisively to higher levels of understanding.
Dr. Martin Luther King
I've finally sat down and watched Four Weddings and a Funeral. You know what? I really liked it. OK, granted. I'm gay. Chick flicks are not exactly foreign territory. And I must admit the whiskey probably has had some influence on my thinking...or at least what passes for thinking when one has consumed as much whiskey as I have...
Apart from being a sappy love story, what I really liked about it was the gay couple. I suppose the best word for it was poignant. I don't know that D and I will ever get married. For my part: Been there. Done that. D, I think, has marriage bound up with all things religious, which tends to give him the heebie jeebies. Honestly, I cannot blame him.
Spoiler Alert (Surely I'm not the last person to see this movie...)
Nevertheless, married or not, the gay couple in Four Weddings and a Funeral was nice to see. An adorable May to November couple, the funeral was both touching in the expression of love that was given by the surviving partner as is was poignant (do you know how hard it is to spell that word when drunk?)—not only in the fact that they were careful never to appear a couple in public, but also when the surviving husband was introduced as "Gareth's closest friend" and not even in the course of the funeral proper, but as a preface thereto.
How sad is that? OK, the movie is still 20th Century. And over ten years ago, that was probably an extremely progressive move (even if it was "over there" in liberal, god-forsaken Europe). Still, even now in 21st Century America, homosexuality is still "the love that is only just beginning to dare speak its name." There are states where heterosexuals do not even have to make a formal declaration of their love. Spend enough time together and it's a done deal. On the other hand, out of 50 states, only two allow two men to claim the title of husband, as if love and devotion were the purview of human institutions.
Still, married or not, I love D. I know that one should never say never, but at this point in my life I cannot imagine myself ever loving anyone as much as I love my cute Mexican. And you know what? Government sanctioned or not, that should be good enough.