Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Chance to Get it Right

In the last couple weeks, Maryland’s state government began working on legislation to legalize gay marriage.  Last week, it passed in the State Senate and has now moved to the House of Delegates.

As a long-standing advocate for gay marriage and all manner of equality, I should be thrilled.  I spelled out my take on this issue with a post from November of 2009, when the state of Maine repealed its gay marriage law, via referendum. 

It is a good sign that Maryland’s bill is at least making progress.  They had a sober and respectful debate in the State Senate and it narrowly passed.  The reason why I’m keeping my hopes low is that conservative forces were not prepared for the speed with which the bill went through the Senate so there was not a lot of legislative pressure brought to bear.  The House of Delegates is shaping up to be another story.  This debate is going to get messy.

Religious conservatives are already popping up in the newspaper and online, spreading the usual fear mongering, half-truths, irrational assertions and Bible, Bible, Bible.

They’re doing so because they know that even if the bill passes the Assembly, 55,376 signatures can still put the law to a referendum vote in 2012 and get it overturned just like they did in Maine.  So the right wing noise machine is honing in on the unwashed masses.

Maryland may be a “deep blue” state, but that won’t help on this issue.  A great deal of the “blueness” comes from the African-American community, where there is still great resistance to gay marriage, based on the Southern Baptist influence.  If the issue indeed comes out on the 2012 ballot, it will also be a presidential election, which will be sure to bring out the vote.

Last week there was some schmo in a “Letter to the Editor” of the Baltimore Sun claiming the “time is not right” and “there are more important priorities right now.”

The thing is, when is there NOT some kind of crisis going on?  I’ll tell you… “Never.”  There’s always something that someone can point to and claim that it’s more important.  That’s no reason to continue oppressing an entire class of people.  I say, let’s clear up this little matter that has zero direct effect on 90% of the population, so that we CAN turn to other matters.  For that 10%, it’s a huge issue.  Fixing it takes no skin off the backs of the other 90%. 

Today, there was another letter that has this to say: “If you ask the smallest child about marriage, they will answer marriage is between a man and a woman.  All logic, not to mention the Bible, proves this.”

There is so much wrong with that statement.  First of all, if you ask the smallest child why they want the light on at night, they’ll tell you it’s to keep away the monsters in the closet.  (Or the alligators under the bed.)  What children say does not make for a good source of public law. It’s not even remotely relevant.  When people start bringing “the children” into an argument, it’s a sure sign that they can’t win on merit.

Secondly, “the Bible proves this”???  I’m sorry; the Bible doesn’t prove jack shit.  The Bible contains no proof, no evidence, and no hard data on practically anything, let alone on this issue.  That’s why the whole thing is called “faith.”  And it takes a great deal of that faith to put more stock in a book of 2000 year old stories than in centuries of physical and biological evidence.

It also contains a great deal of material that we disregard out of hand, from, say, how to treat your slaves to why eating shrimp is a sin.  I’m sick to fucking death of people cherry-picking the Bible in order to uphold their biases.  Sure, one part is and sacrosanct and never to be violated and other parts are expendable because, hell, we like shrimp.

Bullshit. 

The letter writer goes on to try to disassociate the link between the civil rights movement of the 60s with gay rights because blacks were deprived of far more rights then than gays are now.

What it fails to acknowledge is that even though the finishing details are different, the nut of the problem is the same: depriving select rights from some people for no other reason than the way they were born.  It’s wrong in big doses and it’s wrong in small doses.  Period.

Another weak argument brought to bear is the whole slippery slope case, like from this Letter to the Editor: “And let the politicians who support it be honest and profess their support of incest and bigamy as the measure will lead to incest and bigamy to be recognized as forms of marriage as well. Why not rename the law as the Gay, Incest and Bigamy Marriage Act and see how many people support it?

Yes, the inevitable boogeymen, incest and bigamy, mentioned three times in two sentences.  This letter doesn’t mention bestiality, but that often comes up as well.  These issues get roped into the gay marriage for one reason: to equate gay marriage with something detestable.  None have anything specifically to do with homosexuality, nor is there any sort of movement to make them conventional.  This entire argument, if you can call it that, is designed to scare people.  That’s it.

The unfortunate thing is how often it works.

In a page one story in The Sun today, Del. Don Dwyer seems to be spearheading the scare tactics.

Dwyer is gearing up for a shock-and-awe House debate – he says he has been sharing with colleagues a pamphlet that includes explicit descriptions of sex acts.  Such pamphlets, he says, have been passed out to children in Massachusetts where same-sex marriage is legal.”

Right… pamphlets of sex acts being handed to school children.  What planet is he talking about?  I know Massachusetts is a blue state, but come on.  What possible rationale would there be for such activities?  I’m telling you, if that happened at all, and I highly doubt it, it’s the conservative nutjobs that did it, to highlight the “ick factor” of the entire subject matter.  It sounds like one of their ACORN or Planned Parenthood “stings.”

My dream is that one day, cooler heads will prevail and we might possibly have a rational discussion about matters that divide us.  Ultimately, I’ll sleep much easier once people stop looking for things to get offended about and just mind their own goddamned business.

Yo, if you’re worried about the institution of marriage, work on your own.  Leave your neighbors out of it.  And perhaps, one day, once your precious children come into contact with other kids that have two mommies or two daddies, they’re see that all the commotion was for nothing.  Instead of learning all they know about homosexuality from film clips of Pride parades featuring streams of flamboyant bare-chested Freddy Mercury clones, they’ll take their cues from real people living their lives the best they can.

Then maybe when they grow up, we’ll have a lot fewer judgmental pricks running around polluting society with their own intolerance and prejudice.

22 comments:

  1. *applause*

    *standing ovation*

    You hit the nail on the head bluz, repeatedly. One of the millions of reasons why I'm on longer a Christian is that they do cherry-pick what they choose to believe. Half my church had been divorced and remarried (which Jesus himself condemns, clearly leaving no room for argument) yet continued to insist that homosexuality is a hell worthy offense (a subject which Jesus never mentions). You can't have it both ways. Either the Bible is the 'gospel' truth or it's not. Make up your mind.

    I could go on about this subject forever, but for your sake, I won't.

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  2. best post I have read in years. Right on!

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  3. Raven,
    Thanks. It's easy when the "nail" is so freakin' wide. Like I said, people use leaps of logic and scare tactics when they can't win on facts. Best they can do is claim "Religion!" and hope everyone else bows before it. It's either that or go for the "They're coming to skull-fuck your dead pets" gambit.

    Paige,
    Oh come now... All my posts are this good.
    (snicker.) OK, even I don't believe that. So thank you.

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  4. On February 16, my oldest and dearest poet friend died. He was preceded in death by his partner of 40 years. Their togetherness prompted a young neighbor to ask when he saw just one, "Where's the other one?" Inseparable and faithful, Randall and Andrew made their committment January 20, 1956, a beautiful, valuable example for all couples.

    Yes. You are absolutely on with your "cherry picking" Bible quoters. Look in Leviticus for other abominations like eating pork chops, bacon, rare beef, wearing clothes with two different kinds of thread (polyester is definitely taboo), no tatoos and forget reading your horoscope, definitely verboten. And the list goes on to condemn lending stuff for profit and collecting interest. Yes indeed. According to Leviticus, we are all in deep Do-Do.
    Remember too, the world's great love stories: Ruth and Naomi, "Whither thou goest, I will go. Wherever thou lodgest, I will lodge."; David and Jonathan, "Thy love was wonderful to me, even surpassing the love of women." And David had a bunch of women.

    Thank you for this important post.

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  5. Mary Ann,
    I knew there were other "taboo" things in there, I was just too lazy to look it all up. I should have consulted the Book of Lil Mother.

    That Leviticus guy must have been a real downer at parties. No fun a'toll!

    My condolences regarding your friend Randy. You've been talking about him for years. I don't think I ever met him but he sounded like a good guy.

    No reason he and his companion couldn't have called their relationship a "marriage." Why is it that religious conservatives are so concerned with what goes on in other people's houses, in general and bedrooms, in particular?

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  6. Why does everyone always forget about that "love one another" part, too? I mean, it's only three words. You'd think people could keep up with that one.

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  7. Mrs. Bachelor Girl,
    It's funny how that part always gets left out... that and taking care of the poor. Probably because there's no money to be made in it.

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  8. Then there's, "Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me."
    And good old St. Paul tells the Galatians, "There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor freeman; there is neither male nor female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus."
    The New Testament has some cherries too, good food for thought.

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  9. Terrific blog, Tony. I hope it changes a few Maryland minds. They might think that since you're right about the Steelers, you're probably right about this as well.
    JoAnn

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  10. I am truly sickened that Arizona's legislature is considering a bill that will remove benefits from same-sex couples. This is the most backward state in which I have ever lived!
    I no longer believe in organized religion because they don't seem to worship the same God that I believe in.

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  11. I'm not a religious person, my god is not one "being" I look upon and worship. My "god" exists within me, my faith exists within ME, it's the love I have to offer to those around me, whether it be family, friends or a stranger on the street. The church has it's own dirty laundry that needs to be cleaned, so they should start there and keep their noses out of gay communities bedroom. I have said this before and I will say it again, I'm proud to be a Canadian. My same sex relationship has been embraced far more than it has been rejected. Why the US still struggles with this subject is beyond my comprehension.

    I love your comment about the idiots who are handing out the pamphlets demonstrating gay sex acts. Any chance they have room for a picture of a woman being brutally raped or a "Man of the Cloth" sexually assaulting one of his alter boys? I mean come on, let's keep it fair here. No sense in holding back.

    Some people truly disappoint me. But luckily we have people such as yourself t, who is not afraid to speak up for what you believe in. The world is in need of more hero's like yourself.

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  12. JoAnn,
    I don’t know about that… usually as soon as anyone around here finds out I’m a Pittsburgher, it disqualifies anything else I have to say.

    Judie,
    I think entirely too many religions are caught up in the trappings of their particular flavor and forget about the actual message… y’know… Help one another. Don’t judge. Be humble. Don’t exclude.

    Sassy,
    Whenever I read about the hysteria bandied about when this issue arises, I always think of my dear friends like you, who are in same-sex relationships. I have to believe that if more people actually knew some same-sex couples, and saw what it is they’re bellyaching about, they would see that they’re not much different than their own families.

    But on the other hand, you can never underestimate the stupid and exaggerated sense of self-importance in these people. Their hateful diatribes make a mockery of the God they claim to follow.

    I’m just glad you don’t have to deal with this American puritanical priggishness.

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  13. It astounds me that the religous right believes that extending the protections of marriage to homosexuals somehow is an assault on heterosexual marriage. Plenty of heterosexual couples choose not to get married, and if the relationship ends, there can be dire consequenses to the less financially independent partner. It is unfortunate and often trajic, but they made a choice not to marry. Homosexual couples don't even have the choice. There are cohabitation agreements and powers of attorney, etc., etc., but nothing imputes the same sorts of rights and responsibilities as marriage. I feel so strongly about this issue that at times it is difficult to put into words.

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  14. DG,
    Your words were just fine. Valid points, all.

    In Maryland, I see a lot of acceptance for some kind of civil union that bestows the same rights of marriage, but it's that "M" word that's making people lose their minds. And that's where the good old-time religion comes in.

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  15. Love this.

    You know my stance. Equality for ALL. My Mom always told me you can't help who you love.

    Unfortunately for me, it's Matt. He's like a 28 year old child. You'd know all about that, though, wouldn't you Bluz?

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  16. Cassie,
    I know where you stand and I commend you for it. Your mom is very wise, and raised two very wise daughters.

    And I haven't been a 28-year old child in over 20 years.

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  17. Bravo on the post! Here in the "if it feels good, do it state" of California most of us are Pro everything. I'm such a hopeless romantic that I want everyone to be in a happy relationship - regardless of their race or gender.

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  18. Separate is NOT equal. Marriage equality is the only way to realize full equal rights for all people. The marriage bans will all ultimately fail because they are unconstitutional. There is no compelling government interest, let alone even a rational basis, for denying same sex couples the right to marry. It is only a matter of time, and this article will be on the right side of history when that time comes. The Bible says for us to love one another because God is Love. The only requirement for marriage should be Love. That and willingness to pick up socks and empty the dishwasher.

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  19. Kernut,
    If only your fellow Californians felt strongly enough in the same manner, strongly enough to overcome the effect of all that outside money provided by the Mormons, and vote down that noxious Prop 8. But alas, money still talks loudest.

    But you’re right. Everyone should have the right to pursue a loving relationship with any consenting adult, without approval or judgment from anyone else. We, as a people, are entirely too wrapped up in other people’s business.

    Angela,
    That’s the reason these weak arguments are used… it’s all they’ve got. Religion and prejudice and tradition, that’s it. None of that is sufficient to nullify a person’s fundamental rights.

    “Separate by Equal” was never both.

    How funny that you choose to comment on this post, as opposed to, say, the one that’s all about YOU! LOL… There’s that trademark “humility.”

    Congrats on successfully producing little EJ. Your cousin, and his online community, wish you nothing but the best.

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  20. Since the third century, Christians have always used Scripture in order to do pretty much whatever they want. Of course, so do most other religions. Somehow, I've been able to maintain my faith despite his followers.

    When the adulterous woman was brought to Jesus, the crowd told Him that according to the law, they could stone her. Actually, according to the law, they were supposed to stone her. Jesus didn't. Jesus was–perish the thought–tolerant. Did he break God's law? Was he placing more importance on tolerance than man's antiquated law that they attributed to God?

    The most dangerous man in the world is the man who is SURE he knows that God is against someone else.

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  21. Bagger,
    Your conclusion is right in line with the primary tenet from the Book of Bluz, which reads: “Anyone that claims to know the will of God is a fool or a con. (And if money is requested, it’s the latter.”

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  22. I read this one a while back, but apparently never commented. :/ Just wanted to throw my weight in with others. The hypocrisy of the religious right is so scary. They YELL this crap, while, as others have mentioned, completely ignoring everything Jesus stood for - tolerance, love for EVERYone. Come on! If you believe in some of it, you need to at least acknowledge the other. I don't believe it (the Bible) was meant to be taken literally. Some of it applied before Christ, some of it is guidelines, some of it clearly doesn't apply anymore. Sorry. I feel pretty strongly about this, too. Very nice post! Well done.

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