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IEET > Rights > FreeThought > PostGender > Vision > Technoprogressivism > Contributors > Valerie Tarico

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Why I Hope Conservatives Will Fight Gay Marriage Tooth and Nail Till Their Teeth and Nails Fall Out


Valerie Tarico
By Valerie Tarico
Away Point

Posted: Oct 31, 2012

With marriage equality battles in front of the voters in four states, the faithful are out in flocks to defend traditional matrimony. I don’t know exactly what traditional means in this context. It certainly doesn’t mean biblical, or it would include captive virgins and sex slaves and fathering children for your deceased brothers. It certainly doesn’t mean Mitt Romney’s version of traditional, since his great grandfather had five wives and his great-great grandfather had twelve.

But whatever. I hope they fight tooth and nail and keep fighting until they are so old that their teeth and nails fall out. The battles are expensive, but they are worth every penny. Why? Because of all the nasty things that religion is doing in our country, beating up on gays is one of the most visibly nasty, especially to the young people who will be shaping our future. Teenagers, even many Christian teenagers, look at it, and it makes no sense. It just looks ugly. So bad, in fact, that Christian homophobia may have the power to take down the whole ugly edifice of tribal text worship that has had Western culture in its grip for the last 500 years, also known as bibliolatry. Fundamentalists fear that homosexuality is going to do in their enterprise. I hope and pray to the universe that homophobia does.

To some extent, religion is big business, and when it comes to gay marriage Big Christianity has hired some of the best political ad consultants around. They are sophisticated; they have won at the ballot box 32 times in a row. But every time they win and force us to have this conversation one more time, they advance one of my causes, which is to expose the toxic consequences of biblical thinking.

At best the anti-gay ads are arrogant and othering; at worst, they are plain old mean. They insinuate between pop songs that nice gay people who have the legal protection of civil unions shouldn’t want the stuff that feels special to the rest of us. They remind anxious queer-ish, questioning teens that a whole bunch of people think they really ought to fit the gender binary. They suggest that the pigtailed kindergartener in your daughter’s class should keep her two beloved mommies a little secret. They imply that your neighbor, friend or brother is a moral question mark who shouldn’t be around your kids or maybe even his own.

Sermons and pastoral pronouncements can be even worse. Mega-church minister Ken Hutcherson, who has railed against effeminate men, once joked to his congregation that if a man opened a door for him he would “rip off his arm and beat him with the wet end.” More recently he warned that if marriage equality becomes the law of the land, “you can marry a horse.” Seattle’s Catholic Archbishop Peter Sartain pronounced that marriage “would be harmed beyond repair” if equality passed. Hutcherson was trying to elicit disgust (and laughter) among believers, but men of the cloth like Hutcheron and Sartain are actually stirring disgust among a lot of other people—and not against gays. When it comes to sexual matters, whether the topic be pedophilia, contraception, celibacy, masturbation, or orientation, fewer and fewer people think of the authoritarian Church as father- knows-best.

There are lots of important reasons to loathe and to fight against Iron Age thinking, as transmitted through over-valued ancient texts, and encrusted institutions and social communities built on both. Thanks in large part to the Church, women around the world are dying, literally, for lack of contraceptive access when what they really want is to “bring every good thing to one child before I have another.” Here at home, poor women are stuck with 1960’s Pill technology that they can buy on the cheap at Walmart while the Righteous oppose the kind of coverage that would give them genuinely modern options. The sacred web of life on our planet is being strained to the point of collapse while religions that are stuck in the past preach “be fruitful and multiply” and other forms of competitive breeding. Creationist contortionists have committed themselves to taking down the edifice of evolutionary biology—putting the next generation of scientific education and engineering, medicine and biotechnology at risk—rather than question their inerrant Bible. Their assault on science has undermined our ability to tackle the greatest moral challenge of our time, climate change, and extreme weather is hitting vulnerable communities in America and elsewhere. Meanwhile, as the Middle East dances at the edge of catastrophic conflict, close to half of Americans shrug their shoulders because of something an unknown author on the apocalyptic equivalent of crack wrote about the Roman Empire.

But each of these issues, for one reason or another, is harder than gay bashing to hang around the neck of Conservative Christians like the great rotting, stinking albatross it is. The linkage is less direct or more convoluted, or simply less visible. Some of these problems—like maternal mortality or the ever growing number of hungry children or the ever shrinking number of even hungrier animals—are complicated. Religious fundamentalism is mixed with a host of other causal factors, and the solutions are even more tangled. Some problems, like shoddy creationist textbooks and shiny creationist museums, are isolated in specific communities and so seem not to touch us, even though in the end they do.

Gay rights, though, is everywhere, because gay people are everywhere. They surprise us as Honey Boo Boo’s Uncle Poodle or Dick Cheney’s daughter, Mary, who, by the way, got married this fall. They show up as my best friend, Meilin, at Wheaton College (the Illinois one of Billy Graham fame) or as my little brother, David, or as the beloved but wildly effeminate son of a Mormon client who would rather stop loving her religion than stop loving her child. They show up as your neighbor or niece or even your grandmother, if you are only listening. Sexual orientation has no regard for politics, social class, or religion.

Here is the other thing that makes gay rights a stake-through-the-heart fundamentalism slayer: People are who they are and they love who they love. Sexual orientation is non-negotiable. It appears to be even more inflexible than fundamentalism, perhaps one of the few things that is. When someone comes out, you can’t talk them out of it. You can’t baptize them out of it, exorcise them out of it, pray them out of it, rock them out of it, threaten them out of it, bribe them out of it or fuck them out of it. Religious conservatives and their mental health lackeys have tried all of the above.

So, the conflict between religion and reality is clear, it’s all around us, it’s non-negotiable, and it has a simple solution: either the men in red velvet and their Protestant offspring shut up about our brothers and sisters and children and friends being abominations—or we stop listening. Simple. Solution. So far they haven’t shut up. I happen to think that has been a gift, in a twisted sort of way. That is because, in a world where Bible believers indulge in queer-baiting, gay-hating or even the thinly veiled bullying they call “defending marriage,” being or loving someone queer has more power to boot people out of biblical fundamentalism than anything else I’ve seen.

I get kind of scared about what will happen when we finally win this fight, which, given the trend lines, is just a matter of a decade or two. What if gay folks actually do get on with the Gay Agenda: getting married and raising kids and joining the military? Then the Conservative Christians can turn their full fury on the rest of us. People like me who were born with vaginas and want to manage our fertility, or kids who wanted the biotech jobs of the future that might involve, say, germ line modifications (aka evolution), or polar bear mamas who really really need science-driven humans to slow global warming may be s-o-l. Smart, determined gay leaders have spent the last thirty years figuring out how to fight against the rear guard of the Iron Age, and they’ve gotten damn good at it.

Let’s face it, they also tend to represent some of the coolest people in the progressive movement. If they go home, who will be left? Nerd girls? Scientists? Polar bears? How are we going to keep young people voting for secular, pluralistic, pragmatists, if Lady Gaga and the It Gets Better guys are home cooking dinner for kids in diapers between gigs? To frame it even more concretely: How will we ever again find a smackdown of biblical literalism that is as awesome as the Dr. Laura letter?

My daughters, who passionately love their gay uncles and aunts and queer friends, volunteered for the marriage equality campaign in Washington State. One night, curious, they pulled up some ads from the California fight and listened with mounting incredulity to the horrible things that were going to happen if California gays started tying the knot. One threat was this: “Those who oppose same sex marriage on religious grounds will be increasingly labeled as intolerant.” Both girls burst out laughing.

I hope those Defense of Marriage guys keep fighting until their chickens come home to roost and all of the rest of us simply get to go home and curl up with someone we love.


Dr. Valerie Tarico is a psychologist with a passion for personal and social evolution.  In 2005, she co-founded the Progress Alliance of Washington, a collective of future-oriented donors investing in progressive change.  She also is the founder of WisdomCommons.org, an interactive website that showcases humanity’s shared moral core via quotes, poetry, stories and essays from many traditions. Tarico’s book, Trusting Doubt:  A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light, offers personal insight into how we can apply “constructive curiosity” to our most closely guarded beliefs. 

As a social commentator, Tarico writes and speaks on issues ranging from religious fundamentalism to gender roles, to reproductive rights and technologies. A primary focus is on improving access to top tier contraceptive technologies.  To that end, she serves on the board of Advocates for Youth, a D.C. based nonprofit with wide-ranging programs related to reproductive health and justice.  Tarico co-chairs of Washington Women for Choice, serves on the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest Board of Advocates, and is a Senior Writing Fellow at Sightline Institute, a think tank focused on sustainable prosperity. Her articles appear at sites including the Huffington Post, Jezebel, Salon, AlterNet, and the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, and at her blog, AwayPoint


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COMMENTS


Defense of marriage-types and focusers on the family do not care about others’ marriages and families—deep down they only actually care about their own marriages and families.
I don’t oppose Christianity, but am not happy about it: since agape love is scarcer than hen’s teeth I can’t be too enthusiastic about Christianity. There are many traditions we retain because we don’t know what life would be like without them however such doesn’t mean we are obliged to believe in those traditions. Because one tolerates/accepts Halloween doesn’t mean one has to enjoy Halloween, one doesn’t have to think there is any significance to Halloween. One can tolerate/accept Christmas yet not have to be considered an Ebenezer Scrooge because one thinks the jolly may be missing from the holly—because one thinks Christmas contains little or none of the love deriving from Jesus it purportedly does. One can accept or at least tolerate the pro forma without being enthusiastic about it.





The hypocrisy of the american conservative cultural warriors and pilicicians is astounding.

And as for the bible-bashers, if they read it they would find that biblical marriage includes incest and rape, so enough said there.

Pot, meet kettle, oh, and did you hear about the colour black?

And finally, I think it’s great that LBGQT… people wed too, so they can experience the hell of divorce and family court like the rest of us poor unfortunates.





Even I’m more optimistic than that. Divorce isn’t always hell, contraterrine, sometimes it is a great relief. And if one is in a group marriage, which is possible, then there may be little difficulty—if any. Don’t reply, just ask yourself a question: do you want to be as on-off negative as Intomorrow? Likely, the answer is no.

What bothers me more than anything is how the world belongs to the wealthy, it is their private possession—this is not cynical, it is fact. But my rationalisation is, if it wasn’t them it would be others who would be worse.

 





.
While Supreme Court watchers ponder how justices will come down in the debate over gay marriage, ABC’s George Will said Sunday on ABC News ” This Week” it’s clear where public opinion is headed.
“There is something like an emerging consensus,” Will said, noting voters in three states recently endorsed same-sex marriage initiatives. “Quite literally, the opposition to gay marriage is dying. It’s old people.”
Democratic strategist James Carville agreed the 2012 election marked a “profound” shift on the controversial issue.
“Look in Salt Lake City, the 12 Apostles. The Mormon Church after the election says, well, ‘Maybe we’re going to change our position on homosexuality is a choice. You’re not born that way,’” he said. “I mean, the effects of an election reverberate all the way through society.”
On the table is a case challenging Proposition 8, the hot-button 2008 California ballot measure restricting marriage to opposite-sex couples. The Court will also hear a challenge to a provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage as between a man and a woman.
New York Times columnist and Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman said the Court’s decision to take on gay marriage could have a major impact on upcoming elections.
“It’s actually a positive [for Democrats],” Krugman said. “This is a significant bloc of voters that will make a decision based on which party they see as being favorable to equal rights.”
But Republican strategist Mary Matalin said there are other issues at play.
“There are important constitutional, biological, theological, ontological questions relative to homosexual marriage, but people who live in the real world say the greatest threat to civil order is heterosexuals who don’t get married and are making babies,” Matalin said.
“That’s an epidemic in crisis proportions. That is irrefutably more problematic for our culture than homosexuals getting married,” she added.
Currently, gay marriage is legal in just nine states and in the District of Columbia - but polls suggest support is growing. A recent ABC News-Washington Post poll found 51 percent of Americans support gay marriage, while a recent Pew poll shows national support at 48 percent - up from 35 percent in 2001.
“To me, the consensus has already emerged on this issue,” said ABC News’ Matthew Dowd. “It’s just a question of … is the Supreme Court going to catch up and follow that wind of the pack, or get ahead of it or put a block in the path of it?”





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