The Supreme Court of the United States made a landmark decision last week that states cannot constitutionally (i.e. legally) ban same-sex marriage. The bottom line: under the Constitution, every citizen is entitled to the same rights and freedoms regardless of sexual orientation. Most of the world celebrated with the USA over this decision (the US thus became the 21st nation to legalize same-sex marriage).
Homophobia – which like racism, intolerance and Islamophobia, are all cornerstones of the uber-right platforms – is not legal. Equality is. And that’s what the decision was all about.
While the majority of states had already legalized same-sex marriage, 13 of the “fly-over” states still behaved in a medieval way by banning it. Now they can’t because it violates that most precious document of American governance, the Constitution. And to oppose the Constitution is nothing less than treason.
One would hope that in a civilized world, after all the arguments, the legal challenges and the debates, once the matter was settled, that everyone would simply accept the decision like mature adults, pull up their ‘big-boy’ pants and move on. And most have.
Everyone, that is, except for the Tea Party Republicans and their bigoted, homophobic followers. Instead they have whined and moaned like drama queens ever since the court’s decision was made public.
The Republican Party’s presidential candidates uniformly condemned a Supreme Court’s ruling that enshrined same-sex marriage as a nationwide reality on Friday.
Some struck a more alarmist tone than others.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, a likely presidential candidate who was due to speak at the conference later on Saturday, wants a constitutional amendment to let states decide whether or not to legalize gay marriage. Texas Senator Ted Cruz said in Iowa on Saturday that the constitution should be amended so voters could recall Supreme Court justices.
Some sour-grapes opponents threatened to move to Australia after the decision (don’t bother to write…). Social media was full of a story that preacher Rick Scarborough threatened to light himself on fire (I’ll bring the marshmallows…). However, Scarborough didn’t actually say that, but later added his group would resist the court’s decision.
Senator Ted Cruz, who plays to the angriest of the fringe audience, commented (rather ungrammatically)
Today is some of the darkest 24 hours in our nation’s history.
Later, he swore to front resistance to the decision, stating
For those who say the marriage decision yesterday is the law of the land, it is fundamentally illegitimate, it is wrong, it is not law, and it is not the Constitution.
One goofy GOP wingnut even whinged that the US should get rid of the Supreme Court as a result of choosing liberty oppression. And Sarah Palin, the poster girl for the right’s hypocritical idiocy, called for the Supreme Court judges to be impeached (which in local argot would be written ‘inpeach’…) while her own daughter continued to have kids without bothering to marry their fathers:
The former vice presidential candidate’s oldest daughter Bristle, recently announced her second out-of-wedlock pregnancy; news greeted with harsh reaction from many people who felt the birth announcement via blog was less than celebratory, quoting the expectant mother’s own words: “a huge disappointment.”
(Bristol Palin, Sarah’s unwed daughter, took home a $262,000 salary as the ambassador for abstinence for the Candie Foundation. One hopes the foundation has fired her since then, at least after the announcement of her latest unwed pregnancy.)
Others cried facetiously that their “religious liberty” was at risk.
“It’s a matter of time until it will be a hate crime to read Romans 1, and until we’re sued on not performing gay marriages,” said Dudley Rutherford, senior pastor of the Shepherd of the Hills Church near Los Angeles, attending a Christian convention last week in Cincinnati…
Phil Burress, the Cincinnatian who led the 2004 campaign to ban same-sex marriage in Ohio, says that while the battle is lost, the war is far from over… “Pastors are willing to go to jail rather than violate God’s word,” he said. “This is about biblical values.”
What utter claptrap. This ‘war on Christianity’ is a media-built hoax used to propel self-serving right-wing agendas by creating fear and confusion among a not-very-bright public more obsessed with the Kardashians than the Constitution. It’s remarkably similar to the arguments made against desegregation or against ending apartheid.
The right wing media was, as expected, appalled that justice prevailed over religious bigotry. America, for them, is not built on equality, but rather on punitive theocratic principles in which their religious beliefs dominate all others.
One right-wing writer lamented, “we should weep for our country.” Others were more vituperative in their reaction:
Breitbart.com contributor John Nolte criticized the Supreme Court’s decision in a series of tweets, writing that same sex marriage “only emboldens gaystapo … to target your church.” Nolte also wrote that the “Big Gay Hate Machine is coming for your church next” and that marriage equality leave “no legal argument against polygamy.”
Powerline’s John Hinderaker: “We Do Not Live In A Democracy.” Conservative blogger John Hinderaker reacted to the decision by writing: “Today’s gay marriage decision tells us we do not live in a democracy. These are dark days.”
FOX News has, of course, led the charge against marriage equality for the past decade, as the voice of unreason for all the uber-right. Its commentators have foamed apoplectically in their efforts to be the loudest voice condemning anyone who supported gay marriage. Megyn Kelly, one of their nastiest talking heads, even invited a hate-group leader onto her show to comment on the decision the following day.
These sanctimonious hypocrites whined most hypocritically about god and the bible as if they lived in some sort of ISIS-like theocracy (which style they would love to initiate, albeit a Christian theocracy, but run along the same brutal and intolerant lines). They must just love Vladimir Putin and his violent, homophobic Russia where gangs of armed skinheads hunt and assault gays.
And no doubt they will continue to rail theatrically over the SCOTUS decision because these politicians are pandering to the illiterati for an upcoming election, to people who don’t actually know what their own bible says, or know the hypocrisy of their own views.*
But it seems not all Republicans are so narrow minded, bigoted and mean; many younger GOP even agree with the decision. Former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger spoke in favour of the decision – a distinct change for the man who vetoed same-sex marriages twice during his time in office.
In fact, the decision seems to have fractured the GOP along the lines of tolerance versus intolerance. Perhaps Americans are finally getting tired of the rabid, mudslinging, intolerance and yellow journalism.
Presidential candidates Carly Fiorina and Jeb Bush both replied to media questions saying it was “time for the party to move on.” However, Fiorina also played to the extremists by adding “..we need to focus all of our energies on ensuring that we protect the religious liberties and the freedom of conscience of those who profoundly disagree with this decision.”
The candidates’ comments were emblematic of an internal struggle in today’s Republican Party on the rapidly growing acceptance nationwide of same-sex couples. As recently as 2004, President George W. Bush announced support for a federal constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, but polls taken over the past decade have revealed a surge in support for gay and lesbian nuptials, including among Republicans.
CBS News reported:
Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a former Baptist pastor and fan favorite among Christian conservatives. “This irrational, unconstitutional rejection of the expressed will of the people in over 30 states will prove to be one of the court’s most disastrous decisions, and they have had many. The only outcome worse than this flawed, failed decision would be for the President and Congress, two co-equal branches of government, to surrender in the face of this out-of-control act of unconstitutional, judicial tyranny.”
But despite Huckabee’s hyperbolic hysteria, 36 states already legalized it, and more Americans back marriage equality than oppose it, according to Pew research figures from surveys done since 2012. Support for same-sex marriage was at 57% in May. 2015. But among the right’s target audience – mainline, white Protestants – support is even higher, underscoring the disconnect between the GOP leaders and the party’s rank and file:
Religion continues to be a major factor in attitudes as well. Fully 85% of those who are religiously unaffiliated favor same-sex marriage, as do 62% of white mainline Protestants and 56% of Catholics.
It’s possible – and we hope it does – that the decision will accelerate the growing split between the party’s moderates and extremists (aka the American Taliban and more recently, American ISIS) and break it into two very distinct parts. Then the moderate GOP can go back to building itself into a credible party that works for the people, not just for the white, pseudo-Christian elite and their one-percent backers.
That other part will no doubt continue to press its racist, homophobic agenda but to a dwindling audience who can’t abide the notion of equality.
* Let’s look at their so-called biblical arguments.
First, if you use the Old Testament as the basis for ANY moral, social, legal or cultural argument, you can’t cherry pick from among its laws or conditions for only those that suit your argument. Your god didn’t say, “Hey, here’s a bunch of laws I dreamed up. Pick the ones you like best and ignore the rest.” It’s all or nothing.
If you eat bacon, shrimp, lobster, you are a sinner. If you’re an uncirumcismed male, you are a sinner. if you have been divorced, you have sinned. If you eat fat or blood, touch an unclean animal, have sex with your neighbour’s wife, reap a crop to the edges of the field, spread slander, seek revenge, mix clothing fabrics, mistreat foreigners, get a tattoo or cut the edges of your hair you have sinned.
I didn’t say that: the bible did. And it said it in clear, unambiguous language.
Leviticus alone has 76 laws prohibiting this sort of behaviour. There are 613 laws – mitzvot in Hebrew – that you have to obey – not just if you’re religious. And they’re not easy to follow, even for the most religious of the Orthodox Jews. But the laws of god are, if you choose to use them as your argument, for everyone to obey, including you.
Do you lay a stone for worship? Wear tefillin during prayer? Afix mezzuzot on your door frames? Wear fringes (tzitzit) on your clothes? Recite grace after meals? If not, you are breaking one of your god’s laws.
Ever bear a grudge? Take revenge? Have adulterous sex? Wrong a stranger? Marry a Gentile? Kiss, embrace or wink at a relative? Sinner!
So unless you have abstained from all of the biblical prohibitions, and obeyed all of its laws – including not eating bacon and not working on the Sabbath – don’t bring the bible into your argument. You’re already a sinner and have no moral authority to point a finger at anyone else. And according to some of the laws, you should be stoned. To death.
As for homosexuality, as one writer puts it:
Homosexuality is briefly mentioned in only six or seven of the Bible’s 31,173 verses. (The verses wherein homosexuality is mentioned are commonly known as the “clobber passages,” since they are typically used by Christians to “clobber” LGBT people.) The fact that homosexuality is so rarely mentioned in the Bible should be an indication to us of the lack of importance ascribed it by the authors of the Bible.
Even the few verses mentioned above may not be what you think they are about. As an article in Salon put it: “Moses and Paul are being misinterpreted: They were against gang rape and pederasty, not loving relationships.” From the story of Sodom in Genesis 19:4–8, discussed in the excerpt from “Making Sense of the Bible” by Adam Hamilton:
Lot offers his two daughters to be raped by the men of Sodom rather than giving up the strangers he’s just met (a story virtually identical to the one that occurs in Judges 19 with the Levite’s concubine and the men of Gibeah).
But here’s the question I would ask related to this story: is this story really about loving, committed homosexual relationships? Had the town’s men gang-raped Lot’s daughters, would this story be about loving, committed heterosexual relationships? Of course not. Did the men of Sodom consider themselves homosexual? All of them? Or was their attack upon these strangers a way of demonstrating power over them, humiliating them, while violently gratifying their own sexual desires?
How moral is offering your daughters up to rape? Is the bible such a great moral authority on marriage that the right needs to keep raising it as the source of their fears?
It certainly isn’t the moral authority on slavery or murder – both of which it condones. The bible even condones rape in many cases (mostly to women as spoils of war – see Deuteronomy 21:10-14, Numbers 31:15-18 and other books). And it condones polygamy. Not my first choice for a moral platform on which to base legal or cultural directives.
A recent article in Newsweek asked:
Shall we look to Abraham, the great patriarch, who slept with his servant when he discovered his beloved wife Sarah was infertile? Or to Jacob, who fathered children with four different women (two sisters and their servants)? Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon and the kings of Judah and Israel—all these fathers and heroes were polygamists….. The apostle Paul (also single) regarded marriage as an act of last resort for those unable to contain their animal lust. “It is better to marry than to burn with passion,” says the apostle, in one of the most lukewarm endorsements of a treasured institution ever uttered. Would any contemporary heterosexual married couple—who likely woke up on their wedding day harboring some optimistic and newfangled ideas about gender equality and romantic love—turn to the Bible as a how-to script?
Gay marriage isn’t even mentioned in the bible, although there are plenty of prohibitions against divorce in both testaments (which is equal in sin to adultery in Matthew 19:3 and 19:9 and Luke 16:18). Yet many who oppose same-sex marriage are just fine with divorce. So why the hypocrisy? Perhaps because they are merely pseudo-Christians who don’t intend to practice what they preach.