Thursday, December 3, 2009

Bigotry is okay if you have a religious excuse

As most of you probably know, equal rights took another blow after the gay marriage bill was shot down in New York. I wasn't going to say much about it since this is becoming a sad trend in the US, and I'm running out of witty things to say. But last time people accused me of hating on Maine and no other state (apparently some people had their Sarcasm Sensors turned off - seriously, read some of those crazy comments), so I figured I needed to mention it.

New York Senators, you suck.

I'm not really sure what more I can say without repeating myself. This is sad, but I honestly think the best way to get gay marriage to pass isn't to change minds, but to wait 10 years. Old bigots will die off, young people (who are significantly more accepting of gays) will become voters, and the tides will turn. It may be a while, but do we seriously think we can reason with people like Senator Ruben Diaz?
Diaz, the second speaker during the debate, set the tone early for the discussion about religion. "Gay marriage," he said, "is not only opposed by us evangelicals.

"All the major religions in the world also oppose it," Diaz, who grew up in Puerto Rico, said. "The Jewish religion opposes it. The Muslim religion opposes it. The Catholic religion opposes it."
You know, when I hear that, the first thing I think is that there's a problem with religion, not gays. Bah, crazy talk.

(Hat tip to Bryan)


  1. Time heals all things. (except for these crazy eyes)

  2. I agree...but I think Andrew Sullivan has hit it on the head that this is not just a religion problem, but a larger immaturity of the conservative movement in this country.

  3. When my 60 year old gay uncle sent a message to Equality California they said the same wait 10 years thing... that made him quite sad. I can't blame him so many who marched with Harvey Milk (as he did) probably won't be around to see the end result.

  4. The leadership of the Reform Jews (which I would guess are the majority of American Jews) is actually in favor of legalizing gay marriage. They don't want to perform it themselves, but they don't see their views on marriage as something that should be written into law.

    So I think Sen. Diaz is probably misstating the facts or exaggerating in his comments.

  5. Sorry, forgot a word " 60 year old gay uncle *was* sent a message..."

  6. That's all the major religions in the world *that worship largely the se deity.*
    He neglects to mention any eastern religions: Hinduism, Buddhism,
    etc. Only the ones that persecute others are the ones that serve the causes
    of the far Right.

  7. There WERE glimmers of hope, such as Senator Diane Savino. I cannot possibly believe that other senators could have listened to this heart-wrenchingly honest speech and still vote against same-sex marriage.

  8. Well, it must be right to oppose gay marriage then, if ALL the major religions of the world are the same way inclined.

    After all, they're right on so many other things, like . . . er . . .

    Nope. Got nothing.

  9. And as Dan Savage just pointed out, most of those religions want to see the worshippers of the others go to Hell.

    Somebody really should work harder on denying marriage rights to Jews, Catholics and Muslims.

  10. Actually, I think those religions started off with a vague pro-natalist idea (having as many kids as physically possible = awesome), and started extending it in ridiculous ways (gay => no kids => OH NO LESS BABIES THAN THERE COULD BE).
    Even "eastern" religions like Buddhism and Hinduism have elaborate tracts about how cranking out the babies is awesome and it's bad to be gay because that's not cranking out babies.

  11. "Somebody really should work harder on denying marriage rights to Jews, Catholics and Muslims."
    - bumper sticker, anyone: "Pity Domitian let some get away"?

  12. Is it okay when a senator says "My religion says me to vote No, therefore I'll vote No"? Doesn't that violate separation of church and state? I didn't know America was pretty much a theocracy.

    There should be something America could do when a senator (who's supposed to be serving all sorts of people, including non-believers) lets religion meddle with his decisions. Like firing him or something.

  13. Senator Diaz is a sad representation for us Puerto Ricans. Bastard.

  14. @Mike

    This isn't a conservative issue. True conservatives are all for gay marriage because it means less government interference in private matters. Republicans are all about gay hating - the two are really different beasts.

    This was really shocking, I remember Taegan Goddard said his sources told him the Democrats had the votes they needed. Sounds like one person broke that and everyone else broke ranks. Sadness.

  15. Unfortunately, "true conservatives" are like "True Scotsmen." Do they really exist?

    Religion should have no part in government, and Senator Diaz should remember he serves his constituents whether they are religious or not.

  16. Logistically, realistically, the 10 years thing is probably right.

    However, let's put this in a more Historical context...

    "I'm sorry, Rosa... could you ride in the back of the bus for just 10 more years so that we can get used to the notion that maybe one day you'll be riding in the front with us?"

    "Hey, two water fountains just means less lines! Give us 10 years to get used to the concept of sharing a spigot with you, then we'll talk"

    Waiting for the less bigoted to come to voting age won't help if all we do is sit and wait for them. That's 10 years their bigoted parents and grandparents have to warp their minds while we wait quietly for our chance to be equal.

    What I think will work is if the Majority no longer have the power to dictate the rights of the Minority. I think the problem should be tackled at a Federal Level and not left up to cash-infused campaigns full of lies. Make it law, reap a little whirlwind and it will all settle down when everyone realizes that society hasn't collapsed in hellfire.

    It worked for my Country, after all. (Hooray for Canada!!)

  17. If only atheists could segregate ourselves somewhere far, far away without the risk of old-world psychos sending us tactical nukes of love on God's instructions.

  18. Frankly, for me, the word "marriage" is taking on negative connotations. Who would want to associate with bigots by joining with someone you love in one of their "sacraments." I'm a straight man, and should I find a woman I want to spend my life with, I'd prefer to do it in a manner available to all. Create something new that's available to everyone and I'd bet you'd see more straights than gays using it. So what if it results in fewer "marriages."

  19. Veritas and Anonymous@1:24pm may have interesting points—“less government interference” and “their ‘sacraments.’” Since marriage tends to be primarily justified through religious worldviews, why not simply push for the government to be out of the marriage business entirely? Why push for homosexual or heterosexual recognition/sanction/benefits for two people who contractually cohabit together? Is there an evolutionary/natural selection benefit for this “marriage/sacrament” contract between two people? Then religious adherents can continue their traditions and secular individuals can do what they want. And individuals, no matter how many or of what sex, who want to cohabitate together under legal contracts, can draw up contracts with their own lawyers. What do you think?

  20. (I'm Anonymous @ 1:06pm cuz work won't let me sign in).

    Brent Aucoin,

    Government marriage comes with a number of perks. You can have a say in each other's health care, you can share benefits, you share income and taxes, you cannot testify against your spouse, etc. Civil Unions can potentially give the same benefits depending on how they are worded.

    I agree with you, if we do away with marriage and just have Civil Unions, we'd all be equal. However, right now saying that Marriage is for straight people and gays can get a civil union is a "different yet equal" arguement. Heterosexual couples can also get Civil Unions if they want, Marriage is something that is denied to Homosexual couples. It's silly to argue over a word... but as I said before, it's like seperate drinking fountains. Sure, we're all getting water, you just can't have MY water. It makes one group less than another.

    Of course, you can't force a church to marry just anyone. They have that right and have always had it. My parents were married in a United church because my Father is Anglican, my Mother is Catholic and neither of their churches would marry them unless the other converted. So they went elsewhere for their nuptuals. If Gay Marriage becomes a realty across the United States, every church can refuse to wed gay couples and that is their right. But Gay couples will be able to say that they are "married" just as any hetero couple is married. They will have equal opportunities.

  21. " I'm a straight man, and should I find a woman I want to spend my life with, I'd prefer to do it in a manner available to all."
    - Here in Scandahoovia, people more or less shack up, and get married, if at all, only after the children arrive. Cohabitation is equated with marriage for government purposes; if you have the same registered address for two years, you are a couple in the eyes of the State. In fact, here it is the singles who feel hard-done-by, they want some of the discounts!
    I may be wrong, but I believe that in super-secular France, everyone gets legally married in the Mairie, the town hall, and afterwards goes off to perform the religious ceremony of their choice, in which the Republic takes no interest. So, after verifying this, you could refer to Brent's idea as "the French model".

  22. Jen, there is a very good reason why the anti-gay marriage advocates are so intent on getting their Anti-Gay marriage amendments and laws done NOW. It's not because they are concerned that gay marriage is going to become common or anything, it's because they know in 10 years that they won't have a chance to pass it. By then, Massachussetts and other states will have had 10 - 15 years of gay marriage and God will not have swallowed them up, and traditional marriages will still be going on just as before, and they know their claims about the doom gay marriage will create won't be taken seriously.

    So they need to get as many barriers up now. Tomorrow may be too late.

  23. Surprisingly, I almost agree with Brent Aucoin here (hey, there's a first time for everything). Specifically, I agree 100% with the Anonymous post that follows his...

    I think the ideal solution in a perfect world would be to divest the word "marriage" from any legal meaning and use another term for it - perhaps "civil union" - in both the heterosexual and homosexual case. Make "marriage" an entirely religious term, give it no legal standing whatsoever, and remove it entirely from the discussion. We could grandfather all existing "marriages" as "civil unions" and in the future simply concern ourselves with the latter.

    That solution seems to me to solve the problem. Religions would be permitted to be bigoted towards whomever they wish to, without affecting in any way the legal or societal rights of those individuals. Some "civil unions" would also be "marriages" and some would not, but the important part would be that they're both "civil unions".

    However, this isn't a perfect world and we can't really do that for a variety of reasons, so let's stop talking about rainbows and unicorns (and any other imaginary phenomena you might wish to bring in).

    Specifically, the word "marriage" has been in use in its current context for far too long for us to simply up and change the meaning - language doesn't work like that, and my suspicion is that the populace in general would not comply (and would continue to mistakenly use the word in its prior sense).

    I also suspect that this type of solution wouldn't be seen as satisfactory by homosexuals, who I are also seeking societal acceptance for their relationships (which allowing non-homosexual unions the ability to be called "marriages" might not confer since the majority of Americans are unfortunately religious and therefore most heterosexual unions would be called by that term). They would still be seen as "separate but equal", which they do not want (and nor do I). Again, because the term "marriage" has been in use for too long, suddenly divesting it of its meaning will not work. It will continue to be popularly used in its old sense and therefore will continue to stigmatise homosexual unions.

    The only tenable solution is to extend the definition of legal marriage to include homosexual unions.

    Side note: I've always had a problem with the idea of religious marriage. I've never understood why people do it in the first place: if you want to change your legal status, go to the courthouse and do it there. If you'd like to have a ceremony or party afterward, so be it, but I've always thought the legal status should be conferred through purely legal processes unrelated to any such subsequent events.

  24. In response to M.C. Bender Inspite of all the religous blather, Marriage is a legal act. The whole ceremony is bullshit, once all the paperwork is signed your married. Period. Ceremony be damned. My wife and I had JP marry us, as we signed the document, he said 'you do know this is all that really counts right?'....

  25. "The only tenable solution is to extend the definition of marriage to include homosexual unions" - mcbender

    We could extend the unions for threesomes, foursomes, etc. and the polygamists in Utah to ensure no discrimination. Each “family” unit, as long as they agreed, could enter into a marriage union with an appropriate legal contract. And ideally, the government, then would not extend any perks to any “family unit” outside of adjudicating the legal contract the family unit drew up. Is there any need to be limited to “two” consenting adults? Is there evolutionary/natural selection benefit to “two” consenting adults comprising a “family?”

  26. Brent Aucoin:

    I'm not sure what you're getting at there. I think you're attempting a reductio ad absurdum...

    In all honesty, though, I wouldn't be opposed to the extension you're proposing (although I think you expect me to be). Polyamourous people do exist and they very well might wish for such a right; homosexuals are simply the more prominent/outspoken group politically and therefore are more often discussed.

    Who am I to deny them that right, if they ask for it? Who am I that you would even think my opinion on such a proposition would matter? (Do you see the parallel between this and religious groups interceding in the other scenario?).

    The only argument against it that I can see having any validity is that it might be abused by individuals for financial purposes, if it carries the same advantages as traditional heterosexual marriage does legally. If that sort of problem can be avoided, I can't see why we should balk.

    In any event, let's not get sidetracked here...


    That's what I was trying to point out, although I think I worded it badly. I wanted to say that it's rather absurd that religious groups are accorded any say in the matter.

  27. please note, the united states is not the only country in the world. The status of "marriage" signifies a commitment understood and respected in all countries, and to deny secular and non-religious americans from being able to call themselves "married" will have real-world affects on such things as immigrating with a spouse. (note, there will always be churches willing to marry religious gays. It will be atheists left out of the loop)

    WHY the heck to the ones pitching a hissy fit to keep something all to themselves get the word that has a long history of denoting mutual, long term commitment? There are two solutions here, either secular Americans get "civil unions" and believers get "marriage" OR everyone has access to "marriage" and the people who don't want to share their toys are the ones who get to invent something new, "spiritual unions."

    I have never seen a convincing argument that "civil unions" in the government is a better solution than "spiritual unions" in churches, in fact, it would be a damn sight worse.

  28. Okay, jemand, I'll concede the point. That's why I was trying to say that that solution was untenable and would only work in a nonexistent, ideal situation: the word marriage has too much baggage at this point.

    Perhaps I ought to stop talking, I seem to only be confusing matters.

  29. I am bisexual...I am also a thiest (sp) or sorts. But, unlike most ppl who believe in a God(s) of sorts, I have nothing against athiesm. One of my best friends is an athiest. I believe that unity of respect is more important than unity of ideology, religion, politics, race...blah blah blah the list goes on of how humans manage to divide themselves. She says there is no god...and that is her right to believe that. I dont believe she will be punished for it. I believe in a universal creative spirit that cant give a flip what you call he/she/it or even if someone believes. The bottom line here is regardless of emphasis needs to be on mutual respect...and to agree to disagee in a peaceful manner.

  30. @mcbender, and of course Brent Acouin:

    There is a huge difference between legalizing gay marriage vs. legalizing polygamy, and I'm not even talking about philosophical or ethical differences (those are tricky, and I waffle on it myself). Rather, there is a vast difference in how practical the necessary legislation is.

    You could make gay marriage legal tomorrow, in the entire United States, with nary a change in existing law other than to say that the existing law has to uphold the 14th Amendment when it comes to gender, i.e. it must be gender neutral. Experience in states that have legalized gay marriage has shown that even little bureaucratic issues like marriage licenses having a "Husband" and "Wife" field are easily resolved by just crossing out the incorrect appellations and replacing it with "Spouse/Spouse". All of the existing regulations stay exactly the same.

    But what if we were to legalize polygamy? What would that mean? What would the tax implications be? Could all N partners file a single return, as "Married filing jointly"? Does that even make sense? How about inheritance laws? If a spouse dies without leaving a will, how is the estate divided between the remaining spouses? Even minor bureaucratic issues like paperwork and record-keeping have to be radically overhauled.

    To say that if gays are allowed to marry then polygamy will have to be allowed is a logistically naive position. It is just not the same thing.

  31. @James Sweet:

    I don't disagree with anything you've said, which I think I alluded to briefly. I was considering it from primarily an ethical standpoint, which as you've said is ambiguous. The only reason I said what I did was to confound the reductio ad absurdum that it seemed to me Brent was going for.

    Legally it's much more thorny, I agree, and, not being a lawyer or having any other pertinent expertise, I should excuse myself from the discussion.

  32. Maybe the US could work on that whole Metric thing first and slowly work its way to gay marriage?

  33. @James Sweet...
    ; ) I get it now. "Bigotry" is okay if you have an expedience excuse. It is too hard adding blanks in legal forms for multiple spouses. It is too hard to divide an inheritance by "N" number of spouses. So we will discriminate because implementing equality is "logistically" hard. Can you image if a religious establishment said “Discrimination in the area of _________ is okay because it is too hard logistically to change?” MCBender was ethically consistent above when allowance for any number and type of group marriage was acknowledged.

    @MCBender, my sparring friend (When I fish here I seem to always catch you pleasantly enough : )

    I don't think this is a reductio ad absurdum at all. At some point all of us are “intolerant” of something and thus will be "bigoted" as seemingly redefined herein the homosexual marriage debate. If it is not for "religious" reasons then the “bigotry” (intolerance) will be for some other reason as now shown (pragmatics). I submit that we are all "bigoted" if that simply means (not willing to accept certain practices). Then again, "bigoted" may not be the correct term flaunted in this debate. There are some who truly are bigoted in the sense of an unthinking animosity toward a certain group of people. I concur that some in the theist camp have an irrational fear and animosity toward homosexuals and/or atheists and/or… etc. I also submit that the “bigotry sword” cuts both ways. In other words, “intolerance/bigotry” is not limited to theists. However, there are others in the theist camp who are reasoned and loving toward a group of individuals but simply believe that their practice is wrong. I do not believe this later case fits the definition of “bigotry.” Blanket statements like the title of this post seem to stereotype/profile anybody opposed to homosexual marriage.

  34. James Sweet, interesting point.

    Also since some Lutherans (pretty sure they count as a religion too) support gay marriage a case could be made that gay marriage bans interfere with freedom of religion.

    Pity I came late to the topic.