JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT IT WAS SAFE (SEX):
MARITAL RIGHTS ARMAGEDDON!
The battle over Same-Sex Marriage
takes many an ugly turn
Sunday, May 3, 2009
by Richard E. Berg-Andersson
It may be open to an objector to say that an infinite Divine Will, eternally acting through the universe, is more than we want, to give account of what we find; but he cannot say, that it is less. It provides an inexhaustible fund of causality, equal to every exigency, and incapable of being thrown upon engagements which it cannot meet. It is only when you add on to it superfluous explanations of your own; when you affect to know, not only the power wherein, but also the reason why; when you presume to read the particular motives whence this or that has sprung; when you charge the lightning flash with vengeance, or treat a blighted harvest as a judgment upon sin; when you discuss the course of a comet, or a trembling equilibrium of the planets, as a preparation for the judgment day; when, in short, you fill the fields of space with the fictions of your spiritual geography, and pledge them, without leave, to act out the situations of your drama, that you are sure to be brought to shame, and turned to the outer darkness prepared for the astrologers. But keep to the modesty of simple religious faith, which, however sure of the ground and essence of things, knows nothing of the phenomena, and lets science sort them as it will; say humbly, "How this and that may be, I cannot tell, nor am I in the secret why it is not other; I only know it is from Him who shines in the whole and hides in the parts;" and, stand where you may in time or place, you hold the key to an eternal temple, on which none can put a lock you cannot open.--
JAMES MARTINEAU: The Seat of Authority in Religion 
First of all, let me reassert- if only by way of starting this piece off with a necessary disclaimer- that I am in favor of legalized Gay Marriage and I have held this position on this particular issue since 1970 going into 1971, back when I was still a freshman in high school. Indeed, I have already noted my own position as regards this issue (hence, my reassertion herein) in a Commentary entitled DIVISIONS OVER UNIONS (written in the immediate wake of the Massachusetts court decision in the November 2003 allowing for Same-Sex Marriage in that State).
Simply put, however (just to reiterate my own support for my position on the issue briefly, if only for purposes of this piece): banning Gay Marriage so clearly violates the Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States (that which states that No State shall... deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws) because States of the American Union may only regulate marriage where said regulation furthers a protection of the institution- ironically, something those who oppose Gay Marriage claim their very opposition is actually attempting to do (that is, "protect marriage" through Law); otherwise, Marriage would either have to be regulated by church (or equivalent religious institution as regards religions other than Christianity- something potentially rather problematic on, at the very least, grounds derived from the 1st Amendment to the Federal Constitution) or left solely to so-called "Common Law marriage" (in which a couple simply declares, to the greater community, that they are married)-- therefore, the State so protecting marriage must afford equal protection (that is: make the protection of Marriage available to all classes of persons- homosexuals as well as heterosexuals- subject only to restrictions such as to age [and it is, indeed, singularly ironic that, when it comes to said restrictions on Child Marriage (a subject itself of very recent controversy when, in Sa'udi Arabia, an 8 year old girl was originally permitted to be married to a 50 year old man), heterosexual children and homosexual children are actually protected equally here in the States, for neither can legally marry!]).
Secondly, let me also make very clear that the above (as is the case with anything that has appeared under my byline for now nearly a decade on this website) are solely my views: please know- and well take all due note- that these are not the views of 'The Green Papers' as an entity (this website does not take a position, as a website, on anything involving a particular issue of the day-- though this website does respond, as an institution, to assertions that TheGreenPapers.com might not have posted some political/electoral data or other relevant information we should have posted or vice versa), nor are they at all the views of anyone else who happens to be directly associated with this website (most notably, the Webmaster of TheGreenPapers.com): I write- and, therefore. speak- only for myself in these Commentaries (as well as my Responses to 'vox Populi') and no one else on the Staff TheGreenPapers.com is required, and certainly not even expected, to at all agree with me!
Having said all this, I find it- as ever the "political junkie" (putting aside my own personal opinion on the matter)- quite interesting, where not also altogether intriguing, that the battle over Gay Marriage has now heated up well past the political "boiling point" in a way that it really had not back when the decision of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court I mentioned above was first handed down [though I did write- in that November 2003 Commentary of mine I cited earlier- that this site (and, in particular, this Commentary) is not really the best place to so hash out all the nuances of what will now become an even more fervent political debate over the legalization of same-sex marriage; this May 2009 Commentary is no more so- yet note well that I did expect "an even more fervent political debate" to come: seems we're finally having same!]
This most recent kettle was first placed on the burner with the passage, this past November of 2008, of California's Proposition 8 which was a proposed (now, obviously, ratified) Amendment to the Constitution of California specifically restricting Marriage to one man and one single woman, thereby reversing a California Supreme Court decision earlier that year allowing for legal Same-Sex Marriage (interestingly, this Proposition passed by a decisive margin at the same time Barack Obama was winning the State's Presidential Electors by a landslide margin-- therefore, one can well perceive lots of "ticket splitting" of a somewhat different type here!). The flame under this kettle has been increased in intensity by a number of States having so recently legalized Gay Marriage-- Connecticut and Iowa through court decisions that banning it violates fundamental Rights and Liberties otherwise guaranteed by the respective States (thereby joining Massachusetts in that regard) and Vermont by legislative action adopting a statute specifically legalizing it (an approach with which other States- including my own State of New Jersey, along with neighboring New York State- are now at least somewhat toying).
California has, however, remained the very epicenter of the battle over Gay Marriage, not only because of "Prop 8" but also because Carrie Prejean, Miss California for the 2009 Miss USA beauty pageant, was both jeered and cheered by the audience at this pageant last month when she, in response to a question, strongly stated that she opposed Same-Sex Marriage (Miss Prejean is, by all accounts, a student at a Christian college-- thus, I presume she herself is a religious young woman, based on this factoid and what little else I might have gleaned about her due to her participation in last month's Miss USA pageant-- certainly she has the very same Creator-endowed, Constitution-guaranteed right as I myself have to state her own opinions on the subject, even though they so obviously differ from my own [at the same time, those in the audience who heard these comments 'live' were equally free to so voice either their pleasure or displeasure as they themselves might have seen fit: there is nothing saying Miss Prejean couldn't be cheered; nor is there anything that says she couldn't be booed either!]).
As things turned out, Miss Prejean- in her capacity as Miss California- ended up as Runner-Up in that pageant; as a result, many- including Miss Prejean herself- took the position that she lost the pageant because of her comments in opposition to Gay Marriage (a view sadly reinforced by the anti-Prejean rantings of a Miss USA judge- and blogger- named Perez Hilton), although let's not all forget that this was, after all, only a beauty pageant- not an election for United States Senator!- and that, as is the case with Baseball, the 3rd out pop-up with the bases loaded back in the 2d might very well have cost the team the game as much as- if not more than- the deep fly 3rd out with two runners in scoring position in the bottom of the 8th! In Miss Prejean's case, she very well might have- for all I know or, for that matter, care (since I don't happen to watch beauty pageants-- not my "thing", I reckon!-- thus, I didn't watch this one either)- actually lost this year's Miss USA crown during, say, the swimsuit competition!!
Miss Prejean has since become the highlight of a new anti-Gay Marriage effort put forth by the National Organization for Marriage. I will now dwell on this at some length- not to necessarily pick on NOM in particular (though, doubtless, many reading this piece- and given my own views on the issue- will undoubtedly see it that way) or those who oppose Gay Marriage in general (for I will have at least a little something say later on about what disturbs me about my own side of this particular fence!)- but because a TV ad put forth as part of this effort- along with the accompanying verbiage on NOM's own website- is a quintessential example of approaches like this- whether made by those to the Left or to the Right- to what is permitted to pass for "debate and discussion" nowadays in America (and we can here also actually perceive a fair amount of that which I touched upon in my Commentary of this past 30 April-- to wit: Ramsay Muir's contentions that [w]hen a community is divided by deep and irreconcilable antipathies, by the unconquerable distrust and dislike of one element in it for another, discussion becomes futile and agreement impossible and where the state consists of acutely hostile groups, each permanently suspicious of the others... self-government in any real sense cannot exist along with Herbert Agar's admonition to the effect that [Major] Parties should never allow themselves to feel, and preach, that the opposition is not only mistaken but wicked [since the Republican Party- more so than the Democrats (though these have played their share of political gamesmanship, to be sure, as well)- have so very much aligned themselves, certainly over the past few decades, with those who see "wickedness" as well as "mistake" within the legalization of Same-Sex Marriage])
First of all, NOM claims that "Same-sex marriage isn't about what two people do in the privacy of their own home. It's about the definition of marriage that the government imposes on all of us -- and it will affect the rights of millions of Americans to live and worship as they choose."... of course, NOM fails to inform us all that they are here merely "the pot calling the kettle black" (for isn't NOM itself urging the government to at least maintain the imposition of a definition of marriage on all of us?-- and doesn't banning Gay Marriage affect the rights of millions of Americans- in this instance, millions of gay men and lesbians- to live and worship [for there are church (and synagogue, etc.)-attending gay men and lesbians!] as they might choose?)
Now let's look at the other side of the same coin: how does legalized Gay Marriage at all affect one's ability to "worship as one chooses"? Answer: it doesn't! A devout evangelical Christian- or, for that matter, one who is devout in any religion: even orthodox or conservative Judaism, fundamentalist Islam, whatever!- will still be perfectly free to attend the church (or synagogue or mosque, ashram or temple) of their choice- thus, engaging in that "free exercise" "of religion" guaranteed to all we Americans by our the 1st Amendment of our Nation's own Constitution- and- guess what?- can also still, thereby, freely listen to (should this be the theological position of the religious denomination of- and its clergy in- one's particular house of worship so chosen) homilies and sermons defining, even denouncing, Homosexuality as at least sinful, where not also evil. What moral/ethical message might be delivered by a priest or minister, rabbi or imam, to his or her congregation is totally unaffected by legalized Gay Marriage any more than it would be with Same-Sex Marriage being illegal!
Moreover, where Gay Marriage is legal, one is still free to believe Homosexuality is a sin (I know several people personally- by the way, all of these I now think of currently reside in Massachusetts, where [or so one can fairly argue] this whole renewed debate over Gay Marriage began with that November 2003 court decision- who continue to think Homosexuality in general, and Same-Sex Marriage in particular, is just flat-out wrong; and, or so I can assure all of you reading this, no one has been at all successful [and Lord knows I've tried! ;-)] in getting them to think otherwise).
Further: how does legalized Gay Marriage affect one's ability to "live as one chooses"? Again, it doesn't! For no man or woman is required to marry someone of the same sex where Gay Marriage is legal; likewise, no man or woman is at all prohibited from marrying someone of the opposite sex where Gay Marriage is legal; and, finally, no man or woman already married to someone of the opposite sex has suddenly lost their current marital status at the point in time Gay Marriage has been made legal. Indeed, as regards all three conditions I have just outlined, whether Same-Sex Marriage is legal or illegal is utterly immaterial!
Thus, where Gay Marriage is legal in the United States of America, one can clearly continue to consider Homosexuality as a sin, Gay Marriage as wrong and even attend religious institutions where such is preached by the clergy to the congregation. In other words: if Gay Marriage happens to be legal where you live and you are not only not gay- but you believe strongly (on moral, ethical and/or religious grounds) that you should not be gay- you are not at all required to be gay... put another way: with Gay Marriage being legal, you are still free "to live and worship as [you] choose":
however, I dare say, this is not at all the case where Same-Sex Marriage is illegal!-- for a gay man or lesbian is, thereby, not free to live as he or she might choose by solemnizing the loving relationship between him or her and his or her partner!
But NOM is telling you otherwise and it is all just so much fear-mongering in the form of a, frankly, silly claim that "my (alleged) right to impose my Morality on you is being challenged by your strongest resistance to this which I am hereby defining as merely an attempt by you to impose your Morality on me!"... put another way: "If *I* twist your arm behind your back so much that you have no choice but to at least say 'Ouch!'-- by saying even this you're really the one hurting me, not at all the other way round!"
What's that phrase? "Don't pee on my leg and tell me that it's raining"! ;-)
I myself tend to refer to this kind of thing as "Political Projection":
Projection is the concept- in Psychology- in which an individual attributes his or her own attitudes and feelings to others while, at the same time, denying same in him- or herself (thus, the individual "projects" these onto others from himself or herself, hence the term). For instance, there is the person who wishes to put forth an image to the outside world of having a "devil may care" attitude while, in reality, very much caring how others might see him or her-- there is nothing inherently wrong, psychologically speaking, with this so long as the person recognizes that the image he or she puts forth does not, in actuality, reflect their true position (in other words, where the person knows they are more or less "putting on an act")-- "Projection", however, ensues where the individual in this example sees just about everyone else caring very much about how they are seen by the individual him- or herself, an individual who honestly does not consciously realize he or she is so "projecting".
In the case of "political Projection", the victimizer claims to be "the real victim" (and, further, denies that those the victimizer so victimizes are at all the least bit victims of such victimization). Thus, we have groups like NOM claiming that gay men and lesbians who are not allowed to marry are, somehow, a direct threat to heterosexuals who are allowed to so marry and, further, that this threat manifests itself simply through mere assertion that, as gay men and lesbians, these might actually have a right to so marry.
To groups such as NOM, it isn't simply that those pushing for legalized Gay Marriage are politically wrong: the argument is made that those so pushing are trying to actually stop those who oppose them from even going about their everyday business (that is, it is opined that those most strongly favoring Same-Sex Marriage are attempting to stop people from attending worship services or prevent people from marrying members of the opposite sex, etc.): at the very least, how else is one supposed to interpret NOM's assertion that those most strongly supporting Same-Sex Marriage are engaged in a deliberate and purposeful campaign to adversely "affect the rights of millions of Americans to live and worship as they choose"? Certainly *I* am not at all trying to stop those who oppose my position on this issue (and many- if not most- of my own friends and acquaintances so oppose me) from living and worshipping as they might choose; and all I ask for, in return, is merely all due cognizance of my own (as well as that of gay men and lesbian friends and acquaintances of mine) God-given right to live and worship as *I* (or they) choose!
As someone who has actually stood in Father Demo Square in the Greenwich Village section of New York City at Christmastime and, while seeing men holding hands with men and women kissing women as these might pass me by on the sidewalk, have also- at the same time, mind you!- seen many others freely, of their own volition, ascending the stairs of Our Lady of Pompeii at the corner of Bleecker and Carmine to worship as they please, with no one attempting to at all physically prevent them from so doing, I find NOM's argument along these lines, for lack of a better word, again, silly (in much the same manner that my mother would tell me- back when I was still a child- that my arguments to the effect that, where my friends' mothers were allowing these friends of mine to do something my own mother didn't allow me to do, my mother should- nonetheless- also allow me to do it were silly).
Now, before I go on any further: please note, gentle reader, that- while NOM seems most upset at, to quote their own website," the efforts of same-sex marriage activists to silence and discredit pro-marriage advocates, calling them 'liars,' 'bigots,' and worse"- *I* have not at all, in this Commentary, referred to NOM, or any other pro-Traditional Marriage advocates, as either "liars" or "bigots"-- nor have I at all tried to silence them (assuming I even could- let alone should attempt to- silence them in the first place!: indeed, I defended- almost at the very start of this Commentary- Miss Prejean's right to say whatever she might wish to say [and, obviously, her so saying has been utilized to the fullest by NOM]).
I have attempted herein, I freely admit, to discredit their views (though certainly not they themselves- those running NOM- personally [I don't even know them!])- and, perhaps, this is what NOM is referring to with that phrase "and worse"- but only because their views on this score gain no credit with me from the start. Yet isn't the attempted discrediting of an opposing viewpoint the very essence of fervent discussion and debate? There is, after all, nothing on NOM's own website which at all indicates that organization does not think positions in favor of Same-Sex Marriage are themselves not at all discreditable. As a result, such complaints about being discredited, for the most part, only come off as seeming to be all too much along the lines of "how dare you do unto me what I've been- and will continue- doing unto you!"
However, let the record now state that I actually do agree with at least one thing NOM puts forth on their website and that is their notion that Perez Hilton's comments about Miss Prejean were "outrageous and demeaning"--
and so they were!
For instance, calling a woman with whom one disagrees- even strongly- a word that is more correctly reserved for delineating a female of the species Canis familiaris (that is, the domestic Dog) is completely uncalled for and certainly does nothing to advance one's causes: that this was done by one of the judges in the beauty contest in which this young woman was a participant only serves to make this even worse! I well understand that passions continue to run rather high within the gay community in the wake of the adoption of California's '08 Prop 8 but such passions do not give one license to so denigrate another.
So, "outrageous and demeaning"?-- Yes, indeed!
Meanwhile, NOM has certainly milked such comments of Perez Hilton to the hilt and, in so doing, has- again- merely been engaged in just so much fearmongering: yet, at the same time, NOM's doing so has nothing directly to do with the merits- or lack thereof- of NOM's overall position on this particular issue. This last statement of mine might actually surprise some who have read this Commentary to this point but the fact remains that the rightness or wrongness of even as controversial an issue as the legalizing- or not- Same-Sex Marriage is inherent within the position- whether in favor or no- taken by the individual: for the methodology of advancing a particular viewpoint should not, in and of itself, change the relative favorability- or lack of same- of that same viewpoint in relation to the general scheme of things (regardless of how that same relative favorability might thereafter change in the mind of an individual contemplating their own position in relation to said viewpoint).
In the now nearly ten years 'The Green Papers' has been on the Internet, I have received countless e-mails from all over the political spectrum- Left and Right; Democrat and Republican; Independent and Third Party- which have said something along the following lines:
"Because [place name(s) of prominent opponent(s) of the views of the e-mailing entity here] has engaged in such [offensive, uncalled for, 'over the top', etc.] tactics, [he/she/they] now no longer can claim their views on this issue have anything approaching merit."
What drivel! (and thank goodness for the 'Delete' function in my e-mail Inbox, btw! [;-)])
Things- regardless of where someone might happen to stand as regards this relative to a given issue of the day- are either right or they are wrong; in any event, they aren't suddenly "more right" or "more wrong" than they were beforehand if a proponent of a certain position in relation to same advances his or her position either the more nobly or the more ignominiously. I mean: if Perez Hilton hadn't said anything at all publicly in relation to Miss Prejean would NOM itself suddenly come to feel that Same-Sex Marriage wasn't as bad an idea after all?
Meanwhile, however, no one is required to at all like you: just as no one is required to like Richard E. Berg-Andersson after having read any number of my Commentaries or responses to 'vox Populi' as posted on this website. But please know, gentle reader, that any such dislike of me on the part of one who so reads my writings does not at all make what I have so written any the less right or wrong than it would be if you actually liked me and yet retained the same level of disagreement with me. For there is still much to be said for the dictum "I don't care if I'm liked, but I intend to be respected"!
Thus, while Perez Hilton wrongfully failed to show Miss Prejean all due respect, if he doesn't at all like Miss Prejean because of her own position in favor of Traditional Marriage, so be it: that is still his prerogative (regardless of the outrageousness of his comments about her) and, as he happened to also be a judge for the Miss USA pageant in which she was a contestant-- well, such dislike, on his part, might very well have had its negative consequences for her... so what?... a beauty pageant is, after all, based solely on judging! (and, in this particular pageant, such judging included judging the contestant's answer to a question posed to her as part and parcel of the overall competition-- if you so wish to play the game, you have to deal with its rules).
In the main, however, the appropriateness or efficacy of legal Same-Sex Marriage (or, for that matter, any other public policy, controversial or no) has nothing really to do with any such personal animosity nor does it have all that much really to do with religiosity per se (as religious persons in favor of Same-Sex Marriage are no less religious than those opposed to same).
It is for this very reason I opened this piece with that quote from James Martineau.
"Keep to the modesty of simple religious faith... and let science sort [the phenomena one finds about him or her] as it will"
The word 'science' is here just as much a synonym for "reason" and, in the end, it will be reason that will ultimately determine whether or not Same-Sex Marriage becomes legal or not and, if so, where and how. If it makes mere sense- from the legal perspective (and not at all that of Theology or Morality)- it will more and more become public policy; if not, then it won't-- the current prejudices against it of most of my fellow Americans, and the various and sundry tugs upon the emotions of same from those on both sides of the issue, notwithstanding!