Anti-Gay Bigotry is Anti-American

The past few weeks haven’t been good ones for religious bigots. First Iowa and Vermont legalized same-sex marriage in rapid succession; soon afterwards, the state legislatures of New Hampshire and Maine passed marriage-equality bills. (If you live in either state, contact your governor and tell him to sign them!) And now, this stunning poll result from Nate Silver’s fivethirtyeight.com, Two National Polls, for First Time, Show Plurality Support for Gay Marriage:

…a new poll from ABC News and the Washington Post gives gay marriage an outright plurality, with 49 percent of adults supporting gay marriage and 46 percent opposed.

…a CBS/NYT poll put support for full marriage rights at 42 percent, versus 25 percent for civil unions and 28 percent for no legal recognition. This represents a significant increase from an identical CBS/NYT poll in March, where the numbers were 33 percent for marriage, 27 percent for civil unions, and 35 percent for no recognition.

Read that last paragraph again: support for marriage equality has advanced almost ten points in just a month, such that it now commands a decisive plurality. Combined with the civil-unions position, there’s a two-to-one majority nationwide in favor of granting benefits to same-sex couples. It can now very plausibly be argued that the judges who’ve ruled in favor of equality are upholding the will of the people, not denying it.

We’re on the verge of a sea change in American civic life, thanks to a gay-rights movement that’s made far more progress than seemed imaginable even just a few years ago. And as history leaves them in the dust, the religious right is increasingly going into full meltdown mode. They’ve used absurdly overheated and hysterical rhetoric in the past, but this time they’ve truly outdone themselves.

Witness Orson Scott Card, a Mormon and board member of the “National Organization for Marriage” who’s previously proclaimed atheists unfit to be president. But even that idiocy is nothing compared to the full-tilt frothing lunacy on display in an anti-gay-marriage screed he recently published in the Mormon Times (HT: Americablog). In it, he calls same-sex marriage “the end of democracy in America” and urges citizens to revolt against any government that permits it:

Why should married people feel the slightest loyalty to a government or society that are conspiring to encourage reproductive and/or marital dysfunction in their children?

…What these dictator-judges do not seem to understand is that their authority extends only as far as people choose to obey them.

How long before married people answer the dictators thus: Regardless of law, marriage has only one definition, and any government that attempts to change it is my mortal enemy. I will act to destroy that government and bring it down, so it can be replaced with a government that will respect and support marriage, and help me raise my children in a society where they will expect to marry in their turn.

Card isn’t the most prominent member of the religious right to call for armed rebellion because the government won’t cater to his wishes. He’s not even the first. (Rick Perry may have that honor, along with a substantial portion of the Texas Republican Party.) But it is frightening that, as society moves away from accepting their views, these calls for revolution become more and more common among them.

What this shows, I think, is that the religious right is unwilling to participate in the social contract: the understanding that we all have a voice in directing the course of the state, but the price of that freedom is not always having one’s own way. The religious right has no interest in that bargain. If they don’t get to win, they don’t want to participate. And as soon as events are not going their way, they immediately begin calling for armed revolt and insurrection, determined to achieve their goals by violence if they can’t achieve them by democracy. The most insane aspect of this is that no one is taking away any of their rights – their clamoring for rebellion is purely because they can no longer control the lives of others.

This is anti-Americanism in its purest sense: the refusal to accept the democratic bargain that is the very essence of our nation. And as the fringe members of their movement are increasingly tipped over the edge into real violence by their leaders’ reckless words, the people who speak those words increasingly bear moral responsibility for the bloodshed they create.

The one bright side to all this is that, the more extreme and overheated anti-gay rhetoric becomes, the more moderate Americans will become repelled and will flock to the progressive side. We’ve already seen this in polls that show a continuing exodus from the Republican party. There may come a point where sensible Republicans realize how this issue is destroying them, cut ties with the religious right, and become a real opposition party worthy of being taken seriously again. Or they may continue to ramp up their rhetoric as they dwindle into permanent irrelevance. Either option suits me fine.

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • Javaman

    I think this pot is on a slow boil. With Souter’s retirement and Ruth Bader Ginsburg (age 76) diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and Stevens (age 89) all to retire soon, Obama has the possibility of three appointees, which will leave a progressive/liberal influence on the Supreme Court for years to come. Conservatives will probably be enraged as the Supreme Court tilts to the left. This will add fuel to their revolution.

  • http://infidel753.blogspot.com Infidel753

    This is very good news. As attitudes are changing about gays, they can change about atheists too.

    I do fear the potential for violence as the Christian Right shrinks down to its most militant and reality-challenged core. As public opinion inexorably leaves them behind, it will feed their End Times delusions and feeling that the secular masses around them are incurably evil. There was Oklahoma City. There could be worse. I hope the FBI and the DHS are keeping very, very close tabs on some of these groups.

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  • Freak

    Except those were the liberal justices. The Supreme Court won’t really be tilting until a conservative is replaced with a liberal.

  • Maynard

    These conservatives calling for revolt are all bark and no bite. Rick Perry was called out on his statement and has had to back track to save face. Don’t expect him to win another election, especially with his support of McElroy on the SBOE. “Adios Mofo!”

    There are a few nutjobs out there who may take these words seriously but as the snarling and barking get louder, the middle-roaders will start to distance themselves from that circus.

  • Justin

    These conservatives calling for revolt are all bark and no bite.

    Nonetheless, they’re still fans of the double standard. Many of those conservatives accused others of being traitors for not supporting Bush and the Iraq War. Now, they remind us that “this country was founded on treason” when they want to justify statements such as that of Governor Perry.

    …What these dictator-judges do not seem to understand is that their authority extends only as far as people choose to obey them.

    I wonder if Card could explain how tyranny could somehow resemble giving people a greater set of marriage options.

  • Alex Weaver

    I wonder if Card could explain how tyranny could somehow resemble giving people a greater set of marriage options.

    Like your average Big-L Libertarian, Card uses “tyranny” to mean “I’m not getting my way all the time.”

  • http://uncyclopedia.org/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    …What these dictator-judges do not seem to understand is that their authority extends only as far as people choose to obey them.
    And he can feel free to disobey by not marrying a member of the same sex. That’ll show those activist liberal judges (and legislators…and other Americans)!

    Regardless of law, marriage has only one definition, and any government that attempts to change it is my mortal enemy.”
    In other news, Orson Scott Card was arrested by the RCMP after attempting to kill Canada.

  • http://wilybadger.wordpress.com Chris Swanson

    I actually wrote a point-by-point teardown of Card’s article on my blog a few months ago. If you go there and do a search for “Orson Scott Card”, you’ll find it. A certain sense of propriety prevents me from listing the article’s full title here. Suffice to say, I was unimpressed indeed by his comments, and found his obnoxious remarks on marriage to be especially rich coming from a Mormon writing in The Mormon Times.

  • Jormungund

    There may come a point where sensible Republicans realize how this issue is destroying them, cut ties with the religious right, and become a real opposition party worthy of being taken seriously again.

    This is my fantasy. The Republicans could become a Goldwater inspired party that focuses on small government and free markets (you know, actually be conservatives). Unfortunately, it is only a fantasy. Socially conservative fear mongering is the foundation of the modern Republican party.
    As far as I can tell, the Republicans are taking the things I dislike most about the Left and combining that with the things I dislike most about the Right. With a mix of socially conservative and economically corporatist (anti-free market government meddling that goes against every principle of conservative economic theory) positions, the Republicans are becoming the party furthest away from small-government conservatives as they can. I don’t see how such a party can survive. They are more financially reckless than the Left and they are driving people away with bigotry-based campaigns. Either a golden age is approaching for the Democrats or a large change is coming to the Republicans that will shape them into a viable party.

  • Mathew Wilder

    I keep waiting for Card to stroke out after writing one of his rants. On the day that slobering Neanderthal does, I’ll raise a glas in thanks the indifferent universe for ridding us of his stupidity.

    My friend and I were talking about this last night. I don’t think it will be long before gays and lesbians have marriage rights in all 50 States. I predict that by the next Presidential race, all candidates will support gay and lesbian marriage rights.

  • Leum

    Mathew, why don’t you think it’ll be long? Unless the US Supreme Court declares same-sex marriage (SSM) to be a right guaranteed by the US Constitution*, constitutional amendments, many of which require massive support by both the population and legislature to overturn, will remain in force. I strongly doubt such a ruling will be issued any time soon. Obama would have to fill in a conservative seat on the Supreme Court, and the liberals currently there would have to support it as well, some of them might not. And that’s assuming the Constitution actually does grant SSM rights, it may not, even under an unbigoted interpretation.

    Should a Form 1 (see below*) ruling be issued, SSM would be a right, but only for those who traveled to get it.

    *This could take two forms:

    1) A ruling that the full faith and credit laws requires states without SSM to recognize SSMs performed in other states

    2) A ruling that a provision in the Constitution (don’t know enough about Constitutional law it would be, if there even is one) requires that SSM be recognized as legitimate in all 50 states

    For now, I’m referring to Form 2

  • David Ellis

    Oh, Orson. Not again.

    I just can’t enjoy SPEAKER FOR THE DEAD anymore after all these bigoted screeds against gays.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Ebonmuse

    For those who are interested, Nate Silver crunched some numbers back in April and came up with a statistical model of when each state will vote to support same-sex marriage. To no one’s surprise, I’m sure, the last states predicted to flip are those in the Deep South, in the early 2020s (assuming current demographic trends hold).

  • Leum

    Interesting link, Ebon. I wonder if Mr. Silver would be willing to run a similar model (though it would take much, much more work, so I don’t blame him if he isn’t) to see when states that have already banned SSM would be willing to overturn those bans. My state, if Mr. Silver is correct, is on the verge, or may already, of being unwilling to support a ban, but I suspect an amendment striking down the ban would still fail.

  • Staceyjw

    Is he a sci-fi writer? If it is, I can’t believe its the same person. Sad indeed…

    Let the red states secede- The blue states have all the industry, money, technology and good paying jobs. Hatred, god, and guns- this is all they have. They think that the rest of the nation is sinfully plotting against them, when it’s their ignorance that’s holding them back. With the exception of Texas (without blue Austin, of course), they have nothing going economically. Maybe Texas will support them? (HA HA- recommendations of prayer and a call for “bootstraps” will be the help they get from TX)

    Staceyjw

  • Leum

    Yes, Stacey, it’s Orson Scott Card, author of Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead, books about tolerance, interdependence, and the evil of rejecting people simply for being “other.”

  • aSoutherner

    Let the red states secede-

    I was born in a southern state. I live in a southern state. And I have no god, no guns, and little hatred (though I try not to!).

    Red states don’t have a monopoly on bigotry. California voted against marriage equality a few months ago after all. And is NC part of your blue union? A majority of its voters still tend to be conservative on both social and economic issues (marriage equality would certainly lose in there, too), but it voted for Obama and a Democratic senator in the last election.

    Wishing entire states worth of people into exile and poverty because some very vocal groups are having a tantrum right now is an abhorrent idea, and hardly a humanist one. There are a lot of people working hard to move discourse forward in the south and we’re making progress (see NC). Applying the same stereotype to everyone who lives in a geographically similar location is also a form of bigotry, and, frankly, it doesn’t help.

  • http://wilybadger.wordpress.com Chris Swanson

    Yes, Stacey, it’s Orson Scott Card, author of Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead, books about tolerance, interdependence, and the evil of rejecting people simply for being “other.”

    Hyprocisy? From someone who is religious? The hell you say! :) And to make it easier on anyone who wants to read my rebuttal to this, you can click here and do so, but be warned: some of the language gets a tad spicy!

    (and apologies for plugging my blog again! This guy just irritates me so darn much!) :)

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Ebonmuse

    I concur with commenter #18. It’s tempting to wish the religious conservatives could just go off and live on their own so they wouldn’t impede all the progress the rest of us are trying to make. But there are plenty of progressive people in every state in this country, even in the deepest of the deep South. Let’s not leave them behind!

  • http://thechapel.wordpress.com the chaplain

    What this shows, I think, is that the religious right is unwilling to participate in the social contract: the understanding that we all have a voice in directing the course of the state, but the price of that freedom is not always having one’s own way.

    Good point. Since the Founding Fathers allegedly founded the USA as a Christian Nation more than 200 years ago, that is obviously what we should remain forever. It doesn’t matter if the people who comprise our nation change; it doesn’t matter if political, social and economic circumstances change – what once was (allegedly – it never really was) is what should always be, forever and ever, amen. Except for the slavery thing, and the expansion of voting rights thing, and so on…

  • Staceyjw

    I lived in Austin for 7 years, so I know that even the reddest states have progressives, and I’m in San Diego now so I know that blue states have their share of hatred. However, I don’t hear blue states talking about seceding…..

    I was just making a point, not suggesting that it actually HAPPENS; I wouldn’t support any break up of the US, as it would cause too much trauma and dislocation. Still, one can dream of all the wing nuts going off together and leaving the rest of us normal people alone : )

    Staceyjw

  • http://anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.com Tommykey

    For some reason, I keep getting solicitations in the mail from the National Organization for Marriage that consist of letters in the name of former Senator Rick Santorum. I’ve already begun drafting a post on it that I hope to finish soon.

    My favorite part is where Santorum complains that the same-sex marriage movement is being funded by a network of wealthy gays. Really? Gosh! Imagine that! Wealthy people funding a cause they believe in! Funny how Santorum doesn’t have a problem with wealthy right wingers funding causes they support, but when wealthy gays use their money to promote gay rights, suddenly it’s a cause for scandal.

  • Twin-Skies

    I had to read that name again just to be sure it wasn’t the 5 am wakeup call screwing with my eyes.

    Orson. Fucking. Scott. Card.

  • http://www.blacksunjournal.com BlackSun

    Wow, great post. And that statistical model is good news, too. The far right is imploding into a mass of quivering religious and secessionist paranoia. The moderates are jumping ship. And the giant trembling bony wagging finger–the teetering, doddering edifice of would-be repression–is collapsing under the weight of its own bankrupt bloviation. Let it fall.

    Oh, and Orson Scott Card, Rick Santorum and all the rest can kiss my keister. ;-)

    (Come on in, Red states, the water’s fine. Not hating on you, just want you to relax and join the party. The party of reason, that is. Drop all the old hatred and intolerance of other-ness. You’ll all be having such a good time, you’ll wonder what the fuss was about.)

  • Libby

    Chris- Fun fact- After reading your blog, I noticed that the title “Ender’s Game” rung a bell. So I looked on my bookshelf. Apparently, I have the book. By Orson Scott Card… I haven’t read it, but I have it. Weird. Am I the only one who finds Sci-Fi uncharacteristic of hardcore christians like Card? Or is that just stereotypical?

  • Danikajaye

    Is it any coincidence that the alien “enemy” in Enders Game are called the “buggers”?

  • Scotlyn

    BlackSun:

    the giant trembling bony wagging finger–the teetering, doddering edifice of would-be repression–is collapsing under the weight of its own bankrupt bloviation

    LOL, Thanks for that! And for the word bloviation which I had to look up!

  • nfpendleton

    Before talks of cessession (which I personally see as a Leftist version of the Right’s threat of bloody coup), we should really appeal strongly to our Southern conservative brothers and sisters to hold fast on their positions on pretty much everything social…because the anti-darkskinned human stuff worked out so well for them after all, and doesn’t leave them in any way slightly stigmatized to this very day.

    /sarcasm

  • Leum

    Libby, sci-fi may not be uncharacteristic of hardcore Christians (CS Lewis wrote some, and Left Behind arguably qualifies), but Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead are. They’re some of the most pro-tolerance, pro-acceptance books I’ve ever read. I have trouble imagining how the man who wrote them could even be related to the man who writes Card’s blog.

  • Twin-Skies

    Maybe it’s about time we arranged our own book-burning to protest how these authors “assault” our morals.

    I know I’ve got a lot of tomes back home – Purpose-Driven Life for example – that are just screaming to be used for my next barbecue, especially since I fear they might corrupt the sensibilities of my younger siblings.

    /snark

  • Old Beezle

    Does anyone have a link to Card’s essay? I followed the Americablog link which then tried to link to the Mormon Times, but no luck. I searched Mormon Times and didn’t find any rant-essay. Does someone have the essay???

  • http://uncyclopedia.org/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Old Beezle: here

  • http://thegreenbelt.blogspot.com The Ridger

    I want Card to explain to me how letting gays marry each other prevents his children from expecting to marry. Unless (a) if it’s not opposite-sex it’s not marriage (b) he thinks his kids are gay and (c ) he’s afraid he won’t be able to force them into the kind of marriage he expects.

  • Danikajaye

    I am highly bemused by the fact that the US has made more progress towards equal marriage rights for gays than my own country Australia has. Religious groups have much less influence (or maybe it is much less visible/vocal?) over Australian politics and policy making than in America and yet gay marriage is not legal here. The number of Australians identifying themselves in the census as athiests or “of no religion” is rising faster than any other religious category and church attendance rates are some of the poorest in the world. So then why has the issue of gay marriage made so little headway? To paraphrase our PM said “Gay marriage is between a man and a woman and I plan it to stay that way”. WHY? If religion and state are indeed being kept separate as they are supposed to, then what basis is there to deny gay marriage if the opposition to it is not being drawn from religion? Can anybody enlighten me to what the common arguments are AGAINST gay marriage that are not based in religion?

  • Leum

    Can anybody enlighten me to what the common arguments are AGAINST gay marriage that are not based in religion?

    There’s some BS about them not being as good parents as straight people (a child needs a male and female role model), but until they require parenting tests to marry we can safely ignore that argument.

    The reason I think gay marriage is opposed is homophobia which in turn is based on a flawed understanding of sexual orientation. Specifically, it seems to me that many people don’t see orientation of heterosexual, homosexual, paraphilia, and (not technically orientation, but typically included) transgender and cisgender* identity. Instead, they have a straight/perverted dichotomy which makes no distinction between the homosexual cigendered man; the heterosexual transgendered woman; the bisexual intersexed person; and pedophiles, child molesters**, and rapists. The fact that there is a significant difference between people who engage is consensual sex and people who do not care about consent doesn’t register; they see the desire to have consensual “perverted” sex as more or less indistinguishable from the desire to have sex with an unwilling person.

    *biological sex matches gender identity

    **not necessarily the same as pedophiles

  • seathanaich

    A few posters have expressed concern that if religiosity diminishes at large, those left will become more vocal and more important. The evidence suggests otherwise.

    Just stop navel-gazing at your own country, and look at the rest of the ex-Christian world. Religious decline is multi-faceted. First of all, literalism gives way to moderation. Public evangelicalism gives way to privacy, and support for secularism. Theism gives way to deism, though most people are unaware of this, or can even define these terms (“use The Force, Luke”). Religious belief gives way to agnostic atheism, which only becomes unapologetic atheism when it passes a criticial tipping point. This tipping point has already been passed in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, and most of Europe. In these nations, religious people are openly mocked in social settings. The USA is the only advanced nation where the tipping point has not yet been reached, IMO.

    Other than in the US, people are criticised if they talk too much about their religion, not too little. Politicians risk electoral failure if they talk about their religion (ie Stockwell Day in Canada). The US is the only nation where the opposite is true. When the US passes the tipping point, current evangelicals will not gain more power, or conduct more outrageous activities. They will be exposed as being a minority with nowhere to hide, and most will do exactly what Christians in the rest of the “west” have already done; become more private and more moderate about their religion.

  • pray11342

    Leum @ #30
    Libby, sci-fi may not be uncharacteristic of hardcore Christians (CS Lewis wrote some, and Left Behind arguably qualifies), but Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead are. They’re some of the most pro-tolerance, pro-acceptance books I’ve ever read. I have trouble imagining how the man who wrote them could even be related to the man who writes Card’s blog.

    “Ender’s Game” was recommended to me some years back. Somehow, I never liked the book. Could not put my finger on why, except I could not get my head around adults allowing/encouraging this poor perfect misused boy to kill people, and even set him up for it. Not to mention his psychopathic older brother who somehow morphs into a great world leader.

    Then I stumbled across a reference to Ender’s Heresy – - When bad people do bad things, it is terrible, and to be deplored, but when good people do bad things, it is fine, and to be admired. There was also a reference to this review/commentary on the book – - Creating the Innocent Killer: Ender’s Game, Intention, and Morality by John Kessel. (Caution, a long read, but worth it.)

    Please read that, and then tell me if you still see pro-tolerance and pro-acceptance. What I see is a carefully crafted story, Intelligently Designed (pun intended) to lead the reader down some very dodgy moral bunny trails into the bucklebrush. I have read none of the other books in the series, nor will I.

    I did not know he was a Mormon when I read the book. I may be wrong, but I can see some of the LDS afterlife fantasy “becoming like Gods ruling other Planets” in it as well.

    For more fun stuff from Orson Scott Card, see his apologetic for The Book of Mormon.

    As SF authors go, he ranks right up there with L. Ron Hubbard, IMHO.

  • Katie M

    Lesbian teen sues to force school to hold prom

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100312/ap_on_re_us/us_lesbian_prom_date

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