Deconstructing an Anti-Equality Talking Point

Peter Montgomery takes the time to deconstruct what the anti-gay Christian right thinks is their single strongest talking point against same-sex marriage. He begins by quoting something the National Organization for Marriage tells their activists about what their research shows is their best argument:

Extensive and repeated polling agrees that the single most effective message is the following: “Gays and lesbians have a right to live as they choose; they don’t have the right to redefine marriage for all of us.” This allows people to express support for tolerance while opposing gay marriage.

The argument is bullshit on stilts, of course, and it’s highly hypocritical as well:

Of course, the line is not only ineffective, judging by the continued pro-equality swing in public attitudes, but it’s also ridiculously disingenuous coming from people who have tried so hard over the years to restrict the ability of LGBT people “to live as they choose,” as PFAW Senior Legislative Counsel Paul Gordon recently documented.

That includes DeMint, who believes gay people should not allowed to be teachers and slams the Supreme Court for overturning sodomy laws that made gay people criminals. And it certainly includes the Heritage Foundation, which slams landmark equality cases Lawrence v. Texas and Romer v. Evans as examples of unacceptable “judicial activism.”..

While it is increasingly true that LGBT Americans are “free to live as they choose,” that goal is far from being accomplished nationwide. And whatever progress has been made, it has been over the opposition of people who now smile into the camera and hope to hide their anti-gay agenda with a little deceptive messaging.

Yeah, they’re all for letting you live your life — unless you do something their god doesn’t approve of, then it’s the end of the world if the courts rule that the government can’t prevent you from doing that.

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  • Artor

    And of course, there’s the bullshit on rollerskates of claiming that LGBT people are somehow trying to “redefine marriage for all of us.” How exactly is that supposed to work?

  • felicis

    “Yeah, they’re all for letting you live your life — unless you do something their god doesn’t approve of…”

    Well – unless what their god doesn’t approve of is something they want to do – like adultery, divorce, eating pork, and having tattoos. Is it special pleading to single out homosexuality as *the* sin and ignore adultery (which, as I recall, also had the death penalty in that horribly book) and all the other sins?

  • wreck

    “they don’t have the right to redefine marriage for all of us”

    But the “redefinition” will have absolutely no affect on anyone else’ marriage. This is like saying that if we redefine pizza to include kale or avocado as a (optional) topping that it somehow ruins it for those who just want peperoni.

  • felicis

    Artor – well, clearly since marriage is and has always been in all cultures throughout time* one man and one (or two or 500 women), allowing either two women or two men to marry would lead to chaos.

    *Note – some exceptions exist, but they weren’t modern** Europeans.

    ** Not French, western Europeans that look white and after WWII.

  • John Pieret

    they don’t have the right to redefine marriage for all of us

    Gee, how have they tried to redefine straight marriages? Has anyone suggested taking away your right to automatic inheritance, the right to visit you spouse and children in hospital and make medical decisions for them if they are incapacitated or any of the other 1,000+ rights, privileges and responsibilities of marriage that you are trying to deny gays?

    Dishonesty was, I thought, a sin. I guess I was misinformed.

  • Larry

    I’m surprised that fundy RWNJs haven’t been more vehement in their opposition to the removal of Pluto as a planet, relegated to being a dwarf planet instead. I mean, its like those scientists have completely redefined what a planet is for all of us.

  • bmiller

    Lying for Jesus is not a sin, John. It’s part of the program. heck, Yahweh has been lying since the beginning of time, per the Bible.

    As others have noted, the concept that there is a singular, consistent “definition of marriage” is the real knee slapper here. Along with their pious fraud of a claim that they support the rights of gay people to live their lives.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    “Gays and lesbians have a right to live as they choose; they don’t have the right to redefine marriage for all of us.”

    Didn’t that lot say exactly the same thing about interracial marriage?

  • kantalope

    well of course gay people can live their lives. If they live those lives as religious bigots tell them to. It is quite simple, you are free to do as your told.

  • eric

    Redefining marriage isn’t even the real issue, IMO. If the government made civil unions available as separate things from marriages, fundie cake bakers would still object to making cakes for gay civil unions. Fundie photographers would still object to photographing gay civil unions. Fundie owners of event locations would still object to renting them out to gays who want to celebrate their unions. These folks want to discriminate against gay customers and not provide services to them for their celebrations of love and living together. Doesn’t matter what the celebration is called, they’ll still want to discriminate against them.

    The reason this is playing out as a marriage debate is because (a) separate civil unions have been largely rejected as an option, so now marriage is *the* ceremony we’re really talking about, and (b) if a business advertises marriage services explicitly (which many do), the appellation ‘marriage’ to gay ceremonies legally matters. But make no mistake, if we called it anything other than marriage, these fundie public accommodations would still want to discriminate against them and we would have to fight the legal fight over gay rights to nondiscriminatory services anyway.

  • doublereed

    It doesn’t help that they have a history of attacking civil unions and such partnerships.

  • Hoosier X

    The main purpose of this argument seems to be that it allows “clever” homophobes to get all butthurt if they get called homophobes after they use this argument.

    “I don’t have any issue with men marrying other men. I just don’t think the definition of marriage – which has been the same for thousands of years – should be changed so that men can marry other men. So I’m not a homophobe. I live in New York! I have gay friends! Not homophobic at all!”

    It’s not about gay marriage. It’s about ethics in dictionary definitions.

  • John Pieret

    doublereed:

    It doesn’t help that they have a history of attacking civil unions and such partnerships.

    I read somewhere, though I didn’t check it myself, that 3/4 of the laws and referendums passed in right wing panic after the Hawaii lower court decision holding gays have a right to marriage, also excluded civil unions for gays. Back then, most gays probably would have accepted that alternative IF it gave them the full rights that married people had. But that ship has now sailed.

  • scienceavenger

    But the “redefinition” will have absolutely no affect on anyone else’ marriage. This is like saying that if we redefine pizza to include kale or avocado as a (optional) topping that it somehow ruins it for those who just want peperoni.

    It does when I ask for a fucking pizza and get, well, not what I mean by “pizza”. Kale or avocado makes it “gay pizza”.

    Seriously, the religious right absolutely obsesses over words. If you watch Fox News (and who doesn’t) a huge chunk of their coverage is “Obama said this, look what Obama said here”, far beyond any utility. It’s as if their belief in prayer seeps into the rest of their brain and makes them think words are magic.

  • https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=14822869 Paul Chapman

    The current “definition” of marriage isn’t very clear, in any case. For one thing, it’s not clear whether marriage constitutes an establishment of religion or not. I’m all in favor of “redefining” marriage to make that point clear.

  • eric

    @15: while I’m sure some fundie Christians would claim that marriage is a Judeo-Christian invention of Yahweh and thus belongs to their religion, the history of the world and what we know of other cultures seems to prove that contention wrong.

    Now if you want to argue that some States’ requirements for a religious celebrant breaks the establishment clause, I’m right there with you. Those laws should ideally be scrapped. But given the legality of marriages by Judge, by sea captain, and (in some other countries, but only in rare states in the US) by simply living together long enough shows that the institution of marriage, in western countries, is a fairly religiously neutral one.

  • sugarfrosted

    Argument ad dictionary is dumb. Dictionaries describe use, they don’t prescribe use. Society redefines words, and in American English it now includes the wider definition.

  • moarscienceplz

    I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny, and I say (marriage) segregation now, (marriage) segregation tomorrow, (marriage) segregation forever.

    I’ve seen this movie before. It doesn’t end the way they think it will.

  • grendelsfather

    It does when I ask for a fucking pizza and get …,

    Be careful what you ask for. I ordered a fucking pizza once, and I really didn’t the toppings.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chris.rhetts Chris Rhetts

    “unless you do something their god doesn’t approve of…”

    Not to put too fine a point on it, but I really doubt if opposition to marriage equality among Christians is actually based on any sort of religious belief – although they are fond of telling you that. The real source of this opposition is the homophobic culture these people grew up in and are trying to perpetuate. The religious angle is just window dressing, designed to disguise some fairly ordinary and uncomplicated bigotry. Or, to put it another way, just another “God told me to do it” excuse in a rather long line.

    If there really is a God, I suspect He’s getting a little tired of this charade and may decide any day now to start getting down to some serious smiting. And the first people gonna get smote are these jackasses.