The burkha-logic of NOM

In his New York Times column, Frank Rich calls that NOM ad (see the previous post) a "camp classic," which it is, and sees it as "the bigots' last hurrah," which I'm afraid it isn't.

The ad alludes to several cases of Christian chauvinists "suffering for their faith" because they ran afoul of anti-discrimination laws. None of those cases has anything at all to do with same-sex marriage, mind you, and none of them is really explained in the ad. Big thanks to konrad for supplying the link to this remarkably patient and sensible video, which explains not just the particulars of each of these cases, but also the strategy of turning each of them into an urban legend. (I liked that video so much that I've added the Waking Up blog to the too-long list there to the right. Do check it out.) 

There are a host of other things we could discuss about that fascinatingly awful ad. The difficulty of casting, for example. Or the question of whether its "gathering storm" motif is intended as a Nazi reference (maybe, but allusions to Churchill might be a stretch for these folks).

What I find most striking in this ad, though, is how explicitly it demonstrates the phenomenon of what we've referred to here as the persecuted hegemon.

It's not unusual to encounter American evangelicals who simultaneously hold two contradictory beliefs about their faith and its relationship to the larger American culture. These beliefs are opposite and incompatible, yet both are, equally, essential to these evangelicals' sense of identity. They are beliefs not just about the larger culture, but about who they consider themselves to be.

Belief A: America is a Christian nation, the majority of which is composed of godly, Christian people. Christians therefore ought to be allowed to express this majority faith both officially and unofficially — with Christian prayers in public schools, Ten Commandments (Protestant formulation) placards on courthouse walls, and pervasively sectarian Christmas greetings on the lips of every store clerk — and religious minorities will just have to deal with the fact that they're outnumbered.

Belief Not-A: Christians are a persecuted minority, the righteous remnant in the Sodom and Gomorrah of 21st-century America, a nation so sinful and decadent that it deserved the attacks of 9/11 and the devastation of Katrina (God has bad aim). Public expressions of faith by Christians are always retaliated against, yet brave Christians demonstrate their courage in the face of adversity by continuing to thank their creator at awards shows and sporting events, to invoke his blessings at election rallies, and even to take the radically counter-cultural step of sending greeting cards on Christian holidays.

Skim through the literature or the Web sites of religious right groups such as, for example, the Family Research Council, and you'll see them switching back and forth between assertions about Belief A and Belief Not-A, sometimes in the same paragraph. It's kind of like watching Faye Dunaway at the end of Chinatown — "My sister! My daughter! My sister! My daughter!"

Yet while these folks may be two-faced, in a way, they're not duplicitous — they really, sincerely believe both things. They believe that their sect has — and ought to have — hegemony in their culture. And they believe that they are "persecuted."

The scare quotes there are necessary, since this use of the term persecution wouldn't be recognizable to first-century Christians, or to 17th-century Anabaptists, or contemporary Chinese Christians or Falun Gong adherents or Tibetan Buddhists. But set that aside.

I suspect that American evangelicals' persecution complex is an inevitable side effect of sectarian hegemony. Once you believe that your faith requires cultural dominance, and that it deserves it, then any threat to that dominance — even just the unwelcome reminder of the existence of alternative points of view — is perceived as a threat, as a kind of persecution. Thus, for example, Hannukah is perceived as a threat to, and an attack on, Christmas.

The persecuted hegemon is thus an oxymoronic creature driven by an oxymoronic principle: non-reciprocal justice. For these folks, turnabout is never fair play, turnabout is merely backwards. Thus when others respond to them in kind, or even simply remind them of the Golden Rule, they take offense, as though this constitutes an injustice toward them.

We've seen how this plays out on the national scene two, three times a month. Some pious dignitary remarks that homosexuality is just like pedophilia or bestiality — a statement regarded within the hegemony of the sect as wholly innocent and inoffensive. Someone outside the sect will reply, accurately, that this is an offensive lie, a vicious slander. That response will be perceived, within the sect, as "religious persecution." The response — any response other than "thank you, sir, may I have another?" — implicitly rejects the legitimacy of the hegemony and rebels against the privilege enjoyed by the sect. (A big part of that privilege, it turns out, is the expectation that one can say offensive things without others taking or expressing offense. This has become far more important as a hallmark of American evangelicalism than, say, Sabbath-keeping.)

This points to the key confusion of the persecuted hegemons. They are unable to distinguish between challenges to their hegemony — to their privilege — and threats to their faith itself. This is a spiritually perilous confusion, particularly so for Christians who claim to follow a crucified outcast.

The word I'm stretching for here, Stanley Hauerwas would say, is "constantinianism" — the inversion and perversion of Christianity that occurred when a religion of slaves and women and the poor became a religion of emperors and empires. Constantinian faith requires and assumes the establishment of an official, privileged religion. It comes to believe, in the language of the First Amendment, that its own free exercise depends on such an establishment — that its free exercise is incompatible with the free exercise of any other religion (or of no religion at all).

We've illustrated this before with the religious practice of wearing burkhas — or, more accurately, the religious practice of requiring the women one controls to wear burkhas. That practice is intrinsically hegemonic, intrinsically constantinian. It cannot be left as a matter of individual freedom or conscience. It's not sufficient for those who believe in that practice for only the women of their household or congregation or sect to be clad in burkhas. That still leaves open the possibility that one might be exposed to the immodest displays of the wrists and ankles of other women in the market or the public square. The logic of the burkha requires that all women — every woman that every man might see — is fully sheathed so as not to assault the eyes of the faithful.

We see this same burkha-logic at work in that "gathering storm" ad produced by the National Organization for [Our Kind and Only Our Kind of] Marriage.

"Some who advocate for same-sex marriage," the intern says, "have taken the issue far beyond same-sex couples."

"They want to bring the issue into my life," says the closeted actor (subve
rsively playing up a bit of a lisp) who can&
#39;t believe he's doing this for a paycheck.

"My freedom will be taken away," emotes the young woman.

The script for this ad purportedly has no grievance with others living however they want to live — but only insofar as their freedom doesn't impinge upon our right to live in a world where we never have to see them, or to acknowledge their existence. That "takes away" our freedom to live as privileged hegemons. And since we can no longer distinguish between our faith itself and the privileged status of that faith, we perceive this as religious persecution — as an injustice against us.

Your freedom threatens my freedom to live in a world in which people like you are not free to do the sorts of things you might do with your freedom. "And I am afraid."

That's burkha-logic in a nutshell.

  • http://attitudevicissitude.wordpress.com/ Andrew

    I apologize if I’m adding something redundant:
    Though it’s small, there is a counterexample to the assertion that no one has ever been penalized in any way merely for saying the wrong thing about homosexuality. See the section on the Canadian HRC below, and Levant’s criticisms of it based on the difference between how he was treated and how Boissoin was treated:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ezra_Levant#Human_Rights_complaint

  • Diez

    Oh, wow. This discussion has been trucking right along while I spent the entire week slowly reading the discussion on Stoppage Time. Again, thanks to you guys for your support and your kind words. I like this place, and I believe I will stick around. I am not terribly knowledgeable on any subjects that actually matter, but I will be happy to learn and contribute to the discussion when I can. If I can. :-P

  • Not Really Here

    @Diez-

    And so every time I find my eyes drawn to one of the numerous college guys in my community who just cannot keep their shirts on, I feel like a filthy, miserable traitor heathen philistine sodomite pervert for daring to allow such things to cross my mind. My sexual orientation and my faith seem inherently incompatable, and yet here I am, and I’m really not sure what to do. How does a Christian rationalize his or her support for Gay Marriage when the Bible goes against it?

    Ya know, this is one of those posts that makes me want to get down on my knees and thank God for making me asexual. It is so much easier to follow the teachings of my faith regarding sexual morals when I just don’t really have much in the way of a sex drive. I don’t have to worry about being tempted by a really hot guy (I do have somewhat of a hetero leaning, I enjoy looking at attractive men, but I don’t get the blood flow to the nether regions).
    Oh, and you might want to check out 1 Samuel. There is a pretty strong implication that the not-yet-King David had a homosexual relationship with Saul’s son Jonathan. No, really. I remember reading a verse which I am to lazy to look up and quote at the moment to the effect that David’s love for Jonathan was better than the love of women. I kinda freaked out when I read that.
    @Karen-

    (Alexander and his lover whose name escapes me at the moment may have been close in age, but one of ‘em was The Emperor Of The Known World and the other, well, wasn’t.)
    Um, that would be Hephaesteon.

  • Not Really Here

    Just checking to see if I’ve accidentally permablockquoted the thread.

  • Jared Spurbeck

    I write stories for people which star them as characters. They’re kind of a form of therapy, and kind of a personalized gift. Sometimes I do this for free, and sometimes I am commissioned for money.
    I have written stories for people who are homosexual, but I have avoided portraying their partners or depicting their romantic relationships. I do this because I feel very uncomfortable writing about or pondering such things, because I don’t feel that they’re right. I also feel uncomfortable referring to their monogamous, committed relationships as being marriages, because I don’t really feel that they are.
    I bear them no ill will, and am rather on good terms with them. >.> They’re good people, and I like spending time with them. But I don’t like the idea of having to call their relationships marriages, and I don’t like the idea of their being allowed to adopt children; or more precisely, of people not being able to decide not to do business with them, even adoption agencies, because of anti-discrimination laws.
    I’m well aware that all of the same things could be said by a kind person in the 1940′s, who simply was not comfortable with the idea of inter-race marriages … and I’m personally autistic, so I know what it’s like to see something as good and worthy of being celebrated when everyone around you thinks that it’s strange, or an inconvenience, or something to be fought and railed against. But I’m honestly having a hard time seeing homosexuality as something that ought to be celebrated like other forms of diversity. Even if pursued and made into a lifestyle, isn’t it basically like being sterile?
    I feel like everyone around me is celebrating these people’s newfound impulses towards the death of their own species, and is berating me for being honest about the fact that it makes me uncomfortable. >.> And I can’t help but wonder if we aren’t all maybe confused.

  • Jared Spurbeck

    I should have mentioned that I was concerned about anti-discrimination laws being applied to my writing business. Maybe that wasn’t clear. >.>
    I know, I know, I’m making a big deal out of nothing. It’ll never happen; those incidents were overblown; something did happen, but it wasn’t as bad as people make it out to be.
    But if it really is a metter of discrimination and equality at work here, then if I want to deny them the services that I extend to people in opposite-gender couples, where is my leg to stand on? I myself wouldn’t see it as just, even if I found it distasteful.
    Except that I don’t see it that way. I see it as a matter of “any sexual congress outside of traditional marriage is wrong,” and “calling committed monogamous same-gender relationships ‘marriages’ is a perversion of the term and a crime against nature and God.” I don’t feel right expressing views that I feel are wrong in my stories, and I sympathize with anyone else who is now or will later be forced to do something they feel is wrong.
    I just hope we can all find some way to respect each other while we are airing our differences. >.>

  • random atheist

    Jared, hi. I’ve got an autistic brother, so I know where you’re coming from with that. And I’m not at all trying to condem or attack you here.
    But when you say that “calling committed monogamous same-gender relationships ‘marriages’ is a perversion of the term and a crime against nature”, I find that painful. I’m a lesbian myself, and although I’m not in a relationship right now, I’ve been in love with a woman so much that I wanted to marry her. To me, that desire was a pure, loving devotion. And for you to say that the thing I was wishing for was “a perversion and a crime against nature” – that’s very hurtful for me.
    While I can understand your feelings for people who may be made to carry out actions that they feel are wrong, and while I feel sympathy for that situation myself, I also feel sympathy for gay people who feel they are being discriminated against. If, for example, a doctor refuses to give artificial insemination to a lesbian couple because he/she believes lesbianism is wrong, then the lesbian couple concerned will feel that the doctor is telling them that their feelings for each other are wrong, that their love for each other is wrong. That’s a very upsetting thing to hear from someone, especially when it’s someone you’ve gone to as a professional, hoping they would help you.
    With regard to the sterility issue: as I’ve implied above, artificial insemination is possible. Adoption is also possible, and if children who would otherwise not have a loving home, will now have one, then what is wrong with that? I know that some people believe children brought up by gay couples will become gay, but I was brought up by a straight couple, and I’m not straight! ;-)
    Being gay is not “an impulse towards the death of our own species”. It’s a form of love, and a celebration of the wonderful diversity there is in the world. I hope you can come to feel that too, some day, I really do.

  • http://www.kitwhitfield.com Kit Whitfield

    *But when you say that “calling committed monogamous same-gender relationships ‘marriages’ is a perversion of the term and a crime against nature”, I find that painful.*
    I’d like to second Random Atheist there. Again, I’m not saying anything against you personally, as I’m sure you’re a good person … but I find it painful to hear too. And I’m heterosexual.
    But to me, marriage is about love. Just that, and I believe very strongly that it’s every bit as valid to love someone of your own sex as it is to love someone of the opposite sex. I believe it’s an important part of nature that we have homosexual relationships as well as heterosexual ones – there are gay people in every culture, and animals have same-sex relationships too. It seems to me that the capacity to love within your own gender is part of us, and as such, should be honoured along with all the other good elements of human nature – because love is always good.
    And I have homosexual friends who are dear to me, and it makes me sad and angry that when they fall in love, they don’t have the same rights I do. Their relationships, I believe, are just as precious as mine, and that they don’t have the right to have their love recognised as such upsets me.
    I’m getting married later this month, in fact, so marriage is very much on my mind right now. And in the UK, where I live, same-sex couples can only have civil partnerships. During the ceremony, which will be secular, the registrar will have to state that marriage is ‘between one man and one woman’ – even though my fiance and I don’t believe this should be the case. I actually asked the registrar if he could leave that out, and he said sorry, but he couldn’t. So during the ceremony, my beloved and I will have to stand by and silently endorse a law that hurts our friends – including one of our bridesmaids and several guests. That, to me, perverts the whole purpose of marriage, which is love and community.
    Not just love between two people, but among family and friends as well. Marriages are conducted in public, and for a reason: they indicate to the community that you are together, they unite your families and friends, they bind the community closer together. Denying marriage to the gay members of that community splits the community apart, saying ‘Your relationships are less valid than theirs.’ That, to me, is the real perversion of marriage: taking something that should be about love and community and filling it with discrimination and division.
    If a gay friend of mine gets married, that changes nothing about my marriage: that will be between my husband and me. But if they can’t, my joy in being married myself is shadowed by sadness that my friend can’t have what I have. It all makes me very sad.

  • random atheist

    Kit, thank you, that was beautiful!

  • http://j.com/ Tonio

    Jared,
    While I echo Random and Kit’s responses to your post, I want to address the underlying assumptions in your own posts.
    Without getting into the god issue, what about homosexuality is a “crime against nature”? Is nature an entity that can be harmed or wronged? That might imply that procreation is the highest good in and of itself.
    And how exactly would gay marriage be an “impulse toward the death of our species”? That implies that gay marriage will influence straights around the world to become gay and not procreate. It further implies that everyone has a responsibility to the species to procreate.
    What is your basis for saying that “any sexual congress outside of traditional marriage is wrong”? I’m not necessarily advocating the opposite, I simply want to understand your reasoning.

  • http://j.com/ Tonio

    Here’s another way of phrasing the question – how would you explain to someone from Mars why you feel homosexuality is wrong?

  • http://www.kitwhitfield.com Kit Whitfield

    Kit, thank you, that was beautiful!
    Just following your lead… :-)

  • http://www.zeldauniverse.net GDwarf

    I also feel uncomfortable referring to their monogamous, committed relationships as being marriages, because I don’t really feel that they are.

    Out of curiosity, why don’t you feel that they are? They’re loving relationships and they can adopt/use artificial insemination to have children, same as any other couple.
    What, then, is the difference?

    I bear them no ill will, and am rather on good terms with them. >.> They’re good people, and I like spending time with them. But I don’t like the idea of having to call their relationships marriages, and I don’t like the idea of their being allowed to adopt children; or more precisely, of people not being able to decide not to do business with them, even adoption agencies, because of anti-discrimination laws.

    I’m reminded of a news story I heard a while back. A gay couple (in Florida, I believe) was part of a foster home setup, and had been given two kids four years ago. The parents of these kids had neglected and abused them (the four-year-old brother was the only one who fed/changed/etc. his baby brother) and were developmentally stunted as a result.
    The agency predicted that it would take half-a-dozen years, at best, to get them back to average development levels when they took them away from their parents and gave them to this couple.
    In a couple of years the older one was ahead of the rest of his class at school and the younger one was developing perfectly normally.
    Recently they had to go to court to defend their right to raise these kids when (gah, I’ve forgotten exactly what it was. It was either someone in the agency or a third-party religious group. I’m afraid it’s been too long for me to remember exactly) argued that they’d clearly be better off with their original family than with these “filthy gays.”
    I don’t recall if they won or not, I think they didn’t, but that’s immaterial.
    This gay couple did an immeasurably better job raising these kids than their straight, biological parents did.

    I’m well aware that all of the same things could be said by a kind person in the 1940′s, who simply was not comfortable with the idea of inter-race marriages … and I’m personally autistic, so I know what it’s like to see something as good and worthy of being celebrated when everyone around you thinks that it’s strange, or an inconvenience, or something to be fought and railed against. But I’m honestly having a hard time seeing homosexuality as something that ought to be celebrated like other forms of diversity. Even if pursued and made into a lifestyle, isn’t it basically like being sterile?

    Should sterile people be banned from getting married, then? Are sterile people incapable of raising children? Do they not deserve tax breaks, hospital visit rights, etc?

    I feel like everyone around me is celebrating these people’s newfound impulses towards the death of their own species, and is berating me for being honest about the fact that it makes me uncomfortable. >.> And I can’t help but wonder if we aren’t all maybe confused.

    I rather doubt that a planet with a population of 7 billion and rising fast is going to end up lifeless due to homosexuality.
    Working in the coal-mining industry is doing more to end the human race than gay marriage is, but no one beats coal miners to death for their career choice.

    Except that I don’t see it that way. I see it as a matter of “any sexual congress outside of traditional marriage is wrong,” and “calling committed monogamous same-gender relationships ‘marriages’ is a perversion of the term and a crime against nature and God.” I don’t feel right expressing views that I feel are wrong in my stories, and I sympathize with anyone else who is now or will later be forced to do something they feel is wrong.

    Why is “any sexual congress outside of traditional marriage” wrong? Who does it hurt? Me? I’m ambivalent. If I had a girlfriend I’d want to wait until I was sure that this was a very serious relationship before having sex, but I don’t know that I’d wait until marriage.
    And, out of curiosity, who do you think will be forced to do something they don’t want to do?
    Churches? They don’t have to preform any marriage they don’t want to.
    Adoption Agencies? Should they not be there to do what’s best for the children in their care, not to pander to their own prejudices?
    Doctors? “To keep the good of the patient as the highest priority.”, They should be concerned solely with the health of their patients, not their orientation.

    I just hope we can all find some way to respect each other while we are airing our differences. >.>

    It’s rather difficult to air ones differences if the other side sees what you’re doing as a “crime against nature and God.”
    You’re asking for people to respect your social boundaries and yourself, but you seem unwilling to do that to others.

  • http://mikailborg.livejournal.com/ MikhailBorg

    “a crime against nature and God”
    And how does any of us know what God considers a crime? Sure, the holy book of the Christians says God does… except, actually, it’s a bit unclear and contradictory on the subject. As well, the proof asserting that book is God’s Word is precisely as convincing as a proof that God’s true intentions can be found in Dianetics or Illuminatus!
    And, of course, there are and have been lots of other Gods and gods worshipped on this planet. Many of them are alleged to be perfectly happy with homosexuality. Wouldn’t it be something if God was saying to hirself, “I gave them all these different forms of love to show them how much I care for them! Why do they feel they must ignore so many of My gifts?”
    Here’s a picture: http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap090508.html. There are thousands of galaxies in that picture. Any of those galaxies might have one, a dozen, or hundreds of species like us… we’ll never know. But one who can look at that picture, and then tell me that the Creator of all that wonder is passionately concerned about micro-managing our genitals, is guilty of sheer hubris… and I think the Bible did have a specific thing or two to say about that.

  • http://www.kitwhitfield.com Kit Whitfield

    You’re asking for people to respect your social boundaries and yourself, but you seem unwilling to do that to others.
    I hope Jared doesn’t mind me saying this, but I don’t get that impression. He says he’s autistic, which means that other people’s boundaries aren’t going to be immediately obvious to him, but I think he’s doing his best to speak respectfully. I notice that he himself put ‘crime against God’ and his other more controversial statements in quotation marks, for instance, which looks to me like an attempt to indicate these are just his personal feelings rather than a diktat he’s trying to impose on us. I don’t agree with his opinion, and putting something in quotation marks doesn’t necessarily make it less hurtful, but I took ‘I just hope we can all find some way to respect each other while we are airing our differences’ as an attempt to indicate good will. Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt.

  • http://www.zeldauniverse.net GDwarf

    Fair enough.
    Also, re-reading my post it comes off as more confrontational than I intended. If you read it in a calm, questioning voice (think LeVar Burton on Reading Rainbow. :P) then it’s closer to what I had intended.

  • Amaryllis

    Jared: I also feel uncomfortable referring to their monogamous, committed relationships as being marriages, because I don’t really feel that they are.
    GDwarf: What, then, is the difference?
    If I may speculate for a moment, it seems to me that the difference is whether you believe that men and women are more alike than they are different, or more different than they are alike. If you take that second view, then a relationship between two men or two women can never be exactly the same thing as a relationship between a woman and a man.

  • http://mikailborg.livejournal.com/ MikhailBorg

    “If you take that second view, then a relationship between two men or two women can never be exactly the same thing as a relationship between a woman and a man.”
    True, in fact, but with the corollary that any randomly-chosen relationship between a woman and a man won’t be the same thing as another randomly-chosen relationship between a woman and a man.
    I have two friends married to one another. Both are sex-positive; one is a straight female and one is a gay male. They show every sign of being remarkably happy with one another; far from being a sham marriage, they are each devoted. I haven’t yet found a tasteful way to ask them how they handle their sexualities (I suspect that, whatever the answer, conservatives wouldn’t like it much.)
    I cherish their friendship not only because I value them as people, but because they have built something that works for them that I don’t understand. That’s wonderful! (Literally.)

  • http://www.kitwhitfield.com Kit Whitfield

    “any randomly-chosen relationship between a woman and a man won’t be the same thing as another randomly-chosen relationship between a woman and a man.”
    That makes sense to me. I think one of the reasons why the lack of gay marriage rights bothers me is that my gay friends have been nothing but supportive of my relationship with the man I’m marrying: welcoming him and getting to know him when he first came into my life, supporting us as a couple, celebrating with us when we got engaged, helping us plan the marriage. Far from endangering our relationship as the religious panickers would seem to believe, they’ve been right alongside us, just as our straight friends have, because this isn’t about sexual orientation, it’s about people, and our gay friends are nice people, part of our community, and as such, have made it easier for us to be together, because that’s what happens in healthy communities. They’ve acted exactly as you’d expect straight people to act, if they were nice. There’s nothing different about our gay friends.
    The only difference is in who they fall in love with – but that doesn’t seem such a big difference to me. I mean, I’m in love with Gareth rather than Mary, but I’m also in love with Gareth rather than Jim. I love my fiance instead of loving a woman, but also instead of loving any other man. The idea that marriage has to be opposite-sex makes me feel rather insulted, because both of us picked each other out of the whole of humanity, not just on the basis of gender.
    And my fiance has some things in common with the men I don’t love romantically, but he has things in common with the women I don’t love romantically as well. He shares a gender with his best man, but he shares a sense of humour with my bridesmaid; in some ways, he’s more like her than like him, and vice versa. Having seen the two of them falling about laughing at each others’ jokes, it’s very hard to see why a half-chromosome here or there should make such a difference. What we have in common is that we’re all people. Men and women have so much in common with each other that it seems a frivolous distinction when it comes to marriage.

  • Amaryllis

    Kit: “Men and women have so much in common with each other that it seems a frivolous distinction when it comes to marriage.”
    Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying. You look at Gareth and Jim and Mary and see unique individual humans for whom their gender is just one characteristic among all the others that make them who they are. Some people apparently look at Gareth and Jim, and then at Kit and Mary, and see two different kinds of beings. And a relationship between two individuals of Type A is not the same thing as a relationship between one of Type A and one of Type B.
    It’s a viewpoint which puts a lot a faith in inherent distinctions between “male” and “female”, as categories, beyond anything that can be attributed to culture, nurture, education, or environment. From this perspective, “marriage” isn’t a social construct or a legal contract or even a religious sacrament, although it may be expressed through those things; it’s more like a natural phenomenon, something independent of varying cultural definitions.
    I hasten to add that this is not my perspective; I just think it’s one way of understanding the position that same-sex relationships may be loving, committed, nurturant, enduring, exclusive, but still Not The Same As Marriage.

  • Jeff

    I actually asked the registrar if he could leave that out, and he said sorry, but he couldn’t. So during the ceremony, my beloved and I will have to stand by and silently endorse a law that hurts our friends – including one of our bridesmaids and several guests.
    He has to say it, but do you have to hear it? When he gets to that part, can you have the entire audience sing (even if it’s “La La La La La” or equivalent) as loudly as possible? He’ll have fulfilled his duty, but you (and your guests) won’t be subjected to something you find abhorent. (Since he seems sympathetic, I’d discuss it with him before hand. He may have an idea or two, as well.)
    —————-
    Speaking of weddings, when I finally marry my knucklehead pooky sweetie, we’re going to sing Peter Gabriel’s “Book of Love” to each other before exchanging rings:
    The book of love is long and boring
    No one can lift the damn thing
    It’s full of charts and facts and figures and instructions for dancing
    But I
    I love it when you read to me
    And you
    You can read me anything
    The book of love has music in it
    In fact that’s where music comes from
    Some of it’s just transcendental
    Some of it’s just really dumb
    But I
    I love it when you sing to me
    And you
    You can sing me anything
    The book of love is long and boring
    And written very long ago
    It’s full of flowers and heart-shaped boxes
    And things we’re all too young to know
    But I
    I love you when you give me things
    And you
    You ought to give me wedding rings
    And I
    I love it when you give me things
    And you
    You ought to give me wedding rings
    And I
    I love you when you give me things
    And you
    You ought to give me wedding rings
    You ought to give me wedding rings
    Here’s a cool video with the lyrics translated into Spanish.

  • SAJ

    While I agree with most of this well-argued piece, I have to protest the way that references to the burkha are used. While it may be true that the argument about burkha logic represents institutionalization of the burkha, of the social, legal, educational and religious types, we cannot use such a well-reasoned argument to demonstrate total ignorance of other cultures. Some women CHOOSE to where the burkha. We can argue about what that choice means when the alternative is social ostracization, threats, and possible loss of freedom or life. But if we read relevant texts on the burkha we learn that some types of veiling permit women in Islam to not be objectified by a man’s view. That a woman can choose to wear something and not be a sexual object. As a woman in the United States, I am subjected to being sexually objectified every day, every hour, at almost every interaction, with men and women alike. It is simply the way we have learned to think of, conceive of women. It’s usually not intentional, often barely even a conscious choice. So in the veil there is some appeal, some advantage. Would I choose to wear a burkha? It would be culturally appropriative of me to do so, and in the states I would be objectified in a totally different way if I did. But if we are going to talk of burkha-logic, let us speak of institutional burkha-logic, and the point will carry

  • Mary Kaye

    I have a long-term, stable, heterosexual marriage. But I’m infertile, and I’ve known that for some time. We recently adopted an older child from the foster care system, but I will never have biological children.
    A lot of the arguments against gay marriage are also arguments against my marriage, at least since we’ve known about my infertility. Yet no one tries to annul my marriage–and why should they? It works. Me and my husband and child are better off for its existence, and no one is worse off.
    I feel I owe it to myself, as an infertile woman, to stomp hard on any argument that fertility is the measure by which anyone’s marriage should be judged. Infertile marriages are still valid, loving partnerships of human beings. It’s common to add “and can still raise children” here, but even marriages which will never raise children are, in my eyes, utterly valid. My stepfather remarried at an age where he won’t have children, biological or otherwise; but his marriage is loving and stable and a great thing for him and his family.


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