Religious right will hold breath, turn blue, if DOMA overturned

As New Zealand MP Maurice Williamson pointed out, marriage equality “is fantastic for the people it affects, but for the rest of us, life will go on.”

If you’re not a same-sex couple seeking to be legally married, this doesn’t affect you. At all. It isn’t something that is happening to you, or even something that is happening near you. And as such, if you’re churlish enough to begrudge the people it does affect of something “fantastic,” then there’s nothing you can do apart from grumpily cross your arms and stand there, disapproving.

So the “Marriage Solidarity Statement” released this week by dozens of the usual suspects from the anti-gay religious right just doesn’t make any sense.

“We will not stand by,” the statement harrumphs. But, actually, yes, yes they will. Standing by is exactly what they will do because that is all they can do. This doesn’t affect them. It does not harm them — it neither picks their pockets nor breaks their legs. It doesn’t compel them to do anything. It doesn’t compel them not to do anything. They are by-standers to something happening elsewhere, to other people. And as by-standers, all they can possibly mean by “We will not stand by” is that “We will assume a posture of extreme indignation and offendedness while standing by.”

Well, that and send out fundraising letters, fleecing their flocks out of ever-more money by pretending that the sky is falling and the world is ending. But they were going to do that anyway. That’s their business model, after all.

If you read the entire statement (.pdf here), you’ll note that the tone throughout is that of a threat, of an ultimatum. And yet the indignant signatories never actually say that they will actually do anything. They say they will feel upset. They say they will feel disappointed in the Supreme Court. Feelings, whoa-whoa-oh, feeeeeelings.

But they never say what they will do because there is nothing they can do.

This isn’t about them. And this isn’t about their feelings. It’s fantastic for the people it affects, but the indignatories of the religious right are not among the people it affects. They are by-standers to something that does not affect them. And, like it or not, all they can do is stand by — like Jonah outside of Ninevah, or like the older brother outside the party for the Prodigal Son.

(Like Jonah and the older brother in the parable, they also have the option of uncrossing their arms, ending their sulk and joining the celebration — but this possibility doesn’t seem to occur to them either.)

There is one other, darker possibility, as David Badash notes. They could decide to follow the example of the disgraced thug-priests of the Orthodox Church in Georgia and take to the streets in mob violence:

“We cannot and will not allow this to occur on our watch,” they state — although don’t specify what they will do if they don’t like the Court’s rulings.

And while they aren’t specifically threatening to riot in the streets and aren’t suggesting any acts of violence, their words could be fuel — or seen as a call to action — for others to do just that.

He’s not wrong to worry. This is the last gasp of the dead-enders, and faced with the choice between reality and violence, such people have been known to choose the latter. They’re not actually threatened. Their religious liberty and their way of life and their values are not being threatened. But they’re working very hard to convince themselves that somehow all of that is in jeopardy. They’re addicted to the adrenaline-rush that fantasy of persecution provides. So be careful — because a cornered animal can always be dangerous, even if it’s only pretending to be cornered.

See earlier:

Religious right still doesn’t know what ‘civil disobedience’ means

When talk of ‘civil disobedience’ is just masturbation

Pat Buchanan joins Manhattan Declarers in ‘civil disobedience’ fappery

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  • “[T]here’s nothing you can do apart from grumpily cross your arms and stand there, disapproving.”
    Hey, don’t knock it. It’s good enough for the Tribulation Force, after all.

  • Joykins

    I can think of one thing they could do, which is, if they run companies, stop offering benefits to spouses because they might accidentally give benefits to a gay spouse.

  • The ‘let’s punish everyone so we can keep screwing the gays’ reaction is pretty great, because I literally cannot think of anything so designed to bring about solidarity with gay people

  • LL

    Christ, what a bunch of assholes.

  • schismtracer

    I’m sure that, if they found themselves related to someone pursuing a gay marriage, they could, if they were feeling sufficiently spiteful and willing to put that much effort into being an asshole (both of which they are, pretty much by definition), sabotage or even prevent the wedding from occurring.

  • GeniusLemur

    “we will not stand by.” Of course you won’t. You’ll throw a hissy fit. Of course, you throw a hissy fit every single time you don’t get 100% of your way on everything, so I don’t know why anybody would notice.

  • Vass

    “If you’re not a same-sex couple seeking to be legally married, this doesn’t affect you. At all.”

    That is plain wrong.

    I’m a single lesbian, and yes it does affect me to know that I cannot legally marry in my country. It also affects me that every time I attend one of my opposite-sex couple friends’ weddings (in Australia where I live) I have to listen to the preamble that the government made part of the wedding service, specifically reminding everyone present that marriage is only between a man and a woman.

    It affects straight people too: the children of same sex couples who are considered ‘biological strangers’ to one of their parents, who therefore have to go to court to have parental rights.

    It affects the community, the taxpayers and welfare groups, when a gay person is bereaved and then loses his home because the estate taxes were too high, or when a sick person isn’t covered under her wife’s health insurance. The foster children who can’t be adopted when same sex couples aren’t given equal protection under the law. The labour a country loses when some of its skilled workers have to live abroad because their partners can’t get in because their relationship isn’t recognised.

  • Vermic

    The statement is a heck of a thing. Its argument basically boils down to the “natural law” assertion (and serious question, is there anything to “natural law” besides “stuff I have no evidence for, but feel in my gut anyway”?). They can’t and don’t explain how allowing gay marriage could ever hurt specific, real people; just a general concern about how it’s bad for our collective moral fibre or whatever — you know, the sort of vague loosey-goosey hand-wringing that’s supposed to be the province of us bleeding heart liberals.

    Marriage as existing solely between one man and one woman was not an idea manufactured by the Christian Church. It precedes Christianity.

    I don’t see how anyone could truthfully read the Old Testament and find a strong “one husband, one wife” precedent. Fred’s Chik-fil-A series has covered this topic in some detail, to put it mildly.

    Civil institutions do not create marriage nor can they manufacture a right to marry for those who are incapable of marriage … Redefining the very institution of marriage is improper and outside the authority of the State. The Supreme Court has no authority to redefine marriage.

    Well, that’s just incorrect.

    If the Supreme Court becomes the tool by which marriage is redefined in the positive law of this nation, the precedent established will leave no room for any limitation on what can constitute such a redefined notion of marriage.

    Not entirely sure what’s being gotten at here, but I assume it’s a version of the “today gay marriage, tomorrow box turtles!” slippery slope.

    Conferring a moral and legal equivalency to same-sex couples by legislative or judicial fiat also sends the message that children do not need a mother and a father. It undermines their fundamental rights and threatens their security, stability, and future.

    I assume, for consistency’s sake, that these people also demand divorce be outlawed? It’s the only way to force ensure kids grow up in a two-parent household!

    Experience and history have shown us that if the government redefines marriage to grant a legal equivalency to same-sex couples, that same government will then enforce such an action with the police power of the State.

    [citation needed]

  • Joykins

    Catholic Charities has already done this because of same-sex marriage in DC IIRC.

  • addicted4444

    “There is one other, darker possibility, as David Badash notes. They could decide to follow the example of the disgraced thug-priests of the Orthodox Church in Georgia and take to the streets in mob violence:”

    Yeah, but riots and violence isn’t good for business (not to mention, it is inconvenient) so no, I don’t expect them to do this.

    They might egg on some followers into it, but in general, I think that will simply turn Americans off them even more than before.

  • Jared James

    Impressively, of the five factual assertions in “civil institutions do not…” every single one is untrue. I don’t know that the IndigNation know they’re all lies, but I do know they recklessly disregard the truth six to eight days a week on average, so would it make a difference?

  • FearlessSon

    Civil institutions do not create marriage nor can they manufacture a right to marry for those who are incapable of marriage … Redefining the very institution of marriage is improper and outside the authority of the State. The Supreme Court has no authority to redefine marriage.

    If that is the way that this guy feels, why not just have the state revoke legal recognition of his marriage? After all, the state has no authority to define what marriage is, so what does he care? Let him pay all his taxes as a single person and be denied visitation rights. After all, it is not like the state has any influence now, right? [/sarcasm]

  • J_Enigma32

    Frankly, if they were going to riot over anything, you’d think it would be abortion. But they haven’t there, so I don’t think they will here, either.

    I don’t doubt that there will be an uptick in violence against gays, lesbians, and their supporters. I don’t doubt that for a second. But riots? No. If anything, they’ll use it to continue to feed their persecution complex, continue to stomp their feet and pass meaningless testaments to their dead agenda, and use it as an excuse to rub the balm of indignation and bitterness on their wounded egos in public. in short, they’re going to use it to grandstand and pretend they’re both “moral” and “adults”.

  • Michael Cule

    “I will do such things,–What they are, yet I know not: but they shall be
    The terrors of the earth. “

  • Jeff Weskamp

    “The effort to redefine marriage threatens the proper mediating role of the Church in society. ”

    This, *this* right here, is the Religious Right’s *true* objection to same-sex marriage! It proves that they truly have no “mediating role” in American society. It tells them that they are *not* the supreme arbiters of morality in this country. It bluntly indicates that their beliefs have no validity whatsoever to our system of jurisprudence. It tells them, “You are not the unquestioned and unquestionable authority on public morals and policy. So sit down and shut up.”

  • Ursula L

    Things they could do:

    If they work in a hospital, refuse to recognize same-sex spouses and allow visitation as a spouse, or refuse same-sex couples access to their sick children.

    If they work in a school, refuse to recognize the same-sex couples who are parents to their students as both being parents.

    If they run a private school or daycare, refuse admission to the children of same-sex couples.

    Basically, they could continue to do all the nasty, discriminatory things that they already do to same-sex couples, only with the added fun that they can call it “civil disobedience” because they’re refusing to recognizes civil marriages.

  • Jessica_R

    Fingers crossed I will see a epic amount of new to me “You Mad?” gifs, macros, and whatnot very soon… With a side order of “And Not A Single Fuck Was Given That Day” ones.

  • Experience and history have shown us that if the government redefines
    marriage to grant a legal equivalency to same-sex couples, that same
    government will then enforce such an action with the police power of the

    I’m pretty sure they’re calling back to Brown v. the Board of Education. The state will enforce the rights of people, and will do its best to take away the privilege of discriminating against people, and yes, with police action if necessary. These assholes are scared because a day is coming when they won’t be allowed to discriminate against non-straight people for not being straight any more.

    I bet they’re also thinking about the state disallowing certain Mormon cults from forcing their teenage daughters to “marry” old men.

  • Jessica_R

    But happily if DOMA gets struck down they can do so with new and improved ingredient “Congrats! You’re a hateful asshole who just lost their job/got a lawsuit slapped on you/etc.” Couldn’t happen to nicer bunch of folks.

  • P J Evans

    If they’re going to hold their breath until they turn blue, can we get dibs on their stuff?

  • Not to mention that were it so, DOMA had no business being the law of the land in the first place.

  • Ursula L

    Thus proving their claim that they’re persecuted!!!!!eleventy!!1111!!!

  • nemryn

    Experience and history have shown us that if the government redefines
    marriage to grant a legal equivalency to same-sex couples, that same
    government will then enforce such an action with the police power of the

    Okay, let’s say, for the sake of argument, that this is actually true. What would that look like? The jack-booted thugs bust down the door to your home/office/church/whatever and force you to do… what, exactly?

  • MarkTemporis

    You have government-approved wedding vows? That’s kind of ridiculous. I thought everyone writing their own vows was just what people did, if only to remove the idiotic ‘let people object to the wedding’ and ‘obey’ bits.

  • the shepard

    i predict much impotent stamping of feet, surly glaring and general douchebaggery followed by running home to tell mommy how mean everyone is to them.

  • the shepard

    i honestly am not sure they are referring to any actual, historical event or experience. i’m also not sure how they think the police would become involved in a wedding unless they are planning some kind of criminl act to disrupt that wedding.
    sounds completely paranoid to me.

  • the shepard

    to bring a thoughtful gift and eat the hell-baked cake, of course. (probably devil’s food, don’t ya know.)

  • Veylon

    These people have always struck me as incredibly cowardly. Yes, there are a few willing to actually stick their necks out, but the vast majority will quietly do what the state tells them to and grouch about how horrible it is to the likeminded. They won’t risk losing a promotion or being fired, let along jailed.

    They’ve allowed their cause to become so vapid and shallow that they already regard being disagreed with as persecution and complaining as heroic resistance. They have no stomach for anything more.

  • Carstonio

    Conferring a moral and legal equivalency to same-sex couples by legislative or judicial fiat also sends the message that children do not need a mother and a father.
    As I’ve said before, the assumptive leap here is massive.

  • Vass

    It’s not in the vows, it’s what the wedding celebrant says.

  • Jenny Islander

    If I had the money, I would seek out, buy, and wear a T-shirt featuring the most romantic moments between Iron Man and Captain America in the official comics from the last 25 or so years, with fanart of the two of them in tuxes with dazed and happy expressions smack in the middle.

  • Exactly right. Same sex marriage has become a proxy issue for the entire conservative Christian worldview. Becoming the moral minority on LGBT issues portends a complete loss of influence on the culture. Alas, would that be true!

  • Carstonio

    It goes deeper than that. Their rejection of secularism is so thorough that it’s as though the Enlightenment never happened. It’s the concept of theocracy as applied to society instead of government.

  • Carstonio

    The notion that marriage is outside the authority of the state is obviously the falsehood that marriage belongs solely to religion. Recently many folks have been pushing the so-called compromise of civil unions for all, reserving the word marriage for religious ceremonies. Maybe they really believe the demagogic claim that houses of worship will be forced to officiate for same-sex weddings, despite the explicit exemptions in the state laws.

  • depizan

    Also, doesn’t the fact that its legal to raise a child by yourself already send that message? (Yeah, I know they hate single parents, too. Just pointing out that that horse seems to be so far out of the barn that its in the next state.)

  • Carstonio

    My point was that they don’t explain why children would get that message. They seem to assume that the only real reason couples marry is to procreate. I would love for someone to challenge Brian Brown or one of his allies directly about this argument. Because when he argues that same-sex marriage leads to children being raised without fathers, this implies that straight men are being tempted to turn gay and abandon their families.

    Sure, children sometimes lose parents through widowhood or desertion, but the folks we’re talking about seem to care only about situations where the fatherlessness is intentional, meaning lesbian couples and Murphy Browns. Suspiciously similar to advocates of abortion bans who focus on women who want to have sex without becoming mothers.

  • Kenneth Raymond

    Heck, even if they do get 100% of their way on everything, they have a special hissy fit prepared to make like they didn’t, just to set up for later getting the next item on their agenda.

  • JeffreyRO55

    What’s so strange (well, part of what’s so strange) about all the huffing and puffing of the rightwingnuts is that they’re arguing as if the government is legalizing same-sex marriage AND banning different-sex marriage. Obviously, that’s not the case, but if you listen to their arguments, they seem to be addressing the legalizing of same-sex marriage while outlawing different-sex marriage.

    Note to religionists: straight couples will still be allowed to get married, even when gay couples are afforded the same right!

  • Rarely Posts

    Your general points about civil disobedience are good, but there are options to “not stand by.” One is to actually interfere with government and social institutions (here, Clerk’s Offices issuing marriage certificates or Churches performing weddings). Another would be the classic forms of protest in which one harms oneself to draw attention to injustice: hunger strikes and self-immolation being the major options.

    Of course, all of these require massive sacrifice by the person performing them–at a minimum, jail time, at a maximum, death. They are completely ineffective unless you have an overwhelmingly strong moral argument on your side (and often ineffective even then). I just draw attention to these options because occasionally citizens face circumstances of massive injustice (such as unjust wars, disenfranchisement or persecution of others, etc.) where regular civil disobedience is unavailable because the State is not actually acting against the citizen. But, those are your options, and not one of these people is really willing to starve themselves to death or self-immolate.

  • dpolicar

    They aren’t worried that families like theirs will be criminalized.

    They are worried that we will eliminate the visible markers of superiority that families like theirs have over families like mine. (Beginning with the willingness to label families like mine a “family,” rather than an “abomination,” though hardly limited to that.)

    I can understand that concern. If everyone comes to believe that my family is equivalent to theirs, they lose a kind of social superiority.

    The fact that in the process my quality of life increases significantly and theirs doesn’t significantly (or, frankly, measurably) decrease doesn’t matter to them very much, because my quality of life doesn’t matter to them as much as their social superiority.

    This isn’t admirable, but it’s relatively common, and they aren’t actually obligated to value my quality of life. If they don’t, they don’t, and that’s just the way it is. I think less of them for it, and if they try to impose their values on my life they are enemies I have to oppose, but that too is just the way it is.

    I don’t like it, but I don’t think it helps to pretend that they’re worried instead over something that would be reasonable to worry about (their families being criminalized the way they want mine to be), if only it were in the least bit plausible.

  • depizan

    I wasn’t disagreeing with you so much as pointing out that they’re freaking out about something that doesn’t make much sense.

    And I’m quite sure that they blame women for single parenthood, regardless of how it came about.

  • JeffreyRO55

    I think there’s more to it just their relative social status vis-a-vis gay people. Acceptance of gay people is already happening, quickly. It has already become the minority position to disapprove of, or dislike, gay people because of their sexual orientation. What’s going on here is that these people will lose the government’s agreement with them that gays are less deserving, and no matter how much they say they hate the government, they really do want government approval (on gay marriage, immigration, affirmative action, etc.).

    They also know the power of government to “normalize” that which might they believe to be not normal. They evidently have invested quite a bit of intellectual and philosophical capital in believing that gay people are defective, and they don’t want they belief questioned.

    Finally, they see it as one more example of government rejection of religious belief, even though we’re “a Christian nation.” They are sure God agrees with them that gays are bad, and therefore the government ought not to defy that.

  • Sara

    I hope that Fred is right, and that this is just a tantrum. But when I read the statement, my blood ran a little cold. What I took away is that allowing people like me the right to marry will:

    1. Destroy our civilization as we know it.
    2. Violate the human rights of children, and
    3. Mean that the courts (i.e. rule of law) are illegitimate.

    I don’t believe that the people who wrote or signed this will engage in violence. And they did not make any direct threats of violence — they didn’t have to. But with the list of signatories including such mainstream staples of conservative Christian culture, this letter strikes me as reckless. It might fan the flames for someone unhinged enough to actually commit acts of violence.

  • They’ll be running home to tell mommy that they need more donations to fight the Big Gay Menace. Can’t forget that request for donations, or what would be the point of having their tantrum publicly?

  • “I assume, for consistency’s sake, that these people also demand divorce be outlawed? It’s the only way to force ensure kids grow up in a two-parent household!”
    They’d need to outlaw parental death too, wouldn’t they?

  • FearlessSon

    These people have always struck me as incredibly cowardly.

    That is because they are cowardly. Trying to leverage a position of strong influence into disenfranchising a minority population for little reason other than to make sure they know “their place” is not something done by anyone of courage, any more than is kicking someone while they are down and outnumbered is.

    We are seeing a lot of previously moderately anti-homosexual people walk back their positions on the issue, and I suspect that this has less to do with a genuine change of opinion on the matter and more to do with them realizing that they do not have as much backup on the issue from the population in general as they did before. Absent anyone guarding their social flanks, they back off.

  • Jen K

    Wow. I’m glad our government does not control things to that extent.

  • the shepard

    that is just plain and simple assholery right there.

  • P J Evans

    I believe that clerks have tried refusing to issue licenses to same-sex couples, and have been told that they have a choice: issue the license, or change jobs.

  • the shepard

    but, in their minds they are losing quality of life points because they are unable to process the concept that joy is not a zero sum game.

    you’re happiness, frankly, makes them less happy.

    it makes no sense and displays a total lack of empathy, but there it is.