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

Religious right will hold breath, turn blue, if DOMA overturned June 21, 2013

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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  • dpolicar

    Oh, they can get the non-zero-sum-game aspect in general.

    I’m sure they are genuinely joyful when members of their community get married, for example, without any concern for what that might take away from their lives, and they’d be genuinely bewildered and hurt by the suggestion that they only care about themselves.

    It’s families like mine (and many others, of course) they want to deny that respect to, not families in general.

  • Carstonio

    In my area, the objecting clerks have been excused from any duties involving marriages. We’re the only jurisdiction in the state that has objectors. They’re wrong about this being a conscience issue for them, partly because it’s none of their concern whether others choose to marry the opposite sex or the same sex, and partly because expecting the world to conform to one’s conscience is not what the conscience is about.

  • Daniel

    If they call in they call in the police to enforce a gay wedding it can’t be long before they bring in the army too. And then any other law enforcement officials, like sheriffs from the old west- who’ll probably bring their native american sidekicks with them. And then the door’s open to vigilantes- like buff construction workers who want to take the law into their own callused hands. The only way to avoid that would be to Go West to New Zealand or something.

  • Daniel

    Can I ask bluntly: when was their case ever solid and deep? The argument has always been “I don’t like what these people are doing. They are not doing it to or with me. They like it and they are happy. I do not believe they can love each other, and nothing they say will change my mind. It must be stopped.” They just keep finding new “causes” to bolt on to this. I do not understand the arguments against gay rights, chiefly because the word “gay” should be redundant- they are human rights that everyone has or should have. What rational, evidence based, intelligent and reasonable argument have “these people” ever offered?

  • Daniel

    Isn’t blue the Democrats’ colour?

  • Daniel

    Sin. Sin is how it came about. Eve’s sin. So women are to blame, for that and for everything.

  • Daniel

    So do you not have civil ceremonies in (I assume) the U.S?

  • Daniel

    In the UK we have bishops who take a direct role in legislation- basically we have a part theocracy. And they spend all their time bitching that no one listens to the CoE any more, despite it being the overly-dunked biscuit of world religions. In the US you have no established church, yet your legislators’ hands are forced by the religious right on this, and abortion and stem cell research etc. I feel like a less succinct English Yakov Smirnoff right now.

  • I felt the same way when I heard Tony Benn describe democracy as having taken power out of the hands of rich people and given it to poor people.

    Here we live in a democracy where our only vote is which group of rich people have the most power.

  • Oh, and for bonus points, the rich people are now using democracy to take the vote away from poor people.

  • DrPlacebo

    Yep. They’ll fundraise off of it. Which they were doing anyway. It’s a racket to separate gullible people from their money, as always.

  • Wednesday

    Speaking as a USian, we do have civil ceremonies, but that doesn’t always mean the state sets the text of the celebrant, even at the most basic courthouse ceremony. Sometimes there’s only one text, sometimes you can chose from a list, sometimes you can provide your own vows. It really depends.

    And sometimes you cannot find out what the text will be anywhere in advance and then you have to bite back outrage when the judge makes a totally inappropriate and offensive statement about how Marriage = One Man One Woman, sigh….

  • Daniel

    The lefty hand wringers are often met with the response “if you don’t like it why don’t you move somewhere else?” when criticising US policy. I just wonder why the right wing don’t take their own advice.
    Similarly, why put so much trust in your “gut feeling”? A strong gut feeling is a precursor to an outpouring of shit.

  • FearlessSon

    To be fair to them, there was a time when homosexuality was largely seen by the professional medical community as a kind of disorder, a sickness of the mind. At best, this was a kind of compassionate patronizing attitude, at worst a way to legitimize the social punishment of behaviors which most others considered strange and incomprehensible.

    Later research eventually had the medical profession abandon that view of homosexuality being a deviant mental malfunction, and recognize that it is more just part of who someone is, and there is no medical reason to single it out as harmful to the self or others. Science is a self-correcting process that way, and older ideas are sometimes discarded in favor of newer ones which make more sense across a broader set of data.

    Unfortunately, some people are not so fond of abandoning older ideas. Particularly, people who have a greater emphasis on the importance of dogma, of having the right, true, unchanging answer to something. By which I mean, mostly people both devout and authoritarian, which means largely the religious right. Their ideas about sexuality seemed broadly agreeable by even professionals a little over half a century ago, but not so much today. But as I mentioned, they value standing their ground above changing their minds, and they cling desperately to long discredited ideas instead of quietly revising their world view.

  • FearlessSon

    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.

    I suspect that such fear is born more from the phenomena of tightly closeted gay men coming out after getting married to a woman and having children with her, a situation I can only speculate is not uncommon among tightly-knit religious communities where people are told from birth that homosexuality is shameful.

    Of course, if homosexuality was not seen as so shameful in the first place that situation would not be coming up and this would not be an issue for him, but that would require admitting that he was wrong.

  • FearlessSon

    I suspect that their issue is that they need some bad guy to beat up on to feel good about themselves. Some deviant group that they can punish to feel satisfied in their own righteousness.

    When you take away the deviance and put that group under general protection by the established authorities, they lose that outlet and can no longer stroke their feelings of superiority over them.

  • FearlessSon

    It might fan the flames for someone unhinged enough to actually commit acts of violence.

    It would be unsurprising if someone with a few screws already loose did take this as some call for desperate action. We have seen this pattern plenty of times before. Someone goes off all half-cocked, causes tragedy, the rest of the movement backpedals as fast as they can to distance themselves from it, etc.

    But I would be surprised if the reaction was anything more than an isolated incident or two, even if they are more spectacular than usual. We are unlikely to find any of them a kind of trigger for, say, some kind of mass movement or national riot.

  • Carstonio

    Clergy members typically hold licenses, so that the wedding ceremonies they perform are also legally binding. We also have civil ceremonies, and there are some malcontents who insist that couples who have these ceremonies “aren’t really married.”

    I favor switching to the system used in some European countries, where only the civil ones are legally binding and where devout couples later have religious ceremonies with their families.

    The folks who insist that clergy members will be forced to officiate for same-sex couples conveniently neglect to mention that these clergy are already free to refuse interfaith couples.

  • I don’t see how anyone could truthfully read the Old Testament and find a strong “one husband, one wife” precedent

    There isn’t a precedent if you go that direction. However, from what I can tell monogamous marriage does predate Christianity in Western cultural history. Both Ancient Greece and preChristian Rome did have laws in place mandating marriage between one man and one woman — it was legal (and frequently expected) for men to have mistresses and other lovers on the side, but polygamy was made illegal.

  • Carstonio

    Brian Brown converted from Quakerism to Catholicism, so I doubt he came from that type of community. I’ve heard it suggested that folks like him dread the two-mommy scenario, as if all women automatically crave motherhood no matter what their orientation. Either way, I haven’t heard Brown explain how he sees same-sex marriage as depriving children of fathers.

  • FearlessSon

    So… he is worried that men will become obsolete?

  • Carstonio

    Possibly. NOM’s rhetoric treats the fatherlessness as an obvious outcome of legalization, leaving out the twists and turns in its arguments.

  • Vass

    It was plain meanness on the part of the government at the time (this was in 2004.) Same sex marriage wasn’t legally recognised, but that wasn’t enough for them, they wanted it to be EXTRA SUPER not recognised.

  • Jared James

    A far-fetched scenario, you say..? Perhaps.

    But there is precedent.

  • Daniel

    Dammit. I forgot the biker guy.

  • Daniel

    Yes, there was a time when medical science held this- but that was also a time when religion was still of great influence in society, and so there’s a chicken-and-egg question about why it was viewed as a mental illness. The point, as you say, is that science allows ideas that are no longer tenable to be discarded when better explanations come along. In the case of the religious right’s (wide) stance on homosexuality the explanations are constantly retooled to reconfirm a prejudice- which is irrational. Arguments that “evidence shows” that the government will step in to enforce gay marriages are bogus- it has never happened before so there is no evidence to support this. It is irrational and based on fear. The whole argument against gay rights seems to rest on “I think it’s gross, therefore it shouldn’t be allowed” which is my view of broccoli, and I accept this will never become law. Equally I am aware that it is unlikely anyone in uniform is ever going to force me to eat broccoli. So again, what intelligent and reasonable argument i.e. one based on actual evidence and not speculation based on personal distaste have they ever offered?

  • Daniel

    It just makes things easier that way. “Streamlining” it think is the management-speak term for it.

  • Ah, but you see, it they turn blue and faint, their body’s autonomic breathing response will kick back in, and they won’t be gone, sry2say,

  • fencerman

    As a canadian whose country is now celebrating 10 years of legalized same sex marriage, I can say our government is TOTALLY coming into people’s homes and forcing them to get gay married. Because that makes total sense and isn’t completely insane to even imagine.

    You can hardly recognize the Gomorrah-ian hellhole our country has become, with maple syrup thefts and cheese smuggling rings left and right*. Just the other day I was riding my moose to work, when a mountie pulled me over and forced me to marry my moose right on the side of the road. It was awful. Then we all had poutine.

    *actually these were real stories in the news up here. It’s kind of hilarious what passes for news somedays.

  • AnonaMiss

    It would be lovely to believe that this would be an uncontroversial way to resolve the issue, but pharmacists won the right to avoid dispensing emergency contraception years ago.

  • lorieontheleftcoast

    relieved to find my church body has no signatories to this document!

  • Kat

    i actually think you misread. I’m going to point out why by breaking up your post and referring it to the quote you made.

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

    “That is plain wrong.”

    How is that wrong? So you’re straight and two same-sex individuals getting married is going to affect your life? Wait for it…

    “I’m a single lesbian, and yes it does affect me to know that I cannot legally marry in my country.”

    Oh, you are part of the LGBTQ community. Wait, so how does the ability for same-sex couples affect you, now? Because the statement is about here in the United States. Here, it is not going to affect opposite-sex-couples if same-sex-couples can marry.

    “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.”

    Yes. Correct, it does affect you that your government has not reached this point in declaring equality, yet. Yet, how does -your- ability or inability to marry affect opposite-sex-couples? It doesn’t.*

    “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.”

    They must only have to go to court for parental rights in your country. Here, if the birth mother, at the time of birth, declares man 1 to be the father of her baby, even though man 2 is, man 1, a biological stranger, is father to that child. Yes, man 2 can go to court for visitation and other legal rights, however he only can because he is biologically related. Meanwhile, man 1, the biological stranger, has full legal right to the child. This is the same with adoption. When you adopt, once the adoption is finished, they are your parents. The adoption process means that neither parent is your biological parent, so it’s just a process of saying who is responsible for you.

    “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.”

    Wait, what? You mean that I, a straight individual, am NOT affecting the community if my spouse dies and I can’t afford the estate taxes? My presumed husband isn’t covered by my insurance? Well, why doesn’t he have his own through his own job? The point of this response is that it doesn’t matter who you are, straight or not, you can still become a burden on taxpayers. There are PLENTY of opposite-sex-couples sitting on welfare, disability, food stamps, etc here in the United States. This is not a phenomena that happens only with same-sex-couples.

    “The foster children who can’t be adopted when same sex couples aren’t given equal protection under the law.”

    That must, again, be in Austria… because just look up adoption in the United States. There are ways for same-sex-couples to adopt.

    “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.”

    This definitely isn’t the United States. Why? Because our workers can live wherever they want, regardless of their relationship status, because our government has laws that protect us from being discriminated against due to our relationship status. Single women, men, married, divorced, widowed, none of that matters. They actually can’t even ask that during the hiring process, it is only on your tax forms for how many deductions you claim.

    So the point of everything here, is not that I’m trying to be a bitch or cause problems or be argumentative, even though I realize some of it may come across that way. All this article is saying, is that the fact that a same-sex-couple getting married is not going to, in any way, shape, or form, affect opposite-sex-couples. At all.

    As for you, being a lesbian in Austria, I hope that equality finds its way to Austria soon. As the world changes and more and more countries take this step, those that don’t or haven’t, will start to see a growth in the number of people that want equality. Governments can only ignore the people for so long before change becomes inevitable. I just hope it happens sooner, rather than later.

    * “The two men down the street are able to marry, I guess we need to get a divorce,” said -no- opposite-sex-couple EVER.

  • Kat

    I don’t know why I kept putting Austria…. I know it said Australia… oof, no edit button.

  • Jared James

    He falls under the “vigilantes” category.

  • Eric

    But that’s not “Biblical marriage” then. That would be Godless, pagan, heathen marriage, and we can’t be having that…

  • EllieMurasaki

    Which invites the question of why they’re against marriage of one man and all the women he can afford…