Posted by Henry Meyerding on Dec 2, 2012 - 5:00:47 PM
UNITED STATES—Tony Perkins will figure large in this article, so I will begin by telling the reader who he is. He is the president of the Family Research Council, (FRC http://www.frc.org/) a Christian, right wing, think tank, public policy, and lobbying organization based in
D.C. In 2010 this organization was classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (http://www.splcenter.org/) which characterized the group as "a fount of anti-gay propaganda".
If you listen to Mr. Perkins, or his imitators, discourse on just about any subject, you will find that the majority of their verbiage is about fear. They seldom say anything that would be actionable, such as stating that a particular person or group did anything in particular that was illegal or disreputable. They prefer to work through innuendo and insinuation. They’re the same kind of arguments used by religious fanatics, bigots, and fear mongers throughout most of human history.
Here is how it works. They begin by stating a supposition that they think most everyone will agree with:the nation is in real trouble, for example. They follow that with another about how we all know that we’re heading in the wrong direction. Notice how they haven’t said what exactly is wrong or where that wrong direction is actually headed. But now, if people aren’t paying close attention, they have most people sympathetic to their speech. The next thing is the trick:they pick a group of people who they think will be unpopular with their audience, and they blame those people for whatever their speech is saying is wrong, and for the wrong direction that we are headed in. It doesn’t really matter who:Jews, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Scientists, Gays, tree-huggers - anyone can fit neatly into the hate slot.
Tony Perkins’ specialty is to then make a wild doomsday prediction about what will happen if we all don’t start doing something about his current bugaboo. We all know the kind of thing that is said: Gay marriage will ruin marriage, which will ruin the family, which will unhinge society and destroy Western Civilization in its entirety, if not the entire human race. Did you not notice how none of these separate things really have anything to do with one another, nor is there a single real argument, or the tiniest shred of proof, or evidence, offered for anything along this domino trail.
This is why the FRC is called a hate group, because it uses these hate group tactics. If only we all believe what they believe, and do what they say we should do, all will be well, we will come out of this imaginary nightmare, and all will be wonderful. They never say how this will happen. They leave that up the imagination of the audience. Failing to believe in this magical world, and deciding not to do as they say, will expose us all too dire consequences of terrific and terrible proportions. They never say why, or how. When challenged in either case, their only fallback position is to tell us that God will make it so, but they never say why God would want to treat us so badly, or when he will commence to do so.
And our dear friends in the
Vatican have been at it again. This time, His Holiness, Pope Benedict has appointed a special representative to create an international, interfaith alliance, against same-sex marriage. He says, rightly, that marriage is an important institution in society, crucial to the wellbeing of families and children. He doesn’t say exactly how keeping some people from marrying will improve the institution, or provide greater well being for families or children. It is an article of faith with this man, and his cohorts, that this is true. It needs no facts or proof. God, presumably, said so, and it is therefore beyond doubt or rational argument. According to this man, marriage equality is a great wrong, just as democracy, gravity, astronomy, deaf people, genetics, left-handedness, contraception, and medicine, were defined as mortal sins by Catholic teachings for centuries.
You hear the same refrains echoed in all these camps, allowing LGBT people to marry will spell the end of civilization. But none of them are willing to spell out how this will happen. This is why these tantrums are ineffective legal arguments in court. Aside from religious courts, which are not bound by facts, or due process, or the niceties of fairness, or justice of any kind. Whenever these matters have come before a civil court judge, the rulings have been unanimous - you can believe in something completely, but that does not make your belief factual. There is no proven, demonstrable, clearly defined, or precisely validated, harm that can be demonstrated from letting people marry, even if XYZ church says that those marriages are wrong.
And the law says you don’t need to change your opinion. You are perfectly free to think that it is wrong for same-sex people to marry. You need not marry someone of the same sex, if you think it is wrong. It is perfectly legal, if you are not a government office, to refuse to marry people of the same sex. What is contrary to fairness, and what is increasingly illegal, is for Adam and Steve to be prevented from being married by a judge, or justice of the peace, just because some people, of some religious belief, think this is wrong. Plenty of churches, in some parts of this country, won’t marry interracial couples. I am forbidden to marry, though legally divorced, another person of the opposite sex, in any Catholic Church, unless my former marriage has been formally annulled by the Catholic Church. But I can go to any judge and get married. There are plenty of Catholics who are married, in marriages not recognized by the Catholic Church.
Opponents of marriage equality constant harp on “redefining marriage.” It is a big deal for them, and they are dead set against it, but they seldom say what they mean. They are presuming that the marriage of today is identical to the marriage of 50, 100, 500, or 1000 years ago. To them the institution of marriage is a constant in an ever changing universe. Nothing could be further from the truth. At the time of the American Revolution, for example, only a small percentage of people actually got married formally in a church. Church marriages were for people with money and property. Ordinary people just couldn’t afford it and it was considered to be of no benefit to them over common law marriages. Allowing LGBT people to marry one another doesn’t redefine anything. The marriages they enter into have the same rules, assumptions, laws and responsibilities as any other modern marriage. They don’t want to change the apple pie; they want a piece of the pie.
And most LGBT people don’t really want to make fundamental changes in the world. They want to make people less discriminatory and prejudiced, at least against them. But they are not, as a group, really pushing for any sweeping social, economic, or political change. Of course, being human, too, they think that if they can only get these few little tweaks to the universe, all will be well and everyone will be fine. But the difference between them and people like Tony Perkins and Pope Benedict is that the latter pine for a fantasy of yesterday that never was and want to impose that pipe dream on everyone else and they just want to live their lives in the here and now. And yes, there are LGBT people who hold a cherished vision of a fantasy future and want to impose that on everyone else. They are equally wrong to assume that they know what is best for the rest of us.
If you want to be against something that people do, then be against pollution, or rape, or slavery. These are things that are obviously wrong, from every angle, and have profound consequences on people.
Working diligently against LGBT people who want marriage equality just foment hatred, and ends in more people being harmed, often by violence. We should let people be whoever they want to be, and help them to be good people by being good people ourselves. Good people get together with their neighbors, and work for a world without calamities like habitat destruction, rape, or slavery. They do this, not out of fear of any consequence but because it is the right way to live.
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