I understand that the people who say these things are well within the throes of cognitive dissonance… a cognitive dissonance that they have been manipulated to by people who do not consider a ‘pious lie’ something other than a fancy excuse for what is still a lie. But you have a whole lot of people who try to use the bible to justify changes in the very much secular American government.. but who scream and yell about the separation of church and state when anything doesn’t go their way. And, because they want to see themselves as Christians, they will drone on about how gay people are still God’s children and they don’t actually hate gay people… before saying that they think gay people are disgusting and that gay marriage is a threat to their religious observance. And so sometimes, I can’t help get a bit annoyed.
Especially when you have a friend who you’ve known for a while, you can see where the pre-programmed cognitive dissonance kicks in, where a person who is otherwise a fairly open-minded and accepting person turns into a talking-point quoting robot.
You have to remember that I lived for most of my growing-up years in Cincinnati, where there is no room for Democrats and there was a big campaign to roll back equal rights laws under the tag line ‘Equal rights, not special rights’.
Despite coming from this background, I do support the rights of gay people. A big part of this involves me falling in love. See, I’m comfortably monogamously heterosexual. So I ended up falling in love with a woman. However, without intending to, I fell in love with a woman with a different skin color. I mean, I know there’s a huge population of people who had some ethnic or personal attributes that they’d like to end up with, but I was content to accept that fate would play out on it’s own.
As it turns out, my marriage was once illegal in many states and people made many of the same arguments about that which they do about gay marriage. And that caused me to see this argument perhaps a bit differently than I would have otherwise.
Furthermore, I’ve got friends who are gay and, as a friend, wish nothing for the best for them. And I realized the really really stupid rights that my gay friends were deprived of.
Now, full disclosure, my wife and I have given money to the gay marriage cause and have done so for a long time. But my own mother assumed that I’d be somehow scandalized that people I knew growing up turned out to be gay as late as two or three years ago. I had an uncomfortable interchange with a friend last year where he’d assumed that I was against gay marriage. So I figured I’d take the occasion of the most recent court ruling yesterday to talk about this a bit more publicly. Truth be told, I mostly assembled this from stuff I’ve already written but never got around to posting.
I’ve somehow come to feel that there are some things that you can argue in terms of shades of gray about and other things where things are very much restricted to an either-or relationship. And I’ve come to realize there really aren’t any good shades of gray with gay marriage. Either you are OK with gay people’s continued existence or you hate gay people so much as to deprive them of legal rights.
The appeal ruling on the subject plays into this theme. See, being a controversial issue, the judge on the initial decision knew that he had to make a very strong ruling so as to make a decision that wouldn’t be struck down instantly. So he pretty much let the pro-prop-8 people run their mouth as long as they wanted, gave them every possible leniency, and ended up building a very good case. This has colored everything about the case ever since, which has made the rulings very interesting reading.
For example, one of the popular talking points is for a person to say that they they don’t actually want to deprive gay people of their rights, but that they just don’t want it to be called a ‘marriage’. And so the ruling has a lovely quote that my friend Hugh pointed out: “Had Marilyn Monroe’s film been called ‘How to Register a Domestic Partnership with a Millionaire,’ it would not have conveyed the same meaning as did her famous movie, even though the underlying drama for same-sex couples is no different.”
Mostly, I just feel schadenfreude, perhaps more than is healthy, about this. Because there’s a longstanding tradition in this country that religion and state are kept separate, despite what the Re-Bless America crowd would like to believe.
I think, going back to may marriage, that your rights are not meant to be settled by a popular vote. Your rights are what the idea that a popular vote could change is disgusting and distasteful. As it turns out, interracial marriages were not decided by popular vote either. The laws were struck down by the US Supreme Court.