Bitter First Fruits and Sarcastic “Academics”

The first fruits of California marriage equality are beginning to trickle in, and they are bitter indeed for our opponents. Self-described “culture warrior” Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse’s sarcasm gushes forth in her article Memo To Advocates of “The Conservative Case for Same Sex Marriage”. Here are some highlights:

Well, it is official. You won. We lost. Same sex marriage is the law in California. We might win the amendment in the fall, but let’s face it. The momentum is on your side: the Inexorable March of Progress and all that. Those of us in the Marriage Movement can go back to our main business of trying to make marriage more permanent and stable.

To tell you the truth, same sex marriage is a bummer of a topic that isn’t much fun to talk about. I’d much rather spend my time trying to steer people away from divorce and cohabitation and teen sex.

But enough about me. I have to give you guys credit. Those of you who made “the conservative case for same sex marriage,” did more to defeat the Marriage Movement. You kept the crazies on your side at bay long enough to persuade the judges that same sex marriage will be a simple extension of opposite sex marriage.

“Dr. J,” as she calls herself, then went on to challenge our community to work with her to strengthen marriage. She described her work against cohabitation and asked for a phone call (albeit from a non-existent organization):

[Research cited concludes] “no positive contribution of cohabitation to marriage has ever been found.” Moving in with a sex partner is not preparation for marriage; it is preparation for divorce.

Surely you want to inform people with same sex attraction about these important findings. I have a whole presentation on the hazards of cohabitation. I’ll be glad to adapt it for gay and lesbian students. I’ll be waiting for a phone call from the Gay Straight Alliance [sic].

She continued, challenging our community to work with her on anti-adultery legislation:

I have in my filing cabinet some model legislation that would make adultery a civil offense. That means that a faithful spouse has the right to sue an adulterous spouse for damages.

I’ve been looking for someone to introduce this legislation. Maybe if a member of GLBTQ caucus introduces the legislation, it will get some traction.

Now that you can marry, I assume that you are on board. I look forward to hearing from you.

I received her TownHall piece in an email at 6/24/2008 7:04 AM. I responded at 6/24/2008 7:44 AM. In my response I said:

Thank you for your latest email titled: “Memo To Advocates of ‘The Conservative Case for Same Sex Marriage'”. I thought it was very good and I agree that we as a society don’t take marriage, the traditional covenant relationship that it was meant to be, seriously. That’s not my story, however. My husband and I just celebrated our 25th anniversary, and we have been making the “conservative case” for marriage equality since 2003 when we founded Equality Loudoun. I wrote a piece about “Conservative assimilationists” about a year back.

I have many friends in the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates. If you send me draft legislation, I’ll pass it on. It won’t affect same-sex couples in the short run. The Virginia Bill of Rights was desecrated by an anti-family constitutional amendment in November 2006. We have to rescind that amendment before our families are recognized as families by this state.

Dr. J. has not responded to my offer. I guess she wasn’t serious.

Here’s another example of Dr. J’s work as a “culture war coach,” demanding that comic strips (in this case, Berkeley Breathed’s Opus) that hurt her feelings be discontinued. Maybe her letter would be useful as a template for critiquing her own disingenuous column:

The columns by Jennifer Roback Morse should be discontinued immediately.

The June 8, 2008 piece titled “The Conservative Case for Same Sex Marriage” sarcastically stated that she was willing to work with us on legislation and policy initiatives. In the piece, she stated that she was “waiting for a phone call from the Gay Straight Alliance” and that she anticipated traction if somebody from the “GLBTQ caucus introduces the legislation.” I contacted Dr. Morse immediately and offered to forward her legislation to friends in the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates. She never responded.

The column should be pulled immediately, for these reasons.

1. Sarcasm is unbecoming.
2. It is mean to propose a working relationship to strengthen marriage when there is no intention to follow through.
3. The column was anti-gay, anti-marriage hate speech. If you doubt that, imagine if the subjects had been reversed: a marriage equality advocate sarcastically suggests joining forces with scriptural literalists to protect marriage, only to rudely ignore their good faith response. “Focus on the Family” would go ballistic. In my opinion, this column is reason enough for happily married same-sex couples to go ballistic at the intentional assault on their families.
4. It was in extremely poor taste to run an anti-family column the week before same-sex couples began to marry in California.

Sincerely,
(As if we would be this full of ourselves.)

If you’d like to contact Dr. J yourself, she’s pretty easy to find. Let her know you want to strengthen marriage, too ;). Extending marriage to all the couples who have somehow managed to stay together for decades without its benefits would be a good start.

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5 Responses to Bitter First Fruits and Sarcastic “Academics”

  1. Jonathan says:

    I just spoke with Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse on the phone. She had not returned my email because she had lost the draft legislation and cohabitation presentation and was in the process of searching her hard drive for it when I called. She was a little bit embarrassed and admitted that she “really didn’t expect anybody to respond” to her article. She sent an email to the source(s) of the legislation and presentation is working to get her hands on the material. She asked for my address. Dr. J was very pleasant and cordial. I look forward to receipt of the package and hope that we can establish a good relationship to strengthen marriage.

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  3. David says:

    So we don’t know what’s in the legislation yet? I’m hoping that it’s not some Bob Marshall-type nonsense that would just repeal no-fault divorce and do nothing to actually strengthen marriage. That’s a non-starter. “Compulsory” is not the same thing as “strong.”

    It seems to me that there are a lot of things that could be done at the front end, to help people think harder about the commitment they are making before they make it. If the objective is for marriage to be a “covenant,” it should be much harder to get married. Truly comprehensive sexuality education that addresses the whole person can help combat the tendency for some young people to get married before they’re ready just so they can have sex.

    And then obviously, marriage would be strengthened immeasurably by making sure that everyone can marry the person they want to spend their lives with.

    I don’t see how compelling people to stay in bad marriages that should never have happened in the first place (which provides a terrible model of intimate relationships for any children involved) can possibly strengthen marriage, so I hope that’s not what we’re talking about. I shouldn’t even need to say that anything putting abused partners in danger and making it harder for them to leave the situation is out of the question.

    I hope you’re right, I hope there is actually some common ground here – because I really do think that marriage is worth strengthening, that it has transcended its non-egalitarian past and is a socially valuable institution. The sarcasm, and the not expecting anyone to actually respond, though, didn’t exactly start things out on the right foot.

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