This morning’s read of the latest marriage equality news left a smile on my face that will last all day. Hat tip to to Melissa McEwan from the AlterNet blog, who reviews a couple of speeches by Governors Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee at the Family Research Council’s (FRC’s) “Washington Briefing”, and sums them up with

Same hateful rubbish; different day.

You wonder why these folks can’t engage in principled debate – and the reason shines through pretty clearly when they use Scripture to frame a complex public policy argument. Everything they need to know is there in Genesis 1:27-28:

27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply”

And there, folks, you have our public policy on marriage. “in the image of God He created him; male and female..” You’d think that a governor would know that sex and gender are a little bit more complicated. In this Genesis framework, gay people have nothing to say, people who are genetically, hormonally or morphologically intersex don’t exist, and anti-gay activists have no incentive to listen to arguments outside of that framework, end of debate.

Our FRC governors have two lessons to impart to public policy makers:

  1. On matters of family, there shall be no innovation. Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee: “I tell people I’m actually just for keeping marriage in the only manner for which it’s ever been known in any culture, in any civilization throughout all of history… Dear friends, until Moses comes down with two stone tablets from Brokeback Mountain saying we’ve changed the rules, let’s keep it like it is.” I’ll guarantee you that there was much hooting and sneering over the Brokeback line.
  2. Marriage shall be infantilized. It’s not about two adults entering into a lifelong commitment, it’s about inserting tab A into slot B to fertilize eggs, which from the moment of conception gain U.S. citizenship (unless their parents don’t have the proper documentation). From that moment on, the proud parents lose all agency. Their role is to turn those little zygotes into good consumers, or in Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s words: “The court focused on adult rights — they said if heterosexual couples can marry, then to have equal rights homosexuals have to also be able to marry. That court’s mistake was they should have focused on the rights of children — because marriage is primarily about the development and nurturing of children.”

So if there is no possibility that sperm will meet egg…Oh, I forgot about older or infertile people marrying…rewind…If there is no possibility that an observer can look at a couple and imagine them having “insert tab A into slot B sex” (whether they actually do or not), they shouldn’t be allowed to marry: sweet, simple, infantile, reactionary, and homophobic to the core. Works for me!

As McEwan said, marriage is about children for some people.

And for some people it isn’t — couples who want to remain deliberately childless, but still enjoy a lifetime commitment to one partner, or couples who are, for one biological reason or another, unable to have children and also can’t adopt, because one of them has a medical condition that precludes them or because they can’t afford it. So, right out of the box, Mitt’s categorization of marriage is flawed, at best.

In the meantime, our friend Ampersand over at Alas, a Blog demonstrates that the phony science of “family scholars” like Elizabeth Marquardt (who on occasion speaks to the FRC) is, well, phony. Her beef is discouraging divorce, but she and her fellow scholars at the Institute for American Values write talking points for the anti-gay industry. Her compatriot, Sara Butler Nardo even found the marriage equality movement in Loudoun to be threatening and she took pot shots at me and David over a Washington Post article. How dare we participate in a healthy marriage conference. How dare we believe that we have something to contribute. No, Family Scholars, your ability to discern motivations is on par with your scientific method. [This paragraph was corrected on 10/2/2006. The author of the Family Scholars Blog post was corrected to be Sara Butler Nardo, not Elizabeth Marquardt. For the record, on the question of marriage equality, Nardo claims to be undecided. Marquardt is anti.]
Today’s rant was spawned by a post from Jordan Fifer over at the Roanoke Times blog where he agrees with a post from Bill Garnett, but not the phrase “…as the bigots they are”. To drive the point home, I’ll relate a couple of personal stories of interactions with these not-bigots.

  1. Before the General Assembly vote on HB 751, I called Delegate Bob Marshall and talked to him at length. I disputed – with personal experience – his repeated claim that there is no such thing as a long-term monogamous same-sex relationship. He must have forgotten everything I told him, because Bob went on the WAMU Kojo Nnamdi show and again claimed that the idea of a long-term monogamous same-sex relationship is complete fiction.
  2. Bob FitzSimmonds made the same claim at last week’s Manassas forum. I challenged him, asking a two part question: a) Do you understand that you offended members of the audience and b) do you care? Before he could answer, a woman from the Concerned Women for America (CWA) strikeforce lit into me about my alleged “lifestyle”. When I asked her what exactly that is, she huffed off, unwilling to explain what she meant by my “lifestyle” in a public setting.

    All that talk of “lifestyle” flustered Mr. FitzSimmonds and he forgot the question. I asked again, and he claimed that a) yes, he probably did offend some people, and b) he cared, but public policy sometimes hurts people and that’s just too bad.

So while I can understand that people living in insular environments (they don’t know any gay people) may unquestioningly believe this rhetoric, what about the leaders, the people who are incapable of hearing real-life stories about the lives of gay people, but then turn around and claim that they understand the intentions of “the gay agenda”? What about people who claim they want to protect marriage, but craft talking points that focus exclusively on sex and procreation? If “bigoted” is the wrong word, what’s the right word? Sinister?

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3 Responses to Sinister?

  1. Jonathan says:

    Hat tip to Jack for a grammatical correction. The object of a preposition is “me”, not “I”.

  2. Elizabeth Marquardt says:

    Hi Jonathan,

    Learn to read. The post where you say I took “pot shots” at you was not written by me. I’d never heard of you before until I found this post today.

    Elizabeth Marquardt

  3. Jonathan says:

    Hi Elizabeth,

    Thank you for the correction. I’ve modified the post to link back to another critique of the Family Scholars blog, and to reflect the correct author, your fellow blogger Sara Butler Nardo. I’m a bit surprised that you don’t read your own blog. Authorship doesn’t change the flawed methodology of the family scholars as McEwan ponts out. Yes, children may flourish best when raised by biological parents in a stable happy family setting, but what does that have to do with denying the legal protection of civil marriage to committed gay couples, nothing? Using the biological children argument is mean-spirited. Technically, it’s anti-gay, and the anti-gay industry doesn’t like it when we say so because they know it’s wrong.

    Please visit our blog from time to time. I’ll continue to visit yours.

    Jonathan Weintraub