Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Eleven days of summer

Ryan T. Anderson
What happened is that equality opponents have come to believe their own bullshit.”

Eleven days have passed since the Supreme Court's landmark decision in Obergefell v. Hodges which made marriage equality the law of the land. Eleven days (including two Sundays) and Christian conservatives seem stuck in a delusional self-reinforcing bubble where perspective and critical thinking dare not enter.

Apparently if they write enough polemics castigating the Court at First Things, The Stream, Public Discourse (Witherspoon), Charisma and Daily Signal (Heritage) Justice Kennedy will change his mind? What is the point of the endless whine? Yesterday I received an email from nutty Janet Porter saying that “marriage can still be saved” if they get a petition for rehearing and engineer the recusals of Justices Ginsburg and Kagan. Simple enough. It has all the reality of clapping to bring Tinkerbell back to life.

Victims of their own hyperbole

In 2007 a group of ultra orthodox Catholics, including Robert P. George, formed National Organization for Marriage. The outfit had the explicit backing of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops who coordinated California Proposition 8 through then the auxiliary bishop of San Diego, Salvatore Cordileone. Southern Baptists, reliable opponents of any LGBT rights, coalesced around NOM.

Proposition 8 was an ugly campaign choreographed by public affairs consultant Frank Schubert. Among other things, gay marriage would turn kids gay, enable gay pedophiles, create open season on Christians and cause the end of the world because their god would be pissed. We did not fully realize it then but NOM was pitting African-American Protestants against the gay community. There is a reason that years later the open source community would push a donor to the campaign, Brendan Eich, out of Mozilla Foundation.

Proposition 8 passed and NOM's people thought that they discovered the formula to reliably defend the faith. Schubert's campaign themes going forward might be more nuanced but relied on the premise that gays posed a threat to children, Christians would be persecuted and that gay marriage was an unforgivable affront to God. This was reinforced when, the following year, Schubert convinced Maine's electorate to reject same-sex marriage in a referendum (that would be reversed in 2012).

These themes persist — even today. Esoteric, theoretical consequences of marriage equality that tortured common sense made their way into amicus briefs in Obergefell v. Hodges by people who should know better. The themes persist after eight years in spite of the fact that none of these terrible things seem to have occurred as states embraced same-sex marriage. What happened is that equality opponents have come to believe their own bullshit. Sure, they want to be faithful to their religion but that should promote only a scriptural evaluation of same-sex marriage. The rest of the gratuitous claptrap is now part of the conservative Christian DNA.

These folks have lost any sense of perspective that they might have had over relatively few gays getting married. A spokesman has emerged in Ryan T. Anderson, an ultra-conservative Catholic with a PhD who, at 33, is an unmarried virgin. Anderson is a cynic — he has a book to sell and a position to retain at Heritage Foundation. Yet Anderson is also obedient to the bishops and must conform to the teachings of the Catholic Church which prohibit the recognition of any form of same-sex union. He likely sees himself as some sort of Knight Templar, defending the faith and fighting the forces of evil. Anderson has the fresh-faced appeal that Tony Perkins (who has also gone unhinged) doesn't have. He might have the fresher appeal but he is shamelessly selling the same bullshit. Apparently “bearing false witness” is a soft standard.

Not without cost to the gay community

In response to the Supreme Court, these unglued folks are unleashing a national wave of extreme homophobia. It's not going to change marriage and we are immune to the attacks. However there are gay kids in Alabama, Mississippi and Texas, for example, who have been subjected to a new flood of messages reminding them that they are second class citizens. Public officials are telling these children that public servants can discriminate against them if they disapprove of their sexual orientation. It is disgraceful.

These people are not going to overturn Obergefell. As much as they want to compare it to Roe v. Wade it lacks any secular appeal. We need to ask them, though, if their message is suitable for teen consumption. If they had a gay child is that what they would want him or her to hear?

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