Since the historic vote in New York State last Friday night, the whining and ranting of opponents of same sex marriage boil down to basically two arguments: (i) only a majority of voters should be allowed to determine the rights of minorities - especially unpopular minorities in the eyes of Christianists and (ii) the Christianist reading of the Bible condemns homosexuality and, therefore, all citizens must be forced to live their lives in accordance with Christianist religious beliefs.
Maggie Gallagher and the bigots at the National Organization for Marriage have been chanting the first refrain while self-enriching religious extremists like Pat Robertson have been ranting and proffering the second. Both arguments are disingenuous and brazenly ignore the U.S. Constitution's protections afforded to minorities.
Worse yet, these arguments against same sex marriage ignore what history teaches us about the misdeeds of majorities towards minorities not to mention the horrors done over the centuries based upon supposed justifications from the Bible.
In the context of the will of the majority and horrific mistreatment of minorities, examples of the dangers attendant to this line of reasoning are abundant. Some come from this nation's own treatment of African-Americans. Nazi Germany and what was done to over six million Jews and many others, including gays targeted by the Nazi regime. On his blog at The Daily Beast, Andrew Sullivan has a stark example of what the majority did to Blacks in the southern states - a situation that would have continued for who knows how long but for action by the U.S. Supreme Court and the Congress: (Video clip here)
Today's link to The Onion, and the bile from Kathryn Jean Lopez and George Weigel [against same sex marriage], bring to mind this 1968 Firing Line broadcast where Buckley debates Judge Leander Perez, an ardent segregationist and, at the time, one of the most powerful Dixiecrats in the South. Here's one choice moment, in an argument that Weigel is repurposing:
Perez: "I am not a racist. I might mention I am against the Federal Government using its coercive power to force racial integration upon an unwilling free people..."
WFB: "Well, ... have you been widely misquoted? For instance, you're quoted as having said, 'Yes, the Negro is inherently immoral--yes, I think it's the brain capacity.' Is that a misquotation?"
Perez: "It's not a misquotation. It's the truth."
Four decades later, we are shocked to imagine that the likes of Perez were ever tolerated outside of a Klan meeting. History will look similarly on Lopez and Weigel, if they're ever remembered at all.
As a 1960 Time article notes, to Leander Henry Perez, 68, there are just two kinds of Negroes: "Bad ones are niggers and good ones are darkies." This example of leaving civil rights issues to be decided by the states shows the utter disingenuousness of not only the Maggie Gallaghers of the world, but also the current occupant of the White House who just last Thursday stated that he believes that marriage should be left to the states.
As for those who cite the Bible as justification for their bigotry, have we so soon forgotten the Crusades, the Inquisition, opposition to the abolition of slavery, support for bans on interracial marriage, and the subordination of women? And then there are the countless wars of religion where men, women, and children died needlessly simply because they subscribed to a different interpretation of the Bible or a different faith. As a column in The Huffington Post notes, the real issue that has the professional Christian set and the Catholic Church hierarchy with their panties in such a knot is the issue of power and control:
The reason for all the bluster should be made plain: old-time religion, be it Christianity, Judaism, or Islam, is authoritarian, and its authority derives from a simple claim: "We have God's Word, and we'll tell you exactly how to obey it, or else." To accept same-sex marriage is to reject that claim. It's not society that's undermined, but these ancient, authoritarian structures.
Both of these arguments need to be refuted and the case made against them literally daily.