Friday, May 16, 2008

Here We Go

The fallout from yesterday's California Supreme Court decision invalidating the state's ban on same-sex marriage started pretty much immediately, with half the country flinging confetti and the other half howling that the world is about to end.

Slate has some interesting commentary (passed along by Top!Secret G-woman) here and here and here. And also here. This last one, by Doug Kmiec, particularly intrigued me with its unusually non-inflammatory and almost plaintive presentation of probably the most common religious objection to marriage equality. That said, it still sent my blood pressure through the roof. The recurrent theme is the necessity of accommodating religious belief in public policy. To a certain degree, I won't argue against it. But when the argument is presented in the contexts of these three statements:
it would be prudent for Senator Obama and supporters of same-sex marriage to note that, for the most part, those who opposed that affirmation did so not out of acrimony or dislike, but out of a like appreciation for the family as an irreplaceable cultural building block and often sincere religious belief that deserves respect and accommodation.

and

It is often asked... how the acknowledgment of same-sex marriage harms marriage between a man and a woman. The inability to give a simple, secular answer to this explains the California victory in favor of same-sex marriage more than the reasoning of the opinion. That doesn't mean there is not an answer. There is a religious answer and it is anchored in the creation story recorded in the book of Genesis.

and

The end of sexual orientation discrimination has much to commend it, as again Marty nicely illustrates in his quotation from the opinion, but again, there are interwoven religious beliefs that are not based on stereotype and that do deserve accommodation.

it falls apart for me. The first point, that it's not personal when people vote to deny you the right to marry who you choose, it's just that, well, your marriage doesn't look like what they're used to and doesn't match one of the several models for marriage presented in their holy book, in which they profess a sincere belief? Too fucking bad. The FLDS church has a sincere religious belief that serial child rape is a prerequisite for entry into heaven, but no one outside Colorado City thinks that belief should be respected and accommodated in civil law. Do I need to bring up the sincere religious belief that was used to justify miscegenation laws prior to 1967?

Point two, that the Genesis creation story somehow provides the answer to how same-sex marriages harm straight ones, turns out to be woefully unsupported--unless simply stating that the answer is religious and comes from Genesis, QED, is all that needs to be said. Well, okay. If you find a religious proof in there, that's between you and your bible, but it is precisely the lack of a compelling secular explanation that makes this one a non-starter. Secular laws require secular foundations. QE fucking D.

And then we come to the last bit. Let's look at it just one more time.


The end of sexual orientation discrimination has much to commend it, as again Marty nicely illustrates in his quotation from the opinion, but again, there are interwoven religious beliefs that are not based on stereotype and that do deserve accommodation.

The end of discrimination has much to commend it, as if it were even a question that's still up for debate. Nondiscrimination? Pretty good, has a lot going for it, but... But there are some religious beliefs that aren't stereotypes, really, they aren't, and since they are religious beliefs and not, like, bald-faced bigotry or anything, well, they deserve accommodation. Sorry about your civil rights and all, but by "accommodation" I mean that if I don't get to exercise just a little bit of discrimination against you--say, maybe getting to determine who you can marry, since they already took away my ability to kick you out of your apartment or fire you from your job, although in most places I can still beat you bloody for asking me for a smoke--I just don't get to fully express my solidarity with Jesus, who loves you.

I was going to say I try to be empathetic to the mindset that considers that a legitimate foundation for argument, but I really don't any more. I will agree that religious beliefs may be accommodated by public policy so long as that accommodation does not abrogate the civil rights of, cause harm to, or, at this point, even fucking inconvenience anyone who does not share those beliefs. And accommodating your beliefs on marriage only means that the state cannot compel you to enter into a marriage contract against your will. It does not mean the state has to guarantee that all marriages conform to the religious model you have adopted for your own.

My life is not beholden to someone else's fairy tales. No one's life should be.

1 comment:

Damien said...

No matter what we do and what victories we snatch from the Jaws of defeat, these asshats won't give up... It's statements like these that make me cringe in the realization that no matter how much progress we make, this is never going to stop. I equate it to an urgent appeal to continuously find enough folks to plug holes in a dam threatening to burst. All we can do is be constantly vigilant and make sure there's enough of us to keep "plugging" away.