Forced toleration of others

I'm on a lot of different lists for religious and conservative groups. I sign up for their newsletters, announcements, and other various publications.

I get a lot of religious conservative bilge in my email box, which my email software files away in various folders until I get a chance to poke through the muck with a long stick.

I've been getting a lot of anxious email about the upcoming Proposition 8.

California has a long history in law of recognizing marriage as being between a man and a woman. This culminated with Proposition 22, when 61.4% of Californians voted to change the law, in the California Family Code sections 300 & 308.5, to define marriage as only between a man and a woman.

On May 15th, 2008, the California Supreme Court overturned the law under state constitutional grounds. Article 1, section 7 of the California State Constitution talks about treating Californian citizens equally under the law and that one class of citizens cannot be granted legal privileges that are denied to others.

Proposition 8 attempts to counter this by modifying the State Constitution, thereby granting a legal right to one class of Californian citizens while denying it to others.

When any State starts denying rights to some of its citizens, it's a sign of sickness. It's a sign that the State is on a slippery slope. It might be difficult to recover from this slope.

I've been placed on the mailing list for protectmarriage.com - probably because I'm on the Focus on the Family and California Family Council mailing lists.

The website, protectmarriage.com, says it is a project of "California Renewal", which as of July is not legally able to conduct business in California due to failure to file necessary paperwork. This seems a bit odd, because I have "Yes on 8" email from protectmarriage.com from July, August, and September.

California Renewal seems to have been created by, and ties to California Family Council, which was in turn created by Focus on the Family. CFC seems to control California Renewal, and by proxy the protectmarriage.com effort. 1.5 million dollars, at least, has been dropped into this effort from out of state. Protectmarriage.com admits to "Major Funding" by Focus on the Family, but won't tell how much or what sort of control that Focus on the Family has over them. (PDF link) No one except CFC and Focus on the Family seems to know the exact amount of money in use. And they aren't talking. (link)

There seems to be multiple levels of dubious, perhaps even illegal acts going on here, along with some creative accounting. Well, I guess I shouldn't be surprised, what I've read about James Dobson is that he doesn't let a little thing like ethics or morality stand in the way of his goals.

Even more telling is the language used in the protectmarrige.com website. From the "about" section:
It protects our children from being taught in public schools that “same-sex marriage” is the same as traditional marriage, and prevents other consequences to Californians who will be forced to not just be tolerant of gay lifestyles, but face mandatory compliance regardless of their personal beliefs.
"forced to ... be tolerant of gay lifestyles", regardless of your "personal belief". Oh, the horror! Why next, you'll be forced to tolerate people of a different color, regardless of your deep personal belief that (black / brown / yellow / red) people are sub-human!

The inherent INtolerance built into this language is a dead giveaway to the built-in arrogance of Dominionist Christians who believe in a "seperate but equal" definition of Christian "love". Something that I've called, "Seperate, and not quite as privileged".


I've been trying to discover just why protectmarriage.com thinks it is a Bad Thing to allow gay marriage. According to their FAQ, they are not trying to make a gay lifestyle or even full domestic partnerships illegal. Here is why they think that gay marriage is bad: (PDF link)
If Proposition 8 is defeated, the sanctity of marriage will be destroyed and its powerful influence on the betterment of society will be lost. The defeat of Prop. 8 would result in the very meaning of marriage being transformed into nothing more than a contractual relationship between adults. No longer will the interests of children and families even be a consideration. We will no longer celebrate marriage as a union of husband and wife, but rather a relationship between ‘Party A’ and ‘Party B.’ The marriage of a man and a woman has been at the heart of society since the beginning of time. It promotes the ideal opportunity for children to be raised by a mother and father in a family held together by the legal, communal and spiritual bonds of marriage. And while divorce and death too frequently disrupt the ideal, as a society we should put the best interests of children first, and that is traditional marriage. Voting No on Proposition 8 would destroy marriage as we know it and cause profound harm to society.
It's a very flowery defense... but what does it mean?

"The sanctity of marriage will be destroyed". Marriage is "sacred" and "holy". If that is the case, then the State has no right to interfere in the regulation of marriage due to church / state issues. "Marriage" should be left completely to the churches, and any partnership given privileges by the State should be a purely secular contract between the parties involved and sanctioned by the State.

I'm actually all for this interpretation. Abolish the word "marriage" from State law, and replace it with "partnership" or some equivalent wording everywhere. Let every partnership have equal benefits under the state, and let the churches decide who can be married, and how. Being married in a church would bestow purely religious rights, and entering a partnership contract with the state would bestow purely secular rights.

And since I am also recognized by California as an ordained minister, I have just as much right as any other religion to decide what constitutes a "marriage".

"Powerful influence on the betterment of society" - I agree. Marriage is a positive influence. The denial of marriage to committed couples is a negative influence to society.

"Marriage would be transformed into a merely contractual relationship" - In the state's eyes, that is all marriage is NOW. In any state in the union, marriage is just a contract. States that recognize God or gods or religion as part of this contract are doing so to the detriment of secular people who also engage in a marriage contract. Everyone should be treated equally under the law, even those of us who have no religion. Therefore, this is not a valid objection.

"The interests of children or families would not be a consideration" - Consideration of what? What does this mean, exactly? Would children or families not be protected? This is nonsense.

Gay people have children. Gay people are parents. Like any parents, some are good and some are bad, and laws will not change that. A marriage law will better ensure that a gay couple will be able to provide for and protect their children. Their family will be protected against death, illness, and guardianship of their kids in the same way that heterosexual families are currently protected.

Protectmarriage.com does not say in what way that children or families will not be protected, or 'considered', because there is no detriment. None.

"Marriage between a man and a woman has been around since the beginning of Time" - Says who? The Greeks and Romans had same-sex marriage, and the State didn't have much to say about any sort of marriage contract. It wasn't until the Christian Emperor Constantius II took over the Roman Empire that same sex marriage was made illegal on religious grounds. Just to make his point, the very Christian Emperor would punish offenders by burning them at the stake.

Biblically, "marriage between a man and a woman" has NOT been the norm. Usually the Old Testament men married all the wives that they could afford. There was no restriction. In some cases, the men married only one woman, but then were allowed concubines. (Abraham and Hagar is one example, King Solomon and lots of exotic foreign women is another).

"The ideal is for children to be raised by a mother and a father in a family" - Okay, I'll buy that is the ideal. Also, the "ideal" is for me to be able to go fishing or on exotic vacations whenever I want. But reality insists that I must instead work for a living and put off my vacation cruse to the Virgin Islands.

In reality, there are children with only one parent, or with none. There are children in foster care, or in orphanages. Given the choice between a lifetime in foster care or orphanage, or a lifetime as the beloved adopted child in a same-sex marriage, I would wager that a majority of these lost children would gladly accept being part of this family. Even if there are two dads and no moms.

By letting this romantic "ideal" override the practical, opponents to same-sex marriage are actually hurting those children who might otherwise find a loving home. THIS is putting "the best interests of the children first".

Lastly, the only thing I need to say about traditional marriage is "Britney Spears".


The whole issue about same sex marriage boils down to one thing. Religious conservatives don't want to be forced to tolerate those people who are different from them. Many Christians are able to rise above this sort of prejudice.

For me, this religious reaction to enforced tolerance is no different from the religious reaction to the forced tolerance required by Anti-miscegenation laws or the Civil Rights act of 1964.

2 comments:

Jonathan said...

Being an Israel, I can easily understand the logic. Conservatives see "Marriage" as a theological definition of a status. And therefore, any contradiction to this status is an anomaly that they cannot explain.

Here in Israel gays have rights to do almost everything, it just can't be called the same way, since the religious establishments are the apparatuses of status.

When you see things from where I'm coming, it's so easy to understand. They see "Marriage" as only being religious-marriage, and hence the problem.

J.

GDad said...

"Given the choice between a lifetime in foster care or orphanage, or a lifetime as the beloved adopted child in a same-sex marriage, I would wager that a majority of these lost children would gladly accept being part of this family. Even if there are two dads and no moms."

My son chose to be part of our family rather than live life in foster care. He was 11 years old at the time and fully capable of understanding what having two dads meant. If bedtime comes, and he hasn't told that he loves us yet that day, he makes a special effort to do that, even now that he's in his Terrible Teens (13).

The California Renewal people are welcome to pucker up and aim for my back pocket.