Random musings on whatever subject strikes my fancy, published every other day.

Tag: religion Page 1 of 7

Why Conservatives REALLY Hate Marriage Equality

During the whole debate and the progress of the various legal cases, conservatives argued incessantly that gay marriage would damage if not destroy straight marriage. Obviously this is not true, but unless we assume that they are all drooling morons, why would they keep saying that?

In an awesome essay for TPM, Amanda Marcotte explains that “traditional marriage”, to these conservatives, means more than the correct combination of genders.  It means that a woman is not independent, but under the control of a man:

It’s true that women in modern society no longer feel like they have to be married to be granted entrance into adult society. Single women living by and supporting themselves is no longer considered scandalous. Marriage is, bit by bit, becoming more about a partnership between equals who choose each other for the purpose of love and happiness. Which means it’s becoming less about giving men control over women’s lives.

A disturbing theme runs through a lot of causes championed by the Right, and it is this: Men are supposed to be in control of women, especially their sexuality and their reproductive capacity. Since men cannot themselves make the next generation, they feel they must own the means of production. So “traditional marriage” doesn’t just mean with respect to the sexual binary. It also means that the female becomes subservient to the “leadership” of the male — “leadership” is a common euphemism among the religious right-wing for absolute male hegemony. 

The Biblical view of women as property that occasionally talks back is no accident; extreme religious men today view their wives’ opinions with some bemusement.  They know that they need to make sure their peaceful homes don’t fall prey to constant nagging, so they try to learn the tricks to keeping her quiet.  Where I come from, this is called shalom bayit – “the peace of the house.”  That sounds nice, but remember: that same culture calls the husband ba’al – “owner.”  The more you know.

Conservatives’ desire to control women explains their attitudes toward sexuality, birth control, sex education, equal pay, workplace diversity, and even rape.  It’s kind of scary how little is NOT explained by this framework.  Are we becoming conspiracy theorists?  It’s hard to be sure when everything fits the overall rubric so effortlessly.

The good news is that marriage is quickly losing this “control freak” quality.  For more and more couples, marriage is entry into a joyful partnership of equals and not the subservience of one to the other.  That’s why same-sex marriage had to become reality.  In Justice Kennedy’s description of what marriage is and why any couple should be allowed its benefits, he gave no comfort to the controllers and all to the partners. “No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were.”  Search in vain for any mention of who’s in charge.

“Who wears the pants in your family?” was the taunt hurled at men deemed insufficiently in control of their women.  Not all that long ago — in my lifetime! — this had a sting.  It was what they called “fighting words.”  That today it generates more confused looks than embarrassment and rage is a huge accomplishment for our society. 

Law of the Land?

A Supreme Court decision is the Law of the Land, unless Christian bigots dislike what the court says.

The Attorney General of Texas, Ken Paxton, probably doesn’t really give a damn who marries whom.  But he’s no stranger to what works in Texas politics, and what works there is playing to the persecution myths of the white Christian heterosexual cis-gender males, the most grotesquely over-privileged group ever to walk the face of the earth.  In a press release he called Friday’s opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges “a judge-made edict that is not based in the law or the Constitution” and said it “diminishes faith in our system of government and the rule of law.”

Inevitably, this emboldened petty officials around Texas to disobey the law, and sure enough we have Hood County clerk Katie Lang saying she won’t issue any same-sex marriage licenses because “It’s my religious liberty, my belief in traditional marriage”.

Here’s what they don’t get.  And I see I am going to have to make this simple enough so that even stupid people like Paxton and Lang can understand it.  So I will take a cue from Randall Munroe of xkcd when he explained the Saturn V launcher that took us to the moon.  (I hope Paxton and Lang aren’t in denial about that, also.)  Munroe decided to use only the thousand – sorry: ten hundred – most common words to explain one of humanity’s most amazing technological accomplishments, and created a panel called Up Goer Five.   Along those lines:

When two people love each other they might want to share a home, they might want to share it for all of their lives. They might want a baby, or a few.  The state where they live likes this, because having families in the places where people live makes those places nicer.  So the state gives people who share this way some good stuff.  They are allowed to visit each other in the hospital, without being bothered.  They are allowed to pay less money to the state, and to have easier ways to make the papers for doing that. The state accepts less money because the people making a family help make the state a better place in ways money doesn’t help with.  Families, love and sharing are just good for the state and all the people who live there. 

Now, the people who say what’s allowed in all the states have said that no state can stop two people who want to love, share and make a family from doing that.  Even if the two people don’t fit the old idea of “one of them has to be a man and the other one has to be a woman.”  

Some people think a god will be angry about this.  But any people who care about what the god thinks are free to stick to the old idea when they make a family.

thanks to http://splasho.com/upgoer5/ for making that a lot easier than it might have been

At least Cleburne County (AR) Clerk Dana Guffey had the integrity to resign over this issue, rather than remain in office, refuse to do her job, and impose her religious bigotry on others.  Kudos to her for that.

Facepalm #56,751,331

From today’s NY Times headlines email:


“Science is like a compass. It can tell us where north is, but it can’t tell us if we want to go north. That’s where our morality comes in.”

NATHANIEL P. HITT, a fisheries biologist, on religion’s role in addressing climate change.

How many ways does a biologist manage to get THIS wrong?  I am going to point to just two.

  1. Climate change is nothing but a question of the continued survival of the human species – as well as a few thousand other species we’ll likely take down with us.  Do you need an appeal to extra-scientific concepts of morality for this?  Do you think there’s a difficult philosophical debate here?  Hmmm… should we choose a course that allows our species to continue to exist longer than two or three more generations? 
  2. If that question is your struggle how do you possibly think religion will help with it?  Name one moral question religion has ever gotten right.  Slavery?  Nope.  Treating women as if they were human?  Nope.   But a Pope gets on the bandwagon thirty years too late and everyone swoons.  
That’s not dealing with the question.  That’s abdicating it to “the mystery of the universe.”  To me the greatest mystery of the universe is this:  Year after year, these fuzz-brained faith-based lunatics, who obviously don’t give a damn about evidence as a way to answer important questions, get awarded science degrees.  How do they continue to fake it long enough to pull that off?

And if you think I am being harsh on Hitt and the quote might be taken out of context, the full article is much, much worse.  It’s as if a NY Times editor said, You know what this major USA newspaper really needs?  An article sucking up to Christianity!  Yeah, baby!  That’s courage!  Oh, Pulitzer committee….

There’s no Lash like a Backlash

I am starting to think that it really is the bigots’ last stand.  Which certainly has the potential to get ugly – as well-armed as they are.  Still, things do seem to be moving in the right direction.

First off, Franklin Graham moved his money out of that gay-smooching bank, Wells Fargo, and right into BB&T which is specifically, exclusively for manly men and… oops.  Looks like his new bank has a nice, high rating from the HRC and is a Platinum Sponsor of Miami Beach Gay Pride.  I hate moving banks because it’s such a hassle, so I am relishing Frankie having to do it twice in one month.  Or maybe, in North Carolina where he lives, they have a branch that promises to offset anything progressive the rest of the company does by buying kegs for the KKK rallies.  He’d be down with that, wouldn’t he?

So now that you’re smiling at that, be prepared for a warm glow to spread.  According to this article in today’s NY Times, the effect of Indiana’s “Religious Freedom” act (or, as I like to call it, “Bigotry is OK if You Wave a Bible Around” act) is maybe not what the troglodytes Republicans who worked to pass it intended.   In fact, as Pride Week opens in Indiana, support is greater this year than ever: and both from the corporate world and from straight allies.  Quoth the Times: “’We hate that we had to go through that,’ said Chris Morehead, president of Indy Pride Inc., a local gay rights group that organized this week’s events. ‘But on the back side of it, we saw support from places we never imagined.’”

I hope Gov. Pence is sharing in the warm glow.

Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein for the NY Times

Divorce and Rolling Coal

So there’s this Australian couple who have let it be known that if Australia becomes a civilized place where any two people regardless of gender can get married, they will get a divorce.  That’s right – if civil marriage in Oz can’t conform to their religious ideas then they want no part of it.

If this brings to mind images of toddlers throwing temper tantrums and holding their breath until they turn blue, I think you are being unfair.  To toddlers.

I love that they open their position statement with, “As Christians…”  That always reminds me of Bill Maher’s famous take: they think we’re hearing that they have the moral high ground, but what we’re really hearing is that they have a neurological disorder.

For some reason it also reminded me of the “Rolling Coal” idiots in the heartland of the USA.  You may have seen these guys riding around in hideously oversized diesel trucks that have had their engines specially damaged tuned to produce inky black exhaust.

This is (are you sitting down?) their way of protesting against the existence of hybrids and electric vehicles.  Protesting against other drivers trying not to destroy the environment.

If these assorted morons really wish to damage themselves because the human race is making social progress, I wish they would try harder not to harm others in the process.  And I also wish they would be more efficient about it.

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