Monday, March 2, 2009

Odds 'N Ends

1. A Compromise

Marriage defender David Blankenhorn and equality advocate Jonathan Rauch wrote a recent much-discussed piece in The New York Times calling for a compromise on the marriage equality issue. The compromise is this:

"Congress would bestow the status of federal civil unions on same-sex marriages and civil unions granted at the state level, thereby conferring upon them most or all of the federal benefits and rights of marriage. But there would be a condition: Washington would recognize only those unions licensed in states with robust religious-conscience exceptions, which provide that religious organizations need not recognize same-sex unions against their will. The federal government would also enact religious-conscience protections of its own. All of these changes would be enacted in the same bill."

I like this compromise because it's a tangible step in progressing beyond the idea that Americans are forever locked into a Culture War over this issue. Any time gay people can stop being used as political footballs and scapegoats for all that is wrong in this country, it is cause for celebration. Receiving the federal benefits and rights of marriage would be big. In my lifetime, as a tax-paying law-abiding citizen, I would rather have those benefits than nothing. Thus far, granting us those benefits has been more than many, if not most, "marriage defenders" have been willing to give us.

The "religious-conscience protections" clause takes away a big Ace on the marriage defense side as they would no longer be able to use the Gay Marriage Infringes on Religious Freedom scare tactic. At the same time, I would expect these "religious-conscience protections" to be specified a bit more. While I do not believe that religious organizations should have to recognize marriages that they object to, not that that would be constitutional anyway, I am worried that religiously-affiliated institutions will find other ways to "not recognize" same-sex unions. Anti-gay religious folks have a real desire to skirt non-discrimination laws, say in the provision of spousal benefits to a same-sex partner, and that is cause for concern. In allowing people to discriminate under the guise that not discriminating is somehow religiously unconscionable, I wonder if we would be giving away too much there.

2. Women Just Aren't That Into Anti-Woman Jokes

Over the past couple of days, we have seen how disliking mean-spirited "humor" doesn't mean that one lacks a sense of humor.

Think Progress has a piece up discussing Rush Limbaugh's recent revelation that women tend not to like Rush as much as men do. He seems to find this tidbit of information shocking. For many of us, however, that men like Rush more than women do sort of falls into the "No Shit" category. One reason is that while many conservative fellas have quite the bromance with Rush, their conservative wives probably don't appreciate the dood's reactionary "jokes" about women.

3. Tell Us How You Really Feel

A few days ago Colorado State Senator Scott Renfroe, during debate about a partner benefit law, reminded fellow legislators that the Bible considers homosexuality to be a sin and commands that homosexuals should be put to death. You know, I've never thought it all that wise for people to publicly invoke this particular provision of the Bible when they so clearly interpret the Bible literally. For the sake of literal consistency, it's sort of like admitting that you believe gay men (and lesbians?) should be put to death. Otherwise, if you reject the put 'em-to-death portion but accept the homosexualiy-as-sin clause, aren't you basically just choosing which beliefs to accept based upon your own palatable smorgasbord?

Renfroe later "apologized," not for saying hurtful things, of course. Rather, he's sorry "if [his] use of words did upset people, [he] guess[es]." He also clarified his recitation of the Biblical passage that condemns "homosexuals" to death:

"Obviously I don’t condone that and wouldn’t support that."

The thing is, it's not "obvious." If one bases one's opposition to homosexuality on a literal interpretation of Leviticus, it is not at all obvious that this same person would reject Leviticus's literal order to stone "homosexuals." It's good that he clarified that.

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