Friday, January 22, 2010

NOM Emotes the Prop 8 Trial

Well, isn't this nice. National Organization for [Heterosexual] Marriage President Maggie Gallagher has already begun pumping her fists in a premature touchdown dance regarding the to-be-determined Prop 8 trial known as Perry v. Schwarzenegger.

Whilst LGBT bloggers and organizations have been busily recounting the legal arguments and substantive issues at stake here, Gallagher has provided her side an overly-confident Week One recap that is long on the pathos of the "Marriage Defender" Persecution Complex and short on actual substance.

Glossing over all of the legal details regarding the issue of whether the trial could be televised, Gallagher cites her colleague Brian Brown's gloating synopsis:

"'Once again the Supreme Court has stepped in to protect marriage supporters from potential harassment and intimidation, this time by squashing the effort by Judge Vaughn Walker to break all the rules in order to televise this trial....

And it also makes the second time that Justice Anthony Kennedy has stepped forward to try to protect at least the process, to create a more even playing field for supporters of marriage.'"

Always an interesting interpretation of reality NOM gives us, isn't it?

Let's note two things here.

One, NOM suggests that in this game, "marriage defenders" are playing on an uneven field that favors LGBT people. Yep. Despite the fact that same-sex marriage has lost nearly every battle it has faced in the US and marriage inequality is by far the cultural norm, it is the Poor Marriage Defenders who are fighting an uphill battle here.

Excuse me? What alternate reality is NOM perceiving and, most importantly, how do I get there?

Two, by not allowing the case to be televised, the Supreme Court is not actually "protecting" the Poor Marriage Defenders from anything. As the dissent noted in the cited Supreme Court decision that most "marriage defenders" have probably not read but nonetheless totally agree with about everything, the "marriage defense" experts are professionals who "are already publicly identified with their cause" and have already appeared all over the internet and television advocating a "Yes on 8" position. Not televising the trial will do absolutely nothing to "hide" these Poor "Marriage Defenders" from being publicly associated with their cause because they already are publicly associated with their cause.

Brian Brown continues, then, making no legal arguments, appealing to populist rage, and encouraging NOM's fans to take offense, stating:

"The hotshot team of Olson and Boies, misled by their own intellectual arrogance, which includes a profound lack of respect for the views of those Americans who disagree with them (including 7 million Californians who voted for Prop 8), appears off to a not-so-hot start."

What have we learned from Brown? Not much, substantively. Not that that matters when there's narratives to write about how the Poor "Marriage Defenders" have to endure Elitist Marriage Equality Legal Teams who don't respect those who disagree with them.

Excuse me?

This coming from the side that insists that all of society will be destroyed if same-sex marriage becomes legal? From the side for whom it is a self-evident truth that children merely learning about the existence of same-sex marriage Will Be The Worst Thing Ever? From the side that fails to care or even try to understand how unequal marriage laws perpetuate the idea that same-sex couples are inferior and pathological? And we don't respect them?

Concluding the narrative with some thoughts of her own, Maggie Gallagher takes Big Time Offense over the fact that marriage equality experts read the Vatican's statement regarding homosexuality. If you don't recall, the Vatican said this about same-sex marriage and parenting:

"Legal recognition would mean not only the approval of deviant behavior with the consequence of making it a model in present-day society, but would also obscure basic values which belong to the common inheritance of humanity."

"There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God's plan for marriage and family."

"Allowing children to be adopted by gay couples would do violence to these children. Their condition of dependency would stunt their full human development. [Full statement here]"

You read that right. Allowing children to be adopted by gay couples would do violence to these children.

It's incredible, really, the degree of morally-sanctioned spiritual violence that a purported Moral Authority regularly inflicts upon LGBT human beings.

Yet, in Maggie Gallagher's world, when our side let the Vatican's own words speak for themselves in open court, she "had to laugh to keep from crying." Constructing that visual image, Gallagher does herself no favors, as she pretty much morphs into the cartoon villain that many marriage equality advocates imagine her to be. Cackling away in a bizarre, inappropriate display of emotion, she completely ignores the fact that these statements that the Vatican actually put forth, backed up as they are by one supposed Moral Authority and followed by millions, are hardly benign. They accuse gay people of being inferior, deviant, and violent towards children. Why doesn't Gallagher seem to care at all about that? Why does she only focus on how it is So Very Unfair And Possibly Christian Persecution to use the Vatican's own words against itself?


The Vatican's own verbatim words counter the nifty narrative NOM constantly tries to write. Stop me if you've heard it. Oh, you have? It's that "marriage defenders" (all of them? some of them? most of them?) really truly don't have anything against gay people, it's just that they want to protect marriage and ensure that every child is raised by its mommy and daddy. Note how, within her article, Gallagher and NOM try hard to present the "7 million Californians" who voted Yes on 8 as being one monolithic group that all had this same exact benign reason for doing so. In creating this false "marriage defense" monolith, NOM ignores the larger, reality-based social context that homophobia is a pervasive social problem and a causative factor for at least some people's support of Prop 8. I wonder if they would even concede that much.

Fittingly, the leader of Team Objective Truth ends her narrative by noting with glee that criticizing the Catholic Church is no way to "win the heart" of Catholic Justice Anthony Kennedy. Perhaps not. But thanks for effectively conceding one thing- that narratives, emotional pleas, and personal biases, as opposed to substantive legal arguments, are what the Prop 8 side does best.

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