Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Equality Opponents Try to Keep Debate Alive

I haven't paid much attention to National Organization for [Male-Female] Marriage (NOM) since June's US Supreme Court marriage equality victory.

I keep the NOM blog in my newsfeed and occasionally scroll through its headlines, however.

Recently, I saw them promoting a new book by equality opponent Ryan T. Anderson, called Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom (I'm not linking to it, but it can be found easily enough). Released July 14, it's touted as the "first book to respond to" the Obergefell decision.

From its description, the point of the book seems to be to keep the marriage equality debate alive by informing people about what marriage "really" is and, of course, the threats posed to society by the acceptance of same-sex marriage.

How sad.

First and foremost, I have no idea if Anderson truly wrote the book as a "response" to the Supreme Court decision. I'll just say that whipping out a book in a mere 2 weeks seems quite fast.  How much "new ground" has been covered?  For that matter, how much new ground can even be covered in the conversation any more anywhere?

One fawning review states:
It is simply a must read all around. Anderson presents a well-researched and well-rounded argument for the continued importance of both traditional marriage and the strong protection of religious liberty. And he does all of this while being eminently respectful to those on the opposite side of the issue. Anderson’s work is the polar opposite of “hateful,” “bigoted,” or “homophobic.” It is a prime example of the Christian imperative to “speak the truth in love.”
Oh boy. Here we go again.

The notion that we, supporters of equality, just haven't listened, really really listened, to the intellectual, un-bigoted, and civil reasons for opposing equality and that if we just give it an honest-to-goodness chance always strikes me as…. really insular.  Have new arguments against equality, that no one has ever heard before, been invented in a matter of 2 weeks?

I mean, the conversation has been public and prominent, particularly since it was used as a wedge issue in the 2004 US presidential election.  The "civil" arguments generally go along these lines:

  • Men are from Mars, women are from Venus, and the purpose of marriage is to unite these complementary beings;
  • Marriage is for heterosexual "responsible procreation"; 
  • Same-sex couples cannot procreate together, therefore there is no reason for them to marry;
  • Marriage was created by "God" and/or is a thing that exists in nature like, say, a flower or a tree and it's not for "man" to define and change it;
  • Calling same-sex marriage marriage devalues it for couples who are actually married;
  • Every child needs a mother and a father;
  • Same-sex marriage turns children into commodities;
  • Children raised by their married heterosexual parents do best (insert discredited study);
  • Acceptance of same-sex marriage will lead to acceptance of other forms of marriage and/or polyamorous relationships;
  • Religious people shouldn't have to "participate" in "gay marriage" by baking them cakes or taking their photos; 
  • The Gay Mob is oppressing people who don't agree with LGBT rights, therefore LGBT people should not have equal rights.
  • Religious people in general don't like living in a society knowing that LGBT people have equal rights. It is oppressive to them.

That about cover it?

Unfortunately, a key strategic failing of the movement against equality is that it allowed some of the most obviously bigoted voices - including politicians, preachers, and lay folk -  to dominate for so long, as these voices spoke to the rank bigotry of many US homophobes.  Indeed, it has been only recently, with their loss imminent, that equality opponents have toned it down and begun trying to popularize their so-called civil reasons against marriage equality, with an early apparently-earnest attempt by David Blankenhorn's 2007 publication of The Future of Marriage.

I think what equality opponents keep overlooking is that their position cannot be made prettier by painting "civil" reasons over a fundamentally uncivil proposition.

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