So, I’m sitting on the couch at home minding my own business when my wife of 40 years complains that I’m not pulling my weight around the house. There’s no reason, she says, that I can’t be more help.
Wisely, I apologize but offer a defense. “It’s not my fault,” I sputter. ‘It’s those damn gays and lesbians.’ They’re undermining marriage, and it’s destroying our relationship.”
Seriously, the campaign for same-sex marriage is a boon to husbands everywhere. Not giving enough attention to your wife? You’re just too distracted about the devastation of the gay agenda on traditional American values (whatever they are). Derelict in changing the kitty litter? It’s a too painful reminder of the crumbling state of American marriage. Forgot to put the clothes in the washer? They were just too soiled, reminding you of what our moral fabric will become if gays marry. Spending too much time with your buddies? The perfidious gay influence in the movies and media had me unthinkingly wanting to spend more time with the guys.
I’m Know I’m Right. Far right.
I know I must be right about my deep concerns.
After all, Tennessee ranks in the bottom third in the U.S. in per capita income, economic growth, state and local revenue, spending on police protection, and spending on parks and recreation.
It is dead last in K-12 education spending per capita, dead last in environmental spending, third from the bottom in higher education spending, fifth from the bottom in per pupil spending, and in the top ten in toxic releases and punitive sales tax rates.
If that’s not enough, to add insult to injury, we’re ranked # 3 in the ranking of states whose residents have the fewest number of teeth, beaten out by Kentucky and West Virginia.
And yet, all of these pale by comparison to the threat imposed by the notion of gays and lesbians saying wedding vows. I know that’s a fact, because in the face of all of these pressing, serious problems, some politicians are unable to shake their tendencies to feel superior to some one (they lost African-Americans) and propose that those “other people” have fewer rights than the rest of us.
Thank God, because if gays can undermine marriage even more than we straights already have, they may truly deserve this omnipotent image as the force shaping the culture decisions in this country. In the wake of the decisions by a Republican-appointed judge in California that bans to gay marriage are unconstitutional, the defense of marriage folks are out in full force to make sure that marriage is between a man and a woman. Of course, the reality in the U.S. is that 50% of the time, marriage is between a man and a woman, then the same man and another women, but never mind. Meanwhile, about half of the men who divorce don’t see their children on a regular basis. And we’re worried that gays will damage marriage. We straights are doing pretty damn good without any help.
I just think the television commentator was right who said: “Why shouldn’t gays get married? They deserve to be as unhappy as the rest of us.”
There are times when these issues do seem to exist in a kind of Bizarro world where everything is done contrary to logic and reason. But, apparently Superman wasn’t the only person exposed to the strange gravitational pull of this alternate world. After all, our president and the far right religious fringe put forth an argument that goes something like this: gays live in a culture of promiscuity, gays serving in the military would undermine morale, gay rights is different than civil rights, and gays can’t raise children because they’ll all be gay (strange, since straight parents aren’t just raising straight children).
It’s almost too much for the mind to take in at times. Once, gays and lesbians were attacked as promiscuous and unable to form lasting relationships, and they confused things by asking for the right to marry. It was bad enough when they were just asking for the right to serve in the military, but now they want on all of our battlegrounds.
The Constitution as a Club
Sometimes it seems that for so many people, there is no greater impulse than to appeal to the basest aspects of human nature – the urge to marginalize those who are different, to dehumanize other people’s basic humanity, to feel superior to someone and to use the Bible (or the one verse they obsess on) as a club to beat up some of the state’s own citizens.
It’s just all too confusing for us, because we thought these same people were against big government intruding into our lives. The right wing can always pillory activist judges, as long as it doesn’t include the conservative activist judges on the U.S. Supreme Court overturning accepted law and precedent.
In her pleas for the sanctity of marriage, one leader said that marriage has been the fundamental building block of civilization for 2,000 years. (Apparently, they aren’t so sure about Jewish civilization before Christ.) Of course, it’s not worth mentioning that women and blacks were essentially chattel during most of those 20 centuries, but no matter, we’re supposed to be listening to the red meat rhetoric, not choking on the lapses in logic.
The last refuge of the scoundrel is to argue that the majority of Americans oppose same-sex marriage. That is true, but the tide over time is definitely running in favor of equal rights for gays, and at least civil unions. Of course, if public opinion is the standard for deciding our rights, interracial marriage would be illegal and Jim Crow laws would still be prevalent across the South.
Déjà vu All Over Again
In fact, some of the defenses against interracial marriage seem oddly familiar today. Back then, it was all about tradition, public opinion, morality, erosion of American life, and besides, it just made so many Americans just plain uncomfortable.
And as we learned in the days of the civil rights movement, laws that refuse to allow men and women to connect fully with their own identities in the end only rob all of us, not just members of the minority. In fact, it is in how we treat the minorities among us that we most define who we are and what we believe as the majority.