Dispatches from the Creation Wars

This weekend’s “Values Voter Summit” was chock full of the sort of irrational nonsense you would expect from a conference that included the likes of Ann Coulter and Gary Bauer. Agape Press reports on speeches by Presidential hopefuls Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney about gay marriage. How about the breathtaking historical ignorance of this statement from Huckabee:

The governor also admitted he is “not real fond” when people try to tell him that he is just against same-sex marriage. “I tell people I’m actually just for keeping marriage in the only manner for which it’s ever been known in any culture, in any civilization throughout all of history.”

Incredible. History is replete with cultures and civilizations that practiced all kinds of marriage, from polygamy to arranged marriages to purely economic marriages between powerful familes, all of which are entirely contrary to the modern conception of marriage. It’s one thing to be against gay marriage, it’s quite another to invent a fictional world history upon which to base one’s argument. He also had this line:

And in a statement that drew applause, he added: “Dear friends, until Moses comes down with two stone tablets from Brokeback Mountain saying we’ve changed the rules, let’s keep it like it is.”

Okay, that’s almost clever. But of course, there is no bush, burning or otherwise, on Brokeback Mountain.

Mitt Romney was up next and the tirade of illogic continued:

But the governor had critical words for the highest court in his state. “The court focused on adult rights — they said if heterosexual couples can marry, then to have equal rights homosexuals have to also be able to marry,” he said. That court’s mistake, Romney continued, was “they should have focused on the rights of children — because marriage is primarily about the development and nurturing of children.”

He makes a good point, it just cuts strongly against his position. What about the rights of the hundreds of thousands of children with gay parents? Allowing their parents to have the benefits and protections of marriage obviously contributes to the security and stability of that home and that family unit. This is undeniably true, but the reason it’s not accepted by those who oppose gay marriage is because this argument is essentially a lie. They know that allowing gay marriage isn’t going to change anything for the vast majority of children in straight families, so this argument is a red herring. They just oppose anything ever being done to help gay people because they think gay people should be punished for being gay – and to hell with the children that are damaged by such punitive policies, whose lives are more insecure because their parents can’t have the simple protections the rest of us take for granted.

Comments

  1. #1 Will
    September 26, 2006

    But the governor had critical words for the highest court in his state. “The court focused on adult rights — they said if heterosexual couples can marry, then to have equal rights homosexuals have to also be able to marry,” he said. That court’s mistake, Romney continued, was “they should have focused on the rights of children — because marriage is primarily about the development and nurturing of children.”

    I’m sorry, but where’s the good point in here? Should I have my marriage annulled because my wife and I have no plans to have children? There are many married couples without children, and many unmarried couples raising children together.

  2. #2 Matthew Young
    September 26, 2006

    He makes a good point, it just cuts strongly against his position.

    There’s more to this argument. I don’t have the statistics to back it up, so I am a little open to being shot down, but as I understand it children adopted by gay parents do extremely well in terms of stability, emotional wellbeing, academic and career achievement as well as things like criminal record.

    The argument goes something like this: in order to consider adopting children, gay people have to be in a very stable and committed relationship, just to even broach the topic. In order to have children, straight couples need to make the two-backed beast of love, and that’s about it. So children in straight families have a very high likelihood of a stable environment to begin with.

    Consequently, allowing gay marriage is actually to the benefit of the ‘the wickle childwen’, not to their detriment.

    Also, I am not sure how the decision to legalise gay marriage (and I have already attended two gay weddings myself, here in Scotland, perhaps I should make more effort to wash the gay off) is likely to have any impact at all on the desire of my wife and I to raise a family.

    Except, of course, for the fact that the children will probably grow up to be promiscuous, degenerate, child-molesting perverts as we will occasionally have gay people in the house. You know, doing all that pervy stuff in front of the children, like chatting over dinner, enjoying a glass of wine, discussing music and movies and what theatre we want to see at the Edinburgh Festival that year. Evil gay stuff, basically.

  3. #3 Roger
    September 26, 2006

    Huckabee doesn’t even know his scripture if he thinks one man one woman is the rule. I’m presuming that he thinks he’s appealing to biblical values. Let’s see the patriarch Abraham had sex with his wife and his wife’s maidservant. Another patriarch had sex with his daughter-in-law when she pretended to be a prostitute and then called her more righteous than he was. (This woman is in the list of ancestors of Jesus in Matthew.) There are passages suggesting that more than one wife was acceptable in the New Testament such as the bishop should have only one wife implying that other members of the congregation had more than one wife. I could recite more examples, but … why bother.

  4. #4 DragonScholar
    September 26, 2006

    I am amused by people who talk about how one “protects” children by denying others rights enjoyed by others. Negative protection as it were.

    Now, if you really give a damn about children, let’s see work on better health care, education, and soforth. Somehow, I think something that takes actual hard work just isn’t gonna come from this crowd.

    Pathetic hypocrites one and all.

  5. #5 Daniel Morgan
    September 26, 2006

    “values” — a powerful word. Notice that the implication is that Christians own values, and that atheists like me, and deists like Ed, and the rest of us all, don’t have any.

    This is one of those same issues as outlined in Don’t Think of an Elephant, in which the attempt to control language and frame the debate in rhetoric actually works. We are not “those of different values”, while they are “pro-values”, but “anti-values”, we are “anti-family”, while they are “pro-family”, we are “anti-life”, while they are “pro-life”. How can we win when we let them frame the debate in this sort of rhetoric? We must quit enabling them by using their stupid spin terms. We must make substitutions of “pro-life” with “anti-choice”, and “limiting marriage” instead of “pro-family”. You get the drift.

    Note that the “value voters” shit came right before the PERA legislation (which I’m streaming from cspan right now). Right now, Chet Edwards (D, Texas) is talking.

    Quote of the exchange: “Democracy to them [those supporting PERA] is a spectator sport,” Barney Frank, D-MA, 4th

  6. #6 Blaine
    September 26, 2006

    Will, the good point is to focus on the rights of children. Not to say it is the only point…

    The fact that you choose not to have children is not at issue. The point is, if you DID decide to have children, you would face no opposition from the government for doing so. However, if a couple were same sex, then they certainly face opposition from our government and society. This equates to harm to any children same sex couples might have.

    As Ed has pointed out time and again, what matters is that all persons be granted the same protections and privileges; for themselves, thier partners, and any potential or actual children, regardless of sexual orientation.

    From your comment you feel that your marriage is yours alone to manage, and that no one has the right to interfere in that fundamental part of your life. This is good. Should not all couples have this same protection? Same sex couples are people too. I think you may have reacted in defense before realizing that Ed’s views do not threaten your own. In fact, Ed has been a constant advocate for the rights ALL people regardless of orientation, of any kind.

  7. #7 Obsidian Snowflake
    September 26, 2006

    Will makes an excellent point. The fight isn’t just who should be able to get married. It’s also about the reason people get married. Is it primarily for love, companionship, and emotional support? The pooling of financial resources? Childbearing and parenting? These are all elements found in modern American marriages. The difference in opinion comes from which ones are required and which ones are optional. From some viewpoints (including my boyfriend’s mother), having children is required for two adults to be in a committed relationship, morally. Luckily most people realize that marriage and long-term relationships are highly personal and differ according to circumstances, though I’m sure an overwhelming majority would say that love is required for marriage, at least in theory. However, the staunch view that marriage must bring about children (or at least be able to) is an important component to some people’s anti-gay marriage convictions that warrants further discussion in our society.

  8. #8 dogscratcher
    September 26, 2006

    “It’s one thing to be against gay marriage, it’s quite another to invent a fictional world history upon which to base one’s argument.”

    Seems like a recurring theme from the religous right: from claims of a “Christian” national founding to deathbed conversions to Stalin being a “Darwinist”, the only way they can rationalize their current behavior is to change the reality of the past.

  9. #9 Matthew Young
    September 26, 2006

    They use the ‘all about protecting the children and traditional families’ as the emotive yet logically bereft stick with which to flog this rapidly expiring horse.

    I am about as ordinary as it gets – white, male, middle-class, married, and intending to raise a two-child family with my wife, whom I adore unconditionally. This is about as mainstream as it gets, and just the sort of situation they are looking to ‘protect’.

    But it is utterly beyond me how gay people being married and/or adopting children has any impact on my situation whatsoever. Is their assumption that we are going to change our minds on having children? That having gay married friends is going to somehow eat away at our own relationship? That I am suddenly going to run away and join the Village People because of all the gayness? My wife’s best man at our wedding was one of the most screamingly gay people (he’s married too, incidentally) you could ever meet, but I fail to see how that has any impact on our relationship, which is between the two of us and no-one else. Are their relationships that fragile?

  10. #10 Jeff Hebert
    September 26, 2006

    As the token juvenile commenter on this blog, I have to give a “well done” to Ed for this very subtle joke:

    Okay, that’s almost clever. But of course, there is no bush, burning or otherwise, on Brokeback Mountain.

    Well done, sir! Well done.

  11. #11 boltgirl
    September 26, 2006

    And in a statement that drew applause, he added: “Dear friends, until Moses comes down with two stone tablets from Brokeback Mountain saying we’ve changed the rules, let’s keep it like it is.”

    Funny, I didn’t remember those stone tablets containing a commandment saying that marriage is limited to single man-woman couplings.

  12. #12 raj
    September 26, 2006

    Romney was elected governor of Massachusetts basically by telling lies. He could not be re-elected–he knows it, and for a number of years he has been running for president by ridiculing the state of which he is ostensibly governor. He has no power in this state–the president of the state Senate and the speaker of the state House are running the state, and they have a very good working relationship.

    Romney has ruined the Republican party in Massachusetts. In the 2004 (state) midterm elections, his Republican party lost so many seats that he has been unable to sustain a veto in either chamber.

    Moreover, anti-equal-marriage-rights-for-gay-people legislators of both parties in both houses of the legislature have been losing to those favoring equal marriage rights. Slowly but surely, “gay marriage” in Massachusetts has become more and more accepted, and anti-gay marriage advocates have been rejected.

  13. #13 sam
    September 26, 2006

    Okay, it seems obvious, but some people don’t seem to get it. Gay marriage is ruining my marriage because I secretly want man booty. And when I see men getting man booty, it makes me want to leave my wife and children. If those gays would just go back in the closet and stop ruining my marriage, I could stop wanting man booty and start loving my wife again. Why can’t the gays stop wanting to be like the rest of us?

    Seriously, I just looked up the ten commandments. I should remember them from my horribly baptist childhood, but I had to look. The closest they get to mentioning sex is the one commandment against adultery. Considering that the basic text of many wedding ceremonies, especially religious, contains a part in which the couple swears, often to god, to remain married, till death do us part, and considering the across the board 50% rate of marriages ending in divorce, perhaps certain people in our society don’t quite understand that marriage is already a dying institution. Isn’t this kind of like suggesting that McDonalds is threatened because some people eat salads instead of Big Macs?

  14. #14 dogmeatIB
    September 26, 2006

    Really this is an emotional non-issue for the candidates. I think most of them could care less, BUT their supporters care about it a lot *shudder* “ooooh, man sex!” *shudder* It lets them get worked up into a frenzy of indignation and have a “major” issue to differentiate them from their “evil” Democratic opponent who *shudder* “supports man sex!” *shudder* and, probably engages in *shudder* “man sex” *shudder*. Generally the people that this stance hurts wouldn’t vote for these a-holes (pun partially intended) in a million years, so really it’s a win-win for them. Also it’s something that they really can’t do anything about, so it’s a nice neat little issue that can’t be resolved. (IE most of these laws, bans, etc., are likely to be shot down as violations of the 14th amendment).

    The sad thing is that for the group of people in question, it seriously disrupts their lives, the lives of their families and loved ones, and screws them over horribly.

  15. #15 Skemono
    September 26, 2006

    Ed said:

    It’s one thing to be against gay marriage, it’s quite another to invent a fictional world history upon which to base one’s argument.

    Sigh. I guess Gov. Romney never read Gary Leupp’s open letter to him.

    boltgirl said:

    Funny, I didn’t remember those stone tablets containing a commandment saying that marriage is limited to single man-woman couplings.

    Really? But FreeRepublic told me that homophobia is one of the ten commandments.

    sam said:

    The closest they get to mentioning sex is the one commandment against adultery.

    Funny you should mention that… cause some racists have managed to argue that “adultery” actually means “miscegenation”, so that the 7th commandment proscribes interracial marriages. Don’t take my word for it, though:

    Miscegenation or race mixing is forbidden in the Bible. It is adultery, that is, the adulteration of any and all races, the mixing of two diverse seeds that Yahweh never intended to be mixed.

  16. #16 Matthew
    September 26, 2006

    How can anyone make the “I’m actually just for keeping marriage in the only manner for which it’s ever been known in any culture, in any civilization throughout all of history” argument with a straight face. I mean, in this culture, in recent history marriage was different from it currently was; people of different races where not allowed to marry, and that was true of most (if not all) cultures in the world. How he can simply pretend that didn’t happen, nor the other types of marriages that Ed points out, is beyond me. Perhaps he really does live in a vacuum where criticisms of his beliefs don’t make it to the brain.

    What he really means is that he’s in favor of keeping marriage the way it currently is, you know, the one where the cut off point is the queers.

  17. #17 Garrett
    September 26, 2006

    I’m juvenile too! Great joke.

  18. #18 Skemono
    September 26, 2006

    I mean, in this culture, in recent history marriage was different from it currently was; people of different races where not allowed to marry, and that was true of most (if not all) cultures in the world.

    I’ve seen a few people try to dismiss the miscegenation analogy by saying that, unlike marriage being one man/one woman, banning interracial marriage was never a European/global more. I always assumed they were just being ignorant–xenophobia is a global phenomenon–but I don’t know enough about marriage laws & customs outside the US to back it up. Do you have any links or other resources you’d recommend?

  19. #19 twincats
    September 26, 2006

    I’ve always said (like Will) that I have never felt my marriage was threatened by homosexual marriage.

    As another partner in a hetero marriage without plans to reproduce, however, I do feel a certain wariness when the neocons start in about marriage being all about raising children. I get a little chill, because it seems as if the ‘childless by choice’ crowd is simply under the radar of these deluded morons, but only until they cease to be proccupied by “man sex.” *shudder*

  20. #20 gwangung
    September 26, 2006

    I’ve seen a few people try to dismiss the miscegenation analogy by saying that, unlike marriage being one man/one woman, banning interracial marriage was never a European/global more. I always assumed they were just being ignorant–

    Well, they are—they obviously don’t know what “bok gwai” translates to. Heck, it was common for Chinese parents to disown children who married Koreans or….Japanese!

  21. #21 CPT_Doom
    September 26, 2006

    Skemono said:
    I’ve seen a few people try to dismiss the miscegenation analogy by saying that, unlike marriage being one man/one woman, banning interracial marriage was never a European/global more. I always assumed they were just being ignorant–

    gwangung replied:

    Well, they are—they obviously don’t know what “bok gwai” translates to. Heck, it was common for Chinese parents to disown children who married Koreans or….Japanese!

    You don’t even have to go that far to find cultural social mores that prevented all kinds of marriages. I can certainly tell you that my Irish Catholic grandfather, although he was third generation American, was none too happy when my mother brought home my father to meet the family. Dad is of Scots/English descent, and was of course, [sotto voice] Protestant (this is where a good Catholic makes the sign of the cross). The only thing my grandfather said to him then, and basically for the next seven years until he died, was “he’s a g-ddamn Limey, his mother’s a g-ddamn Limey, his kids will be g-ddamn Limeys.” This was in 1960. My mother was the first to marry a Protestant in the family, albeit one who converted. No one else dared, including her own mother, who in a very weird twist of fate, had a brief romance in her youth with my father’s father (clearly before either of them married). In my grandmother’s time, she had to sneak into speakeasies to meet him, because it was the only place a Catholic girl and Protestant boy could meet without being talked about. They broke it off because, even if one of them converted, they would have been disowned by both families.

  22. #22 Skemono
    September 26, 2006

    Well, they are—they obviously don’t know what “bok gwai” translates to. Heck, it was common for Chinese parents to disown children who married Koreans or….Japanese!

    Hrm. Do you have a source for that I could read, refer to later?

  23. #23 Michael Suttkus, II
    September 27, 2006

    No, no, no! You’ve got it all wrong! You people just don’t understand.

    It’s not about the man-sex, it’s about the LESBIANS. I’ve heard the jokes, women aren’t all that fond of men to begin with. If we allow women to marry each other, they’ll probably decide they can dispense with men all together. THIS WILL BRING ON THE TOTAL COLLAPSE OF CIVILIZATION AND THE END OF THE HUMAN SPECIES! Either that or the shortage of available women will give them the power to be choosy and only conscientious, caring men who do weird things like pay attention to their girlfriends and put the toilet seat down will be able to get married.

    Man/man marriage, well, who could object to that? The more men who marry each other, the more marriage becomes a seller’s market. Less competition for the chicks! Booya!

    (Please, I hope everyone realizes the above post was entirely meant to be intentionally stupid.)

  24. #24 Daniel Morgan
    September 27, 2006

    Sad shit. The PERA legislation passed the House. Yet another win for the Religious Right.

  25. #25 Prup aka Jim Benton
    September 28, 2006

    The absurdity of the statements is highlighted by the fact that Judaism, at the time of Jesus, still allowed polygamy, as shown by the AUTOBIOGRAPHY of Josephus.
    http://www.sacred-texts.com/jud/josephus/autobiog.htm
    “I was myself brought up with my brother, whose name was Matthias, for he was my own brother, by both father and mother” (the final clause would have no meaning in a monogamous society — it’s from the second paragraph btw.)

    Jesus nowheres condemns this — true, it seems to have become an upper-class custom by then, not common in the circles he moved in.

    As for the New Testament, we find the following:
    (From 1 Timothy 3)
    “1Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer,[a] he desires a noble task. 2Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money”

    and verse 12
    “12A deacon must be the husband of but one wife and must manage his children and his household well.”

    And Titus 1:6
    “An elder must be blameless, the husband of but one wife

    The significance of this is, of course, that if these were specific requirements for the holding of these offices, they were NOT requirements for the Church as a whole. (These are the only places in the NIV where the phrase “one wife” appears, btw. Bible Gateway’s search engine is very valuable.)

    As for the Old Testament, in the same section of Leviticus that condemns homosexuality and that the RR is so fond of quoting, we find the following:
    “7 ” ‘Do not dishonor your father by having sexual relations with your mother. She is your mother; do not have relations with her.

    8 ” ‘Do not have sexual relations with your father’s wife; that would dishonor your father.

    9 ” ‘Do not have sexual relations with your sister, either your father’s daughter or your mother’s daughter, whether she was born in the same home or elsewhere.”

    Again, in context, this can only imply polygamy. (And, despite the occasional claim that “polygamy was allowed only to the patriarchs as a ‘special dispensation’” these laws are for the Jewish nation as a whole, implying that polygamy was permitted to the entire nation.)

    Marriage is between ‘one man and one woman’???? NOT according to the Bible they love to quote.

  26. #26 Chakra
    September 28, 2006

    I don’t think that any anti-marriage proponent is saying that gay marriage would disrupt marriages that are aleady in existence. Their concern is for future generations. They fear that marriage will become devalued in ways we cannot yet imagine. Just the other day I read that three people in Canada are suing for the right to marry. If ‘love’ is the only criteria for marriage then why shouldn’t they have the right to marry? But, lets not stop there, why not let two lesbians and their gay sperm donor marry? It makes a sense. Or, why can’t two siblings of the same sex marry? There certainly isn’t any fear of offspring in that union. Besides, it certainly wouldn’t harm my marriage.

  27. #27 twincats
    September 28, 2006

    So, unless we deny marriage rights to homosexual unions, we are embarking upon a slippery slope of unholy/unsavory/crowded/just plain silly unions? Sorry, but all that started way before “one man, one woman.”

    I mean, why leave out polygamy? Is that not a consideration any more? Is it out of fashion nowadays? If we’re going down the slippery slope anyway, may as well throw it in, too!

  28. #28 kehrsam
    September 28, 2006

    Of course, it is rather simple to distinguish polygamy from gay marriage. Gay marriage does take the form of a traditional union: Two people entering a commitment to one another.

    With polygamy, on the other hand, there are multiple relationships to keep track of. When a multiple marriage divorces, who gets child custody? Who is responsible for what? There are perfectly good public policy reasons for the state not to recognize such unions, in other words. With regard to gay unions, the public policy arguments are lacking.

  29. #29 Ed Brayton
    September 28, 2006

    Chakra wrote:

    I don’t think that any anti-marriage proponent is saying that gay marriage would disrupt marriages that are aleady in existence. Their concern is for future generations. They fear that marriage will become devalued in ways we cannot yet imagine.

    Which really means: “We can’t give you any logical scenario for how marriage will be destroyed, but we’re just sure it’s going to happen…somehow. Don’t ask us how.” And yes, they do speak quite explicitly about marriage being destroyed.

  30. #30 DuWayne
    September 28, 2006

    I think Chakra is spot on with this explanation. Not that I support the thinking (nor does Chakra clain to I note) but it is the general idea behind this and, for another example, their opposition to GSAs in public schools. And it’s understandable that they feel this way. The fact is that such bigotry is mostly a result of not knowing anyone from the GLBT communities. And many kids start to realise that not only are these folks fine people, but they also really relate, may even be one of these people and that it’s ok for them too. That is why a lot of churches strongly encourage a very insular lifestyle for their parishoners – they are very afraid that, in the rest of the world, their teaching and the parishoners own faith, won’t stand the pressure.

    So of course they fear the same of marriage. In their minds they really are trying to “save” marriage for their progeny. They fear that their view of marriage will be lessened for their children if we “change” it. The answer to that is simple – don’t recognize it. If a person truly believes that this lifestyle is “sin” and “abomination,” then they need just tell themselves (and, knowing them, everyone else) that these people are just not married in the eyes of God.

    Even while trying to be clear that what christians believe and should live is not the same as that of the world, they want to push their faith on the world, with force if necessary. They forget that this is not what Christ commanded us to do. We are admonished to reflect Christ in us that the “world” may see – by living it because we want to, expressing the joy that we get from that lifestyle – not because we are forced to. There is absolutely no way to choose God’s grace if we are forced to by the law. Similarly, there is no way to choose to live a “righteous” life, if it is illegal not to. And it is the responsability of the parent to raise their child with the understanding of right and wrong, it is not societies responsabilty to insulate anyones child, right or wrong that is the responsability of the parents.

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