Saturday, January 24, 2004

The Unstated Church

Romney seeks a bill to ban gay marriage

"The legislation is designed to offer SJC justices a clear, "rational basis" for establishing heterosexual marriage."

When playing the "sacrament" card fails on the church-state division issue, they play the (so-called) "reason" card. They're not very good at it.

They propose to codify in statute a definition that will provide the Massachusetts Supreme Court with a justification to prohibit same sex couples to wed. This, after the Court's decision painstakingly demolished every "rational" argument against same sex unions and issued a clear and courageous mandate to allow them to proceed.

And what is this proposed "rational basis" that the Mitthead and His Theopublicans seek to codify ? That

"...marriage (is) a heterosexual institution based on child-raising and procreation..."

When DK and I wed in 1987, we had absolutely, as in absolute zero, no intention of procreating. We happen to be of discordant genders, theoretically able (at least back then) to make babies.

Where does this definition leave those of us who are married but are unwilling or unable to procreate ? Where does that place our marriages within this so-called institution of "heterosexual...childraising....(and) procreation ?" If this is a trinity of attributes of marriage, DK and I currently embody a mere paltry one. Many same sex couples are way ahead of us on the procreating and childraising angle.

But the reigning word here, of course, is "heterosexual." Mitt's not saying that "marriage is an institution based on procreation and childrearing." That would, needless to say, include lesbian and gay couples with children. His "rational basis" boils down to "marriage is a heterosexual institution."

In other words, "That's the way it's been. That's the way it must remain."

Sounds a lot like what pro-slavery folks must have been saying back in the day. I bet they even dipped into some of the writings of Saint Paul and used them to support the "institution" of slavery.

Yesterday the Globe ran a full page advertisement by a local "family values" outfit, Coalition for Marriage. The text was wrapped around a soft focus photo of two adorable tykes, a boy and a girl, wonder-bread white, the lad be-freckled in a 1950's Dick-and-Jane parody of cute. They're posed in what seemed to me in my pre-coffee fog to be a startlingly erotic and incestuous appearing cuddle. (DK had already adorned them with horns, pitchforks and pointy tails, making the overall impression even more bizarre.)

The argument -- the breathtakingly specious argument -- put forth in this advertisement is as follows (italics theirs):

"While the research comparing children in homosexual homes with those in heterosexual homes is inconclusive, here is what we do know. Reasearch in the past forty years repeatedly and clearly shows that when children are raised apart from their two, married biological parents, they suffer in everyimportant measure of well-being. Every child living in a same-sex home is, by definition, living apart from a complete set of biological parents."

They go on to list a host of dire consequences -- criminal behavior, low self-esteem, low school performance, physical abuse, sexual experimentation, poor emotional health, lack of compassion, poor physical health, lack of respect for women -- that children who do not live with "a complete set of biological parents" suffer.

To support their thesis they quote studies that looked at children of single-parent situations. Including, presumably, single-parent situations that arose because of domestic abuse, death, poverty. All of which are influences more noxious than a simple, theoretical lack "of a complete set of biological parents."

And, needless to say, none of the studies even remotely apply to a childrearing two-parent gay or lesbian partnership.

In fact, they are using studies that claim to show "broken marriages" hurt children to argue against marriage ! Isn't the more logical conclusion that as many people as possible should marry and stay married ?

A more "rational" piece of legislation for them to be shilling, given these studies, would be a law against divorce.

Jesus went on record against divorce. He never once mentioned homosexuality. Catholics consider divorce and remarriage a sacrament-level sin, not atoneable by ordinary measures; only anullment will allow such sinners to return to the Catholic communion table. And yet the Massachusetts Catholic establishment is not lobbying to codify this huge bit of theology into our State Constitution as a prohibition against divorce. On the other hand they are taking extraordinary measures to lobby -- on the basis of Catholic theology -- for codified prohibitions in secular law against same-sex marriage. They don't dare do the same with divorce. It touches the lives of too many non Catholic heterosexuals who don't want Catholic theology forced upon them. They're banking on a more universal anti-gay bigotry to get their anti-same-sex-marriage theology into secular law. The Vatican's language against homosexual parents -- that they "do violence" to their children -- is heartbreaking, antediluvian and cruel.

The Coalition for Marriage's whole case is an argument by italics or what my junior high civics teacher used to call a "handwaving argument."

It's also an argument that hinges on comparing apples with nanny-goats. Or submarines. They have no data to support their claims, so they import data from non-applicable studies.

Their intellectual dishonesty is simply astounding. Or maybe it's just stupidity. Quite possibly it's both.

It's like rendering a carcass: reason boils down to unstated theology which boils down to something even more unspoken. And ugly.

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