Tag Archives: Same Sex Marriage

Tolerance. You Keep Using that Word. I Don’t Think It Means What You Think It Means.

I wrote a few days ago about the current Christian tactic of insisting that any pusback against their attempts to force everyone else to live by their religious rules is “persecution” of the Christians. This post does an excellent job of expounding upon that point:

Accept the inevitability of gay rights, advises Ross Douthat, but “build in as many protections for religious liberty as possible along the way.” Here’s the idea: If your disapproval of certain kinds of people can be rooted in church doctrine or a handful Biblical proof-texts, then forbidding you to mistreat those people violates the “free exercise” of religion you are promised by the First Amendment.

To make this work, conservative Christians need to divert attention from the people they are mistreating by portraying themselves as the victims. And that requires cultivating a hyper-sensitivity to any form of involvement in activities they disapprove of. So rather than sympathize with the lesbian couple who gets the bakery door slammed in their faces, the public should instead sympathize with the poor wedding-cake baker whose moral purity is besmirched when the labor of his hands is used in a celebration of immorality and perversion.

. . .

In fact the baker will be fine, as Willamette Week demonstrated by calling two such religious-liberty-defending bakeries and ordering cakes to celebrate a variety of other events conservative Christians disapprove of: a child born out of wedlock, a divorce party, a pagan solstice ritual. The bakers did not object, because their hyper-sensitive moral purity is an invention, a convenient excuse for treating same-sex couples badly.

. . .

We worked this stuff out during the civil rights movement, because all the same ideas show up with regard to race.

Plenty of people claim a sincere religious belief in white supremacy, and root it in Biblical texts like the Curse of Ham. (This goes way back: American slave-owners found Biblical license for keeping their “property”.) But the law does not honor these claims, and somehow religion in America survives.

Here’s the principle that has served us well: In private life, you can associate with anybody you like and avoid anybody you don’t like. But if you offer goods or services for sale to the public, you don’t get to define who “the public” is. So when you’re making lunch at your house, you can invite anybody you like and snub anybody you don’t like, but if you run a lunch counter you have to serve blacks.

We’ve been living with principle for decades, and (other than Rand Paul) no one worries much about the racists’ loss of freedom.

That should apply to same-sex couples now: If your chapel is reserved for members of your congregation, fine. But if you rent it to the public for wedding ceremonies, same-sex couples are part of the public just like interracial couples are. You don’t get to define them away.

I’ll add that when religion moves into the public sphere, such as when a church regularly rents out its hall to the public, the church benefits from all of the things that society does, such as printing money that the renters can use to pay for the hall and the church can then use to buy candles, providing courts where the church can sue if the renters don’t pay up, and maintaining a police department that will come and arrest people if the party gets too rowdy. So it’s reasonable to expect, in return, that the church follow the laws that society imposes.

The latest whiny patriarchialist is science fiction author Orson Scott Card, a board member of NOM, which boycotts every corporation that even considers any gender-neutral politics, who wrote an essay in which he said that gays “cannot be permitted to remain as acceptable, equal citizens within . . . society,” and who has worked very hard to prevent same-sex marriage. Now, Card has a movie coming out and well, all of a sudden, boycotts are a form of intolerance and liberals are hypocrites if they won’t go see his movie:

Ender’s Game is set more than a century in the future and has nothing to do with political issues that did not exist when the book was written in 1984. With the recent Supreme Court ruling, the gay marriage issue becomes moot. The Full Faith and Credit clause of the Constitution will, sooner or later, give legal force in every state to any marriage contract recognized by any other state. Now it will be interesting to see whether the victorious proponents of gay marriage will show tolerance toward those who disagreed with them when the issue was still in dispute.

Of course, when liberals ask Christians to be “tolerant” of other people, we mean that while they may believe what they like, they ought not to show up at funerals with signs that say “God Hates Fags” and that they ought not to try to criminalize other religions that marry same-sex couples. We’re not suggesting they have to buy tickets to attend movies by people with whose politics they disagree. NOM and Mr. Card are free to boycott Starbucks and other companies that support gay rights. And we’re free to boycott Card’s movie.

I’m a big science fiction geek, but I won’t be seeing Ender’s Game. I wouldn’t mind watching The Trouble with Tribbles again, though.

Dead DOMA Potpourri

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* Yesterday, I posted about chef & historian Michael Twitty’s wonderful letter to cooking show personality Paula Deen. He’s posted a follow-up today and it’s every bit as wonderful as yesterday’s. Discussing how he learned about his ancestral history, Twitty says:

Now I know we were enslaved. Slave is an identity, enslaved is a condition.

You should definitely read the whole thing.

And you can listen to Twitty discuss Baltimore’s Afroculinary history and current food deserts here.

* I had serious plans to get to sleep early last night.

Then, Wendy Davis’ filibuster hit Twitter.

I’m an old woman with a once-broken ankle that still swells by the end of the day and demands to be elevated. I need to sip water just to get through a conference call. I can’t imagine standing, without even sitting or leaning on my desk, and with no water or bathroom breaks, for 13 hours.

But Wendy Davis did it.

One fifty-year old woman put her ankles and her back muscles and her vocal cords directly in the gap and said, “You. Shall. Not. Pass.

I can’t do what Wendy Davis did, but I am a Witch and what I can do is work magic. And so I cast a circle and called those whom I call and I did what I do and I sent what I send. And today I wore a scarf with both Coyote and Hare.

And although Rick Perry has called another special session for Monday, at which the abortion restrictions will likely pass, Wendy Davis won an important victory last night.

I think that it’s really important to reward good behavior. You can donate to Wendy Davis’ re-election campaign here.

*BTW, grammar and law nerd that I am, I was fascinated with Motivated Grammar’s discovery about the Texas Rules.

Claire Cardona wrote at the Dallas Morning News’s filibuster liveblog:

“Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, raised a point of order on the filibuster because Davis had help from Sen. Ellis to readjust her back brace. […] but Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, brings up a part in the rules that would permit Davis to sit. […] Zaffirini notes that the rules said ‘may not lean on his desk, his chair, and that note doesn’t apply to Sen. Davis.’”

The rule in question, which I think is Senate Rule 4.01 [PDF, p. 8-9], reads:

“When a member has been recognized and is speaking on a motion to re-refer a bill, he must stand upright at his desk and may not lean thereon (61 S.J. Reg. 1760, 1762 (1969)). When a member has the floor and is speaking on a bill or resolution, he must stand upright at his desk and may not lean or sit on his desk or chair (61 S.J. Reg. 1059 (1969)).”

Of course, we all know what is meant there, that the intended interpretation is gender-neutral he. We see such usages regularly, probably think little of it, and move on. To claim that the use of he in this rule means it doesn’t apply to a woman is crazy, surely.

Or is it? During a filibuster, pedantry is everywhere. I learned but one thing from the time I volunteered at a Model Congress convention: intent and common usage mean little as the parliamentarian sifts through Robert’s Rules of Order to decide which of the fourteen simultaneous objections takes precedence over the rest. Grammatical pedantry, so often out of place, is only fair in this situation.

. . .

I’m no legal expert, and I’m certainly not an expert at what terminological choices are taken as given in the Texas Senate rulebook, so take this discussion with a grain of salt. But Zaffirini’s argument isn’t without merit. I found no declaration at any point in the Senate Rules that he is to be assumed as gender-neutral. In fact, there are eight instances of “his or her” in the rules — one occurring in the first sentence of Rule 4.01, the very rule being debated. If he is understood to be gender-neutral in the third and fourth sentences of Rule 4.01, why is he insufficient in the first?

. . .

It’s all hair-splitting, of course, but it’s a hair that may need to be split. When the issue at hand is so entwined with gender, maybe it’s a good time to examine our assumptions, starting with a little pronoun.

* Dear Xians, Please listen carefully.

Your bible (or, more accurately, your current interpretation of your bible) is not a Get Out of Bigots’ Jail Free card. We all get that your new meme is that you’re being persecuted simply because when you try to persecute other people those other people now fight back and sometimes call you on your bigotry. It’s such a transparent and fifth-grade-style ruse that it’s really amazing you’d even imagine that it would work. Sure, you have First Amendment guarantees of freedom of religion and freedom of speech. You’re free to adopt a religion based upon bigotry and hatred and you’re free to talk about it. But others are also free to adopt other beliefs and to talk about what bigots you are.

Waving your bible around won’t change that. Besides, people who supported slavery waved their bibles around. People who opposed equal rights for women waved (and still wave) their bibles or korans around. Antisemites waved (and still wave) their bibles or korans around. And you know what we call those people today? Bigots.

Obviously, bigots don’t stand up and say, “I hate gays because I’m a bigot, and I get off on hating them, and it helps me to displace my own shadow issues.” No, they always stand up and say that their bigotry is based upon god’s law, or the bible, or whatever.

You’re on the losing end of history, the backwards curve of the arc of the moral universe, but, yes, you have First Amendment rights to hate in the name of your god and to express your hatred.

And we have the right to call you bigots.

Get over it. Be gone, before someone drops a lion on you, too.

* David Whyte writes:

The very shape we make with our bodies when we hold the conversation between the solid ground we stand on and the horizon to which we go, is the complete journey in itself. Our body’s intent, the way we hold that strange and very passionate here to there, far inside us, is the momentary representation of the whole conversation, the whole journey. There is no need to move a single inch. From that place we are ready, once again, to get up and go.

~ Thoughts from Avignon: © David Whyte 2013.

I want to remember this tomorrow morning on the treadmill.

Picture found here.