Photo by Chrystal Bartlett
Of the “sanctity of marriage” movement one is reminded of a quote attributed to Mark Twain’s concerning drinking: “There are two kinds of people, thems that want a drink and thems that don’t want us to have one.” What beyond that is there to say? Given the unhappy statistics surrounding US-style “conventional” marriage, fully half of which end in divorce, which lifestyle choice could further unhinge that which has proven to be as unstable and temporary a human relationship as one will find? Hey, dig it, more people stick with their jobs longer than many marriages.
That didn’t stop what could politely be called a handful of demonstrators from gathering at the Capitol grounds on Tuesday in support of the National Organization for Marriage, testifying their distaste against any sort of marriage other than the aforementioned. I stayed around to hear what they had to say. While my sympathies were with those on the other side of Morgan street who braved the August heat to confront the narrow minded zealots, the sheer numbers of the rainbow tribe ensured my absence would not be a factor. “If there’da been a rumble, them queers woulda kicked ass,” a passerby giggled.
Sheesh. Where does one start? NOM’s message is such a mish-mash of oblique, historic falsities and unsupportable “consensus” as to defy rational examination. From dictionary definitions to the facts, beginning with the claim that their mission is backed by “3000 years of Judeo-Christian tradition,” NOM’s mission is constructed on a foundation of quicksand. On the simple definition of the word “marriage,” it is worth noting that the second definition in that final arbiter of such etymological disputes, the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) concerns Polyandry, everyone married to everyone. Since NOM is dependent on Biblical law, a brief examination of those laws may be in order. “ONE MAN, ONE WOMAN,” the NOMmies shrill, conveniently ignorant of a non-existent stricture that the patriarchs were likewise ignorant of. The Bible reports that Solomon sported 700 wives and 300 concubines, King David, 6 wives and numerous concubines and so forth. Likewise biblical law dictates that adulterers are to be put to death amid helpful advice about selling one’s daughter into slavery. “That’s the Old Testament,” goes the counter, leaving one to quote Jesus, who is reported to have said, ‘Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” (Matthew 5:17-18) Were modern US culture to explicitly follow the directions in the Law, bodies would clog the streets.
But none of the above nor any other species of religious claptrap is of any consequence. NOM’s fundamental error is failing to recognize that the US Constitution trumps any religious hogwash, no matter how deep its local level of acceptance. The genius of the founders of this nation is glaringly evident in that they sidestepped the entire, murky, unprovable bog of religion via the First Amendment which as we all know (or should) forbids a religious state establishment. To the oft-expressed error of the US being a “Judeo-Christian” nation, a partial response might be to point how George Washington refused to attend church following his wife’s Episcopalian minister badgering him about taking communion (he attended church to placate her). Most of the rest, Jefferson, Franklin, were Freemasons and/or Deists, both of which are rejected as false idolatry in conflict with Christianity. That is perhaps the how and why of the nascent United States avoiding the bloody path that its sire Great Britain trod, accompanied by the great loss of life attending the Brit’s various religious civil wars (something I am not opposed to for practical reasons for the simple reason of house clearing). Christians killing Christians over dogma. Ah, now that’s the sort of intelligent design I am not automatically opposed to.
Any legal arguments that stems from religious doctrine is unconstitutional by it’s nature. Although the speakers claims that overturning California’s ban was in abeyance of the wishes of the voters is in fact true, it is of no consequence. The US is a nation of laws and judicial overrule of an unfair law passed by a bigoted, ignorant voting body is quite legal under the Constitution. Happens all the time. Although Federal Judge Vaughn Walker was loudly berated as an “activist judge” his ruling was consistent with the US Constitution. California’s Prop 8 violated both the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of that pesky 14th Amendment. Instead of chiding a strict constructionist, religious zealots of all stripe should loudly trumpet a finding that implicitly perserves their right to spread whatever idiotic reading of the Bible they concoct. On that, the biggest laugh I had to suppress was that the counter-protesters were impeding NOM and their supporters right to express the worst forms of bigotry and intolerance.
What remains to be seen is whether Walker’s wise, reasoned review can survive the appeal process. Despite that, California Governor Ahnult Schvartsenekkah and Attorney General Jerry Brown are requesting that Walker permit gay marriage through the appeal process.