Thursday, July 06, 2006

Same old song, but don't dance

The American Family Association of Michigan filed suit against Michigan State University the other day to prevent the school from providing same-sex partner benefits (like health insurance), thus putting the lie to all off the pooh-poohing that went on prior to the 2004 election, in which a constitutional amendment was approved in Michigan (and several other states) to ban 'gay marriage'. Details are here.

I can remember them on the local NPR affiliate, day after day, whining about how everyone said that they 'hate gays' when they really didn't and how the amendment would have nothing to do with financial issues or insurance issues or hospital visitation issues, but was merely about protecting the 'sanctity' of marriage. My first reaction was always to ask: Something wrong with the sanctity of your marriage? If you have a personal problem, perhaps you shouldn't blame the rest of us for it.

And now, of course, the truth comes out. It is about reviling and persecuting 'the gays' because it always has been. It's Jim Crow all over again: separate, and somehow not quite as equal. Or equal if they stay out of sight. And don't get near children. Because, you know, as Helen Lovejoy always reminded us: WON'T SOMEONE PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN! No phrase other than 'think of the children' was as sure to make me retch as that being uttered on the House floor as it was over and over again for most of the 90s (and still is whenever someone wants to sway the public without the latter actually thinking... Wait. Is that all the time? That is, isn't it?)

So, those good Christians, always on the lookout for moral turpitude lied... like good Christians should whenever they think that they know better than you, I guess. Or Muslims. Or Jews. Or whomever thinks that they have the moral high ground based on some thousand-year-old text. Most major religions are like that: they're popular with people who really have no idea what they actually mean.

Now, don't get me wrong. I am not anti-God. I'm anti-stupidity. You believe in God? Fine. You believe in Allah? Great. You're a Buddhist? Yee-hah. It's the same perspective I and everyone else should take toward other people's behavior/being. You're black? So? You're gay? Meh. You're a guy who likes to wear see-through panties and gartered thigh-highs while dancing to raps from Aqua Teen Hunger Force in your front yard? Hey, knock yourself out. Can't say I'll be coming by for the show, but do what ya like. But do it in YOUR front yard. Don't bother me with it. Don't bother my neighbors with it. And don't, by any stretch of the imagination, attempt to inhibit the rights of other people based on your supposed set of morals. Denying people health insurance and the right to visit their life partner in a hospital is not exactly what I'd refer to as a 'moral' issue, anyway.

The typical response at this point is some blather about the degradation of 'societal values' and how society can't possibly function without some kind of moral code handed down by a supreme being through the aforementioned text written perfectly by his imperfect followers (follow that train of thought for a little philosophical exercise...) By said tome, one is said to avoid the crime of 'moral relativism'. Heh. Let's test that one out.

Do you still encourage the holding of slaves? The Bible says it's ok. Do you still believe in being stoned to death for violating the Sabbath? The Bible is right there with you.

Assuming (for some insane reason) you to be a rational human being, I bet you don't believe in either of those things. So, clearly, you are not a moral absolutist according to the set of 'morals' or laws laid down in multiple places in the Bible. If you were, it'd be quite difficult to function in the modern era.

But, wait!, you say. Most of those strictures are from the Old Testament. The New Testament is more modern and clearly the route to follow. Well, now, I don't think I'd be too far out in left field (little joke there) by suggesting that our society is more modern than the period of time over which the New Testament was written, too. So times, in fact, do change. Guess what? The concept of gays as- ssshhhh -humans is one of those changes. Wake up.

Let's use a couple examples specific to the US:

1. Slavery. Time was, people would actually make the statement that you couldn't have freedom without slavery (Richmond Enquirer, 1856: "Democratic liberty exists solely because we have slaves . . . freedom is not possible without slavery.") Society has pretty much given up on that but it took a helluva fight to get past it.

2. Women's suffrage. Some elements of society fought tooth and nail against it, believing it would bring 'democracy' crashing to the ground. But, yeah, we've kinda gotten past that, too.

So, here we are with the concept of treating homosexuals the same as any other folks who work and pay taxes. People are going to fight against it... but they're going to lose, because at some point, the concept of civil and human rights outweighs the ignorant bigotry of the past. It's that simple. And no arguments about absolutist/relativist thought can cloud that fact. And don't do yourself a disservice. You can decide what's right or wrong for yourself without relying on a 2-3000-year-old text to tell you thus and so. At least, I hope you can.

However, there will still be the outliers, like the true believers of the AFA, who insist that 'GOD' says that this or that specimen of humanity is, in fact, less than human in the eyes of 'Him' (read: them) and shouldn't even be entitled to basic rights because their chosen lifestyle is a crime in the eyes of their god. Well, it might be a crime in the eyes of said bigoted assholes but, again, that should be their problem. And, in a nation that had elected officials who didn't feel compelled to refer to 'God' in every third sentence out of their mouths (much to the disgust and occasional humor of the rest of the world, who understands that religion is and should be a private thing, not a public one (but, y'know, they've gotten the stupid education (read: wars, and many of'em) for that.)), we wouldn't have that problem, either. But, besides the religious fanatics that currently occupy the throne (gives new meaning to the idea of the 'crusade' against the jihadis, doesn't it?), we can always hearken back to the warm and pleasing days of 1998, where Bill Clinton uttered the word 'God' or some synonym for it 43 times in a state of the union address that took less than an hour...

People say that the US shouldn't pander to the fanatic Muslims in the Middle East. I think our government shouldn't pander to the fanatics right here in the so-called homeland. It isn't for nothing that Australians have been known to say, with no small degree of irony (please, PLEASE, look it up...): 'Thank God we got the convicts and they got the Puritans.'


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