Wednesday, July 14, 2004

No one wants to discriminate against gays

Orrin Hatch: “No one wants to discriminate against gays. Simply put, we want to preserve traditional marriage.” I’m sorry, did you say that no one wants to discriminate against gays? NO ONE? Oh, I don’t fucking think so. I just SO don't fucking think so.

I’ve had it up to here with talk about “traditional marriage” from the party that last month wouldn’t shut up about Saint Ronny, who was divorced and whose second wife was pregnant when he married her, and whose 1996 standard bearer had this memorable line about marriage, spoken to his first wife: “I want out.” If I were a reporter or had more time on my hands, I’d find out how many Senators have been divorced, and how that relates to the way they voted (how do you count Teddy Kennedy, who got an annulment from the church and a divorce from the secular authorities?)
(Update: it's not the complete list I want, but this article talks about divorced Senators.)
(Later): and it seems that an activist is planning to name married supporters of the Unequal Rights Amendment in Congress who are having affairs.

Let’s all just acknowledge that the laws governing marriage have actually changed over time as social customs have evolved. Watching the Senate on C-SPAN today, I saw John Cornyn waxing on about how guys in tuxedos and chicks in white dresses have been marching up aisles since before there were aisles or organized religion, how marriage hadn’t changed in thousands of years. You don’t have to go back very far to see that this is nonsense. Go back to the birth of this republic: wives had no control over their own money, could not sign contracts, were not the legal parents of their own children while their husbands were alive or even after, and could legally be beaten (“chastised,” “corrected”) or raped by their husbands. Marital rape was considered an oxymoron by most people and by the legal system within our lifetimes. All of these husbandly powers were considered essential, fundamental elements of marriage, without which it could not survive. In Britain, after a court case (Jackson v. Jackson) ruled against a husband who had kidnapped his estranged wife and held her prisoner in 1891, the London Times said, “one fine morning last month marriage in England was abolished.”

Most of those aspects of marriage were, of course, predicated on sexist notions of the appropriate roles for men and women. Today you could hear the senators struggling to make a heterosexist case for banning gay marriage that was not also an obviously sexist one. This is not really possible, since the argument that marriage must consist of one member of each gender entails the notion that men and women are fundamentally different. They can’t really get away with making such an argument--and gay marriage is no longer considered so absurd that they can laugh it away or dismiss it with that "Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve" nonsense, the way they could just a couple of years ago--but come closest when they talk about marriage as being about child-rearing and that you need role models from each gender, an argument that only really works if you consider the sexes as having fundamentally distinct attributes, if gender determines identity completely. Otherwise, it would not matter if parents are both of the same gender. The argument against gay marriage, therefore, is a sexist one at its base.

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