Jesurgislac’s Journal

August 13, 2010

Five ways to talk to the religious right about marriage

This post was inspired by Five Ways To Talk To The Left About Same-Sex Marriage, by Eric Pavlat, and the discussion thread that followed.

The “religious right” in this instance may be Catholic or Evangelical or Baptist… as I noted to Pavlat in his post, “the left” in his definition would include Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The post which led me to Pavlat’s had already used the title Five Ways To Talk to the Other Side About Same-sex Marriage, or I might have used that.

1. Bear in mind that pretty much everything these people know about homosexuality or transgender identity is wrong.

If you want to know the kind of stuff they’ve been told is The Truth About Homosexuality, the Friendly Atheist blog recently paid for two people to attend an AFTAH event and hear the kind of stuff being said and write an outline of it post-event: but for example: Pride events are portrayed as public orgies in which people have “dangerous sex” right on the street. (This is the kind of thing that would only make sense to people who have not only never attended a Pride rally or march as participant, but also have never had one held in their home town.) And being gay or lesbian is “caused” by having been molested by an older gay or lesbian person: for a more detailed account of how this kind of unspeakably cruel lie is promoted to the homophobic parents of LGBT children, see Love Won Out.

Also, right at the start: in eleven countries round the world same-sex couples can already marry: in about twenty more same-sex couples can register a civil union with rights equivalent to marriage: and in none of them has the freedom to marry led to any of the awful consequences which the anti-marriage activists evoke.

(more…)

November 10, 2009

What the Stupak-Pitts coathanger amendment means for Americans

Bart Stupak, Democrat for Death, decided he hated women and he didn’t want women who needed abortions to get healthcare: he wants taxpayers who are women to be required to pay for government subsidies for health insurance plans, but he wants those health insurance companies to be allowed to deny those women life/fertility-saving healthcare.

The amendment will prohibit federal funds for abortion services in the public option. It also prohibits individuals who receive affordability credits from purchasing a plan that provides elective abortions. However, it allows individuals, both who receive affordability credits and who do not, to separately purchase with their own funds plans that cover elective abortions. It also clarifies that private plans may still offer elective abortions.

From a woman who had an abortion on Hallowe’en:

As much as I struggled with the sudden realization that the pregnancy was over, I also found myself trying to decide financially what I was willing to do. A chemical abortion would cost $40, but I would be alone, bleeding, and it could still be incomplete and I would require a D&C anyway, since my pregnancy was so advanced. Surgery would be quick, total, and under controlled circumstances, but would likely be our full maxed insurance amount of $1500. And of course, there was the free option of waiting for my body to finally realize I wasn’t pregnant, but after 4 weeks the risk of infection was steadily climbing, increasing my chances of future miscarriage, infertility, or even death. With a toddler at home, and still nursing hopes for extending our family some day, this was not an option.

I chose the quick and total route of the D&C, despite the costs, prioritizing my health and the health of possible future children. I was lucky, and could afford to make that choice, because currently, my insurance cannot chose to refuse to cover what the hospital as termed an abortion.

Thanks to the Stupak amendment, that can now change.

This is an anti-women amendement – the kind of misogynist crap that women-haters spew – but it is also a typically rich-bastard anti-poor people amendment. A woman who already has a good insurance plan – one that covers abortion – or who has the kind of income that can afford to pay a couple of thousand for an unexpected medical expense that her health insurance, she discovers, won’t cover – will be OK.

A woman who figures she can scrape together $40 for a chemical abortion and just hope that will do it? Or a woman who can’t afford anything but a coathanger?

Congressman Bart Stupak has decided such worthless women can die. Or become involuntarily infertile. Or whatever. Their lives, and the lives of the children they hoped to have, are of less than no importance to a man like him. He has an e-mail form here, if you want to let him know what you think. (You will need to provide him with a zip code inside Michigan’s 1st District, which you can do by looking a city up here and the zipcode for it here. )

July 7, 2009

Bigots or sociopaths?

Two people meet, fall in love, decide to get married, decide to have children together: what could be more humanly understandable?

Christians who oppose same-sex marriage or same-sex parents or who promote anti-gay discrimination in other ways, usually come across as inhuman, because they really appear not to understand what’s so very human.

“Lesbians and gays have equal rights – they can just get married to a person of the opposite sex, just like straight people do”

What this says, unpacked, is that your Christian advocate against same-sex marriage really believes that marriage isn’t anything to do with making a lifelong committment to the one person in the world whom you have chosen to love, honour, cherish and live with to the end of both your days – marriage is just a legal emotionless contract where anyone will do so long as they’re the right gender. This isn’t just unChristian – it’s inhuman. It’s sociopathic. The notion that people are interchangable – just pieces in a game where what matters is not the individual but the gender – is something completely off from normal humanity.

The usual argument brought forward to support opposition to same-sex marriage is that a same-sex couple “can’t have children”, which actually makes it even worse: marriage has now become a means merely of producing babies which are biologically the offspring of husband and wife, and any couple who aren’t biologically capable of producing babies together ought not to be allowed to get married. In this scenario, marriage has nothing to do with parenting children together, nothing to do with children growing up sheltered and protected by a loving and committed relationship – it’s purely and solely about biological fertility.

A same-sex couple can of course have children: either by AID or by surrogacy, or by adoption or fostering, or step-children from a previous marriage. These are ways in which mixed-sex couples have children too. But legally, while there are countries in which a spouse can divorce their wife or husband for being infertile, in practice it is only these anti-gay Christians who advocate that a couple ought to separate and find other partners if they can’t have children together and still wan them.

Arguments against same-sex marriage have, to my knowledge, included strong statements that a married couple ought not to expect love or passion – that marriage isn’t anything to do with the joy that two people may take in each other. This is an argument against the idea that a same-sex couple are justified in wanting to commit their lives to each other because they love each other. When it’s argued simply and directly as that it’s fairly plain bigotry – if a lesbian or gay person wants to be married and can’t fall in love with a person of the opposite sex, well, they should just marry without love. But when – as these advocates often try to do – it’s argued as if it were a general principle, that marriage isn’t about love, passion, or joy, it’s a legal protection for engendering children – this sounds horribly as if these people have themselves no other experience of marriage. They don’t argue for love in marriage because they don’t themselves feel love for their partner, nor can they imagine that other people do.

Are these people bigots, or sociopaths? Does it matter? Are they ill from the inability to love or even to imagine love, or are they just sick haters who cannot bear the idea of two men or two women who do love each other taking marriage vows to love, to honour, and to cherish each other lifelong?

The problem expands horrifyingly when these people talk about children – not merely when they try to come up with pseudo-scientific ideas about how two men or two women can’t parent children “properly” (no study or research backs this idea, it comes directly from the Institute of It Stands To Reason, which is based at the University of What Everyone Knows) – but when they try to argue that same-sex couples ought not to have children together.

Same-sex couples can be prevented from adopting or fostering children together by passing legislation. (What this means for children in need of adoptive parents is simply that a gay man or a lesbian will adopt a child as if they were a single parent, and the child won’t be allowed the security of a legal relationship with their other dad or other mom.) Nothing but a strongly fascist state can prevent a lesbian from using a sperm donation to conceive, if she wants to: the only legislative options there are to prevent the child conceived from having the security of two legal parents.

All the legislation against same-sex parents being able to adopt or foster as a couple, or having their joint parenthood of a child conceived by donor acknowledged, is primarily damaging to the children of the couple. Though I’ve often asked the question, no anti-gay Christian has ever explained how they justify attacking the children of same-sex couples merely so that they can proclaim their loathing of same-sex relationships. That is, they have responded with something like “I want to protect children”, and then the argument usually circles round to some justification about how the children of same-sex couples shouldn’t exist anyway and their parents are selfish for wanting to have them, and these paired arguments – these children shouldn’t exist, and their parents are bad people, appears to justify the case for attacking the children in the minds of these anti-gay Christians.

When this argument gets expanded out – as recently, when an anti-gay Christian argued that people are just selfish if they have children just because they want children, any parent who chooses to have children because having children will bring them happiness – this sounds even more appalling for these people’s children.

You’d have to be a bit starry-eyed to believe that children are invariably a source of happiness. And I know from bitter personal experience, that the lesbian or gay child of a homophobic parent is in for a world of pain from their parent, as their parent is in for a world of self-created pain. But the pain is because of love. I know from my own personal experience: I hurt my homophobic parent enormously by being a lesbian. What I came to understand after many years was that the pain was not inflicted by me: I was not in any real sense the cause of it, nor was my coming out the cause of it. The pain suffered by my homophobic parent was caused by the awful conflict between the sure knowledge that a homosexual is an evil and depraved person whom no good person ought to associate with, and the equally sure knowledge that this lesbian daughter is a beloved source of joy. What can it be like for a homophobic parent who cannot stop loving their child, and yet cannot let go of their knowledge that being homosexual is something deeply wrong? My parent’s solution was (a) to blame anyone but me for “corrupting” me, (b) to hope I’ll grow out of it (c) to be coldly and rejectingly polite to any partners (the latter, I believe, isn’t a conscious strategy, just an unhelpful kneejerk reaction). This isn’t much of a solution, but such as it is… it’s based on love, on joy. Because if I wasn’t loved so much, I would have been absolutely cut off long ago. And I never was.

But that is human too: to love and to take joy in your children – even when they’re a source of so much pain. This may be “selfish” – in the sense that it’s all about your feelings as parent – but you can’t love someone else without being a self who loves. You can’t take joy in your children – in anyone – unless you are a self who feels joy. A sociopath may not be able to see what’s good in feeling that joy, in feeling that love – a bigot may not be able to understand how a lesbian or gay person can feel that love for their children, or – in a worse-case scenario – a bigoted parent may not be able to love their lesbian or gay child any more.

Are these people sociopaths, to so dismiss the humanity of parents who just simply want children, parents who are made happy by their children? Or bigots, who think anything attack is justified so long as it makes clear to lesbians and gays and their children that Christians believe them to be inferior and unworthy?

Does it matter? I do have a homophobic parent, but one neither bigot nor sociopath. Capable of comprehending, thanks to me – I don’t know if thanks are ever spoken, but by damn I deserve them! – thanks to me coming out, 25 years ago, capable now of recognising the humanity of lesbian and gay people who would once have got a knee-jerk rejection. There’s been a world of pain in that, but the pain was caused by the love which Renaissance Guy has repeatedly dismissed as “selfish”. Because he is sociopathic and cannot feel it and cannot understand it? Or because he is a bigot who cannot conceive that lesbians and gays are human beings like himself?

April 3, 2009

Good news for Iowa on Friday

While the Californian Supreme Court ponders the justice of allowing a majority to vote civil rights away from a minority, the Iowan Supreme Court has done the right thing:

“The Iowa statute limiting civil marriage to a union between a man and a woman violates the equal protection clause of the Iowa Constitution,” the justices said in a summary of their decision.

The court rules that gay marriage would be legal in three weeks, starting April 24. (Des Moines Registrar)

The Christians who believe that homophobia is the will of god, that God needs the help of legislators to enforce His will, and that true meaning of marriage is interfertility (not, please note, love, devotion, mutual respect, companionship, faithfulness, shared parenting, mutual and absolute support till death – none of that is “marriage” to thse hatefilled Christians) – are out in force, wanting to run another anti-marriage campaign. But, apparently,they won’t get any support from the legislature this session – and I hope that by November 2010, it will be clear to all except the nuttiest that they have already lost this argument.

Go Iowa!

January 25, 2009

Ex-Nazi ex-excommunicates Holocaust denier

Jesus Christ, you really couldn’t make it up, could you? Pope Benedict, who was a member of Hitler Youth during the last years of the Third Reich, has yesterday reversed the excommunication of Bishop Richard Williamson, who believes that it is impossible that the Nazis could have killed six million Jews in gas chambers and cremated them.

Williamson, now once more accepted as a Roman Catholic, said in a TV interview last November that he feels there has been a “huge exploitation” of the claim that six million Jews were gassed – which, he is at pains to tell the interviewer, he is certain is not true. He’s “not interested” in being called an anti-Semite, either. It’s not a matter of emotion, he says. (view the video here) He has a pleasant, polite, very English voice. And Pope Benedict, God’s rottweiler, wants him back.) For the record, Williamson believes it may be true that “several thousand” Jews were killed by the Nazis. But not six million. And there were no gas chambers. No crematoria. He’s sure of that.

Ruth Gledhill at the Times:

Bishop Richard Williamson is a hardline ultra-conservative bishop of the Society of St Pius X. He is excommunicated from the RC church, along with his three brother SSPX bishops but as we report, and also according to reports coming out of Rome, the excommunications could be lifted soon by the Pope. It could even be lifted by Sunday, according to the usually reliable Rorate Caeli. And that while he faces possible prosecution for Holocaust denial in Germany after an interview with a reporter from Swedish TV in which he claimed that six million Jews did not die in the Holocaust, merely a few thousand, and that the gas chambers did not exist. CathCon has the translation of the Der Spiegel report and more on the likely lifting of those excommunications. Could the clock really be turned back this far on Nostra Aetate and the teachings of Vatican II?

The response of the Lefebvrist Society of St Pius X was telling:

Although it had been understood that the interview would deal with religious issues only, the reporter asked the bishop’s opinion concerning historical matters. It is obvious that a bishop can only speak about questions of faith and morals with any ecclesiastical authority. If he deals with secular issues, he is personally responsible for his own private opinions. The Society I am governing has no authority to address such issues, nor will it ever claim such authority. -Bishop Bernard Fellay, 21st January 2009, via

From the Independent, October 1999, back when Pope John Paul II was trying to have the first Nazi Pope sainted, on Pius XII (who canonized Pope Pius X):

a single-minded Vatican lawyer and diplomat who, from the earliest part of his career, set out to establish the absolute authority of Rome over Europe’s Catholic populations in a series of accommodations with autocratic regimes. Having served as papal nuncio in Germany throughout the 1920s before becoming the Vatican’s chief diplomat, Eugenio Pacelli was in a unique position to negotiate with the Nazis over the church’s status. The deal that was cut guaranteed Catholic influence over education and spiritual life in Germany, but at a terrible price: the Catholic Centre Party was forced into dissolution, removing the last obstacle to Hitler’s goal of absolute power, and all attempts at resistance by Germany’s Catholic bishops were cut off at the knees.

The so-called Reichskonkordat, between the Vatican and Germany, handed the Nazis their first much-needed piece of international recognition and, according to Hitler’s crowing at a subsequent cabinet meeting, opened the way to undertake “the urgent struggle against international Jewry”. The concordat was celebrated in St Hedwig’s cathedral in Berlin with swastikas flying alongside the Catholic banners and the “Horst Wessel” song, the Nazis’ unofficial anthem, blaring out from loudspeakers to the thousands that had assembled outside.Cornwell shows that Pius XII’s attitude to Jews was ambivalent at best, unearthing letters from his early career in Germany in which he refuses favours to the Jewish community on the most pusillanimous of grounds and describes the Munich chapter of the German Communist Party as being chaotic, filthy and full of Jews. He refers dismissively to “a group of young women, of dubious appearance, Jews like all the rest of them” and describes the Communist leader Max Levien as a Jew, “pale, dirty, with drugged eyes, hoarse voice, vulgar, repulsive…”

When, during the war, he came to learn of the extermination of millions of Jews, he made only the vaguest of references to the slaughter in a 1942 Christmas message – making no mention of either anti-Semitism or the Jews – and concentrated instead on developing his inner spirituality, commissioning a film called Pastor Angelicus to show off his reflective, fiercely ascetic nature.”It is very sad,” the then British ambassador to the Holy See, Francis D’Arcy Osborne, wrote in a letter unearthed by Cornwell. “The fact is that the moral authority of the Holy See, which Pius XI and his predecessors had built up into a world power, is now sadly reduced.” link (more here)

In September 2008, Pope Benedict spoke at a symposium in honour of Pope Pius XII on the 50th anniversary of his death, praising his predecessor.

Ruth Gledhill asks if this means the Catholic Church is reversing the Vatican II reforms. Yes: both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict have made clear over the decades, Benedict both as head of the Papal Inquisition as well as Pope, they don’t like the Vatican II concept of the Catholic Church: they like Pius XII’s concept of the Church as a fascist authority, working in concert with other fascist authorities, to rule over the people. Bishop Williamson belongs in Pope Benedict’s church.

November 13, 2008

God needs Proposition 8 like God needs a starship

I’ve heard from a lot of people over the past week or so that Proposition 8 was just and right because it’s against the will of God for two men or two women to marry, and it’s appalling not to follow the will of God, so the Constitution of California had to be amended to prevent same-sex marriages.

Star Trek V is probably my least favourite Trek movie ever, but there’s an exchange of dialogue in it that illustrates this argument for Proposition 8 perfectly.

Towards the end of STV, Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and Sybok (Spock’s half-brother, if you had forgotten) are standing in awe before God. Awesome, all-powerful, supreme being: Sybok believes, McCoy’s been converted, Spock is trembling on the edge – and Kirk steps forward and asks a very important question:

Kirk: What does God need with a starship?
McCoy: Jim, what are you doing?
Kirk: I’m asking a question.
God: Who is this creature?
Kirk: Who am I? Don’t you know? Aren’t you God?
Sybok: He has his doubts.
God: You doubt me?
Kirk: I seek proof.
McCoy: Jim! You don’t ask the Almighty for his ID!
God: Then here is the proof you seek. [Hits Kirk with lightning]
Kirk: Why is God angry?
Sybok: Why? Why have you done this to my friend?
God: He doubts me.
Spock: You have not answered his question. What does God need with a starship?
God: [hits Spock with lightning; then addresses McCoy] Do you doubt me?
McCoy: I doubt any God who inflicts pain for his own pleasure.

These people claim they believe in God. Yet the God they believe in is a God that they believe needs secular legislation to enforce His will on His people. Their God needs Proposition 8.

They don’t doubt their God needs a starship – and they won’t doubt a God that inflicts pain for his own pleasure.

November 8, 2008

The awful self-pity of the self-righteous bigot: reprise

About a week before the election, Orson Scott Card posted a lengthy whine about how it was so unfair that his gay friends wanted him to treat them as equals and as friends, and people were being so mean to him just because he was campaigning – as a Mormon in North Carolina – to take away civil rights for a group of people in California. Why couldn’t these people be kind to him? Tolerate his intolerance? (The awful self-pity of the self-righteous bigot.)

I thought this was just Card being a whiner – his other posts against equal marriage and religious freedom have included self-pitying references to how outrageous it is that people actually call him a homophobe for his open support of anti-gay discrimination and legal persecution of LGBT people.

But now it appears that the leadership of the LDS Church has taken to whining about how people reacted to their bigoted campaign against equal marriage in California:

It is disturbing that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is being singled out for speaking up as part of its democratic right in a free election.

What, everyone should just have ignored that infamous letter from First Presidency urging the membership of the Church in California to campaign for Proposition 8? Funny, I hear that bishops who tried to be low-key in their response to that letter were being criticised by church leadership for not making their political campaign strong enough. If you don’t want to be singled out for speaking up, the solution is simple: don’t speak up.

More hypocrisy:

Members of the Church in California and millions of others from every faith, ethnicity and political affiliation who voted for Proposition 8 exercised the most sacrosanct and individual rights in the United States — that of free expression and voting.

Yes. But just voting for Proposition 8 wasn’t what that letter from the First Presidency was all about. Most of the funding to support the “Yes on 8″ campaign came from outside California. It’s reported that the majority of it came from LDS members, who had been urged by their church leadership to support Proposition 8. In June, the First Presidency wrote:

We ask that you do all you can to support the proposed constitutional amendment by donating of your means and time to assure that marriage in California is legally defined as being between a man and a woman. Our best efforts are required to preserve the sacred institution of marriage.

That is a clear call to campaign against religious freedom in California, and against the freedom to marry. Not just to vote against it. Churches which campaign politically lose their tax-exempt status: this was a political campaign conducted by the LDS church. Trying to reduce down to LDS members just voting is a lie.

And again:

While those who disagree with our position on Proposition 8 have the right to make their feelings known, it is wrong to target the Church and its sacred places of worship for being part of the democratic process.

In the New Statesman article (also linked to above), a bishop called Robert Bennion would deliberately take members of his congregation off church property in order to discuss what they might do to support Proposition 8.

“So far I’ve worked very hard to keep this whole thing at arm’s length,” Bennion said. “I see this as purely a political endeavor, which is why I don’t allow any campaigning during church time or on church property. In my mind, it’s possible to be in favor of Proposition 8 without being anti-homosexual.”
While Bennion’s Switzerland impression may seem like on good idea on paper, in reality he’s taken the one position that would make him a target for both sides. His superiors within the church, for example, have repeatedly requested that he get more involved in the issue, but their phone calls are easily ignored and Bennion himself can’t help but smile when the click of a button sends their emails from his inbox to the trash can.

Honour to Bennion for trying to keep a “sacred place of worship” separate from the political campaigning demanded by his church leadership, but it’s clear Bennion was an exception, not the rule, and an exception that came under attack from church leadership. If you base a political campaign in a church, you have no moral grounds for asking political protesters to stay away from your church.

The whine from the LDS finishes with the following piece of stunning hypocrisy:

Once again, we call on those involved in the debate over same-sex marriage to act in a spirit of mutual respect and civility towards each other. No one on either side of the question should be vilified, harassed or subject to erroneous information.

This from the church that funded a campaign consisting wholly and entirely of disrespect, incivility, vilification, harrassment, and lies.

Why be such whiners? I suspect it’s a symptom of privilege. (Sadly, I think another example of this is the white/racist reaction blaming the success of Proposition 8 on the “black vote” – see this journal entry for a breakdown of the issues, a numbers breakdown, and of course Pam’s House Blend.) You complain about not being treated with respect when you are absolutely accustomed to being immune from criticism from that source. One Mormon man was complaining in an earlier thread that after he’d posted a long comment calling me an infected, inferior, abusive creature not deserving of equal rights, I wasn’t being as polite to him as he evidently felt he deserved…


Update: from the demo in Salt Lake City which the LDS church took exception to: “Let us all call for greater love, better understanding, dignity and respect toward all — regardless of race, regardless of faith or lack of faith, and regardless of sexual orientation.” In that article from the Mormon Times, by the way, the author Jared Page blandly lies that “the church did not contribute directly to the campaign”.

November 7, 2008

Invalidate Proposition 8

If you donate $5 or more at www.invalidateprop8.org, the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center will send a postcard to President Thomas Monson’s office in Salt Lake City, acknowledging your donation in his name:

A donation has been made in your name by _________________ to “invalidateprop8.org” to overturn California’s Proposition 8 and restore fundamental civil rights to all citizens of California. The money will be donated to legal organizations fighting the case and to support grass-roots activities in support of full marriage equality. Although we decry the reprehensible role the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints leadership played in denying all Californians equal rights under the law, we are pleased a donation has been made on your behalf in the effort to overturn the discrimination your church members helped enshrine in the California Constitution. Given that throughout its history the Mormon Church has been subjected to bigotry, we hope you appreciate the donation in your name to fight religious bigotry here in California.

A fine idea. Let’s inundate his office with these cards. The behaviour of the LDS Church in politically campaigning to deny LGBT people in California equality under the law was repellent: I think being showered by postcards notifying the author of this letter how many, many people object to his religious bigotry is the least – the very least – that he deserves.

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