By now, everybody knows how Bigmouth Joe Biden came out of the closet on Sunday talk TV, causing Obama to grin sheepishly and admit, “Yes, we have,” followed by a double “thud” as the jaws of Michelle Obama and Jill Biden hit the floor…all those “late night meetings” in the Oval Office and that was what was really going on?
OK, that’s not really what happened, but, in what passes for the minds of millions of reactionary Americans, it might as well have been. To these folks, endorsing same-sex marriage is just as heinous as actually being in an, er, relationship with someone whose plumbing mirrors, rather than compliments, one’s own.
This momentous announcement has raised cheers, jeers, hopes, leers, fears and expectations all across America. In the midst of catastrophic climate change, multiple impending resource exhaustions, an out of control financial collapse, and the unprecedented concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the few to the detriment of the many, the 2012 election is going to be a referendum on–ta da! same sex marriage. Are we sufficiently distracted yet?
Let me make it clear: I believe that people have a right to marry who they please, regardless of their chromosome profile or their plumbing. For that matter, I believe that the benefits of marriage should be available to any number of people who have enough love, understanding, patience, equanimity, and generosity among themselves to commit that deeply to each other, although I would be the first to admit that, in my observation, the difficulties of intimacy increase exponentially, even when the number involved only increases arithmetically. Group marriage is not for the faint-hearted! But I digress. we’re only talking gender, not number, at least so far. The gender of the partners in a marriage is not the state’s business, any more than the gender of the partners in any other kind of incorporation.
Religions, on the other hand, have every right in the world to define marriage among their membership, along with the propriety of premarital sex, abortion, contraception, and whether it’s OK to put tab A anywhere other than in slot B. It is perfectly fine for a religion to decline, or agree, to celebrate same-sex marriage. In fact, I see it as a clergyperson’s duty to decline to marry any couple, regardless of their sexual identity, who, in the clergyperson’s view, do not have their act together enough to make a good marriage. That’s what spiritual advisers are for!
This is what is meant by “separation of church and state.” By the same token, I think it is entirely inappropriate for a religion to attempt to push the state to promulgate secular laws that force every citizen to follow the dictates of one particular religion. That’s not just about marriage and abortion and other sexual matters, it’s also about, for example, our drug laws, which only make sense in the context of religious prohibition. There’s no logical reason for them. But, again, I digress. I want to stay on the same-sex marriage track.
Question: What if my religious belief is that the government should enforce my religious beliefs?
Answer: well, you need your own territory. Please don’t try to take over mine. OK, back to same-sex marriage in the good ol’, culturally diverse and diverging, USA:
I think the Democrats’ decision to embrace the issue is, at a certain level, extraordinarily cynical. They’re saying to their base, “Forget the fact that we’ve stiff armed you on single payer health care, forget the fact that we’ve continued to feed the massive corporate welfare scheme known as “the defence industry,” forget that we’ve relentlessly and often baselessly prosecuted for “espionage” anyone who has tried to blow the whistle on the many fraudulent schemes and capital crimes fed by “defense” spending, forget the fact that we’ve failed to indict anybody for the massive Wall Street flim-flam that impoverished so many of you while it enriched a few of our major donors. Forget the fact that we have not prosecuted any of the war criminals in the Cheney administration and have gone on and committed even more–and more heinous–war crimes ourselves. Forget the fact that we’ve instituted increased government surveillance of citizens and decreased surveillance of government by citizens. Forget the fact that we’ve ignored the substance, and crushed the forms, of genuine popular democracy in America–Occupy Wall Street, this means you!
Forget the fact that we scuttled the Copenhagen climate talks and have been so friendly to the oil, gas, nuclear, and coal interests that we have likely ensured that our descendants and our planet will have a hot, polluted ,miserable future. Forget the fact that we have done absolutely nothing to prepare this country and its citizens for the massive changes the planet is about to undergo.
Forget that we have not done anything to reverse the decision of the fascists on the Supreme Court who unleashed unlimited corporate money into politics (including our own pockets). Forget the fact that, after promising to make decisions based on science rather than ideology, we have only intensified the War on (some) Drugs and acquiesced in the release of corporate-designed, corporate-profiting, dangerous genetically modified organisms into the biosphere. Forget the fact that, at every turn, we have done more to bail out the wealthy than to offer real assistance to the hard pressed. To sum it up, forget how little, besides public perception, really changed when the reins of power passed from Cheney to Obama–vote for us, because we support same-sex marriage and your right to an abortion, and the Republicans don’t.”
Get ’em by the short hairs, and their hearts and minds will follow, eh Joe and Barack?