January 26, 2015

Rights for Me, But Not for Thee

(Sorry for the length, folks. But when you see something as stupid as this, you just gotta fisk it.)

Today’s rant tackles a theme I’m sure many of you are talking about: the Supreme Court finally taking up gay marriage. According to what I’ve read, the court will decide two questions. 1) Do bans on same-sex marriage violate the Fourteenth Amendment? and 2) Must states recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states?

Of course, the prospect of gay marriage being decided in this country once and for all brought out the unhinged, including the person I’m ranting about, Steve Deace. His little “con” article in my USA Today insert was a masterpiece of frothing incoherence.

Just to comment on a few things:

The American view of law and government is summarized in our founding document, the Declaration of Independence, by these three things: 

  • There is a God. 
  • Our rights come from God, not government. 
  • Government’s only role is to preserve and protect those God-given rights. 

This first sentence aptly illustrates the inanity of his argument. For one thing, the Declaration of Independence is not our founding document. That would be the Constitution. You know, the thing that specifies how this country is to be run? The document that can be amended, and has been, twenty-seven times?

In this case, the Supreme Court will decide the applicability of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution re: same-sex marriage. No more, no less. The Declaration of Independence isn’t even in this picture.

Furthermore, Mr. Deace’s little “American view of law and government” house of cards falls apart with its first assertion, that being: There is a God. Since he cannot empirically prove such a being exists, much less that said being is sitting in the White House or the Chief Justice’s chair, all his subsequent assertions are falsified as well. I would also add: Whatever rights we have come from the society and time in which we live, not any Supreme Being. As such, those rights have changed throughout human history (otherwise, the Magna Carta would never have been signed, African-Americans might still be in slavery, and women would not have the right to vote), and will continue to change as societies evolve. As this case will hopefully illustrate.

Next, he bleats about the Supremes “redefining the institution of marriage” as if that doesn’t happen all the time, without courts having anything to do with it. I believe child brides were once a thing, and still are in many parts of the world. In this country, however, the idea of forcibly marrying a girl off at twelve or thirteen is beyond the pale. Polygamy was also very common in generations past (remember Solomon’s seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines?), and still happens in many countries. Yet in this country (so far) we’ve restricted marriage to two people. (As the Latter-Day Saints found out, to their sorrow.) Yeah, that redefinition thing just keeps trotting right along, doesn’t it?

(As for the “slippery slope” of gay marriage leading to polygamy—I’m not aware of any polygamists, LDS or otherwise, petitioning the courts at the moment. When and if they do, the conversation, as long as it involves consenting adults, would certainly be worth having. The main obstacles to a group marriage, it seems to me, would have more to do with mundane things like taxes, property rights, and inheritance.)

Then he tosses off this hooey:

This argument has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not two people of the same gender who care about each other can live together like heterosexuals can. There is no one in prison today, or faced with it, because they violated their state’s amendment defining marriage as a man and a woman. 

Since we’re talking about things that have absolutely nothing to do with each other, which part of this paragraph qualifies? Why, the first and second sentences! Are “living together” and “marriage” the same thing in the eyes of the law? I believe that was the whole point of the Supreme Court’s Windsor decision, that the legal benefits of marriage are slightly different that simply sharing a house and a bed!

Also, you damn betcha there’s no one in prison because they violated their state’s amendment defining marriage. No, gay people aren’t in prison; they just can’t get a marriage license like everyone else! Which is, I believe, why they’re citing the Fourteenth Amendment in their petitions to the Supreme Court. You know, that whole “equal protection under the law” thing?

Mr. Deace then cites instances of people losing their jobs for simply being Christians. In the case of the Atlanta fire chief, I find it interesting that the article cited didn’t reveal what Kelvin Cochran said in his book (that he admitted distributing to employees) that got him fired. Another article on the firing, however, does:

Among other things, he called homosexuality a “perversion,” compared it to bestiality and pedophilia, and said homosexual acts are “vile, vulgar and inappropriate.” 

In other words, Mr. Deace repeats the typical anti-gay-marriage whine: he wants proponents to have their free speech without consequences. If I substituted “miscegenation” for “homosexuality,” wrote that interracial sex is “vile, vulgar and inappropriate,” compared it to bestiality and pedophilia, and distributed a book stating such things to my employees, would Mr. Deace expect me to escape with my job intact?

By the way, promoting shit like this used to get gay people killed. I notice Mr. Deace says nothing about that.

He ends his column with this over-the-top paragraph:

Make no mistake, that is the end game here. To make religious people and institutions choose between following God, which the constitution protects, or following political correctness. 

"Oh noes! If the Supreme Court strikes down laws disallowing same-sex marriage, I’ll have to divorce my wife and marry a man!"

Sorry, Steve. That won’t happen, and would be as much of an outrage as those anti-gay-marriage laws have always been. Nor would any church be required to marry a gay couple, and rightfully so. (He forgets to mention that many Christian congregations and pastors welcome the gay people in their midst, and would be delighted to marry them.)

He also does a little factual twisting, to put it mildly, in regards to the oaths Supreme Court justices swear:

Does freedom come from God, as every Supreme Court justice acknowledges when they swear their oaths of office to Him? 

This is hogwash. Here are the oaths Supreme Court justices take

"I, _________, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God." 

"I, _________, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me as _________ under the Constitution and laws of the United States. So help me God." 

Is the word “freedom” in either one of those oaths (other than “taking this obligation freely,” which is not at all the same thing), much less linked to the closing “so help me God” words? In fact, both oaths speak of supporting, defending, discharging and performing the duties of the Constitution and the laws of the United States, not a Supreme Being or any religious text.

You know, that whole Fourteenth Amendment thing? And administering justice “without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and the rich”? That’s the heart of this case. As it should be. 

Sometimes I almost feel sorry for those ignorant boors who are so desperately fighting the same-sex-marriage tsunami. They know they're on the wrong side of history and they're going to lose, and they're just like dinosaurs being sucked down in the tar pit.

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