July 16, 2006

A confederacy of dunces

You know, I just don't get it. I really don't. Maybe it's a case of misfiring synapses in my proudly Liberal brain. Maybe it's a byproduct of all those dangerous lessons my parents taught me about tolerance and inclusiveness and equal rights. Maybe its simply a lifelong aversion to stupidity.

But whatever the reason, I'm literally unable to understand the continued hysteria over, and opposition to, same-sex marriage. As Saturday's Los Angeles Times reported:
Courts handed victories to gay-marriage opponents in two states Friday, reinstating Nebraska's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage and throwing out an attempt to keep a proposed ban off the ballot in Tennessee.
As for the existing Nebraska ban:
It went further than similar bans in many states in that it also barred same-sex couples from many legal protections afforded to heterosexual couples. For example, the partners of gays and lesbians who work for the state are not entitled to share their health insurance and other benefits...

The court... ruled that the amendment "and other laws limiting the state-recognized institution of marriage to heterosexual couples are rationally related to legitimate state interests and therefore do not violate the Constitution of the United States."
See, here's where that sense of confusion begins to settle in. "Rationally related to legitimate state interests"?! Meaning what, exactly? That same-sex marriage threatens tourism? The beef industry? Highway construction? Breakfast at Denny's?

And take another look at that sentence concerning insurance and benefits routinely provided to significant others. "[I]t also barred same-sex couples from many legal protections afforded to heterosexual couples." Excuse me, but I was under the apparently mistaken impression that I lived in a place called the United States of America, and that in that mythical land, legal protections could not be arbitrarily denied to anyone simply because of a personal characteristic beyond that individual's conscious choice or control. You know, something like race. Gender. And, yes, sexual orientation.

Meanwhile, in Tennessee:
[T]he state Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit by the ACLU that contended the state failed to meet its own notification requirements for a ballot measure asking voters to ban gay marriage. The high court ruled unanimously Friday that the ACLU didn't have standing to file the suit.

To have standing, plaintiffs must prove the timing of notification - whether it was done properly or not - somehow caused them injury, said James F. Blumstein, Vanderbilt University professor of constitutional law.

"Courts do not hear abstract questions brought by people who do not have a particularized stake in the issue," he said.
OK, now, let me see if I have this straight - no pun intended. The ACLU, which regularly and historically steps in on behalf of American citizens whose civil rights are under assault throughout the nation, was tossed out on its ear because it didn't have a disgruntled, gay, Tennessee native on its team with a "particularized" grievance?! That the American Civil Liberties Union had "no standing" to contend that Americans were injured by an amendment, for God's sake, ghettoizing a few select citizens for the mere mechanics of how they make love? Are we rounding the final bend on the train to Crazy Town?

Or, in light of similar judicial decisions in Georgia and New York, have we rounded that bend already?

Still, there's more:
Tennessee already has a law banning gay marriage, but lawmakers who supported the proposed amendment said they wanted a backup in case the law was overturned. Similar steps have been taken in many of the other 44 states that have specifically barred same-sex marriage through statute or constitutional amendment.
They "wanted a backup"?! Good Lord - the word "backup" implies mortal danger, invading hordes, deadly firefights between opposing armies. Is the thought of two men or women pledging a lifelong commitment of love and fidelity to each other suddenly on par with a terrorist attack? Where is the "threat" to.. well, to anyone?

Even Massachusetts, which should by now be known simply as the Conscience of America for its leading role in welcoming the gay community into the circle of wedded bliss, is instead under continuous and relentless siege by gay marriage opponents - who seem to be gaining ground. Must be because after two years of legal same-sex nuptials, the Bay State has dissolved into irreversible chaos and anarchy.

Must be because allowing monogamous, lifetime pledges of love between Alan and David, or Dana and Joan, has broken down the fabric of Massachusetts' society, and the state has been plunged into economic ruin, depravity and bestiality, and open buggery in public parks.

Must be because the residents there have been so brutally assaulted by the very idea of their lesbian next-door neighbors being faithfully married, that they've streamed in droves like traumatized Lemmings to dissolve their bonds of matrimony, and then have run terrified and shivering to a dark, safe corner of their homes, awaiting the next onslaught by roving gangs of militant homosexuals sporting matching gold rings.

Can't anyone see how much of a non-threat - and non-event in general - same-sex marriage has proven to be?

So I just don't get it. I simply cannot - and will not - wrap my mind around it. Because when it's become perfectly acceptable in America to establish a legal double-standard toward a peaceful and productive minority, to claim that open homophobia is a "legitimate" and defensible position in our state courts and legislatures, to deny equal rights under the law to loving and committed couples simply for the particular way they have sex, and to cloak that inexcusable prejudice and prurience in the guise of "moral values," then America is no longer a recognizable place.

Nor a place I'd even care to visit.

If the narrow-minded legislators and judges of those 40+ states are right, and a vast majority of Americans are virulently opposed to, and frightened of, same-sex marriage, then we truly have become a confederacy of dunces. For shame, America. Be it John and Patty, Eric and Walter, or Carmen and Beth, what a couple does in private is their business and theirs alone. And spitting on the right of any adult twosome to enter into a binding civil contract of love, fidelity, and commitment to one another solely because they "do it" differently than you or I is simply inexcusable in an advanced society.

If only we had one.

I guess I do understand after all - and it makes me sick. The hateful, hurtful, and deceitful campaign to disenfranchise our gay and lesbian citizens for their innate, God-given sexual orientation is beyond shameful. It's the kind of regressive, unenlightened behavior I'd be more likely to expect from North Korea, let's say. From Sudan. From Iran.

Congratulations, America. That's one heckuva club.

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