Wednesday, May 13, 2015

What's so scary about same-sex marriage?

Our right-wing fellow citizens are in a panic. This goes beyond the crackpot fear that U.S. military maneuvers this summer are a cover for a coup by Obama. They are also scared that the Supreme Court may rule to legalize marriage equality: Texas is seriously preparing to defy the court.

Nobody has ever been able to show how gay marriage hurts the marriages of heterosexuals; what's fueling the anxiety?

Seems crazy, but the reporting of Sarah Posner at Religion Dispatches helps make it explicable. She recounts this discussion during oral arguments on the case now before the court:

... Justice Samuel Alito asked Solicitor General Donald Verrilli whether the tax-exempt status of religious colleges and universities who opposed same-sex marriage would be in jeopardy should the Court hold for the plaintiffs. Verrilli hedged, saying he’d have to know more details to answer the question, but conceded that that it would “be an an issue.”

This exchange was enough to incite panic among conservative evangelicals.

They've been down this road before. As I learned (and discussed) from Randall Balmer's history of Jimmy Carter's brief ascendancy, the glue that brought together ring-wing activists with conservative Christians in the late 1970s was that the I.R.S. yanked the tax-exempt status from Bob Jones University. The school had refused to end racially discriminatory practices such as its ban on interracial dating.

Today's conservatives fear that if gay people are recognized as having full civil rights, we'll expect and receive similar protections. The fact that they are protected under the First Amendment from being forced to perform religious marriages for us does nothing to reassure them. They want a "right" to discriminate in all aspects of life without fear that doing so will have any cost to them.

Posner found a legal expert who pointed out that the Bob Jones case had not led to widespread I.R.S. efforts to ensure that groups enjoying the privilege of non-profit status did not practice racial (or gender) discrimination.

There hasn’t been another Bob Jones -- not because religious organizations don’t refuse to serve or recognize religious beliefs inconsistent with their own, but because the IRS has given them wide latitude to do so. Every day religious organizations likely refuse to serve members of the public who do not adhere to their religious beliefs.

Still, conservatives are seriously worried. They want an unconstrained freedom to call us perverts and to discriminate against us -- and they are losing that.


Rain Trueax said...

We get an email from Hillsdale College, goes back a long time for when we started, but their last message was one fearful of those out 'to destroy Christianity.' I think they are fearful when they see the polls showing how few Americans follow traditional religions anymore. When we were still in a church was about the time churches went political, the time of the rise of Falwell and Robertson's power and their desire to change the political direction of this nation. The farther these mega-churches have gotten from the Gospels, the more they have turned off Americans. They think it's someone outside trying to destroy them. In reality-- it's them doing it to themselves.

I used to be more tolerant of religion, as just another choice for people to make regarding how they felt benefited their lives. Little by little I have grown to see it as more damaging to quality living and only about power for a few. That is not the Christian message, but it's the one constantly broadcast by the loudest Christians, which Sullivan called christianists for good reason! They aren't Christians; and if you read Revelations, you clearly see it spelled out what we have today with those yelling the loudest about the fear of gays. The more people who know gay couples, the less they can convince anyone that they aren't lying regarding this as well as a lot of other things. Sad really :( But not unpredictable.

janinsanfran said...

I'm bringing over two comments from Facebook, as this post seems to have struck a chord:

Mark: It took the National Guard and at least one additional SCt decision to enforce Brown 60 years ago. We may face a variation on the same here.

John: I think it is also a reflection of the general anxiety about the decline of Christianity in the U.S. documented in yesterday's Pew Research Center report. We will be the scapegoats.

Hattie said...

Scapegoats. Yes. I am at a loss to understand why gay rights cause such a furor. That could be because I'm from the SF Bay area and really don't understand what the problem is. Anyway,it all seems suspect to me,since it's so obvious that gayness is here to stay!

Anonymous said...

"I think it is also a reflection of the general anxiety about the decline of Christianity in the U.S. documented in yesterday's Pew Research Center report. We will be the scapegoats."

The Pew findings can be interpreted in several ways, such as:

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