Marriage Equality is an issue with no valid middle ground

This could also be titled “how to get unfriended on Facebook”.  Always beware of someone asking “genuine, non-rhetorical questions” they want answers to from the opposing side.  Sometimes they don’t like your answer.  My former FB friend posted the following, in reference to an article by Michael Rowe:

I truly hope this opinion from one man doesn’t reflect the consensus of those who oppose Chick-Fil-A. Is there no room for nuanced or civilized debate that doesn’t resort to character assassination?

Here’s just a sample of how the Chick-Fil-A supporters who showed up on Wednesday are labeled: “(they are) a pageant of banal, cheerful deep-fried American hate, unified in bigotry and detestation of a group of their fellow Americans who were different from them.”

It gets worse when describing Dan Cathy, the owner of Chick-Fil-A: “He’s actually making millions from it, and he’s done it cynically, and at the expense of other human beings, then sharing that blood money with others like him, whose mandate isn’t holiness, but hatred, violence, division, and ostracism.”

Now here’s a genuine, non-rhetorical question I’m hoping to get answered by those who oppose Chick-Fil-A. Do you believe it’s possible for someone to oppose same-sex marriage and not be a hateful bigot? Do you believe that all who oppose same-sex marriage follow a mandate of “hatred, violence, division, and ostracism” that trumps the dictates of Christian behavior?

I am not for redefining marriage, but I also have several gay friends who I love dearly and whose honor I would defend (physically if necessary) if I ever witnessed them being bullied or harassed because of their orientation or for any other reason. Is this love I feel for my friends automatically phony because I oppose same-sex marriage? Do I have deep hatred that’s even hidden from myself? I think not. Christ’s command to love is far too important for me to not take seriously as a dedicated Christian. God loves all his children unconditionally, and woe is any Christian who finds any reason not to love a person whom God loves.

Michael Rowe also makes a point to say that basically those who oppose same sex marriage are not practicing true Christianity. I don’t know if Rowe is a Christian himself, but biblically-based Christianity (Catholic or Protestant) has never supported the idea of same-sex marriage.

So Christians who actually believe in what is almost universally taught are labeled as bigots and phonies. Rowe has no authority to redefine beliefs systems about gender and sexuality and then declare them to be more Christian than what’s been traditionally the case.

Then let’s be clear. Anyone is free to disagree with, or even hate, Christianity if they feel so inclined. And as a lover of liberty I will fight to defend your legal right to smear Christianity six ways from Sunday. But if you think I am a bad Christian (or specifically bad Catholic), because I follow what my church teaches, you are simply wrong.

I know this country is deeply divided ideologically. But if we are to make any progress in bridging the divide it must start with a commitment to cast aside examples of false polarization. Between legalizing gay marriage and keeping it as the status quo is an entire spectrum of thoughtful and valuable opinion that doesn’t automatically involve degrees of ignorance, hatred, or bigotry.

But nuance doesn’t make for good sound bytes.

My answer that got me unfriended:

“Do you believe it’s possible for someone to oppose same-sex marriage and not be a hateful bigot?”

I do not believe it is possible for someone to oppose same-sex marriage and not be a bigot. The denial of rights is inherently hateful. Saying I am better than you is hateful. Saying you aren’t quite a fully deserving human, but a lower caste member deserving of second-class citizenship is hateful. Saying my religion tells me to do this so I don’t care what your religion says, I’m going to make you follow my religion’s rules is inherently hateful. Saying love is wrong is hateful.

“Do you believe that all who oppose same-sex marriage follow a mandate of “hatred, violence, division, and ostracism” that trumps the dictates of Christian behavior?”

As I have seen many Christians who endorse that sort of behavior, I’m not sure I can say that they’re going against their dictates. I do not think they are necessarily violent, but telling a group of people their love is worth less than yours is, again, inherently hateful, divisive, and ostracizing.

“Is this love I feel for my friends automatically phony because I oppose same-sex marriage?”

If a white man has a lot of black friends who he loves dearly but flips his shit when his daughter dates a black man and thinks interracial marriage should be illegal, is his “love for his friends” automatically phony. No. It’s just really fucked up.

To those of us who support marriage equality, what Chick-fil-A and their supporters look like are people who protested integration of schools and the civil rights acts and allowing black people at the lunch counter. And in addition to discriminating against them for who they are, you are punishing them for having the most wonderful thing that a person can have: love.

If your religion wants to be cruel, fine, but don’t enshrine it in law. If you’re mad at invective, just remember how heartbroken those of us who think of gay people as fully human and deserving of happiness are to see them treated so badly. It’s so hard to watch every day, and it’s so hard to watch people get so excited and mean about it, it’s so hard to hear the word faggot and dyke thrown with such invective at people who are fundamentally decent, it’s so hard to see children whose parents aren’t allowed to marry or jointly adopt the child they are raising, it’s so hard to see people deported because their partner is of the same-sex and therefore they cannot get citizenship through marriage, it’s hard to see people say that these wonderful people are destroying America. It’s really hard. And if you really have a heart and can look at these people and say that that’s OK, well, you must not think they’re really people.

So yeah, people called Dan Cathy a bigot — but hey, at least they aren’t calling him a cocksucking faggot who will destroy America just because he is in love with the wrong person.

Addendum to that answer for the blog:

“Between legalizing gay marriage and keeping it as the status quo is an entire spectrum of thoughtful and valuable opinion that doesn’t automatically involve degrees of ignorance, hatred, or bigotry.”

There is no middle ground on the question of whether gays should have equal rights under the law.  There may be a middle ground in the debate Christians have over how bad gay people are, but that’s a separate question.  I’m sorry to be so blunt, but how you justify your bigotry isn’t thoughtful or valuable to anyone but other bigots.

I’d also add that the gentleman in question is a *good* Catholic, and that’s his problem — sometimes being a good Christian makes you a bad person.  It’s a shame, because he’s not a bad person, but he’s wrong and being wrong on this issue causes harm.

Newt Gingrich is a Big, Fat Idiot (duh)

Alright, admittedly, I made the mistake of clicking on a CNN headline about Newt Gingrich and "atheists".  Atheists is in quotes there because CNN seems to only share that word when it's in quotes.  I know better than going to CNN, and I know better than reading stories about Newt Gingrich, and I really should know better than to read any story about "atheists", but I couldn't help myself.

Ol' Newt is worried that the country is going to become a "secular atheists country"  overrun by "radical Islamists."

Now, I know Newt isn't stupid, he's just a craven ass.  And I'm allowed to say that because we went to the same undergraduate institution.  Newt must know that being an atheist and being an "Islamist" are mutually exclusive positions.  Unless he fears the domination of this country by those fundamentalist atheist Christianists.

HEADDESK

On the other hand, it's refreshing to see how far we've come as a nation to think that being a Catholic is American and not indicative of a political devotion to papistry that will lead this nation into the fiery pits of hell.  Because, as we all once knew, Catholics aren't proper Christians, and Merka is a Kristyen Nayshun.

I'm sorry, it's just the dumb appeal to the lowest common denominator.  It burns.  It burns because I know that it works.  I know that someone is reading that stupid CNN article and thinking, "God, you know, that Newt Gingrich has a point.  This country is under threat of Muslim Atheists.  And hell, the only thing worse than a Muslim, is an Atheist, and the only thing worse than an Atheist, is a Muslim one."

Excuse me while I go weep.

Response to a ‘Correction’

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As you all know, I’ve been reporting on Social Media for a website called Social Axcess.  I reported on the iPhone confession app, which allows you to figure out which sins you need to confess, and I got a somewhat heated reply from one of the founders of GSMI, the company that owns the blog. His name is Luke Vince and he felt the need to ‘correct’ my article, call me myopic, and spell my name without my middle initial. Perhaps it is madness to argue with company higher ups, but I’m afraid I’m terrible at resisting the temptation to get into a good online discussion.

Usually when I see the word correction, I must confess, I think that there has been some sort of editorial or factual error in another article, but it seems that what this actually is is simply a difference of perspective.

His first ‘correction’, in response to my claim that it’s been a rough couple of years for the church, is that the current assaults (really?) by the “new atheist” (his quotes) movement are nothing new, the church is growing in some places, and always emerges stronger from strife.  These are non-sequiturs, he is arguing against a point I never made.  Regardless of the history of the church or its ability to bounce back, it has been a rough couple of years for it.

The church is shrinking in the West where the majority of its funds come from, and growing in the East, South America and Africa. It is losing members of the priesthood and interest in joining the priesthood, facing a major shortage of priests. It is facing constant negative media pressure because of the sex scandals. I nowhere claimed that the current problems it’s facing are the worst in its history or impossible to recover from, but it would be myopic indeed to pretend that they didn’t exist.

He also says, in response to my claim that the church is slow to respond to things like changing moral opinions and the AIDS crisis, that it is because the church doesn’t succumb to whims or move quickly and that this has served them well.  Obviously, we also disagree on whether slowness to respond to current problems is an admirable devotion to tradition or a dangerous resolution to keep its head in the sand. But we don’t disagree on the actual fact, which is that the church is slow to change.  The glacial response time in condemning nazis, condemning the inquisition, and addressing the complaints of Martin Luther seem to me to show a devotion to slowness that is neither good for the church nor moral.

His final complaint, excuse me, ‘correction’, is that the confession app doesn’t replace any sacraments but rather is an aide to helping Catholics figure out how they’ve sinned.  Nowhere did I say the confession app replaced anything and we agree on the fact that it is a good move for the church, we simply disagree on how laughable it is.  I can’t imagine belonging to an organization that has so many silly rules that I need assistance in figuring out if I’ve broken them or not.

Perhaps I am most disappointed, however, that the writer felt the need to personalize his defense as an attack on me but proceeded not to make one point in response to anything I actually wrote.

Forgive me iPhone, for I have sinned

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The Catholic Church has had a rough time lately, between sex scandals and dwindling interest in church and the constant onslaught of the New Atheist movement, they haven’t had much good PR in the last decade.  Always a relic from older, simpler times, the Catholic Church is usually half a century behind the rest of the world in adopting any sort of new technology or public opinion.  Despite the AIDS crisis, it took them thirty years to decide that condoms were OK for preventing the spread of HIV, so I was shocked to find that they are trying to keep it real with a new iPhone app for confessions.

I admit that I laughed when I read that.  I did.  I’m not a Catholic, and I’m not sure how mundane one can make the sacred and profound, but from the perspective of marketing the church to younger members, which is what they so desperately need, making it easier to participate on social media platforms is a smart move.  Earlier this year, the Pope said he wanted to reach out with new media, and I think this has to be a step in the right direction.  Although they have a YouTube channel and a Facebook page that lets users send online postcards, this is a major step to creating an interactive relationship through social media.

There are already several apps available that are religious, most of them centered around quotes and full copies of the Bible, but this is thought to be the first app officially approved by the Vatican.  It is, of course, not free, but costs $1.99 to download.  I think it speaks volumes about the importance of social media as a marketing tool that even the Holy See is getting in on the act.  Here’s hoping the Pope starts tweeting.

I seriously can’t believe they’re charging for it, I feel like that’s the most crass thing about it.

Who will vote how on Prop 8; Supreme Court Justice breakdown

So, I’ve been trying to figure out how I think SCOTUS breaks down for the Prop8 vote.  I am going to be fairly optimistic based on the quality of the argument and Olson’s record with SCOTUS up to now.  Argued over 50 cases in front of SCOTUS, has won 3/4ths of them, including the decision today that said Corporations have freedom of speech and therefore can spend as much as they want on politics.  He’s clearly good at getting SCOTUS to expand rather than deny rights, no matter the public opinion.

Of course, there are 6 Catholics on the bench, and the Catholic Church, along with LDS, was responsible for most of the mobilization in support of Prop 8.  Anyway, in my optimism, I think it’s even possible for a 6-3 decision declaring Prop 8 unconstitutional.  Of course, 5-4 against is just as possible. No means declaring it unconstitutional, yes is saying prop 8 should stay.

And if anyone has any insight, feel free to post. These are mere conjectures based on what I can find on the interwebs.

JUSTICE ROBERTS

Pros: He donated legal to Romer vs. Evans which demanded equal rights for gays in Colorado. Fairly constructionist approach to Constitution, which is how Olson is making his case.

Cons: Catholic, part of the conservative block (though he has broken with them before), really into states rights

Vote: Likely yes, but some foundation for a surprise no

JUSTICE STEVENS

Pros: Staked out the anti-sodomy laws position in the mid-80s as a dissenting opinion, which eventually became the majority position in 2003. Considered part of the liberal block. Not Catholic.

Cons: None that I can find, though there’s nothing suggesting he’s particularly Pro gay marriage either.

Vote: Probably No

JUSTICE SCALIA

Pros: Just the one, he’s a big fan of the Constitution and Olson is making a very very strong argument.

Cons: He hates gay people. He’s the leader of the conservative block. Catholic. And he really hates gay people.

Vote: Burn all gay people at the stake Definite Yes.

JUSTICE KENNEDY

Pros: Kennedy has often taken a strong stance in favor of expanding Constitutional rights to cover sexual orientation. Though considered conservative, often a swing vote. References foreign law for precedence often.

Cons: Conservative more often than not. Catholic.

Vote: Likely No

JUSTICE THOMAS

Pros: None

Cons: Extremely conservative. Extremely into states rights. Performed a wedding for Rush Limbaugh. Even Scalia thinks he’s way too far to the right, “I am an originalist, but I am not a nut.” Super into religion, and thinks that religion should be allowed to be a lot more involved in public life. He also hates the gays.

Vote: Not just Yes, but a Yes to the RIGHT of Scalia

JUSTICE GINSBURG

Pros: She is awesome and my favorite. (Also liberal, pro-choice, pro-gay)

Cons: None

Vote: No

JUSTICE BREYER

Pros: Liberal. Refers to foreign law. Seems to like the gays.

Cons: None that I’m aware of.

Vote: No

JUSTICE ALITO

Pros: Was against anti-sodomy laws well before the court, but also was a student.

Cons: Conservative. Known as “Scalito”, though definitely to the left of Scalia. Catholic.

Vote: Almost certain Yes… but maybe…

JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR

Pros: Some of the anti-Hispanic rhetoric exhibited by the yes on 8ers will probably not make her think highly of them. She lives in Greenwich village. Considered an ally, though little to support this.

Cons: Catholic.

Vote: Likely no, little to go on though.

4 extremely likely nos, 1 probable no
3 almost certain yeses, 1 most likely yes