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Feb 28 2012

FRC Mad at Dick Cheney

The virulently anti-gay Family Research Council is mighty upset with Dick Cheney for supporting marriage equality in Maryland. Robert Morrison, an FRC “senior fellow,” writes a weird, meandering blog post slamming Cheney. Try to make sense of this:

Dick Cheney probably never met Mae West. For younger readers unfamiliar with one of Hollywood’s original blond bombshells, I’ll simply say: sailors in World War II called their large life jackets Mae Wests. (This is a family blog, after all.)

Mae West famously said: “Marriage is a great institution, but I’m not ready for an institution.” How strange that Mae West had a better understanding of civil marriage than a former Vice President of the United States, a man who was twice elected to national office by pro-family voters.

Did he really just cite a line from Mae West opposing marriage as evidence that she understood marriage better than Dick Cheney? Yep, he did. Just weird.

Dick Cheney is said to be worth hundreds of millions. His family may not suffer the devastation that comes from the breakdown of marriage. But in his recent book, Coming Apart, Charles Murray shows how the loss of marriage for the white working class in America has already had catastrophic consequences.

And yet Murray has now changed his position and is supporting marriage equality:

“I have never,” he said, “made a public statement about that before, but the fact is this: My wife and I have maybe half a dozen friends who are gay and are in couples. I mean they’re marriage-like situations. Some of them are guys and some of them are gals. In all of those cases, they’re acting like married people. They appear to have loving, faithful relationships that they take very seriously.”

More than that, he added, “a couple of them have kids that they are as attentive [to] and loving of as any other parents, and so I say to myself, I still have real problems with using the word marriage for anything except a union which has as its main purpose child-bearing and so forth.”

Still, he explained, “on the other hand, it’s really made me rethink the nature of my opposition, because let’s face it: Heterosexuals have made a mess out of marriage in the last couple of decades — the last half-century, actually — in ways which leave us in a weak position to suddenly say, ‘Oh, this wonderful institution that we’ve done so well with, you’re trying to interfere with.’”

As a result, Murray said, “I have backed off from leading the fight against gay marriage or even participating in it, and I’m willing to say that this is one instance in which [a new idea is] working out better than I would have expected it to, as I see it.”

Nothing like citing an authority who says you’re wrong.

21 comments

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  1. 1
    d cwilson

    Somebody please explain to me the logic of the FRC’s position that gay marriage is the cause of the breakdown of marriage. The rise in divorce rates predates marriage equality as an issue by several decades. Are they saying that gays retroactively caused heterosexuals to get divorce?

  2. 2
    Michael Heath

    Charles Murray writes:

    “on the other hand, it’s really made me rethink the nature of my opposition, because let’s face it: Heterosexuals have made a mess out of marriage in the last couple of decades — the last half-century, actually — in ways which leave us in a weak position to suddenly say, ‘Oh, this wonderful institution that we’ve done so well with, you’re trying to interfere with.’”

    No, Americans have not necessarily made a, “mess out of marriage”, not unless you support patriarchal marriages where women don’t enjoy rights equal to males.

  3. 3
    arakasi

    If you eliminate the parts of the first paragraph in which he is sniggering like a 5th grader who just heard the name “Heywood Jablomie”, the blog post would start off: “Mae West, who had big tits, famously said: ‘Marriage is an institution; but I’m not ready for an institution.’”

    Not that this phrasing actually ties into his point at all, but at least we would be spared his “ifyouknowwhatImean” elbow to the ribs.

  4. 4
    jnorris

    I have to agree with Morrison on one point: if same-gender marriage leads to polygamy, then that will destroy marriage. Case in point, Matthew 1:1–17. David, King of Israel was a polygamist, his son was also a polygamist. Twenty-six generations later a direct descendent of David never married. Thus the end of marriage. And that descendent was in a white working class family.

  5. 5
    slc1

    Re Michael Heath @ #2

    In fairness to Mr. Murray, for whom I have nothing but the utmost contempt, based on his co-authoring the execrable book, “The Bell Curve,” he may have been referring to the divorce rate which, it is my information, is around 50% for first time marriages.

  6. 6
    Who Knows?

    Mae West famously said: “Marriage is a great institution, but I’m not ready for an institution.” How strange that Mae West had a better understanding of civil marriage…

    How strange Robert Morrison cannot recognize satire.

  7. 7
    slc1

    Re jnorris @ #4

    I was under the impression that the gentleman in question was a descendant of Joshua.

  8. 8
    F [is for failure to emerge]

    Dick Cheney is said to be worth hundreds of millions. His family may not suffer the devastation that comes from the breakdown of marriage.

    So, marriage rights for everyone breaks down marriage (into digestible bits? Something else?), but having lots of money insulates one from this. No, I’m not getting it.

    I still have real problems with using the word marriage for anything except a union which has as its main purpose child-bearing and so forth.”

    So, men are always terrible at marriage, but as to the rest, we are unclear as to what the problem is with the term* marriage applying to gay unions. I just don’t know what the fuck it means, but I have a deep-seated unease with it being used in ways with which I am unfamiliar.

    * It isn’t the word, fuckwit, it’s the legal ramifications.

    Heterosexuals have made a mess out of marriage in the last couple of decades — the last half-century, actually

    Or, like, forever, you know? Not everyone, of course, and not necessarily the married couples themselves, either. But yeah.

  9. 9
    Captain Mike

    You’ve all made some good points, but you’re ignoring the elephant in the room: Mae West didn’t have big tits.

  10. 10
    Blondin

    Mae West didn’t have big tits.

    But she had a wonderful personality.

  11. 11
    Captain Mike

    I don’t know if it was wonderful, but there sure was a lot of it.

  12. 12
    Phillip IV

    How strange that Mae West had a better understanding of civil marriage than a former Vice President of the United States

    Actually, Mae West’s understanding of civil marriage involved getting married at age 17, then splitting up a few weeks later, but only getting a divorce 31 years later – at which time she had already married and divorced another man, making her technically a bigamist. Oh, and of course always lying about her marital status to the press in order not to damage her audience appeal (in which context the quote belongs). I dunno, but somehow she doesn’t appear as the ideal poster girl for the sanctity of marriage.

  13. 13
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    The rise in divorce rates predates marriage equality as an issue by several decades. Are they saying that gays retroactively caused heterosexuals to get divorce?

    LOL. Yes, that’s what they’re saying. You see, it’s like this: God’s nature is unchanging, but that nature is dependent on us. Human actions cause God pain and other emotions which cause him to make decisions. Like when Eve and Adam ate the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, there was no suffering because they were in the garden of Eden. Except that there was suffering, because God knew that they would eat the fruit so he created suffering before the Fall because he knew the Fall was coming because he is beyond time.

    It’s like that with marrying someone of the same legal sex. Sure it hadn’t happened yet, but God knew it was going to happen and created marital suffering and divorce in advance as a punishment for the horror – the Horror! – of Gay “Marriage” that he knew would come in future decades. In fact the entire feminist movement is based on a misunderstanding of God’s actions. Women were suffering abuse in marriages and men were nagged about going off to war instead of staying to feed the children not because of sexism. No! God loves his wimminz*. No, the suffering was all the fault of four unelected justices in Iowa and the horny, same-gender lovin’ queers that would take advantage of their twisted judicial reasoning in order to, um, be treated the same under tax laws.

    Science!

    *Making fun of nuts who can’t spell, not 2nd wave feminism, with this particular spelling…

  14. 14
    Michael Heath

    slc1 writes:

    In fairness to Mr. Murray, for whom I have nothing but the utmost contempt, based on his co-authoring the execrable book, “The Bell Curve,” he may have been referring to the divorce rate which, it is my information, is around 50% for first time marriages.

    My criticism of Mr. Murray was within the context of the divorce rate. I knew exactly what he was referencing, he was wrong. Patriarchal societies purposefully make divorce more difficult in order to make it more difficult for women to extricate themselves from a marriage, even from abusive relationships. Easier access to divorce is a feature of a freer society, not a bug.

  15. 15
    slc1

    Re Michael Heath @ #14

    Is Heath speaking from experience? End snark.

  16. 16
    Michael Heath

    slc1,

    One thing I hope I’ve sufficiently learned as I get older is to empathize with others; to authentically attempt to understand their perspective rather than taking positions out of pure short-term self-interests without regard to others.

    Personally I’m not sure how a person can age and become more reactionary rather than more liberal. I think this lesson is even supported by Burkean conservatism, where that ideology values liberalism and merely seeks to introduce caution in terms of not underestimating the value of what benefits we now enjoy coupled to the danger of underestimating the challenge of reform. Perhaps the greatest Burkean lesson of the Bush-era was the very anti-Burkean initiative to invade Iraq.

    Since I don’t have the personality to be a Burkean conservative, I’m ever-mindful of its warnings in hopes of tempering my natural optimism.

  17. 17
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Is Heath speaking from experience? End snark.

    I’m mystified as to what it would mean if he was.

  18. 18
    Aquaria

    No, Americans have not necessarily made a, “mess out of marriage”, not unless you support patriarchal marriages where women don’t enjoy rights equal to males.

    This, this, this.

    The divorce rates have risen in direct correlation with increased women’s rights and autonomy. Women are the initiators in divorce something like 65-70 or so percent of the time. When it’s easy to leave a batterer or a philanderer or an insensitive fuckface, women take the escape hatch, far more often than men. They do it even when they know they will face increased poverty. What does it say when poverty is worth the risk to living with the spouse.

    I’ve been divorced twice. Both times, it saved me from situations that had become dangerous to my welfare, and, later my son’s. I’m worth saving, you know. My son deserved to have a mother in one piece and healthy. Why do theistic nitwits think we don’t deserve even those basic things?

    Fuck ‘em all, for thinking that people should have to stay in horrible situations and risk death, just because they think marriage is more important than people’s welfare as individuals–and notice that I used neutral pronouns there. Because I think anyone, male or female, should be able to leave if a spouse is abusive or puts him/her at risk for deadly diseases (cheating does that, you know). Why should I have had to stay with a husband who became a physically abusive cokehead–he wasn’t that way when I met him or for over a year after the vows? But people can change, in some terrifying ways sometimes–and you shouldn’t have to accept changes that are dangerous to you.

    I even think people should be able to leave if living with the person just isn’t working out because you’re too different, or because the spouse has habits that drive you crazy. Or whatever reason you have, because only the individual knows what they can and can’t live with. No one else.

    Anyway, divorce is a positive sign of the success of the feminist movement, because women, especially, aren’t forced to stay in situations that don’t meet their expectations or needs in life. They even have the means to stand on their own if the marriage doesn’t work out, and they can be active participants in society, not shunned and ostracized. They’re not at risk of being sane but institutionalized in a psych hospital so that a husband can get not only a divorce, but also all the assets from a marriage, and custody of your kids, too.

    I knew a family that latter situation happened to. Devastation doesn’t begin to describe what that kind of divorce did to the wife, the children, and, ultimately, the husband and the chippie on the side he married, too. It broke all of them, they didn’t turn to religion, instead, the viciousness of the divorce pitted kids and parents against each other in an endless cage match of rage and pain, and they never recovered from it.

    I suppose that’s what the anti-divorce crowd wants for us all, people shattered to pieces so that the moralists can judge them from on high, mock them and feel oh-so-superior to them. “Look what happens when you’re immoral, tut-tut-tut.”

    I wouldn’t go back to that, for anything. Nobody with even the tiniest shred of compassion would.

  19. 19
    laurentweppe

    Somebody please explain to me the logic of the FRC’s position that gay marriage is the cause of the breakdown of marriage

    The logic is simple:
    Step one: We want to oppress gays like in the good old days
    Problem: It’s illegal to oppress gays now
    Step two: We’ll find petty ways to make sure that gays remain second class citizens so that people understand that oppressing them, while formally illegal, is still socially acceptable
    Problem: without a rationale, it will be too obvious that our petty tricks are meant to maintain the now illegal oppression of gays
    Step three: We’ll invent a lie which is so ridiculous that people will be too flabbergasted by our apparent stupidity to realize that we are cold blooded sociopaths deliberatly trying to game the system in order to keep oppressing a sexual minority: Profit

  20. 20
    Michael Heath

    laurentweppe,

    You left out that these very bigots also want to argue they and their churches are the leading defenders of the Constitution, liberty, and equal rights. Which is why they need to gays to go back in the closet and women to remain silent.

    In fact when David Gregory was impotently challenging Rick Santorum on gay rights a couple of weeks ago, Mr. Santorum countered with the argument the American people didn’t care about this issue, that he was instead focused on freedom . . . And no, Mr. Gregory never pointed out the irony of the fact that Santorum’s first word of avoidance was precisely what the gay rights issue is about – freedom.

  21. 21
    jnorris

    To slc1 in #7:
    All I can reply is I am depending on a book that many believe to have been written by God, it is completely accurate and without any hint of error, so I could be wrong. :)

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