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01/24/2011

Marring me without a why: 'Protect marriage' talking points target people. Period.

by Jeremy Hooper

There are many places where the conservative Christian arguments against civil marriage equality fall short. Here's one, courtesy of a Rhode Island Catholic editorial:

Screen Shot 2011-01-24 At 3.02.46 PmThe redefinition of marriage does not merely allow different understandings of matrimony, but forces everyone else to accept this dramatically altered conception of marriage and family in schools, law and in our public language. This recently occurred when the federal government reissued passport applications for children, removing the words “Father” and “Mother” and replacing them with “Parent 1” and “Parent 2.” A time to protect and preserve marriage [RI Catholic]

To see where this falls short, one need not even support marriage equality. For a second, forget all of the merits of marital fairness and recognizing all families equally. Pretend you are a social conservative who wants to stop gay marriage. Pretend you feel a religious commitment to stopping "different understandings of matrimony." Pretend you wrote the above editorial.

You there? Okay, good. But even in that role play, your argument will still fall short. Because the passport application change didn't happen because we have legalized same-sex marriage in all fifty states and on a federal level. We obviously don't. We only have legal marriage in a handful of locales (either performed at home or via out-of-state recognition) and we have no matrimonial equality on the federal platform. So the vast majority of Americans who benefit from this passport change aren't going to benefit because they are legally married/have legally married parents. No, no -- they will benefit because they have an American family structure that is something other than a limited, heteronormative construction! For this particular conversation, marriage is completely ancillary. Yet for the Rhode Island Catholic's editorial team, it's a key "protect marriage" bullet point.

We see this same sort of thing in marriage campaigns. Professional fear-mongers love to cite examples of "child indoctrination," but often from places and times where marriage equality did not exist. Even so, you'll still hear them claim that simple non-discrimination or anti-bullying measures (for just two examples) are direct products of wither realized or proposed marriage equality. BUT NO! No, no, no, no, no! Just like with the current passport change, the vast majority of our federal, state, and local LGBT protections/benefits/ordinances/proclamations have happened in a marriage-equality-less world. The benefits and protections and progress come, first and foremost, because of people. Human beings. Citizens and taxpayers. Not any one political movement.

It's all just another reason why, if you pull the thread in the way we "culture war" watchers do, you simply cannot disconnect the anti-LGBT political fight from the human beings that are targeted within. You dig one hole, you find a group trying to "change" gay folk. You dig in another place, you find someone accusing gays of being "enemies of the body." You dig somewhere else, you see how the distaste for gay family recognition runs well beyond marriage licensing and right onto passport applications as well.

You dig most anywhere, you find many a personal dig.

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