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10/08/2011

Days and Slights: This Week in NOM (Oct. 2 - Oct. 8)

by Jeremy Hooper

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Dear NOM Watcher,

Lately I've been thinking a lot about doormen. Or doorkeepers, as I'd prefer to say, since I always go for the non-gendered term whenever possible. But in popular parlance, it's surely "doorman" that's most understood, so that's the term I'll go with here. Plus mine do happen to all be male, so there's that too.

Screen Shot 2011-10-03 At 12.46.22 PmIn my nine years of Manhattan life, I've lived in four different apartments. However, the only one fronted by a doorman is the pad my husband and I moved into at the beginning of September. Let me tell you: It's a far bigger mental shift than I ever anticipated! I knew moving from the Upper East side to the West would be different, and I was sure that the generalized transference of space would itself be somewhat jarring. Though I never really thought about what this new, elaborately dressed lobby denizen would mean for me, my husband, and our new life. Much, I'm finding.

The doorman sees us at our most intimate moments. In the morning, he watches us kiss our goodbyes as we head off into our respective days. When a large piece of furniture arrives, the doorman considers the piece with the knowledge that it will be used by two, not one. He knows when we drop off the laundry and he knows when we pick up the interest-elucidating catalogs too large to fit in the mail slot. He sees us when we look our best while heading out for a romantic date night and he's there when we look like warmed-over hell following a late night of libations and vibrations. Everything from food delivery to visiting in-laws filter through this curbside commissionaire, providing an immediate connection, wanted or not.

Being the "culture war" obsessive that I am, it didn't take me long to starting thinking about this new relationship in the context of the equality fight and, specifically, the far-right's pet cause of people's supposedly unfettered "right" to state their opposition to LGBT equality. I think first of how nice and warm and welcoming each of our building's entry-greeters have been to me and Andrew -- something we'd expect in our area, but a fulfilled expectation that's still reassuring. The way it's played out, it wouldn't surprise me a lick to see any one of the doormen at a pro-equality rally, standing up for human rights. Why? Because they embrace pro-equality values every day, rallying on our behalf in the easy way that we all deserve. Andrew and I are addressed as what we are: Jointly, as benign husbands who live amongst hundreds of other family forms; individually, as New York taxpayers whose equal rights should not be up for any kind of debate and/or personal animus. If any of our building's staff feels differently, they deserve Oscars for their ability to mask their true feelings.

But what if the situation was different? What if, at a future NOM New York City rally, I saw one of these building professionals marching and chanting against my rights, holding a "God will not be mocked" sign (the most prominent pre-printed sign at NOM's June event)? Sure, they'd have the right to be there, on their own time, expressing whatever sort of thing they wanted to express. And yes, they'd be able to retain employment. In fact, I'd actually fight for their right to retain said job. But beyond those practicalities and turning instead to a purely personal level: How could I, a married gay man, engage in the same sort of small talk, with the same sort of comfort level, about the same day-to-day realities, with someone who I know sees me as "mocking God"? How could any resident possibly tuck something like that away and continue to have frank and open cordiality with a person who he or she knows is actively against his or her family arrangement, rights, or both? Aren't some things just too weighty to overlook? Isn't an anti-equality action the sort of face-slap that peace and fairness could never be (or want to be)?

I say "yes, of course." And to me, this is the sort of fundamental difference that we in the equality movement could address more often and more fully. Groups like NOM love to make it sound as if public engagement on issues like marriage equality is simply part of a two-sided, "agree to disagree" political debate towards which both side have investments. But the patent, undeniable reality is that the true stakes are ALWAYS on the pro-equality side, with same-sex couples and their allies the ones who have the potential to suffer in a million different ways from the various cultivated contrivances that cut them out of the societal spectrum. In the conceit I conveyed above: My husband and I would be faced with a relatively minor (even if daily) form of discomfort, which would surely entail a lot of forced smiles and talk about the weather. But on the grander scale, the potential harms run much deeper are oftentimes much more frightening. NOM is actively courting such harms, then pretending that this cultivation is little more than engaged citizenship.

The truth: Anti-gay bias is like the surly doorman who breaks your most cherished package then blames you for choosing such a fragile box. Acceptance, on the other hand, is a warm, friendly greeter that makes you feel at home. They might both lead us to the elevator. But only one of the two takes us up. The other gives us the shaft.

And unlike my doormen, peaceful equality won't even seek a tip come holiday time.


'I do' evil?

As he eases into his new gig, I fully expect incoming Board Chair John C. Eastman to play the role up the buttoned-up lawyer who adds legal "oomph" to NOM's rhetoric. But he's already showing that he can and will stray from the legalese, and this week he did so in a major way.

I've already shown you past instances, like when Eastman called gay-straight alliances "incubators of moral relativism," referred to homosexuality as modern day "barbarism," pushed extremist Scott Lively's "ex-gay" advocacy as a "common-sense suggestion," and lashed out against the "currently fashionable view that homosexual conduct is just another legitimate lifestyle choice." Well this week, he gave us even more insight into how he views this whole thing, referring to his opposition movement and cause as being an "evil" force:

"Evil will be with us always, and it requires constant vigilance to defeat. I look at it as a litigator and an educator. There will always be threats to institutions grounded in human nature by those who think human nature doesn’t define limits. We need to be involved in the immediate defense of threats against marriage, but also take a long-range view by educating the next generation about the importance of the issues we’re confronting."

-John Eastman speaking to National Catholic Register

Regardless of these comments and the obvious differentiations between our two movements (see intro), I would still never refer to Mr. Eastman or his cause as "evil." It's just not my style.

But as we fight in hopes that the greater good will be with us someday, we should keep Mr. Eastman viewpoint fresh in our minds. Oh, and believe that he really means it.


Rattle: The nerves, not the baby gift

Perhaps the most shocking NOM attack this week came through the vehicle of a Congressman. And his partner. And their newborn son. To wit:

Screen Shot 2011-10-03 At 12.46.22 PmJust a day after Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) announced that he and partner Marlon Reis are new fathers, NOM staff took to the organizational blog to declare: "Congressman Polis Announces With Pride His Child Has No Mother." Because that's our NOM for you. When it's a conservative child who is simply asked to tolerate LGBT people, that child is being intimidated, indoctrinated, or worse. But when it's a marriage equality advocate's child? They'll slight the kid, his parents, and the family's structure before the younger's life is even measured in weeks, much less years.

Hopefully you'll join me in welcoming young Caspian Julius into this world with opens hearts, mind, and arms. We can leave the crude stigmatization to the self-appointed "protect children" crowd.


My faith can beat up your faith

Moving on from the "protect children" deception to the "religious freedom" canard: This week NOM's young staffer Thomas Peters again proved how intolerant NOM can be when it comes to pro-equality people of faith. This time it happened when Thomas (who is representing NOM at this weekend's Values Voters Summit, FYI) took to his Catholic Vote blog for the expressed purpose of discrediting the pro-LGBT Catholics For Equality group as being "fake" Catholics. Because he and his fellow "marriage protectors" are the ones who get to decide that, apparently.

This of course follows NOM's recent attacks against David Weprin's faith, where they accused the NY state Assemblyman of defying his faith and mocking his religion's holy book. And there have been other instances over the years, like when NOM took out a billboard likening Massachusetts state lawmaker Angelo Puppolo to Judas Iscariot, simply because he refused to put the state's already-legal marriages before a public vote. All of these instances add up to an organization that may talk a good game about "religious freedom" and protecting faith communities, but one that routinely proves how confined they intend such defense to be.

Basic parameters: Agree with NOM and they'll'll pray with you; fail to do so and you'll become the prey.


Kevin Smith made two Clerks movies; Now here's NOM's

It was no surprise this week when NOM released its videos of the New York town clerks who have supposedly been "defamed" for simply being asked to do their jobs, since Maggie forewarned us that those videos were coming. What did surprise me a bit: That one of the videos quite literally starts with a purposely provocative suggestion that the clerks' decision might have put them at risk of physical harm.

Screen Shot 2011-10-03 At 12.46.22 PmClerk Laura Fortusky: "Our younger daughter was quite concerned…she had read some oppositional comments on the Internet, she was worried that my life was in danger."

Now, of course Laura and NOM have no reason to make such a claim. Why do they need reason? The one goal is to make the equality movement seem angry, militant, and possibly even homicidal -- the actual human beings attached to that movement be damned.

Honestly, other than this one point, there's really not all that much to say on these new videos themselves, as the case is cut and dry. Clerks who license civil marriages in the state of New York must perform their duties for all citizens equally, regardless of their views on divorce-and-remarriage, religiosity, extramarital affairs, pre-marital sex, or any of the other reasons from which one might pull a personal, faith-based reluctance to certain kinds of marriages. Period.

Though you can be sure that NOM will have much more to say as all involved continue to work their cherished victimization meme. So must we.

Until next week, my dearies

-Jeremy

Jeremy Hooper
Good As You/NOM Exposed

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