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Marriage equality will bring PheNOMenal CONSequences

by Jeremy Hooper

Maggie-Gallagher-Brian-BorwnSpeaking yet again about the supposed legal nightmare that marriage equality will bring to religious people's world, the National Organization For Marriage's gay-divorcing duo, Mags Gallagher and Bri Brown, offer up these two quips:

Maggie Gallagher, president of NOM, stated, “One of the reasons I have not been concerned about the parodies or the ridicule is that I know that NOM's basic message is based on truth: Gay marriage has consequences. Gay marriage will have a real impact on the rights of people who disagree with the government’s view of marriage. The only remaining question on the table is: Are these inadvertent, unintended consequences of gay marriage or is squelching disagreement by re-labeling dissenters as bigots the main point? What happens in Connecticut will give us an indication. We welcome the involvement of serious scholars on both sides of the marriage question on the religious liberty implications.”

NOM executive director Brian Brown said: “NOM intends to fight for all those Americans who believe that same-sex unions are just not marriages because marriage means a husband joined with a wife. We pledge to protect marriage across this country and to fight to protect the rights of good people who live behind the curtain of judge-imposed, same-sex marriage to disagree with the government's views on marriage.”
[NOM (nom, nom)]

Your humble scribe has a thought or two:

Well first off, give up the game about loving all this negative press that you've been receiving. I understand, and even sometimes support, the "all press is good press" school of thought. But in this case, your organization's ad was so unintentionally comical, the response has been so spot-on and resounding, and the public feedback has been so overwhelmingly critical (even on NOM's own F'book and YouTube pages), that there's simply no Jeremy-Hooperway this "gathered storm" has produced a crop that justifies the planting. Yes, it has brought attention to a group that was quite fringe before. But awareness is not a good thing if your mission is laughable to certain folks, and unclear to even your potential supporters.

But that aside -- Why do you NOM folks aggressivley focus the issue of marriage equality 100% on the merits (
or lack thereof) that you predict for certain-minded religious folks, yet completely overlook the potentials for every other type of person who inhabits this society? Because the truth is that the people for whom marriage equality will be most consequential are the gay people who directly benefit from the rights, children of gay couples whose families are made more secure, pro-acceptance people of faith who are deeply hurt by religion being used to justify bias, and communities who will benefit from the message that all people are free to love who they wish. To hear you "pro-family" folks tell it, the push for same-sex marriage is a dastardly parlor game that we gay activists concocted because we had nothing better to do, and thought that messing with social conservatives would be a fun way to pass a few decades' time. But what you need to realize is that this spinning orb that we call earth is not all about you. So while it's easy (and politically convenient) to paint gays as sitting in a war room in which various religious leaders' faces replace the dart boards and anti-religious Kool-Aid is the only acceptable beverage, the reality is that our strategic board room focuses 100% on everyone's betterment and 0% on a rights rollback for any person or group. In fact, most LGBT people that I know would gladly give up a week's pay if it meant a future in which the religious right would still be free to condemn gays to hell all the want, but would willingly keep those personal out of our lives!

Now, looking at the potential fallout for people "who believe that same-sex unions are just not marriages because marriage means a husband joined with a wife" -- Well, if you consider it a negative to hear men refer to their husbands, see same-sex wedding announcements in papers, and/or wait in a line behind a gay couple when you go to obtain your civil marriage license, then yes, you might experience a changed world. If you support the right of a church-affiliated public accommodation in, say,
Ocean Grove, NJ, to retain a tax status that explicitly goes against the rules of that particular tax program, then yes, you might get a surprise. And yes, if you support religious freedom trumping all other liberties, then you might experience a raised eyebrow. However, if you drop the political games, opportunistic code words, collective "pro-family" community brain, and instead vow to look at the world for its full spectrum, considering American government from the view of fairly accommodating all who exist within it, then you will see that the "controversy" is mostly of your own side's making.

Mags, you ask in regards to potential religious conflicts: '
Are these inadvertent, unintended consequences of gay marriage or is squelching disagreement by re-labeling dissenters as bigots the main point?' To that we say, 'Neither!' We are not either wittingly or unconsciously f***ing with gay-unfriendly peoples' lives -- we are simply claiming the portion of the societal pie to which we've been denied for far too long, and demanding that the world's puzzle accept us as a valid, if not crucial, piece!

In fact for us, these constant claims of religious conflicts really should be met with the question: '
Are these inadvertent, unintended consequences of holding a staunchly gay-exclusive view, or is squelching societal advancement by re-labeling LGBT people as anti-faith assailants the main point?' Because whatever the impetus, deliberate or unintended, you NOM folks are quite clearly fomenting a world wherein certain people of faith are told that they should be seethingly mad at gay people, and those same gay people are told that their requests for civil fairness can only ever be approved if they're able to full appease the 'pro-family' community's already-hostile, already-made up, already-closed gay rights mind. It is grossly unfair, both the instigation and the litmus test.

*Highlights from NOM's month o' FAIL:

NOM's incredibly low-rated "Gathering Storm" ad, and our response to it
NOM's embarassing casting tapes.
denies comments.
supports 2M4M.
NOM is
despised by YouTube community, receiving parody after parody after parody.
NOM is unpopular
even on their own Facebook page.
forfeits chance to defend their failure of an ad.
overextends their copyright.
NOM's Brian Brown
forfeits chance to defend self.
NOM issues a "fact sheet" that
only gets the "sheet" part right.
NOM's Maggie Gallagher
compares self to Vaclav Havel.
NOM is cited by Frank Rich as
a death knell for the anti-gay movement.
Despite all this, NOM
claims that their ad is a "success."
NOM has a board member who once suggested Americans should
"destroy" their gay-accepting government.
Then they ratchet up the absurdity one more notch and actually
"thank" Stephen Colbert for viciously skewering them. And their PR person, Mary Beth Hutchins, tweets even more denial our way.

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Your thoughts

Your ability to craft a perfectly reasonable line of logic throughout all of these posts is admirable. I could not do what you do without the rhetoric devolving into mean-spirited criticism of the other side. Way to show restraint and keep your eyes on the prize!

You're also easy on the eyes, I just noticed.

Posted by: Garet | Apr 23, 2009 2:40:09 PM

You JUST notice, Garet. Harumph. ;-)

Thanks so much for the kind words. I value calm.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Apr 23, 2009 2:53:44 PM

"Gay marriage will have a real impact on the rights of people who disagree with the government’s view of marriage."

Those poor Catholics, having to have endured for *decades* with a government that acknowledges divorce and subsequent marriage. It's a wonder they've been able to deal with the terrible impacts of a government that doesn't hold their specific view of marriage.

...as an aside, I really hope sarcasm and cynicism doesn't turn me in to a bitter old man.

Posted by: zortnac | Apr 23, 2009 3:25:17 PM

"We welcome the involvement of serious scholars on both sides of the marriage question..”

There is a joke in there somewhere! I just know it! Oh, wait, the notion that the radical fundies (who have never even read the entirety of the bible they profess to know, let alone any other books) might ever consider themselves to be "scholars"!!! They must have a different definition of the word "scholar" than the actual definition. But, at least Maggie "I'll scream over the top of any voice that doesn't agree with me in TV interviews" Gaglagher does seem to be acknowledging that "scholarly" isn't one of her attributes.

Posted by: Dick Mills | Apr 23, 2009 3:30:40 PM

Good point zortnac!
Jeremy, what a BRILLIANT response! I totally agree with Garret, your ability to come back at these idiots with basic reasoned logic even a 6 year old could understand, with a little slice of humor on the side, is outstanding.

I would love nothing more than for you to have a video/face to face debate with good ol' Mags. I would LOVE to see you put her in her place not by being rude or callus or lying, but simply by being who you are and being able to discuss all the points you make in this response here.

Anyway that can be set up??

Posted by: Stef | Apr 23, 2009 4:04:52 PM

"What happens in Connecticut will give us an indication"

And so far conneticut seems about the same. And what about the 6 or so countries, many with far less respect for religion then the US, who have fully legalized gay marriage and ABSOLUTELY NOTHING has happened?

Posted by: Penguinsaur | Apr 23, 2009 4:34:16 PM

I'm serious about that drinking game I mentioned a while back. Every time Gallagher uses the word "bigot" in her talking points or in interviews, take a swig.

Posted by: a. mcewen | Apr 23, 2009 5:45:18 PM

Excellant response.
Jeremy, I really don't know how you maintain your composure-do you do some kind of primasl scream thing before you sit in front of your keyboard to get it all out of your system?
Or are you just naturally smarter than me?

Posted by: Bill S | Apr 23, 2009 5:49:27 PM

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