Tag Archives: same-sex marriage

Still Fighting The Last War

Indiana Republicans seem determined to keep fighting the culture wars–especially the ones they’ve already lost.

At the Republican state convention–held the same day that approximately 100,000 Hoosiers gathered in Indianapolis to celebrate Pride and watch a parade that has become larger than the parade mounted by the Indy 500– GOP delegates voted down a proposed change in the party’s platform. The change would have removed language describing marriage as only between a man and woman.

Take that, 21st Century!

As the Northwest Indiana Times reported,

EVANSVILLE — The Indiana Republican Party, by an overwhelming margin, reaffirmed Saturday its commitment to marriage “between a man and a woman” as the preferred structure for Hoosier families.

In so doing, the 1,494 GOP delegates attending the party’s biennial state convention turned aside a revised “strong families” platform plank, proposed by Gov. Eric Holcomb’s party leadership, that expressed support for all adults raising children, in favor of renewing explicit support for opposite-sex marriage that first was inserted in the platform in 2014 by marriage equality opponents.

According to several reports, most of the delegates in attendance applauded and cheered following the vote. The reaction was described as an endorsement of “Mike Pence-era” attitudes.

Daniel Elliot, the Morgan County GOP chairman and leader of the Republican Victory Committee that pushed the platform issue to the convention’s forefront, said preferring man-woman marriage “is an important part of who we are as Hoosier Republicans.”

Unfortunately for Indiana, he’s right. It is who they are.

Hoosier Republicans continue to deny the equality of their LGBTQ neighbors–and generally reject other efforts to move the party in the direction of inclusiveness for people who don’t look like the people they see in their churches on Sunday, or in their mirrors. The Indiana GOP is– as the Northwest Times article suggests– still the party of Mike Pence.

It isn’t just homophobia. Members of the Pence party are suspicious of calls for equal pay for us “uppity” women, let alone the scandalous notion that we should be allowed to control our own reproduction. Pence Party Hoosiers want to halt immigration (at least from south of the border), and they roundly reject the notion that we might have an obligation to resettle the women and children refugees who have fled from unimaginable horrors. They are equally uninterested in the possibility of raising the minimum wage in order to ameliorate the struggles of the working poor– the third of Hoosier families that fall within the ALICE demographic.

Mostly, however, it’s “non-Biblical” sex that offends them. (Or, as a friend of mine used to opine, they are enraged by the prospect that across town somewhere, someone is having a good time…)

It will be interesting to see how these Pence party attitudes–which may have carried the day in Evansville, but are by and large not shared even by urban Republicans– play out in November. Granted, this is Indiana–the “buckle on the Bible Belt”–but citizens of this red state have largely come to terms with the Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage. Lots of Hoosiers have gay friends and relatives, significant numbers attend churches and synagogues that are affirming and welcoming, and they are ready to move on.

The “Pence party,” not so much.

 

Religious Liberty And the Marketplace

Most of us have heard the military admonition against “fighting the last war.” The point is obvious: generals and political actors need to evaluate and respond to the reality in which they live; getting stuck in the past–fighting the last war– is a formula for failure.That admonition also suggests one way of analyzing America’s current political situation.

Much of our contemporary political and cultural polarization is between people I have previously described as Puritans and those I have dubbed Modernists.

America’s Puritans still see liberty as “freedom to do the right thing,” defined as behavior consistent with their particular theology. They still believe, with the earliest American settlers, that government should have the authority to weigh in on the side of “Godliness” as their theology conceives it.

Modernists–in and out of religious communities–accept the post-Enlightenment notion that liberty means personal autonomy, your right to do your own thing, so long as you aren’t harming anyone else and so long as you are willing to grant an equal right to your fellow citizens.

The shorthand for modernism is “live and let live.”

Conflicts over recognition of same-sex marriage and bathroom use by transgender individuals, and efforts to allow “religious” merchants to refuse service to LGBTQ customers are really conflicts between America’s Puritans and its Modernists. Puritans  believe that government should throw its weight behind their theological beliefs; Modernists understand the importance of separating church and state, of preventing  particularized religious doctrines from marginalizing or disadvantaging otherwise law-abiding citizens.

Even in the churches, the Modernists are winning. As the Religion News Service reports,

In no U.S. religious group does a majority think it’s acceptable for businesspeople to invoke their religious beliefs to refuse service to gays.

This finding from a 2016 Public Religion Research Institute survey is a first, said Robert P. Jones, CEO of the nonprofit research group.

The change in opinion among even conservative religious adherents has been relatively rapid:  In 2015, more than half of white evangelical Protestants and Mormons surveyed approved of merchants who cited religious belief to deny service to LGBT customers; in the 2016 survey, the percentage of white evangelical Protestants who expressed approval had dropped to 50% from  56% the year before.

The percentage of white mainline Protestants who approved of businesspeople who withhold services to gay people dropped to 30 percent in the recent poll, down from 37 percent in 2015.

Overall in 2016, twice as many Americans disapproved than approved of those who refuse service to a gay person based on religious beliefs (61 percent to 30 percent).

PRRI’s findings corroborate a more dramatic overall shift in attitudes about same-sex marriage and LBGT Americans in the past decade.

Most religious groups today support same-sex marriage, Jones noted. “The religious groups in which majorities oppose same-sex marriage make up less than 20 percent of the public.”

Despite the diminishing number of Puritans, state and federal legislators continue to support discriminatory measures aimed at the LGBTQ community, just as they continue to support a variety of measures disadvantaging women–all piously justified as “protecting religious liberty.”

They are fighting the last war. And thankfully, they’re losing.

 

The Age of Inhumanity

Historians will eventually affix a label to the time period we are living through (assuming, of course, that we do live through it); my predictive powers are considerably less than optimal, but I vote for “The Age of Inhumanity”–or maybe, “The Age of Assholery.”

My exhibits, from just the past couple of days:

Jimmy Kimmel recently delivered an emotional monologue about his newborn son, who’d been born with a heart condition. Ultimately, the story had a happy ending; surgery corrected the defect and they were able to take the baby home. Kimmel’s monologue included a “political” observation:

Before 2014, if you were born with congenital heart disease like my son was, there was a good chance you’d never be able to get health insurance because you had a pre-existing condition. You were born with a pre-existing condition. And if your parents didn’t have medical insurance, you might not live long enough to even get denied because of a pre-existing condition.

If your baby is going to die, and it doesn’t have to, it shouldn’t matter how much money you make. I think that’s something that, whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat or something else, we all agree on that, right?”

Well, no. Evidently not.

Former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.)–now a radio call-in show host– tweeted his reaction, writing: “Sorry Jimmy Kimmel: your sad story doesn’t obligate me or anybody else to pay for somebody else’s health care.”

I will note here that we shouldn’t be surprised by Walsh’s disinclination to pay insurance premiums that might benefit other people’s children, since he’d previously been sued by his ex-wife for failing to pay child support for his own. A real prince of a guy….

And then there was the funeral home in Mississippi that refused to honor its contractual obligation to provide services when they discovered that the deceased man had a husband.

For most of the 52 years he was in a relationship with Robert Huskey, Jack Zawadski doesn’t remember much in the way of anti-gay discrimination.

Not while they were trying to grow apples on a farm in Wisconsin. Not during the decades they spent as special education teachers. Not even when they moved to Mississippi 20 years ago to retire someplace warmer and more lush, or after they married in 2015, when the Supreme Court declared that gay couples have as much of a right as heterosexuals to marry.

Last month, at age 86, Huskey died after a long illness.

Zawadski, 82, said the funeral home that had been prearranged to pick up and cremate Huskey’s body refused at the last minute, telling the nursing home that they don’t “deal with their kind.”…

The couple’s nephew, John Gaspari, made the arrangements ahead of time with Picayune Funeral Home, the only funeral home in the county with an on-site crematory, according to the complaint. Zawadski had hoped to hold the funeral there so the couple’s local friends could pay their respects. On May 11, 2016, Gaspari contacted the funeral home to let them know Huskey had died.

But after filing the paperwork, including a document naming Zawadski as next of kin, Gaspari got a call from the nursing home. “The Nursing Home relayed to John that once it received the paperwork indicating that Bob’s spouse was male, PFH refused service because it did not ‘deal with their kind,’ ” the lawsuit stated.

Zawadski’s complaint says that the turmoil involved in finding alternative arrangements “permanently marred the memory of Bob’s otherwise peaceful passing,”

I wish I could say that these are isolated examples, but anyone who follows the news knows that they’re not.

What the hell is wrong with these people? What makes them so small and mean-spirited?

Whatever historians ultimately call it, we  live in an ugly time.

A Wedding

Regular readers of this blog know that I took a nasty fall a few weeks ago, and fractured both my pelvis and my collarbone. I’ve been mending, but the process has been far slower than I’d like. Until last weekend, I had left the house–in my baggiest clothes– only for doctor’s appointments and physical therapy.

Mended or not, however, I wasn’t about to miss the wedding last Saturday of two friends I’ve known for at least 25 years.

I put on real clothes (immensely grateful to find my pants still fit!), and even applied makeup; as I told my husband, I felt almost like a real person again. And off we went–to attend the wedding of two women who’ve been together through good times and bad for the last thirty-eight years, two women who have used their multiple talents, compassion and generosity to contribute to the quality of life in our community.

They were married in a friend’s home, surrounded by dozens of well-wishers from their personal and respective working lives; academic colleagues of the retired history professor, co-workers from the various agencies where the lawyer worked before her own retirement, family members and neighbors.

One of the male relatives who  offered a toast put it well: “some people say marriage is about love, some say it’s about companionship, some say it’s about lust–but I say it’s about time.”

Indeed!

When I first met the two of them, many years ago, they were careful to leave people with the impression that they were roommates–clearly worried about losing jobs and/or friends if they were candid about the true nature of their relationship. Little by little, over the years, social attitudes changed and those concerns eased, and last Saturday–after 38 years, no longer young but still devoted–they were finally able to celebrate their lifetime commitment surrounded by family, friends and neighbors who love and appreciate them and wish them well.

It was a lovely wedding.

I will never, ever understand how the obvious joy of being able to affirm a loving relationship hurts–or even remotely affects–anyone else. I will never, ever understand the mean-spirited scolds who want to deny other people–people they don’t even know– the right to publicly celebrate a meaningful connection to someone they love.

And I will never understand why Indiana’s Governor and Legislature are willing to allow–indeed, encourage– one group of Hoosiers to treat another group badly. I will never understand the stubborn refusal to extend equal civil rights to all Indiana citizens, or why these “good Christians” feel entitled to use the law to marginalize and diminish wonderful people simply because they love differently.

On reflection, I think I’m glad I don’t understand them.

 

It’s Called the Rule of Law….

Indiana’s Governor isn’t the only government official living in an alternate universe. Look, for example, at Alabama’s “Judge” Roy Moore, who has also been in the news of late.

It’s one thing when students who don’t understand the difference between a statute and a constitution complain that their preferred policies should be the law of the land. It’s regrettable–albeit humorous–when Y’all Qaida cowboys communicate their grievances (and inadvertently, their ignorance) by taking over a bird sanctuary. But we expect lawyers— and especially Judges—to understand how the American legal system works.

They don’t have to agree with every Supreme Court decision. They can stamp their feet and insist—as Governor Pence did when he was Congressman Pence—that Marbury versus Madison was wrongly decided, and that every statute struck down by the Supreme Court since 1803 was an act of judicial usurpation.

But we do expect them to obey the decisions of the highest court in the land.

For those of you who’ve been vacationing on the moon, Moore—who has long been a religious zealot with delusions of grandeur—is the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, a position he regained after being removed for defying federal law and several court orders by erecting a five-ton replica of the Ten Commandments at the door to the Alabama courthouse. Most recently,

Judge Moore issued an administrative order declaring that “Alabama probate judges have a ministerial duty not to issue any marriage licenses” to same-sex couples. The Supreme Court’s June Obergefell decision legalizing same-sex marriage involved a case from a different federal circuit, so it does not apply in Alabama, Moore argues. Legal experts say that is a patently wrong interpretation of American law.

Patently wrong indeed! Law students who took such a position would never pass a bar exam.

Read my lips, “Judge.” If you don’t like gay people, fine. Don’t invite them over for dinner. If you disapprove of same-sex marriage, don’t have one. If your version of God hates homosexuals, feel free to pray for their descent into the fiery pits (or whatever hell you people believe in).

But no matter how fervent your belief, no matter how wedded you are to your animus, you don’t get to overrule the Supreme Court. If you are incapable of following and applying the law, you need to be impeached or otherwise removed from a position that allows you to affect other people.

I think it was Andy Warhol who said everyone was entitled to 15 minutes of fame. Don’t look now, Judge, but your 15 minutes are up—and it won’t be long, in historical terms, until those who agree with you join you in that great dustbin of history.