Gay marriage foes sure are clever!
For so long this fine nation’s homophobes and other narrow-minded baddies have been associated with stodgy, wholly unfashionable leaders like James Dobson, Phyllis Schlafly and the ne’er done-up Shirley Phelps. None of these people speak to the youth of America.
So, in an effort to make themselves more youth-friendly, California’s anti-gay marriage activists have established a new site, iProtect Marriage, a spin-off of the more staid Protect Marriage.
Like its sister site, iProtect urges voters to vote “yes” on Proposition 8, a ballot measure aimed at overturning this year’s gay marriage win. Unlike its sister site, however, iProtect has a decidedly youth-oriented outlook, complete with fresh, concerned faces. See that guy above? He’s so young! His pensiveness really speaks to us.
And no spry site would be complete without to popular sites like Facebook and MySpace. How hip! How media-savvy! Even the intentionally lower-case “i” seems eager to suck the teat of Apple’s ubiquitous iPod and iPhone.
Despite these juvenile measures, iProtect’s inherited the tried and largely untrue tactics employed by their right-wing forefathers. We do some dissecting, after the jump. It’s scary stuff…
1. Assumptions: We’re positively sick and tired of right-wing activists acting as if they know what it’s like to be gay. No, being gay is not like being black – not technically, although there are some similarities between racism and homophobia. That said, no straight social conservative can even pretend to know that homosexuality is a choice. They can’t act as if they have felt the inexplicable alienation millions of same-sex lovers endured while growing up in a society that assumes one to be straight. It’s absolutely one-sided and, more importantly, represents a severe lack of communication with queer communities. Don’t come at us acting like you “love the sinner,” but absolutely to refuse to acknowledge endless years of lived experience. It’s patronizing.
2. Shamefully Short-Sighted Statistics: Too often anti-gay groups use HIV/AIDS statistics against the gays. And iProtect Marriage is no exception:
On Aug. 8, 2008, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported that 53% of new HIV infections in 2006 occurred in gay or bisexual men. More infections occurred among young people under 30 (aged 13-29) than any other age group (34%, or 19,200). African Americans, while comprising 13% of the US population, accounted for 45% of the new HIV infections in 2006.
Factually, the movement’s right on the money. Gay folk do acquire HIV more often than their straight counterparts, but iProtect and their ilk fail to recognize some of the most important reasons for these startling statistics.
First, there’s the whole issue of mainstream shaming, which creates an inhospitable environment that can lead people – hello, Larry Craig! – down unsafe carnal paths. If society normalized gay acceptance, there would likely be a drop in such behaviors. Further, if gay relationships were incorporated into the larger fold, gay people may be more inclined to settle down.
Another important factor: a lack of safer sex education, another anathema to the right wing, many of whom think teaching about sex will lead to an entire generation of sexual deviants. They’re wrong. Teens will always have sex. It’s only natural, right Bristol? Without the proper education, of course, these kids won’t know how to protect themselves, thus a higher infection rate.
3. Panic! Like their predecessors, iProtect relies largely on scare tactics to move voters, like this:
The legal and civil definition of marriage as between a man and a woman has gone unchallenged for centuries, providing a foundation for the growth of Western civilization. That means your way of life.
Yes, it’s true – if gays get married, up will be down, black will be white and the world will simply implode! We kid, of course, but these activists sure as shit mean business.
Their argument rests on the “fact” that “the definition of marriage as it has been defined since the beginning of civilization.” Gee whiz! These people must be older than dirt if they can positively assert such a statement, which is not only unverifiable, but also wrong. Marriage wasn’t meant to sustain civilization, as our friend and author Susan Squire explained, but to insure a woman’s obedience and maintain a pure familial lineage. Women were meant to be loyal to their husbands, most of whom slept with available women on the side. That is not “civilization,” but repression.
Later, as the Church gained more power over European society, marriage became even more explicitly about controlling sex. It wasn’t until Martin Luther and his Reformation that the “sacred” institution found itself mired in love – and everyone, including gay people, can feel love. And so everyone should be able to share in the pinnacle of said emotion. To look down on one type of relationship simply because it isn’t “traditional” betrays a distressful lack of empathy.
What’s more – sorry, we’re really revved up on this one – Yale historian John Boswell once wrote a book called Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe. And guess what he has to say?
Very few premodern or nonindustrialized contemporary cultures would agree with the contention – uncontroversial in the West – that “the purpose of a man is to love a woman, and the purpose of a man is to love a man.” Most human beings in most times and places would find this a very meager measure of human value.
4. Intentional Misreadings: David and Tonia Parker have become small-time celebrities in the world of social conservatism. The Massachusetts-based couple, along with some of their peers, filed a lawsuit against the Lexington School District after a teacher read their child King & King, about a royal who prefers princes to princesses. The Parkers claimed the school was violating their religious beliefs.
Judge Mark L. Wolf ended up tossing the case, saying that schools are not required to work around family’s individual religions and, in fact, are “entitled to teach anything that is reasonably related to the goals of preparing students to become engaged and productive citizens.” That is, the 21st century child should be taught realistic lessons, like the fact that some people are gay. Those lessons could then help build more cohesive societies.
Right-wing leaders balked, as they do, and insist Wolf’s simply pushing the gay agenda. iProtect marriage offers this short, ill-fitted summary of the case: “Fact: On February 23, 2007, the judge in the Massachusetts case ordered the teaching of the homosexual lifestyle to children in public schools.” Had these foolish fools read the ruling, they would see that Wolf did not “order” to book be taught, but simply said schools can make the decision themselves.
5. Stonewalling This here Q&A provides a perfect example of social conservative stonewalling. Note that rather than answering the “why not?” aspect of the inquiry, iProtect simply defers to civil unions. That is, quite simply, because there are no logical, viable or even tasteful answers about why gay people should marry. None.
Here’s one reason why they should be able to marry: about $683.6 million in direct spending garnered after three-years of gay marriage, not to mention the estimated 2,100 new jobs created if California’s sticks with same-sex nuptials. Then there are the stable households erected for children in need of homes; the fact that restricting marriage rights only reinforces heterosexist norms and deprives people of building a life with the person they love and enjoying the same rights as other Americans.
It’s this kind of empty rebuttal that makes right-wing movements like iProtect so intellectually impotent. If only such thinking would go the way of the do-do.