Martyrs to Marriage Equality

The thing that really amazes me about much of the conservative reaction to Obergefell v. Hodges, and indeed much of the religion-based complaints over LGBT rights generally, is the sense of personal grievence. I mean, on the one hand you’ve had people who’ve been persecuted, bullied, denied equal rights for ages, finally getting the right to do something the rest of us take for granted, and on the other hand you have people who are offended by them. This helps explain the hilarious fixation among conservatives about identifying the fifteen people in America who might be so homophobic that their “religious views” come into direct conflict with anti-discrimination laws–you know, the famous Bakers and Florists of Conscience. Agitating the air to make this extremely marginal “grievance” into something tangible, and then inflating it wildly with all sorts of specious slippery-slope arguments that next thing we know the Catholic Church will be forced to make gay sex a sacrament, has pretty much been the sum and substance of the “religious liberty” backlash.

And so today we find all too many Christian conservatives unable to feel empathy towards people expressing joy at their now-established ability to get married, and instead making themselves out as martyrs, to the everlasting embarrassment, I am quite sure, of the actual Christian Martyrs of the Ages who suffered harm to more than their sensitivities or prejudices.

I was driven to write this today not by Bobby Jindal or Mike Huckabee or the other pols trying to put themselves at the head of a pathetic parade of outrage, but by a post at the Federalist by “international pro-family” advocate John-Henry Westen warning of the totalitarian repression about to hit Christians, as evidenced by his experience with what had happened in Canada and Europe.

And of what is this wave of repression composed? Basically lawsuits, most of them withdrawn.

As anyone who has been to law school can tell you, there is no place short of Utopia without constant, frequent lawsuits, some serious, some frivolous. Neighbors battle in court against neighbors for decades over ridiculously small boundary disputes; disgrunted employees and employers carry their disagreements into courts every day; divorcing and ex-spouses ruin themselves and each other in the fight for the last word almost as often as they don’t. If, as several of the examples offered by Western suggest, he thinks the Roman Catholic Church is going to be nailed to a cross of LGBT litigation, I would suggest there’s another source of lawsuits that is rather obviously a bigger threat.

Westen does have an alternative argument against legalized same-sex marriage that’s not about the terrible martyrdom that awaits any dissenter against the Rainbow Fascist State. In a reductio ad absurdum of the hate the sin, love the sinner chestnut, he argues love for gay people compels not letting them get married:

[B]ecause same-sex relationships hurt everyone involved, marriage supporters have a duty to oppose inverted relationships out of love and compassion.

Despite being perhaps 4 percent of the U.S. population, the LGBT community sees devastating levels of HIV/AIDS, depression, anal cancer, suicide, shorter lifespans, and other ailments. Again, it is up to Christians, and especially our pastors, to energize society with the beautiful love of our faith. We never should have given up talking about sex [sic!], and we must start doing so anew.

As former Canadian LGBT leader Gens Hellquist said in 2006, “I am tired of watching my community die” of diseases endemic to the LGBT community. A Catholic with a master’s degree in psychology who visited a ward for HIV/AIDS patients in India, he saw it was clear that only monogamous, marital relationships are healthy for human beings.

So there you have it: we need to prevent people from getting married so as to force them into “monogamous, marital relationships.”

That’s the second biggest howler in Westen’s piece (or maybe the third, after the claim that conservative Christians don’t talk enough about sex!). The biggest is in the headline: “Same-Sex Marriage Won’t Bring Us Peace.” Nor will it bring us 4% GDP growth or a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The idea is to bring us justice. But on second thought, there is a connection, or so thought Pope Paul VI, who famously said: “If you want peace, work for justice.”

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.