Monday, August 18, 2008

Marriage and Fucking: 'It's a union between man and woman'

Given that the blog has changed digs, it's worth pointing out this is my first time writing about marriage. I'm fascinated not by, e.g., personal connection to the issue, but because it's such an interesting point of public policy. Regardless of what you think about the wall of separation between Church and State, it's undeniable that the issue sits in Humpty-Dumptian fashion atop said wall.

Additionally, it's the first time since the Constitution was written that there's active discussion of how much, as a society, we want to add to that document to exclude a group of people from access to rights and benefits afforded by law to the general populace. It's interesting to watch policymakers and pundits try to square arguments in favor of anti-marriage amendments with the patriotic reverence for the words of our forefathers, in crafting a work that has heretofore only been read with increasing inclusion as to whose rights are protected, and why.

And as our top politicians work their way toward the ultimate goal of being elected President of the United States of America, I found it fascinating that the nation moved the political debate to a new location, holding it up on that wall of separation between Church and State (to fashion a gallows, one wonders?) last night, with all major news networks pausing to give the bully pulpit of the unbiased press over to an evangelical preacher, grilling the candidates inside his evangelical church.

The 'debate' about marriage has gotten so convoluted and has so screwed up the context of what is, to me, a pretty simple, straightforward policy issue, that it's just stunning to read what the candidates said in this transcript. Here's John McCain. Sitting in a church with a pastor. In front of a few thousand evangelical Christians, a base he sorely needs to pander to* in order to win the election. And so you figure, surely he'll let loose how marriage in the Church is a religious construct and the government has no business legislating such things, and so on and so forth, Amen. And what does he do?

MCCAIN: A union -- a union between man and woman, between one man and one woman. That's my definition of marriage.

He frames the argument in exactly such a way that God or a Covenant or religion or spirituality or eternal promises are completely omitted. According to John McCain, God has nothing to do with marriage. And if God has nothing to do with marriage, then there's no reason that the State shouldn't be saying "Hey, you know, we've realized that gay people are equal" and through whatever policy mechanism necessary, the State should be recognizing these as marriages if people want them to be marriages, so they can reap the benefits and legal rights and responsibilities as a married couple. If God isn't a part of what marriage is to you, then you don't really have a leg to stand on, from a policy perspective.

Or maybe even from a religious one. John McCain thinks marriage is 'a union between man and woman'.

No, 'a union between man and woman' is like John Edwards and That Filmmaker Lady screwing while his wife was home busy dying. That is 'a union between man and woman', John McCain. Not marriage.

And everyone applauded! Because He Was So Certain! Man and Woman! Man and Woman! And they loved it; ate his answer out of the palm of his hand like it was the Body of Christ in communion wafer form.

So what does Obama pull of of his flip flopping pansy ass liberal faggy hat?

"OBAMA: I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. Now, for me as a Christian -- for me -- for me as a Christian, it is also a sacred union. God's in the mix. But --"

Sacred union. God's in the mix. How could anyone, from an evangelical perspective, not hear his answer and like it, um, a Father, Son and Holy Spirit more than what McCain said? It's just bizarre.

It's also a real accomplishment on the part of the people framing this debate, that they've gone from making the religious point -- which may in and of itself turn enough people off that policy initiatives could fail (think about it: How much of your neighbor's religion do you want in your government, even if you agree with it?) -- to making it a sanitary, general, hermetically sealed fact: "Marriage is a union between a man and a woman." Now, aside from the kids today who've grown up in teh gay, and a few people from freakshow areas like, well, here, how many people were actually raised with the understanding that marriage is anything but a union between a man and a woman? It's almost an a priori fact. Just like how black men don't marry white girls.

That twist, from making it a religious argument, to repackaging it in more widely-consumable form while still retaining the wink-and-nod to making sure religious organization doesn't lose a hook in the meaty flesh of public policy, has been the smartest change in the tactics since several anti-marriage initiatives failed in the last round of ballot referenda.


* - I was going to use a different phrase here, or use the snarky strikethrough, but then I figured, nah, what the hell? You don't take your Presidential campaign into a huge evangelical church if you're not going to pander. Seriously.

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