Man, what a day. I woke up yesterday to the news that the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the right for gay couples to marry. There was a tremendous amount of support shown across the interwebs. I wish I could say that the celebration carried on all night, unimpeded, but there were also a handful of people who rightfully felt that their beliefs were being trampled and shat upon.
I say rightfully, because their beliefs were trampled and shat upon.
By the Supreme Court.
Who ruled that it is unconstitutional to impose individual/religious ideals on a set of people who disagree in a way that would not effect those opposed in any way whatsoever- which would be the basis of a theocracy and not a democratic nation. So yes, if you believed that gay people should not be allowed those rights, SCOTUS took a steamer on that one. Rub some dirt on it and walk it off. You'll be amazed at how little your world was changed by this decision, I promise.
So in the spirit of all the Facebook fights I tried to but couldn't keep from getting into, buckle up. Here are the top excuses I heard for people lashing out against this monumental Supreme Court Ruling and why I don't believe they hold water.
1) The Supreme Court does not have the power to enact laws:
They didn't enact law. They ruled on a pre-existing piece of the constitution, clarifying interpretation as to the definition of marriage, officially proclaiming rights to same sex partners and opting against excluding them, protecting their rights which have been previously recognized only by hetero couples despite the constitution having failed to define marriage as a union of man and woman.
Saying that the Supreme Court overstepped its boundaries of power is preposterous because before yesterday it was simply assumed by the majority that same sex marriage was unlawful. Those opposed to gay marriage have been trying to amend the constitution to redefine and limit marriage to man and woman. Things went the other way. They lost.
Making this the basis of your defense is like the losing team of *insert sports thing here* trying to discredit the victory of the champions by calling foul on something that happened in the game that's already over while the quarterbackers are making sweet love to your cheerleaders (be they male or female leaders of cheer).
2) The sideways and super casual, "I think it's funny that most of the people who are changing their Facebook pic to rainbows or arguing in support of gay rights are not gay."
What you are really saying is, "Man, it would be so much easier to be a bigot on Facebook today if I didn't have all these straight people calling me out on some shit."
Minorities whose rights are being violated, by definition, have the scales tipped against them because they are in the minority. If people within the majority who disagree with a minority's exclusion, persecution, or mistreatment don't speak up, then there is no chance whatsoever of issues against any minority ever being rectified.
If you are asking for people to only fight for the rights that apply to them directly, then we are all screwed because "the master's tools will never dismantle the master's house." A system that works only for the protection of itself and its majority would be impenetrable by any minority- so unless you are a white Christian dude in America, you'd be righteously hosed.
Rather than promoting that we should all stick up for only our own self interest, I would argue that instead we should each of us fight for the ideals that appeal to our core values... not to be confused with religious belief.
That's not meant as a sleight against religion, I'd just ask that if you are religious, take your beliefs a step further and identify what core values they've instilled in you. I know a lot of religious folks whose core values are "Love thy neighbor" centric- or at least, "judge not lest ye be judged." Or at the very least, "How you choo-choo choose to pave your road to Hell is none of my damned business!"
What I struggle with is recognizing which values motivate those who oppose gay rights, unless it's "Mine is an angry God who is prepared to smite all ye damnable sinners!" The single best defense against this rationale that I've heard was "I love everyone so much that I don't want them to go to Hell." That's a fine way of thinking (almost enviable). Lord knows my Mom is frightened for the future of my soul, though I would hope that in the grand scheme of things if I have to plead my case at the pearly gates, that I wouldn't be judged only on having made the right or wrong choices out of fear for going to Hell. Still though, the argument assumes that one religious group should be allowed to dictate morally and legally over the nation, but if we're being honest, that doesn't feel like the narrative that's being shouted the most. If it were, then we'd be having a different debate that asks, "Whose religious compass should everyone have to live by and why?" Instead, it sounds much more like, "Same-sex sex is icky." Well, nobody put a dick in your mouth (or vagina as the case may be), so suck it.
3) You'd call me a bigot for asking that gay people don't rub their gayness in my face?
I've never heard anyone ask straight folks to "keep their straightness out of their face." If I did, I'd tell them to chomp on an ass, too.
Asking gay people or those in support of gay rights not to "shove it down my throat" as one person put it (which is an awfully bi-curious way for it to be stated if you ask me) just for putting up a rainbow picture as their Facebook profile image? That is offensive and bigoted in the sense that you are expecting someone who is gay to behave differently than you would a straight person or another group in your "acceptable majority." I've had a picture of my finacee and me, face to face and cuddly in our Halloween costumes from a few years back as my profile picture for a crazy long time and if anyone was every offended by the obvious display of hetero love happening there, I've never heard whisper of it.
If you were playing on even, non-hypocritical terms, hetero wedding pics, super cute couples photos and other celebrations of vanilla bean love would inspire the same vitriol as a rainbow pic and you would bitch about those as well... but because it's within the parameters of a popular belief structure, it's somehow not bigoted to ask that a group of people hide their love away?
The reason that this "bigotry card" doesn't work both ways, which was a common defense for those opposed- claiming that if I call them a bigot, that makes me a bigot right back- is because I am not calling for any group to behave differently or imposing my will on others based on an intolerant set of beliefs different from my own. There are a lot of people with whom I frequently associate or consider close friends and/or family that have crosses in their Facebook profile, post inspirational Bible quotes or even wear crosses around their necks (in actual real life)! I can honestly say that I have never been offended by this behavior or asked them to keep all the Jesus loving hub-bub down to a minimum for those of us who are trying to catch a bus to Hell.
In short, it's not the having of an opinion that makes you a bigot, it's the opinion that you should have the freedom to enact your will on another group. Nobody is suggesting that those who don't believe in gay marriage go get gay married or even watch a same sex marriage. Having the right to free speech, which I wouldn't dream of taking from anyone, however, does not mean that you are free to speak with impunity or that your rights are being violated just because your beliefs are being challenged in open debate.
Besides that- it's offensive to me that you would presume to know how many dicks I've sucked. :O
5) The Religion Card.
This one's the hardest. I really do try not to trample other people's religion, regardless of how opposed to my own thoughts and feelings might be, but I get defensive when one group's set of beliefs is used as a tool for discrediting, condemning or imposing one group's will on another.
One of my Facebook friends was so affected by all of the rainbow pictures popping up on his friend's profiles that he took an inverted filter and created a profile image opposite of the rainbow equality movement to use as his profile picture and then he posted scripture about how homosexuality is a sin. It felt gross to me that the happenings of yesterday were so offensive to some that it drove them to the lengths of protest, either formal or informal.
The argument that followed was very circular and left a bad taste in my mouth. (That's what HE said- bada-ching!)
I don't feel like it comes from a good hearted place to put down the celebration of others who were awarded a freedom you don't think they should have that does not have any bearing on how you live your life. I could debate the merit of the religious or political beliefs that inspired the protest, but that isn't really the point. I could go on to quote seemingly appalling, literal Bible verses that we've moved beyond accepting as a society, even in religious circles. I could try to dissect someone else's religious beliefs- and I have done that at length, I'm sure- but when I assess my core values, something feels out of alignment with that approach. I've spent my whole life forging my thoughts, beliefs and feelings and so have you.
It's offensive and conceited that anyone would expect to be able to waltz into a single conversation and revolutionize another person into your way of being (not that it doesn't happen as a matter of serendipitous happenstance from time to time, but it's the expecting to change someone else's core values that I find disturbing).
So in essence, by disagreeing with the tact and taste of such acts as protesting another's celebration, I felt like I was passing judgment on someone's judgment. I can try to justify that it's different because I preach inclusion rather than exclusion, love versus hate, but what it boils down to is that I disagree with that train of thought and it disagrees right back at me.
It's a slippery slope that I'll try to wrap up with a neat little bow, recycling a little of what I stated above already:
You have the right to free speech, but you do not have the right to free speech with impunity or lack of judgment from others. A lot of people seem to be making that mistake lately, waiving the flag of "I have the right to think and feel the way I do without being challenged whatsoever and how dare you question my beliefs?" At the heart of the argument, I realized that it isn't the questioning of others that I so vehemently disagree with- it's the expectation that one person or group's beliefs are so much more valid than another group or person's that they should have to comply, regardless of whether it would cause either party any degree of personal injury.
So, in closing:
If you are going to start a Facebook War today, no matter which side of the argument you are on, I would ask that you follow in the suggestion of Walt Whitman (in a quote I know I've used before), "Be curious, not judgmental." If you approach an argument with the intent to disprove your opposition, you will most likely fail in being heard. Try first to disprove yourself.
If you disagree with everything that I said and yet you continued reading, there is even more value in that than if our beliefs were the same. If you read this and agreed with all or most of what I've said, it certainly feels nice to be validated, but I would encourage you to also read something you almost surely intend to disagree with from the start- it will probably make you a more interesting person in the long run and it will certainly stimulate a lot of brain activity.