That Ole’ Time Religion

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This will be brief.

Kim Davis, the county clerk from Kentucky who went to jail for contempt of court rather than to do what her job required her to do – issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples that bear her name and job title – was released from jail on Tuesday. To a big crowd of supporters waving large white crosses and chanting hymns. And in the presence of both her lawyer and the potential Republican presidential candidate and former AK Gov. Mike Huckabee. The latter could be seen standing behind Ms. Davis, lightly touching her shoulder periodically as she stood next to her attorney, lest anyone not be entirely sure of his unyielding support.

Oh, and this was all done as Eye of the Tiger played in the background.

What a world we live in.

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I watched this late Tuesday morning from the chair in my dentist’s office as he was preparing to finish doing a root canal on a badly infected tooth I came in with last week. My dentist, whose family is from the Middle East and who has a Muslim background, was too busy taking care of his two Jewish patients – myself and the woman who came in right after me – to notice what CNN was broadcasting. When I brought it to his attention he shook his head in disgust and said, you know this is all the same – Christians, Muslims, Jews all have these reactionary people who think they have the answer and have the right to dictate to everyone else.

I’ve heard my dentist’s thoughts uttered many times – by ME (not only a Jew but a gay Jew to boot). I have the sense that the straight Jewish woman in the next room – with whom I exchanged eyeglass stories with only minutes before – has also spoken similarly. As have numerous observant Christian friends of mine (Note: Imagine that, I actually have some observant Christian friends). Not to mention a few Conservative people I know and like who have gone out of their way to say this kind of stuff to me – lest I think even for a second they’re buying the nonsense Ms. Davis and Mr. Huckabee are peddling.

Can't fight the facts Ms. Davis

Can’t fight the facts Ms. Davis

This fight is not about religious freedom, try as they might to make it so. It is about an obstinate, publicity-seeking woman whose archaic point of view has been marginalized to the point of being irrelevant to the more inclusive changing tides of American society. This, of course, is being shrouded in knee-jerk reactionary rhetoric by Ms. Davis, her like-minded, dwindling minority of compatriots and political opportunists like Mr. Huckabee and current Texas senator and otherwise presidential candidate Ted Cruz. (Note: He was also at Ms. Davis’ rally but was iced out of her nuclear family photo-op circle by Mr. Huckabee’s advance team).

I know I’m on the winning side of a fight when I find that the views of myself and other liberals – which in this case are as mainstream as a Spielberg movie – coincide with yet a third potential Republican presidential candidate – the quite conservative Carly Fiorina.

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I actually contributed money some years ago to the senate race in California for Barbara Boxer just to ensure in my small way that there was no way she could lose to her challenger, Ms. Fiorina – a woman whose views on finance, labor and pretty much everything in the world at large I loathe. Still, anyone can surprise you at any moment and I certainly was surprised when I heard Ms. Fiorina say that Ms. Davis’ issue came down to whether or not she would do the job she was hired to do.

To paraphrase – and this is me taking the ball from Carly – Ms. Davis’ religious beliefs are irrelevant here. Her employer is the government and she was elected as county clerk to uphold government laws. The law of the land is that gays and lesbians are allowed to get married across the U.S., including in her state and district, and thus her office is in charge of issuing marriage licenses to them. These official licenses require the signature of the county clerk so Ms. Davis has two choices – to do her job or not to do her job. If she believes she is unable to fulfill the duties of her office then she needs to find another employer – not sue said employer for requiring her to do what she was hired to do.

Societal laws are fluid and always changing. Presumably, so are we as human beings. This is the nature of life. If Ms. Davis finds this not to be in her nature, this does not make her a courageous warrior in the name of God. It makes her an intransigent, irresponsible bigot who refuses to live in reality and prefers to hold the rest of her state – and country – captive in the name of a false idol. Herself.

 

Marriage… not that there’s anything wrong with that

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Gay marriage is now legal in 31 of 52 states in the U.S. This week a federal district judge in Arizona struck down the state’s ban on sex unions and its Attorney General Tom Horne said it would be “an exercise in futility” to appeal the decision given where the courts and general public now stand on the issue. After a speech announcing his decision, Horne then confessed even all four of his children disagreed with him on his own personal opposition to gay marriage “so that tells you something of where the trends are going.”

More than a 1000 miles northeast in Arkansas, former Governor Mike Huckabee followed with a radio meltdown that went viral regarding the Republican Party’s reluctance to continue fighting this nationwide trend. The one time Republican presidential primary contender was positively apoplectic at the undeniable surge towards allowing same sex couples to marry and threatened to leave his own political party if it didn’t stop continuing in a direction that would “guarantee they will lose every election in the future.” To quote him exactly:

the spew

A lot of the Republicans, particularly in the establishment and those who live on either the left coast or in the bubbles of New York and Washington, are convinced that if we don’t capitulate on the same sex marriage issue and if we don’t wave the white flag of surrender and just accept the inevitable then we’re going to be losers. I tell you…it is the exact opposite of that. And if Republicans want to lose guys like me and a whole bunch of still god fearing, Bible believing people…go ahead and just abdicate on that issue, and while you’re at it go ahead and say abortion doesn’t matter either, because at that point you lose me, I’m gone. I’ll become an independent. I’ll start finding people that have guts to stand, I’m tired of this!

Wow, you can practically hear the sputtering from here, huh? The Significant Other and I have not yet chosen to walk, skip, dance or even mince down the aisle but I’ll tell you – if anything could provide me with that final push to do so it just might be the sight of Gov. Huckabee’s head exploding live on ABC during one of his numerous early morning political pundit gigs. Yes, I realize that my marriage wouldn’t personally put him over the edge but there is something about contributing to the cumulative nudge that makes it hard for me to resist. Admittedly that’s not the best reason to get legally hitched but let’s face it, it’s certainly not the worst one we’ve all ever heard.

That would do.

That would do.

The S.O. and I will actually celebrate 27 years of non same-sex marriage status this week and from where we sit the world has changed in many ways. In 1987, the idea of marriage – gay, straight or otherwise, was not even on our radar. Because at that point if we each had to pay for one more present, airline ticket, hotel accommodation or even tank of gas to attend yet another wedding we were convinced our two brains would have actually combusted into what we can now consider to be a Huckabee-like head explosion – though clearly in a far more glittery and stylish fashion. Looking back at it now I want to believe this was subliminal anger at the fact that we knew that we could never get married and therefore have the favor returned. But if I’m totally truthful I think it was only because the ritual was annoying, costly and symbolic of the yuppie-like entitlement of the Reagan era 80s that threatened to engulf you no matter where you turned. That and the fact that truly – we just couldn’t afford it all and hated feeling as if we had to pretend like we could.

This was before we had iPhones to distract us!

This was before we had iPhones to distract us!

As the years and the decades evolved and we began attending the weddings of several couples we mutually loved (Note: Okay, not literally – not all of us gays are THAT evolved) our feelings began to evolve. The whole thing began to seem less like a waste of money and more a declaration and expression of love in front of friends and family. Sure, we still had to deal with the outfits and the gifts, but as two men there were a lot less accessories to buy. Plus, after commiserating with other straight couples also living in sin, we realized there was absolutely no chance of anyone coming up to us and asking that dreaded question:

“So, when are you two going to…you know…..Oh, we don’t to embarrass you but…Oh, come on!!!”

This is not to even mention what they would say to already married couples at the wedding who had not yet chosen to have children. Since at that time the idea of being a gay parent biologically was at the very least unlikely – and adoptively not all that much talked about generally among wedding attendees – (Note: That would come later as the gay parented kids grew) – I for one considered it a double win.

Of course, somewhere along the line all of that began to change. The escalation of AIDS to an epidemic, along with the AIDS-related deaths of tens of thousands of gay men as well as many millions of others, proceeded to usher in a great deal of sympathy and eventual acceptance. Gays all around the word began to come out en masse, our stories were not only featured on the news but on comedy series like Will and Grace, by celebrities like Ellen and on the faces of politicians who followed the now far less dangerous, trailblazing path of murdered San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk – the man who predicted the whole thing, albeit not spearheaded through the lethal force of a deadly disease.

A better kind of epidemic...

A better kind of epidemic…

On the latter note, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve fantasized about the reaction of deceased, like-minded gay friends of mine to all of this. Not how the ones who longed to be like their parents would feel but by those gay guys who used to grimace and groan about the prospect of attending just one more wedding where they had to buy a gift, an outfit or…well, you already know the drill. Not to mention, what they would think about the possibility of now being questioned about why they were not….a PARENT???? Yes, I’m leaving out serving in the military because the people I’m thinking of, well, um, let’s just say like me they had asthma, clubbed feet, a congenital heart disease or – also like me – could figure out a way to get a doctor to write them a note. (Further Note: This is by no means to cast aspersions on anyone in the military – simply a statement of fact regarding those I knew and loved, who were very much like my cowardly self).

Saturday Night Live’s new Weekend Update co- anchor Michael Che, a straight guy, captured this perfectly last week in a mock editorial about all of the gay guys who have up till now been able to hide behind the injustices of the anti-gay marriage status quo. Noting his happiness for gays and lesbians who chose to tie the knot, Che nevertheless proclaimed:

I feel bad for a group of people that still get ignored in this country – and that’s gay dudes who really, really don’t want to get married and had a really good excuse not to for so long. I know there are some deadbeat gay boyfriends who are like, Yo Carl, you KNOW I want to marry you. But SOCIETY, man…wont let us. Oh well, I guess we just have to keep on boning casually till the world gets its act together.

I see what you did there

I see what you did there

Not that it’s a great thing for us homosexuals not to get married but well, if you’re going to be discriminated against you might as well use it for something productive. It reminds me of my dear friend Deb, whose parents were Holocaust survivors and whose grandparents the Nazis murdered, when she used the death of her already deceased grandmother as an excuse to not attend class in high school when she would oversleep. I challenged her on that at the time and was somewhat shocked when she reasoned to me that since she and her grandmother had never met she felt at the very least it was “one small thing she could do for me.” Though now, with the whole marriage thing – well, I think I finally do understand.

According to a recent ABC/Washington Post poll 56% of people in the country support the US Supreme Court ruling to allow gay marriage. This includes majorities in the 11 states affected by the court’s most recent decision earlier this month against the anti-gay marriage statute in Alaska. Incidentally, among those states in the lucky eleven are Arizona, Indiana, Utah, Colorado, West Virginia and North Carolina – hardly the “left coast” and certainly not anywhere near the bubbles of New York or Washington.

... and the soon to be legalization in Scotland has definitely increased my wardrobe choices.

… and the soon to be legalization in Scotland has definitely increased my wardrobe choices.

Which means that as far as the marriage between the S.O. and I are concerned – well, it’s no more excuses, at least legally. So we’ve decided to….um, well, at least recognize we are getting older and need to have some legal status. Which is not to say we will be having a surprise wedding on our anniversary on the 24th. (Note: No Gifts, please). Only that at some point we will very much look forward to contributing to a nationwide movement that will one day cause ex- Governor Mike Huckabee’s head to explode. Hopefully, that will be sooner rather than later. On at least one of the aforementioned counts.