Friday, April 17, 2009

Redneck vs. Pariah (not that there's anything WRONG with that!) Smackdown

Somewhere down below, you'll find the video of the public hearing in front of the NH Senate Judiciary Committee on HB436: 'relative to civil marriage and civil unions,' 4/15/2009. Half of it could accurately be characterized, as one Rep quipped to me, as "bigots on parade," transparently convenient self-serving protestations and self-descriptions to the contrary aside. "Hey, I know a (godless) lesbian! I even said that out loud! Whaddaya want from me?! There're only so many rights to go around, ya know! I got mine, and I ain't givin' 'em up...!"

Check out the final speaker in Part 1, just for a pointed, head-slapping, cringe-inducing example (or the slightly more insidious grinning bigotry of the final speaker of Part 2, or the blissfully self-unaware 'Tyrants-R-Us' rant at the end of Part 3, or... ). Yes, he's a lovable sitcom stereotype, but don't be lulled. Wait for it... Wait... There. Was I lyin'? Yeah, that was my reaction, too. How ever did he forget "barefoot & pregnant," anyway...? Now, who was clapping louder in response: the defiantly authoritarian social conservatives or the bill supporters thankful for the farcical comic relief, hoping to encourage more such revealing volunteered honesty? Tough to say. "Give 'em enough rope" is certainly a valid strategy, especially when they so happily cooperate...

Anyway, in the course of testimony, we were told that this is an unflattering "'me' issue." That we've become a selfish society, and must change our ways. Wanna guess which side that assertion came from? (Answer [sorry, no 'spoiler space']: Those who want to vengefully [isn't there something about "vengeance" in their "good book"?] deny to others rights and benefits they, themselves, consider a birthright.)

We heard that the encouragement of the stability of official marriage greatly benefits all of society. Wanna guess which side that statement came from? (Answer: Those desiring to continue to limit its availability.)

We were assured that no one is opposed to equal rights, that justice is our goal. Wanna guess?

We were informed that the purpose of marriage is to breed future generations of obedient government servants. Guess... OK, that one's a gimme.

We learned that rights should be voted on, subject to majority rule, this being a "democracy," and all.

We were regaled with ominous arguments and portentous prophecies citing biology and education and adoption and tax revenues and incest and bestiality, but never exactly how any of it related to the bill at hand.

We were informed, on multiple occasions and to knowing chortles, that this bill would outlaw the use of words like "bride," "groom," "husband," "wife," in common usage. "Who's 'Person 1,' anyway?!?" (guffaws ensue) Well, who's "Party of the First Part?" For that matter, what's a "part"? (guffaws ensue...)

We were notified that God will be filing copyright infringement charges. (Well, the wages of sin aren't what they used to be, after all, the economy being what it is...)

We were warned that Taliban-like imposition of religious values was the inevitable next step, the irony clearly entirely lost on the speaker. (Once again, oppression is bad only if "we" aren't the oppressor.)

It was implied that gays are godless, or at least that any religion they might claim to follow (there were audible snickers for the Druid) is somehow plainly false because...

We were told that there are many kinds of churches, but they all (needless to say) subscribe to the (particular) speaker's interpretation of [southern preacher accent] everybody's lord Jesus! [/southern preacher accent] (I think somebody said the Committee Chair is Jewish, so that concept should have gone over well...)

We wistfully recalled, with 'Tammy Faye,' the days of scripture exams in public schools.

We were literally told that passing this bill would usher in full-blown barbarianism. True. No, true.

We were warned that softball fans can't be allowed to confuse their favorite sport with the National Pastime, thus profoundly harming us all. Seriously.

We heard from several individuals that they were personally willing to go to jail, ostensibly (they weren't exactly clear) rather than comply with some provision of the proposed legislation. (They were even less clear on what the charges could possibly be. Maybe those 'copyright' violations...?)

We were told that if one is bisexual -- i.e., if one might potentially be hormonally attracted to other people, especially people of whom someone else's church might not approve for them -- certainly one wouldn't be getting married, anyway, since ya can't not do something about it, right? (Evidently, heterosexuals automatically lose that biological capacity. Does that mean I'm not really hetero, or not really married? I'm so confused. I guess the "traditional marriage" divorce rate is just a fiction...)

We learned -- with visual aids, even -- that marriage is like stool: all connected and fibrous-like. Oh, sorry -- that was like a stool... (Btw, the third leg of "the marriage stool" is "the child" -- not to be confused with "the Belmont Stakes," being the third leg of "the Triple Crown," speaking of big honkin' stools -- so I guess the "not" that I'm judged to be is "really married.") This unadulterated "stool," you may be interested to know, issued forth from an actual elected (I must accept, I suppose, lacking evidence to the contrary) NH Representative. Eww...

And ahhhhh, of course, we were incessantly chided that denying equality under the law is righteous and -- say it with me -- "for the children!"

About the only thing that no one seemed to disagree on, or at least contest -- refreshingly (small incremental victories...) -- is that government marriage does, in fact, bestow government benefits. As an aside, I'm not really steeped in this specific issue -- coulda fooled you, at this point, huh? -- being personally more vexed by the broader implications of theocracy and church/state commingling in general. But it seems to me that if I were directly affected, I'd be mostly fixated on the state-granted "contract package" aspect (visitation, etc. -- "permission" to visit your sick spouse, can you imagine?) than with any monetary windfall that social conservatives often claim I'd somehow realize against their will (but haven't we heard a lot of kvetching over the years from those very same conservatives about the "marriage penalty"? So which is it...?).

So, after six and a half (plus lunch break) liberty-sapping, soul-crushing hours (divided by ~2) of repetitive, mind-numbingly parochial "well, duh! God said so! Everybody knows that!" religious fundamentalism, I remain, um, fundamentally and profoundly unconvinced by the opposition.

Simply stated, government shouldn't be -- isn't authorized to be -- involved in many things, but if it unfortunately currently is (as with marriage), and until it isn't again, it absolutely may not discriminate. Period. Least of all according to one sect's -- nay, empirically one faction of one sect's -- definitions. Not in a free society. Not, as on this issue, in a First Amendment-compliant society. Any existing discrimination must end. Immediately.

If'n ya don't like the results of that Constitutionally mandated field-leveling, then you've got incentive a-plenty to help to get government out completely. Then you can continue to discriminate in your own church (ya simply don't get to discriminate in someone else's church -- that's kinda what makes it "theirs," don'tchaknow) or in your own business, to your dark, oppressive little heart's content. Yeah, get used to that characterization: you are an oppressor, like Stalin (ohh, no -- no Godwin's Law invocations here!), of peaceful people just trying to live their lives in liberty, in pursuit of happiness. Or, if you insist, pursuit of happinefs...

Make ya feel good, does it?

As I've said before, even quite recently, government's got no business whatsoever selectively making peaceful private lives more difficult. None. Ever. Simple as that.

And 10 years later:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

And here, some selected testimony, just 'cause I found it compelling. Alright! I found it sensitive, OK...?!

EDIT: OK, how did they see this before it was aired...?

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