Sunday, June 04, 2006

The Hideous Truth Behind the FMA

Tomorrow, the President is expected to make statements in support of the "Federal Marriage Amendment" (FMA). The timing of this newfound interest in the issue is indicative of a wholly transparent hurling of raw meat at his religious rightwing base--a callous, opportunitistic, purely political ploy to pump up his approval rating as we head into the serious stretch of mid-term election campaigns--but that's what politicians do, the President is a politician, and he's never given us any reason to expect any better of him.

I oppose the FMA. Not only because I'm gay, but because it's a truly evil concept. I'm not using hyperbole here. The idea is pure evil...and I'll explain why.

When you take out the religious arguments for banning gay marriage (which I assume the Constitution still requires, but who knows these days), the remaining rationale boils down to "It's important to defend the traditional definition of marriage in order to protect the traditional family unit."

Deconstructing that a bit, we can eliminate any serious arguments that the Constitution should be amended to defend "tradition" for tradition's sake. If anything, the Constitution is designed to facilitate evolutions of traditions toward a more perfect, more equal union. When FMA advocates point to the long history of one-man--one-woman marriages (pushing aside polygamist models, fiercely patriarchal models, and the evolutions of no-fault divorce, for convenience), I tend to remind them that until less than 100 years ago, mankind had enjoyed an equally long tradition of denying women the right to vote where voting was a right men had. How old a tradition is does not reflect how righteous it is.

So, taking out tradition, we're left with a rationale that boils down to "It's important to defend the current definition of marriage in order to protect the family unit." But that's where FMA advocates typically stop. They don't exactly spell out what the current model of marriage is designed to protect the family unit from. It's implied that there's some universally understood threat, but no one defines it.

Let me.

I've had the occassion to push one or two brilliant conservative thinkers a bit further on this topic on political blogs, and where we always end up in doing so is at the idea that without a strong institution of marriage to control them, far many more heterosexual men (than currently do so) would not stay with and/or provide for their children and their mother. That's the threat of weakening the institution of marriage (not that I agree that allowing gays to marry would do so, quite the opposite, but that's a thread for another day). What FMA advocates fear, even if they don't say so in so many words, is that left to their own devices, many more straight men would follow their baser instincts and move from woman to woman, abandoning the families they created in their wake. The societal pressure to stay with one woman and work as a unit to provide for her and their children is needed to control such men. The conservative point of view appears to be that anything that weakens the institution will create more broken families, because heterosexual men can't be trusted to do the right thing without that kind of pressure. That's the hideous truth behind the FMA.

In other words, homosexuals are being scapegoated in order to maintain this societal pressure on these irresponsible men. A minority of Americans will have their second-class citizenship chiseled into the nation's most important document because conservatives fear rampant heterosexual promiscuity. It would be pathetic if it weren't just so damn evil.

I don't think President Bush is wise enough to have thought this through to this conclusion. I think he's merely throwing Dobson and his ilk something to chew on so they'll rally round Republicans and be the dutiful little pitbulls they are moving toward November. But in doing so he's feeding the homophobes and their blind hatred. He's making the country less hospitable, indeed more dangerous, for me and mine.

It's still early, I know, but so far there's been no plague of locusts or flowing rivers of blood in Massachusetts. No spike in the divorce rate among heterosexuals. No reason whatsoever to believe the fearmongers who preach that gay marriage will impact that institutions in negative ways. But more telling than that, Bush knows he doesn't have the votes in the Senate to pass the FMA. He's merely beating up on gays and their families so Dobson will again turn churches into GOP election headquarters. He's purposely scapegoating us, and as dim as he appears to be, he surely understands at least that much. Again, it's pure evil and he should know that his great-grandchildren's generation will surely be ashamed of him for doing this.


Anonymous David said...

None of the married people I know, myself included, feel any threat to our "institutions" from gay marriage. And I think the "brilliant conservative thinkers" you refer to (you're overly generous, Edward) are either deluding themselves or just lying to everyone else. From what I understand, the main pressure on most marriages is financial. Of course, talking about that isn't going to help any Republicans in this next election.

6/04/2006 12:00:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa Hunter said...

"Amendment mania" is straight from the Lee Atwater playbook. The Republicans have been proposing wedge issue amendments since the Reagan era. Y'all remember the fuss over a Flag Burning Amendment? A Balanced Budget Amendment? I can't even remember all the others, but at one time, George Bush Senior was a proponent of no fewer than six different amendments. Not one ever went anywhere.

The way to stop all this, in my opinion, is to avoid getting sucked into debating the wedge issue itself, and instead, to point out that for 20 years, Republican politicians have betrayed every voter who voted for them because of an amendment promise.

6/04/2006 12:48:00 PM  
Blogger aurix said...

Excellent post. I totally agree with you.

About a month ago I had an argument with a friend who was against gay marriage. Her reason was basically that "if we allow gay marriage, who knows what other things people are going to be demanding for?" and then she proceeded to link gay marriage to all kinds of social problems from drug abuse to pre-marital sex (yep, she's against that too). Even though she said she "accepted gay people", the assumption behind her argument was that gay marriage was by nature evil and that if we allow one evil, other bad things will then follow. When I pointed out her logic and assumption, she just argued that there was no evidence to indicate otherwise...

6/04/2006 01:20:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

If gays are ever legally permitted to marry, then I'm divorcing my wife and marrying a video poker machine.

You see? The conservatives are right! Gay marriage is a threat to the institution of marriage!

Actually, I think my wife is more of a threat to the institution of marriage, but that's another amendment.

6/04/2006 03:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For Bush and his conservative allies, this is really an ideal topic: They're basically trying to score points with their fellow conservatives by going after a minority. The way I see it is that the fight for equal rights for homosexuals is very much comparable with the fight for equality of women or, more recently (historically speaking), non-whites.

It's very easy to refute the whole idea that gay marriage is a danger for traditional marriages, and it's equally easy to show that traditional marriages are threated not by homosexuals demanding equal rights, but by poverty, say. But then it's much harder to score points using poor people - even though Republicans did that back in the 90s when they made Clinton sign the "Welfare-to-Work" act - so homosexuals are just a convenient target. This is not even disgusting any longer, the very basis of this whole show is a disdain for democracy.

I think, though, that ultimately, any attempts to deny equal rights for homosexuals is doomed. It's just a shame, though, that we have to go thru this very sad period.

6/04/2006 07:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric Caspesyan said...

If you find someone you love, and they love you back, you have everything.

You don't need any of this bullshit.

What did Dyogenes said to Alexander The Great?

"You're standing in my sun."


Cedric Caspesyan

6/05/2006 04:10:00 AM  
Blogger Jordan said...

We all know this is smoke and mirrors....

We all know this is pandering for the elections...

The problem works! Republicans are using the formula which has helped them all along. And the American public (as a whole) buys right into it.

It is much easier to point the finger at gay people then to actually evaluate why the institution of marriage in the United States is largely a failure.

If you are passionate about what you fight for and savy...the majority tends to believe you regardless of how silly your premise is.

This crap wouldn't happen if we as Americans didn't not only allow it but thrive on it!

6/05/2006 08:46:00 AM  
Anonymous jec said...

LH said "The way to stop all this, in my opinion, is to avoid getting sucked into debating the wedge issue itself, and instead, to point out that for 20 years, Republican politicians have betrayed every voter who voted for them because of an amendment promise."

Agreed. How can we get the media attention turned away from this though? The MSM is so in the habit of focusing on whatever drivel the Republicans decide to bring up in a particular week, that they don't seem capable of doing otherwise. God I hope we can change this situation someday!

In getting the media to talk about the issue, the Right gets us to talk about it too, to defend our point of view WHICH DOESN'T NEED DEFENDING. We have to stop letting them set the agenda and introduce the talking points.

6/05/2006 09:32:00 AM  
Anonymous onesock said...

I just find the ultimate irony in the fact that this issue has resulted in convincing many african american voters to vote republican. That an issue of hate and predjudice is used to sway black voters? Geez.

6/05/2006 09:52:00 AM  
Blogger Lisa Hunter said...

When I was a kid, my school had a manditory class in propaganda, which taught us the various methods that advertisers and politicians use to try to manipulate our opinions. I'm always amazed when people fall for blatantly obvious manipulations -- things my classmates and I knew how to recognize by age 11. (Of course, this was in San Francisco, land of independent thinking.)

6/05/2006 10:57:00 AM  
Anonymous bambino said...

If you are against Gay Marriage "DONT MARRY ONE" thats all
and leave them alone. let us marry or whatever we want.

6/05/2006 11:11:00 AM  
Anonymous ml said...

Using a minority as a venting mechanism to deflect dissatisfaction is a long human tradition. Think pogroms in Czarist Russia.

You have to view these amendments/hot button issues like any fad: they come, they make sales, they vanish.

The majority of young Republicans do not think gay marriage is a problem. But I doubt Bush's grandchildren will be embarrassed about W. There's an evident genetic deficiency in that family.

6/05/2006 11:16:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

you tell 'em bambino!!!

there's no defense of supporting bans on gay marriage I've ever heard that didn't have fear or hatred at its center, even those with religious bases. Its advocates would do well by their souls to reflect on what really motivates them here.

And yes, this too shall pass, but it behooves good people everywhere to object as loudly as the hatemongers cry for more hatred each time it rears its ugly head to avoid the perception that silence is agreement.

6/05/2006 11:21:00 AM  
Anonymous David said...

When I was a kid, my school had a manditory class in propaganda...

Lisa, you must have gone to a really good school. These days kids are doing well if they graduate from high school and can form a sentence. And look at the bad examples they're given - even if you don't learn to read, you can still be president. Why bother working so hard if you don't need to :)

6/05/2006 12:36:00 PM  
Blogger Ed Maskevich said...

This mornings news said the Dubya's base knows this is all a political ploy and that's okay with them because it gets their issues in the spotlight, and they do have issues. I don't think that ignoring the Christian Fundamentalists makes them go away. As for me, I go straight (no pun intended) to their playbook, the bible, and find where they misquote it or outright lie or take it out of context and argue that back to them.

As for gay marriage, why should heterosexuals have all the grief to themselves. With a 50% divorce rate I don't think I would brag about maintaining the integretity and solemnity of hetero marriage. I also find it interesting that when I lived in ultra-liberal San Francisco I only knew a few people who were divorced. Here in the bible thumping midwest I have met more people who are in their 3rd and 4th marriages. Some of them told me that god spoke to them and told them that the marriage should be ended. I mean, when it's god's will...

6/05/2006 02:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric Caspesyan said...

What I don't understand is that,
besides any orientation, there is a portion of people who got lot of great sex, and another who rarely ever get sex, and the ones who don't have sex should pay taxes so that the people who have sex live happier.

Is that really the picture I'm getting?

Cedric Caspesyan

(or maybe I'm bringing up how it works in Canada)

6/05/2006 03:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Karl Zipser said...

In The Netherlands, same-sex marriage is no big issue. It's just accepted. America seems like a strange land lost in the past.

Not to belittle the topic here, but I think we should all be glad if we can get through the next few years without these lunatics doing something even more physically destructive than what they have done so far.

6/05/2006 04:52:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa Hunter said...

Speaking of how it works in Canada... I now live in Montreal, and when the gay marriage legislation passed here, people I talked to were delighted -- not only for progressive values but for economic reasons. They hoped that skilled, educated gay Americans would immigrate here, start businesses, buy real estate, and add their talents to the workforce. The attitude here is: Bienvenue!

6/05/2006 04:53:00 PM  
Anonymous rebel belle said...

Rick santorum:
"In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality. That's not to pick on homosexuality. It's not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be. It is one thing. And when you destroy that you have a dramatic impact on the quality —"

Associated Press: I'm sorry, I didn't think I was going to talk about "man on dog" with a United States senator, it's sort of freaking me out.

Arf Arf Asshole!! This says it all.
I'm sorry, but the lunacy of this reasoning must give us all pause. But what is really scary is that it does advance the boogie man platform. "Watch out, he's knocking on your door and wants your son!!"

6/05/2006 05:00:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

There is a certain amount of logic behind this. If you believe that homosexuality is a choice, that it's learned behavior; and you think impressionable people might learn it from someone else openly practicing it; and you think people shouldn't be allowed to do things just because they want to; if you put all of that together, the anti-gay marriage idea makes sense.

I don't agree, of course. But I do think we get what we deserve, living as we do in a country founded by Puritans. You know, they didn't call them Puritans because they were fun-loving and tolerant.

I'd move, but to where?

6/05/2006 05:27:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...


If you believe that homosexuality is a choice, that it's learned behavior; and you think impressionable people might learn it from someone else openly practicing it;'re most definitely too ignorant to be writing new amendments into the Constitution. The only choice involved in the issue is the one where supposedly thinking adults choose to ignore the collective findings of the world's most respected medical associations in order to claim they believe gays and lesbians choose to be ostracized and hated and belittled and bashed and treated like second-class citizens. They generally can't imagine choosing to love and make love to someone of the same gender themselves, but for some unfathomable reason remain convinced that other people could. Such thinking should render them ineligible to hold public office, IMO.

6/05/2006 06:13:00 PM  
Blogger serena said...

Ed, from my interactions with fundamentalist conservatives on political blogs, I can attest that your analysis is right on the money. The bloggers I read are also aware that this particular go-round is a shameless political ploy, from an administration that has now alienated its conservative base nearly as much the liberals.

Maybe I'm ridiculously optimistic, but I think gay marriage is inevitable, too. My concern is to continue engaging people who have radically different political viewpoints, in as affectionate a manner as I can manage, so that polarization and knee-jerk hostility don't become our biggest problems--which they may be already.

I've found that it's actually easier to engage fundamentalist Christians on any issue, even the hot-button ones, because they can generally be brought to semi-sanity with the words "But Jesus said we should forgive." This doesn't work with most 'liberal atheists' I know, which gives some credence to the right-wing notion that people have to be strong-armed into behaving properly.

6/05/2006 07:22:00 PM  
Anonymous David said...

they can generally be brought to semi-sanity with the words "But Jesus said we should forgive."

Serena, that's not semi-sanity; you've just figured out how to push the right button. Push a different button and you get a Coke.

6/05/2006 08:24:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

Ed sez:'re most definitely too ignorant to be writing new amendments into the Constitution. The only choice involved in the issue is the one where supposedly thinking adults choose to ignore the collective findings of the world's most respected medical associations in order to claim they believe gays and lesbians choose to be ostracized and hated and belittled and bashed and treated like second-class citizens.

Don't for a moment think I don't agree with you, Ed. But I do honestly believe it's possible I am wrong. I'm a secular humanist, and I think people should generally leave other people to do what they want -- I rather like Kant's categorical imperative -- but I suppose it's possible there is a God and He's Roman Catholic. It's not the world I'd choose to live in, but then I'd rather live in a world without intolerance and smallpox, too.

I just try to see things from the other side, no matter how stupid it may seem. It's an interesting exercise. The fact is, we're all stupid about something at one time or another.

6/05/2006 09:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric Caspesyan said...

Ed, sweety,

What if gay was a choice?

So what?

I'm definitely pro-choice.

Dont fit any mold, change orientation as you wish.

Sex is an art: be creative.

What..Am I the devil, now?

Is this the new witch hunt ?

Cedric Caspesyan

6/06/2006 01:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Eric said...

I'm an artist, and a Christian, and I'm not really in favor of gay marriage. (please don't assume that makes me a Republican!) I honestly don't believe I have any hatred or fear of homosexuals. Sounds like most people here are pretty firmly entrenched in their positions, so I won't even bother trying to state my case.

Anyway, just wanted to say that I really appreciate Ed's blog. The discussions are always relevant and lively -- thanks!

6/06/2006 01:10:00 AM  
Anonymous Cedric Caspesyan said...

>>>I won't even bother trying to >>>>state my case.

You should cos it's incomprehensible.

You're not in favor of gay marriage...

Err...So Fucking What?

Why should YOU have a say on what other consenting adults wish to do?
That is MY question.

Because that would be anti-christian?

We have barely mentioned religions. They are thousands religions and ways to marry.

Truth is...people marry, yes they do. But very few of them are actual heavy christian followers.

So maybe no one should marry unless they are heavy christian followers. Otherwise christianity methink have nothing to do with the issue.

Besides..Christian mens used to marry...They just called it freemasonry.

Marriage is nothing but a symbol that means you are engaging yourself in not cheating on your partner (or at least not without their consent).

Gays, by condition, desperately need this. Men are sex machines and they only properly function through discipline and rituals: that is why they invented them.

That is only why I can manage to understand why gays want to marry this much. They're tired of screwing pointlessly. Get it?

So FFS, be altruist and helps your neighbor the gay.

(We expect divorce rates to grow near 90 per cent, but who cares, people have the right to candy).

Cedric Caspesyan

6/06/2006 06:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Cedric Caspesyan said...

Ok, for a sec I completely forgot that they ARE, in fact, gay women on this planet, what made me sound like the worst phallocratic bastard (haha), but nevertheless I still believe that marriage was a man's invention.

(well at least in 2300 BC when it appeared in Mesopotamia it was a way for men to declare "this girl is NOT touch her"....Yeah depressing but, that's how it was. The egyptians I assume were much more poetic.)


6/06/2006 06:31:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

I appreciate the kind words about the blog, Eric, and I understand why you'd rather not state your case (and I'll ask Cedric to tone it down just a notch please...I appreciate the sentiment, but we strive to be respectful and civil toward everyone here, even when the topic is a passionate one)...but I can't imagine why anyone who believes in marriage and believes gay people truly love each other would deny them the security and respect marriage provides. Perhaps you don't believe gay people truly love each other. Perhaps you don't care if they do or not. I have to note though, such ideas are virtually anti-human to me. It suggests gays are sub-human to some minds. How else could one deny them basic human decency?

6/06/2006 07:57:00 AM  
Blogger Ed Maskevich said...

The Puritans came to the new world to flee religious persecution and then set about to persecute anyone who wasn't like them. History does repeat itself. The conservative revolution with Newt Gingrich wanted less government in our lives, that is after they legislated how we were going to live that less intrusive life. Gay marriage has been around for well over a millenium, my daughter wrote a wonderful letter to the editor a year ago explaining that to the local gay bashers and citing historical references. Makes a dad proud! The noted educator, Bruno Bettleheim, whose work I respect, said a family was father, mother, and children yet all over the planet, whole communities are involved in raising the children, or as Hillary would say, it takes a village to raise a child.

When we lived in extended families we had a diverse selection of role models right in our own household. Nature teaches us, through natural selection, that diversity is a good thing and is necessary for healthy life and growth. When did diversity become bad?

We hate what we fear and we fear what we don't understand.

6/06/2006 09:00:00 AM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

Ed pleads:
How else could one deny them basic human decency?

Maybe us married folks are trying to save you from marriage.

More seriously, I understand what you're talking about, Ed. My wife and I were together many years before we were married and even as a heterosexual couple, not being legally married had its problems. Something as simple as visiting me in a hospital room after an operation required deceit.

Marriage is so much more than an agreement not to have sex with other people these days. The legal side is what's more important. I would never have bothered getting married if it weren't for that.

6/06/2006 09:01:00 AM  
Blogger Lisa Hunter said...

It's the 25th anniversary of the AIDS crisis, and almost none of the gay men I knew in my teens and 20s are alive today to debate this issue. Back then, health research on AIDS was hindered by right wing factions that thought the disease was a punishment from God. Adding insult to injury, long-term partners were often denied hospital visits because they weren't "next of kin." Then there were all kinds of problems with inheritance, because joint property was often in only one name.

Given how terribly the country has treated homosexuals over the years, is it so much to ask that people be allowed to marry the person they love?

6/06/2006 09:59:00 AM  
Anonymous J.T. Kirkland said...

Here's an interesting factoid that I think is relevant here:

"As of that day, in 1967, a whopping 16 states had laws prohibiting or punishing interracial marriage. Even true blue Maryland had such a law, though it wisely repealed it at the outset of the Lovings' litigation. Though the remaining 15 states were, shall we say, the "usual suspects," states like California, Colorado, and even vow-happy Nevada had bans on interracial marriage well into the 1940s, though they were later repealed."

This is from a fantastic article at

6/06/2006 10:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Cedric Caspesyan said...

>>>The legal side is what's more >>>important. I would never have >>>bothered getting married if it >>>weren't for that.

You're absolutely right. And I forgot how for a long time marriage was a political or financial move. They still do it like this in some countries. Sometimes you never have met the spouse until marriage.

I'm so naive, sorry. It was my dumb moment. I talk to people who dont divorce because it would cost them too much. Others can't because they worked at home for their loved ones and there's no
curriculum for that.

Marriage = Trap. You're right.

But about legal bindings....
Why can't two straight men marry?
If they are great friends and feel like they want to be legally binded?

Why can't a threesome legally bind ? As long as they share everything among the three of them?

Why can't we get rid of the sex question, since it is poorly pertinent, and let any people
create personal binds?

Wouldn't that be the most constitutional thing to do?

They are already places where men marry many women.

Why can't a women marry many men, for example?

Just let people do what they want.

The only law should be: you get the same amount of taxes or financial help per "couple" (ie, personal associations).

Bingo ?

Cedric Caspesyan

6/06/2006 04:13:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

Cedric, I'm not saying marriage should be done for legal purposes only. I'm just saying that if it were merely a matter of personal preference -- if there were no legal attachments to marrying someone -- then I don't think a fair number of gays would give a crap any more than a fair number of straights would give a crap.

As far as I'm concerned, I was already as married as I needed to be long before I actually got married. I was committed to a relationship with a person I loved. That was enough for me.

But it's not enough for things like hospital visitations, approving medical care in case of incapacity, inheritance, making funeral arrangements, owning a home, and so on and so on. By not allowing gays to marry, we're denying them a lot of legal stuff.

So you ask why not let anyone enter into legal entanglements with whoever they want, as often as they want? I've asked the same question a lot myself. I personally don't care who marries who, if you want to marry all eight of your cats or your John Deere tractor. Doesn't matter to me a bit.

It does apparently matter to some people, though. Polls -- for what they're worth -- show that right now, most Americans are not in favor of gay marriage. Most of them don't think we need an amendment, either.

The good news is, the numbers of tolerant have been coming up for 20 years. Eventually there will be gay marriage, and maybe even some time after that, marriages between man and tractor.

In the meantime, though, it sure does suck how we treat some people.

6/06/2006 04:36:00 PM  
Blogger Candy Minx said...

HI everyone, hello Edward, I just posted about gay marriage on my blog on Friday because our leader in Canada, a country that has already allowed gays rights to marry has been recently elected and wants to recant. He also does not want women to have equal rights or rights respected. meanwhile while he is harping about gay marriage...a few nilhisists were plotting to blow up his parliment buildings...and then you post this after Bush is on about this same issue...

I beleive we can multi task our community issues but these "leaders" are trying to deflect attention from other issues with their phobias.

I hope you get a chance to stop by my blog and read what I wrote about Canada and gay marriage. Eric you too please if you get a chance?

Enjoying your blog very much,

6/06/2006 08:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Eric said...

I did, Candy -- thanks.


6/07/2006 12:34:00 AM  
Blogger Candy Minx said...

Hey Eric, hi I think we've met at an opening at Peter Jones! I just went to see your page with art work and recognized it, than saw you are in Chicago, how ya doing? You were ina group show a couple months ago there with Allen Emerson, no?

6/07/2006 12:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Eric said...

Hi Candy -- I've been to Peter Jones a few times for CAC slide reviews, etc -- but not in a group show there. Maybe you're thinking of someone else...

6/07/2006 11:38:00 PM  

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