Friday, October 27, 2006

The Naked Social Conservatives

As Joe Orton observed so well, given enough time, people will always reveal their true selves, most often when they think they're doing their very best to disguise it. But just as nearly each of the characters in Orton's masterpiece "What the Butler Saw" ends up virtually naked at the very point they're trying hardest to fool others, so too do most humans fall prey to their own dramatic efforts to convince others of their lies, raising their arms in emphasis at that climatic moment, just to let their coverings fall in doing so. The response from so-called Christian groups to the New Jersey Supreme Court's ruling on gay marriage is a textbook example of that principle.

The New Jersey court decision that gay couples are entitled to the same rights as heterosexual couples was bad news for social conservatives -- the bad news they were hoping for.

"Pro-traditional-marriage organizations ought to give a distinguished service award to the New Jersey Supreme Court," said the Rev. Richard Land, head of the public policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Land and other conservative religious leaders predicted that the court's 4 to 3 ruling, which was handed down Wednesday, would boost turnout of social conservatives in the midterm elections, particularly in the eight states that have constitutional amendments against same-sex marriage on the Nov. 7 ballot.

"I have to think there are Democratic strategists out there thinking the words of the old Japanese admiral: 'I fear all we've done is wake a sleeping giant,' " said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, a Washington-based advocacy group. "They were coasting into an election with a Republican base with dampened enthusiasm. This brings it all back home to the base, what this election is about."
Of course, these social conservatives think they're full clothed. They've always insisted that unless their followers get politically involved, the nation's courts would force gay marriage down their throats. This is the proof of their preaching.

What they obviously don't quite grasp, however, is that they've revealed their true motivations here. None of them is condemning the NJ courts, as one would expect in response to a decision they insist is harmful to the public. On the contrary, they're celebrating the decision. It's not at all important to them that the citizens of New Jersey will have gay marriage forced upon them, apparently. If it were, they would be protesting the decision. After all, this is very bad for families, very bad for children, very bad for society, no?

No, what's very clearly imporant to them is that this (they hope) will now bring out the voters they need to keep their power in Washington (earlier efforts to rally the base on this issue had fallen flat this year). Make no mistake, their power is what this represents to them, a political livesaver tossed out just before they drowned with the rest of the GOP in the midterms. If it were not about that...if their real motivation were to stop gay marriage...then this decision would be a considerable blow to their cause, not a reason to break out the bubbly (or whatever social conservatives use to toast victories). It demands a new word for "cynical," this response.

Watching these naked social conservatives dance their victory jigs in response to the decision should, one would hope, finally open the eyes of the voters they've been exploiting. I mean it's parallel to thanking God for the death of a high-profile celebrity who died of lung cancer just so you have an example to illustrate the dangers of smoking. It's twisted. It's also, of course, just how sausage is made in DC, but it's farcical to watch these bloated bare bodies bounce off each other knowing they'll later turn to face the voters in all earnestness and claim this is about their families. Orton understood farce...someone might send Dobson, Perkins, et al., an anthology.


Anonymous David said...

It's gotten to the point where all real issues have been replaced by political ones. No matter what happens, what everybody's most concerned about is how it will affect the next election.

I'm of course as caught up in this as anyone. So, what we really need right now is another Republican sex scandal, and quick. The Foley thing happened weeks ago. We need something fresh. But not yet -- maybe the day before the election.

10/27/2006 12:39:00 PM  
Blogger Candy Minx said...


Gay marriage in New Jersey, what a cause for celelbration! Great post Edward, and you know my views on gay marriage, it's an issue extremely exciting and important to me.

I really admire your thoughts here on the covert motives that may be at work.

On a slightly different front, I have just posted an interview with David Moos, a curator for Art Gallery of Ontario. I realize Canada may not seem to be a conteneder for international art concerns...but Glenn D. Lowry was a curator at the AGO before moving to MOMA.

I thought maybe some of your visitors may be interested...

10/27/2006 12:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric Caspesyan said...

Ed, between you and me (I don't want no christian extremists to read this):

Gay marriage is as utopian to me as Brokeback Mountain.

All I hear about gay is Circuit-Party-this, orgying for the benefit of aids, men having 300 partners a year, etc...

Whose gays are you defending?
Where are they? What is the percentage of gaymen that are actually even looking forward marriage?

To me it's all spoiled in sex.
Maybe the girls are doing better.

I'll let you decide if I'm sexually frustrated or if that's some other lackings that are frustrating me.

Cedric Caspesyan

10/27/2006 01:07:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

I can't speak for the gays you know Cedric, but I would welcome the opportunity to be legally shackled to my partner until death do us part. Isn't that enough?

10/27/2006 01:25:00 PM  
Anonymous David said...

I think the issue is about people being able to make choices for themselves, without the government or some church interfering.

10/27/2006 01:39:00 PM  
Blogger This Broad said...

I agree, it's utterly disgusting and cynical. But don't you think it's about as disgusting and cynical as the jigs that democrats did upon hearing the news that some poor high school pages were subjected to Foley's lewd advances? The democrats' glee (and they couldn't even seem to manage to fake interest in the kids) was mortifying for me as a liberal, even more so because I couldn't help also being happy about the political implications, and therefore I'm forced to deal with my own desperate cynicism. Like david said above, that's what it's come to.

10/27/2006 02:01:00 PM  
Blogger kelli said...

The percentage of Americans who support same sex marriage (55%) is awfully similar to the percentage of American who have been behaviourally bisexual(40%). We outnumber the Baptists and are sympathetic, something I wish the gay community would remember. This seems like a pretty obvious 14th amendment, seperate but equal issue clearly established by the civil rights movement. Which makes the attempts to use it as a wedge issue among religious leaders in the African American community seem like an ugly example of the way the right has co-opted identity politics. I still think people are too smart for that.

10/27/2006 02:13:00 PM  
Anonymous David said...

I still think people are too smart for that.

We (collectively) weren't too smart for that 2 years ago, but who knows, maybe we've gotten smarter :)

10/27/2006 02:20:00 PM  
Blogger This Broad said...

I also find myself having the mirror image of the Republicans' cynical response to the NJ court: my joy at the wisdom and heart behind the ruling is dampened by what it might mean for the election.

This all reminds me of something I heard Katrina Vanden Heuvel (sp?) of The Nation magazine once say in an interview - she quoted a longtime motto of that magazine: "If it's bad for the country, it's good for The Nation." Both sides are always trying to calibrate the meaning of individual battles within the context of the overall ideological war.

10/27/2006 02:22:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

I wasn't in the US when the Foley scandal broke, so I didn't see any of that. I did sense an in appropriate joy on the blogs when I returned, but thought at that point folks had most likely already made it clear Foley's behavior was morally corrupt (although I haven't read the text of the emails, or heard that any of the page's he approached were under 18 [were they?], he was in a position of power and they were deserving of his respect for that dynamic).

10/27/2006 02:38:00 PM  
Anonymous ml said...

I totally agree with David - every important issue is transformed into circus. The melodrama may be entertaining but the smell....

Marrying the person you love who loves you - why would anyone object to that? I just don't get it. I see the spin but it still makes zero sense.

10/27/2006 02:54:00 PM  
Anonymous David said...

I think part of the problem is the existence of political parties in the first place. They end up muddying up everyone's loyalties and agendas, and confusing the issues.

For instance, what do evangelican Christians and rich oil barons have in common? I mean except for the fact that they're Republican? Sure, there may be some people who are both, but for the most part their interests are quite different. We have this wierd polarization between parties, but the members of each party may have nothing in common with each other. The only thing they have in common is that the're opposed to the other party.

It happens among the Democrats too. I'm registered independent, but of course I'm voting straight Democratic next week. And I find myself supporting (with donations) Democratic congressional candidates in other states whose views are so conservative that here in California they'd be Republicans. People who, as individuals, I'd never in a million years want representing me, but I'd rather have them in office than a Republican (who is most likely worse).

It's too bad everyone can't just run as an independent and stand on their own record, but of course it would never happen that way. Even if you broke up all the political parties, people would start forming various alliances and soon we'd be right back where we are now.

10/27/2006 04:11:00 PM  
Blogger This Broad said...

Ed - in answer to your questions, democrats on the talk shows were positively giddy when the Foley thing broke. It was like their every dream had come true. And the pages in question were 16 and 17 (the congressional page program is for high school students). But in democrats' defense, it's just so hard not to be giddy when utter hypocrisy is exposed, as it was so hugely in Foley's and the congressional leadership's behavior. But it would be so great if democrats could learn to act like responsible humans and competant politicans (are those mutually exclusive?)

10/27/2006 04:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric Caspesyan said...

Yes, David, people should make choices for themselves.

That's why I would prefer sexual orientation not be made an issue before we make it a fight "gay rights" vs "hetero rights", etc. There is a very subtle difference hidden in there.

I cannot talk for "gays" if "gays" are not responding, if statistics of gays hoping to marry are just 5 per cent, that's not very stimulating. I would rather fight for my individual rights.

I'm tired of nomenclatures like "gay" and "hetero", I don't want to put a value on what you do in bed. I think 2 straight men could marry without having sex. I want to drop the whole sex issue out of marriage and let it be about something else.

Am I weird today?

Ah, allright, I'll get by,
maybe I've read too much Foucault,

Cedric Caspesyan

10/27/2006 05:03:00 PM  
Anonymous David said...

I want to drop the whole sex issue out of marriage...

So do a lot of social conservatives :)

10/27/2006 05:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Ethan said...

Cedric Caspesyan said...

Gay marriage is as utopian to me as Brokeback Mountain.

Well, for that matter straight marriage is pretty utopian, too... once has to be pretty optimistic and sure of their and their partners feelings to take a life-long commitment. If someone, whatever their linearity/bentness wants to take that on, I say more power to 'em.

10/27/2006 06:07:00 PM  
Blogger Candy Minx said...

Cedric, children are involved. Asick child going into surgery should be allowed to have both their parents, no? Custody after spousal death, estate delegation and legal wills are compromise the care, love and compassion of same sex commited lovers. They could have been living together for ten, twenty years...but if the law does not respect that commitment then life support, child rearing issues and concerns may not be respected or protected. There are a lot more examples of reasons why it is the compassionate move to support gay mariage. The sex life of gays has nothing to do with the reasons for requesting legal equality and respect and tolerance.

Dude, aren't you Canadian? Being against these kind of issues is bordering on treason buddy!

One love,

10/27/2006 09:03:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa Hunter said...

Here's a lovely thing about living in Canada: Recently, a gay man introduced his partner to me by asking casually, "Lisa, have you met my husband?"

10/27/2006 10:01:00 PM  
Anonymous bambino said...


10/27/2006 11:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric Caspesyan said...

>>>Dude, aren't you Canadian? >>>>Being against these kind of >>>issues is bordering on treason >>>buddy!

Lol ! I'm not anti-gay marriage !!
If I was a catholic-orthodox-whatever priest I'd be the first to marry Edward and Bambino.

I slept with men too, you know?

I mean: What is good for one person is good for everyone.
I am totally firm about equal rights.

I'm just questioning...Well I would in fact hope that gay marriage would entice gay men to engage and marry, so to speak, but I've been critical of the gay scene lately and here Edward comes up about this pink cloudy overtherainbow dream about gay rights and gay marriage and, well as I was on my way back from behind that rainbow, I just got titillated to ask if he had seen the picture of "gay" and had a conception about what the majority of gays are actually seeking sexually. I mean I've read reports that say that less than 10 per cent of gays married in place where they were allowed. I do not mean to retrieve the rights of the few, my comment was meant to be read along the line of "Gosh...Are you as astonished as ME that so few gays want to marry, and why is it like that"

But, ok, allright, this was not the issue. Gay rights and Gays are actually two things.


Cedric Caspesyan

10/28/2006 01:21:00 AM  
Blogger kelli said...

A gay friend married a gentleman who is an observant Catholic and his priest was willing to perform the ceremony ( quietely in the middle of nowhere in the woods in upstate NY at their house). They decided against it in the end but the story fascinates me. I think people are pretty decent and we all kind of romanticize love even though half of all marriages end in divorce.

10/28/2006 01:41:00 AM  
Blogger Candy Minx said...

Oh okay Cedric, you had me wondering. And you make a good point bwy ondering just how many gay men want to get married. That's fair to ask. I've heard it said that gay men have more in common with single men than married men. So it's fair to perhaps jokinly ask, just how many MEN want to get married!? If we ask a bunch of 24 year old studs if they want to get married(and gasp , have kids) I bet a lot of them would say forgetaboutit. Sheesh, I mean lately you'll find lots of women who say the same thing. Marriage laws MIGHT be found to have only something of interest for people between 30 and 50 these days. MIght be just an age group issue...still for that time when people want to settle down that is critical. Besides, someone's laws have to look out for Trump and Paul McCarthy and Liz Taylor no?

In countries where gay marriage is allowed incidents of suicide and stds among gay community have dropped which is another thing to think about. Obviously the stats are reflecting the security of a commited relationship.Maybe if no one wants to get married is not the deciding interest. Maybe having the potential for commited relationships riding over the minds of young people and gay population is a sort of valedation for any past doubts experienced about one's lifestyle and worth in society? Perhaps the legalizing of gay marriage might prevent some suicides by removing stima and self esteem issues?

10/28/2006 09:42:00 AM  
Anonymous ml said...

I wonder how many hetero men actually want to get married?? Probably about the same percentage. A lot of the institution is wrapped around property, children, and health care. All domestic partners share in those concerns.

I admit I loved the hypocrisy about the Foley page scandal. Every time I hear a man ranting against homosexuality, I wonder how long he can stay in the closet.

10/28/2006 11:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who wants or not to marry is not the point. That is available to all yes.

There are many bad and good reasons to marry, so what?

You choose.


10/30/2006 12:13:00 AM  

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