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This article is a very depressing look at the likely possibility of a ban on gay marriages and civil partnerships in Ohio.

If passed, Issue 1 will force Ohio's cities and universities to stop offering domestic partner benefits, including health insurance. Right now, such benefits are offered by the city of Columbus, Ohio's Miami University, Ohio University and Ohio State University, the largest university in America. Cleveland Heights has a domestic partnership registry, and some Ohio public schools give gay employees family leave to care for ailing partners. Issue 1 would probably mean they could no longer do so.

You know this already, but it bears repeating - this is an amendment that will actually take away people's rights. It's obscene.

"This state and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance or effect of marriage."

How dare these people say that my relationship doesn't have the "significance" it would have if we ambled in to a registry office and signed a piece of paper? How dare they? We love each other, we're kind to each other, and we make each other laugh. We're in this for the long haul. If there's anything more significant and of higher quality in a marriage, I don't know what it is. I'm not anti-marriage per se - I think it's something we can reinvent ourselves. But I don't think it automatically makes a relationship more important or meaningful.

Of course, if we wanted to get the rights granted to married couples (which seem bizarrely specific in Ohio), at least we could do something about it. Non-straight couples will be screwed. Not that they have great rights already, but at least there's no actual amendent taking those feeble rights away.

If these fundamentalists think that straight marriage will somehow be "threatened" by allowing a gay man to visit his dying partner's bedside, or allowing a woman to legally look after her partner's biological child, then their marriages must be pretty fucking shaky. As the always wise daegaer has pointed out, the meaning of "traditional" marriage has certainly changed over the years, so to claim it's some sort of moral absolute is absurd. Let's not forget how many rural marriages in this country up to this century were arranged around land and housekeeping. Is there something holy and sacred about a 20 year old girl being married off to her father's 50 year old friend in order to look after his farm? Because I don't see it.

But apparently, even the crappiest straight marriage is superior to a gay partnership, because, even though Jesus preached a message of tolerance and kindness (and anti-capitalism) and never mentioned homosexuality once, somehow it's been decided that he just hates fags.

Preaching like a street-corner revivalist, Johnston musters quotes from both the Bible and Dostoevski to make the tautological argument that those who reject his vision of Christianity lack the foundation to make any moral arguments. "The proof for the Christian ethic which condemns homosexual marriage is the impossibility of the contrary," he says. "Reject the Christian ethic and you have no basis for making moral judgments."

The audience stares at him in open-mouthed amazement. Looking like she's been slapped, McClellan walks out of the room and starts crying. "My father was a D-Day lander and a World War II hero," she says later. "He freed two concentration camps. All I could think of was here are all of these people who have fought and given their lives to keep our country free of maniacal people like that guy. This guy reminded me of a Hitler youth. At this stage of our evolution, why is there such a maniacal hatred of people?"

Who knows? I sure as hell don't.


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 18th, 2004 05:51 am (UTC)
Oh, that is very, very depressing.

Who knows? I sure as hell don't.

Media and political interests being heavily influenced by a wealthy fundamentalist movement? Simplistic, hateful ideas are simpler to sell than complex, tolerant ones? I don't understand it, though. I don't understand why the Anglican communion is splitting over this and not the fact that many English Anglicans (including the Queen) individually possess more wealth than the GDP of many African dioceses. I don't understand why this is the One Moral Issue of our times; it is such a tangential concern, seeing as after all the majority of people are heterosexual and married. It's appalling.
Oct. 18th, 2004 06:18 am (UTC)
I don't understand why this is the One Moral Issue of our times; it is such a tangential concern, seeing as after all the majority of people are heterosexual and married.

I don't understand it either. I mean, seriously, why do they have more energy to devote to an issue that doesn't affect anyone but the consenting people concerned than they have to devote to third world debt? Madness.
Oct. 18th, 2004 06:36 am (UTC)
I swear, it's because us queers are so damn sexy. If you don't keep us in our place, everyone will want to shag us.

Ahem. Three days away from work, and this is what happens to my queer-political analysis.
Oct. 18th, 2004 06:46 am (UTC)
I swear, it's because us queers are so damn sexy. If you don't keep us in our place, everyone will want to shag us.

Hee, it's true! We all need to be saved from your general overwhelming foxiness. It's catching, you know.
Oct. 18th, 2004 06:55 am (UTC)
I think it's the other way around: the Anglican church has quite a lot to say about fair trade and debt issues, and in actually going to church, you hear far more about international politics than private sexuality. In the past five months that I've been going to church regularly, there have been lots of references to charities operating in Africa and the debt cancellation movements. there have been sales of Fair Trade goods and talks about what Fair Trade means, there have been references to Iraq and sermons preached on whether the concept of "just war" is viable, and so on and so forth. Not a single mention of sexuality.

Neither the Catholic church nor the Anglican church are exactly radical on international economic issues, but they're certainly progressive. But that doesn't make headlines. It's hard to tell whether the "average" Church of England communicant (or even the average member of clergy) is more concerned with sexuality or economics, since the press is always going to be more interested in what they have to say about sexuality than economics. It's impossible to know what the average Anglican communicant in Africa would prefer the Church to focus on.
Oct. 18th, 2004 07:01 am (UTC)
Yes, you are right, from my experience too. barsine makes exactly your point that it is always the sex-and-religion Catholic pronouncements that hit the headlines, as they are so much more attention-grabbing than dull encyclicals calling for better quality social housing. However, the fact remains that in the public sphere, gay issues seem to be being used ever more as a tool to claim moral clarity or one-up-manship, regardless of what the punter in the pew might think.

Bosworth and Naipaul make the point that strong moral sanctions start being used by a society when the rule of law has either broken down or does not reach into that community. Does the paranoia about gay rights indicate that people don't feel protected by the rule of law? Or is it being used precisely to goad people into that insecurity? (I'm thinking of the Ohio meeting here, rather than the Anglican communion.)
Oct. 18th, 2004 10:30 am (UTC)
I think in Ohio, it's used to provoke the people who see themselves as brave Christian soldiers standing against the end of the world. Breakdown of society, dogs and cats living in sin, etc. Bush and his cohorts like to present themselves as annointed by God, and displaying Christian virtues, carrying out God's will. The opposition is supposed to be corrupt and full of vice and bringing about The End Times. Which is why there are things like the disgusting tracts the Republicans handed out in West Virginia, implying the Democrats would ban the Bible if elected. These people never do actually feel protected by the law, because their religious leaders constantly threaten them with this bogeyman or that one in order to keep them sending in cash donations "to fight the good fight." They're being milked like so many cows, and they don't even realize it.
Oct. 18th, 2004 07:02 am (UTC)
Oh, I know the Anglican church are very good on progressive economic issues, and I don't really think that gay clergy is such a huge deal for the average church goer or indeed the average clergyperson. And the media definitely focus on sex as opposed to fair trade policy. But this is still the issue that actually seems likely to cause a split, which really makes no sense.
Oct. 18th, 2004 07:03 am (UTC)
Actually, now I'm thinking of last night's post, as opposed to Ohio. I'm getting confused between different branches of homophobia!
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )


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