You know, it’s not so much the fact that he’s opposing same-sex marriage that bugs me. I pretty much expect that from any Republican Presidential candidate, and for that matter from most of the Democratic ones too.
It’s not even the fact that Romney used to be both more progressive and more gay-friendly. After all, John McCain needs someone to keep him company in his craven rush to suck the collective cock of the far right.
What’s really bugging me about Romney’s opposition to same-sex marriage is that he’s using religion and the Bible to defend it.
See, this is what I’ve been talking about. When I’m gassing on about the crucial difference between faith and evidence, this is the kind of thing I mean. When elected officials cite religious beliefs — and religious scripture in particular — to defend their political positions, they’re basically saying that they have the right to make decisions about other people’s lives, not on the basis of evidence or ethics or good arguments, but on the basis of unsupported faith.
And not just a general ecumenical faith in some sort of God or some sort of soul, but a specific set of beliefs and rules — about which people all over the world disagree vehemently and violently, and for which there is no basis for believing other than (a) their personal hunch, and/or (b) the tradition and authority of their parents and teachers and religious texts.
They’re saying that, when deciding an important question with a powerful effect on people’s lives (such as same-sex marriage), a book written thousands of years ago in a society that no longer exists — and their own personal interpretation of that book — is every bit as important, and maybe even more important, as what does and does not work to make our society flourish, and to make the people in it stable and happy.
Not just when it comes to their own life — their own marriage, their own body, their own sexuality — but mine, and yours, and everyone else’s.
And that absolutely makes me want to run screaming into the night.
Because the thing about religious beliefs is that they’re not based on evidence. They’re based either on personal inspiration, or the authority of religious teachers and texts (or some combination of the two). And ultimately, they’re not debatable. You can argue with people about their religious beliefs, but eventually it always comes down to, “I believe what I believe.”
And while that is totally none of my business when it comes to people’s own personal lives, it is bloody well not how we should be deciding on laws and public policy. Our decisions about laws and policy should be based on what does and does not work in the world: what keeps people healthy and safe, what makes communities flourish, what helps children to grow up and function successfully as adults, etc. They should be based on what does and does not work to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. They should fucking well not be based on Mitt Romney’s personal faith, and what he believes the people who wrote the Bible meant when they wrote it more than two thousand years ago.
It’s not like Romney is using “religious faith” as another way of saying “my instincts and ethics,” either. He’s not saying. “The inner voice of God within me says this is true.” He’s citing Scripture. He’s saying, “The Bible says it’s true. Therefore, it’s true.”
Now, for the record, I know that there are Christians who don’t think the Bible says any such a thing. I know there are Christians who support same-sex marriage whole-heartedly. That’s not my point. Actually… you know what? It kind of is my point. The Bible is a complicated, self-contradictory mess, written by different people at different historical periods with sometimes wildly different points of view. And it can be used — has been used — to defend just about any position, from slavery to civil rights, from the stoning of homosexuals to the support of same-sex marriage. (As Ingrid said: If you’re trying to pass laws based on the Bible, but you’re not passing laws against blended fabrics or charging interest on loans, then you need to shut up.)
So my point isn’t that religious faith should not be influencing politics and policy because it’s anti-gay. It isn’t always. I know that. My point is that religious faith should not be influencing politics and policy because it’s not based on evidence of what is and isn’t true in the real world. And that’s exactly what law and policy should be based on.
It’s one thing to base your own life on a collective religious tradition or an inspired religious hunch. I think it’s mistaken, I think it’s problematic… but I also think it’s none of my damn business. But when people try to base MY life on their collective tradition or inspired hunch — without actually bothering to look at my life and what would and would not help me and the people around me — that is another kettle of fish. And it’s a kettle of fish that stinks to the skies.