As the United States Supreme Court weighs the constitutionality of same-sex marriage, poll after poll after poll demonstrates that the majority of U.S. citizens support the extension of marriage rights to LGB people. Nevertheless, bigots across the country are apoplectic at the idea that two men or two women may soon be able to marry in all 50 states. 2016 Presidential hopeful and all-round shithead Ted Cruz thinks that “gay marriage” (which is different from “hetero- marriage”…not) is the greatest threat to religious liberty in USAmerican history. The vile End Times radio host Rick Wiles thinks that god is sending drought and famine to California to punish the US for “gay marriage” and abortion (such a nice guy, that Yahweh, to increase the suffering of humanity). Anti-gay bigot Phyllis Schlafly thinks the goal of “gay marriage” is to wipe out the Christian religion (in her world there’s no such thing as a gay Christian or non-gay Christians who support marriage equality). Rafael Cruz, father of the aforementioned bigot Ted Cruz, thinks that “gay marriage” is part of a plot to destroy America. On his hate-filled site Barbwire, Matt Barber says that a SCOTUS ruling in favor of marriage equality will-I kid you not-spark a revolution. Meanwhile, Pastor Jim Garlow (one of the key leaders in the passage of California’s Proposition 8) says that the anti-gay right will become ::snicker:: an underground resistance movement. Alan Keyes thinks that “gay marriage”, like climate change, will lead to the destruction of humanity. Cliff Kincaid thinks marriage equality puts us on ‘the road to ruin‘, James Dobson (of hate group Focus on the Family) and Tony Perkins (of yet another hate group, the Family Research Council) both think “gay marriage” signals the “fall of western civilization” , and conservative commentator Robert Knight thinks that gay people are “stealing the moral capital of marriage“, whatever the fuck that means. All of that is just a small sample of the ridiculous rhetoric of the Radical Religious Right.
Whether it’s “the Bible says homosexuality is immoral and we all should follow the Bible because reasons” or “traditional marriage, as found in the Bible, is the only permissible form of marriage”, homophobes in the U.S. frequently (though not exclusively) cite the Bible to justify their bigotry. They view that religious tome as a guide to morality that all humans should follow and that U.S. laws should be based upon. The problem with that is the Bible is anything but a guide to morality.
I’ll let Betty Bowers explain why there is no such thing as ‘biblically-defined traditional marriage’:
Secondly, to those individuals who believe that their “sincerely held religious beliefs” should form the basis of laws in this country, let me introduce you to the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution:
The First Amendment’s Establishment Clause prohibits the government from making any law “respecting an establishment of religion.” This clause not only forbids the government from establishing an official religion, but also prohibits government actions that unduly favor one religion over another. It also prohibits the government from unduly preferring religion over non-religion, or non-religion over religion.
So no-Christian beliefs should not be the basis for laws in this country as that would favor the Christian religion over others. Also, requiring all citizens of the U.S. to adhere to the tenets of Christianity would be a violation of the First Amendment right of all citizens to believe and worship (or not) as they choose.
With regard to the belief held by bigots that the Bible is a (or the) source of morality, I have one thing to say: you folks have a completely fucked-up view of morality. To you, morality is all about following the rules laid out by your deity. These rules are many and varied, and include prohibitions on worshiping other gods, working on the Sabbath, wearing clothing of mixed fibers, eating shellfish, and masturbation. Biblical rules also call for unruly children to be stoned, for wives to be subservient to their husbands, for women to be silent in church, for rape victims to marry their rapists, for Christians to kill anyone who holds different religious beliefs, for the execution of anyone who doesn’t listen to a priest or judge, and much more (the Skeptics Annotated Bible has an extensive list of the various forms of injustice found in the Bible). Meanwhile, the god of the Bible condones slavery, rape, and genocide (and note the absence of two of the three from the 10 Commandments, which are wrongly cited by many as the foundation for laws in this country). I daresay that most rational people hold that slavery, rape, and genocide are bad things (and if you don’t, please get as far away from other human beings as possible). Immoral things even. And therein lies the problem with claiming the Bible is a (or the) source of morality–all manner of horrific actions are condoned in that tome while completely innocuous actions are condemned (all because Yahweh says so). And yes, I’m aware that many people recognize the barbaric nature of many Old Testament teachings, and prefer to focus on the teachings of the New Testament. Leaving aside the fact that many believers do not do this, there is still a big problem-original sin. The doctrine of original sin punishes humanity for the actions of Adam and Eve. I can’t fathom how anyone could argue that it is moral to punish people for actions they did not commit and I feel the doctrine of original sin is deeply unjust. Whether it’s the Old or New Testament, there is no coherent set of guidelines or principles in the Bible which people can use to decide whether a given action is moral or immoral. As such, the Bible is neither A, nor THE, source of morality, and should not be consulted in deciding which actions are moral or not.
As I alluded to, I believe that rape, slavery, and genocide are immoral, but what do I mean by that? What does it mean for an action or behavior to be immoral? I define morality as principles that help us distinguish between right/wrong or good/bad behavior with an eye to engaging in behavior that is right/good. A starting point for identifying the rightness or wrongness of a particular action ought to be something like “Will this course of action result in others being harmed?” rather than “What does this religious book say?” With the vast majority of humans living in societies in which they have to regularly interact with others, it is vitally important that codes of conduct be established to regulate those interactions to ensure that all (or most, given that criminals do exist) people are able to live in relative harmony with one another while maintaining the freedom to engage in activities they desire. Hence legal prohibitions on theft, assault, battery, rape, or murder. Such actions bring demonstrable harm to their victims, harm that most people would prefer to avoid. Of course, any discussion of morality as it relates to the law must acknowledge and address the existence of immoral laws (slavery was once legal in the U.S. as was marital rape until the 1980s), so I won’t pretend that the above is anything close to a final word on morality. I do think that viewing morality through the lens of “will this action/behavior impact others” provides a better framework for deciding the moral nature of a given action than consulting the Bible.
Under this (admittedly underdeveloped and provisional) system of morality, actions that result in harm to others should be avoided. The key word there is ‘actions‘ (or you can substitute ‘behavior‘). As with heterosexuality, homosexuality is a facet of one’s identity, not an action or behavior (contrary to misinformed anti-gay bigots, being gay is not the same thing as engaging in gay sex). Therefore, there is no need to question whether it is moral or not. In fact, I do not believe there is a moral component to human sexuality. It is neither right nor wrong. The issue of marriage equality is a bit different as marriage involves actions and behaviors between people, so theoretically there could be a moral component to the issue. Do same-sex marriages result in harm being inflicted upon others? Bigots claim they do and often cite the infamous Regnerus study to support their belief that children raised by same-sex parents are harmed by having gay parents. Aside from the fact that marriage is not inherently about having or raising children, new research not only debunks that study (again), it also shows that children living with same-sex parents demonstrate “comparable outcome profiles to those from other family types, including intact biological families.” Just imagine me giving a middle finger to all the homophobes out there.
You’d think that demonstrating the errors in their logic or pointing out the flawed nature of their evidence would be enough to cause bigots to rethink their views. Sadly, that’s not the case. Not only do they have a deathgrip on their dogmatic beliefs, they also hold a great deal of power and influence in this country. While that influence has waned in the 37 states where same-sex marriage is legal, 13 states still refuse to grant same-sex couples the right to marry. That’s due in no small part to the opponents of marriage equality who continue to marshal their time, energy, and resources to prevent LGB people from having the right to enter into legally recognized marriages. That’s why this matter has come before the Supreme Court. Hopefully, come June, the justices will make the correct decision and bring LGB people one step closer to equality.