“The 700 Club and The Weather Channel”

 gay-marriage-sticker1

Stephen Colbert Takes on the National Organization for Marriage

National Organization of Fear-Mongering

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Image from "Gathering Storm": Woman on Left represents physician; woman on right is "afraid"

On April 8, 2009, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) released a $1.5 million ad (using this term very loosely) called “The Gathering Storm” to be played in certain market sectors of the U.S. The ad was set to run on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC. The ad is set to air eight times per day in New York (which is considering lifting the ban on gay marriage), Connecticutt, Rhode Island, and California (which banned gay marriages with Proposition #8).

In this ad, a seemingly diverse group of people talk about a “coming storm.” That storm is . . . wait for it . . . Gay Marriage. Quick, hide the children and the dogs (ToTo, too) before they get ideas in their heads.

These seemingly everyday people are standing around hither and yon, with body posture akin to the people in The Invasion,with Daniel Craig and Nicole Kidman, you know the ones, the ones who have been vomited into, hence causing a psuedo-catatonic state of well-being.

One woman purports to be “afraid” by saying, and I quote: “I’m afraid.” Another woman says that she is a doctor who must choose between her religion and her job;another woman is a parent who must stand idly by while her children are brainwashed in public schools about alternate lifestyles. Ultimately, the message is that straight people will lose their rights if this rampant gay storm thingy isn’t stopped.

Teeth gnashing and hair pulling from the viewing audience. “What are we to do? Oh no. They are among us.”

They being the LGBT community.

Now, I’m not trying to make light of an offensive commercial that tries to scare people into opposing same-sex unions. Okay, well maybe I am, but only because the video is so terribly preposterous. The video doesn’t even really tackle the issue of same-sex marriages, instead focusing on issues of how homosexuality affects people of faith.

wicked-witch-of-the-west
Wicked Witch of the West . . . and flying monkey!

A “storm” coming? (Insert Wicked Witch of the West music here.) What happened to the North Koreans and Iran and nuclear weapons? Aren’t those bigger storms that would affect everyone? How about the man-made economic disaster facing the globe? I don’t remember seeing any trance-inducing videos taking on that really large problem.

Or Mt. Hood? Now that was a real storm coming: an ash storm. My god. Think of the innocent plants that suffered in that layer of sooty sludge.

Or flying monkeys, perhaps?

Okay. I’ll stop being silly.

“Pursuing a mission on behalf of a conjugal conception of marriage” . . . Excuse me, as opposed to a non-conjugal conception of marriage?

NOM was co-founded in 2007 by Princeton professor Robert George and Maggie Gallagher, both formerly of  The Institute for American Values. According to Gallagher, who says that she is “personally very proud” of the ad, NOM “pursues its mission mainly by public education and advocacy on behalf of the conjugal conception of marriage as the permanent and exclusive union of husband and wife” (from an interview with the Prince in September 2008). 

The video includes the following statements made by the 14 individuals (actors) who are supposed to represent everyday, albeit straight, citizens:

“There’s a storm gathering. The clouds are dark. And the winds are strong. And I am afraid. Some who advocate for same-sex marriage have taken the issue far beyond same-sex couples. They want to bring the issue into my life. My freedom will be taken away.”

“But some who advocate for same-sex marriage have not been content with same-sex couples living as they wish,” the ad continues. “Those who advocate want to change the way I live. I will have no choice. The storm is coming.”

equal-rights-for-all-american-buttonThis video has caused such a stir that spoofs of it went viral on YouTube almost immediately. Personally, I like the one by Stephen Colbert, which I have provided for your viewing enjoyment. This spoof is not a supposed anti-gay attack as I read on one site. Rather, it’s a very clear case of satire.

You know, satire? That rhetorical device that employs irony and sarcasm to hold up for inspection some kind of human folly, or lampooning, my favorite form of satire, which is specifically political in nature and takes no prisoners in revealing, usually through broad humor, weaknesses in opponents—something at which Stephen Colbert is particularly adept.

After airing the original NOM video, Colbert declared “I love that ad. It is like watching The 700 Club and The Weather Channel at the same time.” He then presented his own take:

 

 

“I’m a homophobe and I’m okay.” Now everybody sing . . .

But let’s look at some facts, shall we? The video uses actors to send this message of bigotry and terror. What’s wrong with that, you might ask? Well, I’ll tell you.

Instead of paying people to look wooden in a badly-written segment, if you truly believe in something, why not use real people who share your views. We saw from the recent presidential campaign just how well that tactic worked. Who can forget Joe the Plumber sticking his nose in front of the camera at every opportunity in support of the GOP’s ticket?

Or what about delusional lady who McCain had to take the microphone from because she was on a toot about Obama being an Arab? Now these were people you could believe in. They were real. They hadn’t been paid to say the things that they were saying (well, maybe Joe was, but who really cares because he was such a good source for liberals to heap outrage upon).

All of that being said (in my roundabout way), I still contend that given the ad’s purpose and message, real people should have been used, you know, real homophobes. For example, if the female actor was representing a real doctor who was upset about choosing her profession or her religion—and we know that she was because I’ll give you the case in just a sec—why not let the real doctor speak out on the subject? Is NOM protecting her (the doctor’s) right to privacy by insisting that gay marriage is not private?

After all, this physician chose not to give treatment to a patient because of that patient’s sexual orientation. If this doctor is such a staunch believer in her faith, give her the forum to allow her speak for herself. I say, stand up for your homophobic rights. Put up or shut up, as the old saying goes.

(According to the Human Rights Campaign, the video character of the female physician refers to the Benitez decision in California, determining that a doctor cannot violate California anti-discrimination law by refusing to treat a lesbian based on religious belief. http://www.hrc.org/12470.htm. And then there’s little thing called the Hippocratic Oath, but that’s probably just a technicality now.)

LIFE GAYSBut my real point is—and I do have one—the message in “Gathering Storm” isn’t just about gay marriage; it’s also about the imposition of  gay rights’ issues against people of faith. It’s a tried and true political tactic: scare people with misinformation, and for good measure, threaten their faith.

My freedom will be taken away.” Which freedom, specifically? And how will that freedom be taken away, specifically?  These generalizations do nothing but cause anxiety among people who fall prey to fear-mongering, accepting as facts statements that are opinions, and not in an humorous, ‘we’re being silly’ kind of way.

As Gallagher states: “[Gay marriage] is not a private act . . .You change the legal definition of marriage, you change the meaning for everyone, not just the gay couple down the block.” Gallagher’s statement directly mirrors the information on NOM’s website, which contends that “gays and lesbians have a right to live as they choose, [but] they don’t have the right to redefine marriage for all of us.”

I’m not really sure what Gallagher and NOM mean by that. Not in my neighborhood?  Not down my block? Or probably something more insidious, like, ‘they have a right to live as they choose, but we don’t really want to let them choose.

But there I go again, making assumptions. More later. Peace.

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A Referendum on Morality Seems Like an Oxymoron to Me

Proposition 8—The Musical

 

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Rainbow Brite

Okay, so I’m not a tremendous Jack Black fan, but I do think the guy is funny. But when I saw his latest role, it almost made Pepsi come out of my nose. I know that the clip has already gone viral, but it’s worth talking about just because of the actors who gave time to participate in it. “Proposition 8—The Musical” is a star-studded video that was written by Marc Shaiman, Tony-award winner of “Hairspray” and directed by Adam Shankman, and the actors play supporters and foes of Prop 8.

John C. Reilly and Allison Janney lead the gay marriage foes, who all happen to be dressed in Sunday best dark clothes. The “gays,” who include Margaret Cho, Maya Rudolph, Andy Richter, and Nicole Parker, are dressed in bright colors and look more like hippie protesters. And then Jack Black drops in as Jesus.

Black’s Jesus points out the hypocrisy of picking and choosing certain parts of the Bible to follow, for example the outdated notion of stoning people for their sins. Neil Patrick Harris acts as a type of Greek Chorus for the anti-gays, pointing out the economic advantages to gay marriage: “Every time a gay or lesbian finds love at the parade, there’s money to be made.”

Shaiman said that he felt some guilt over the referendum, which prompted him to act:  “I had just been taught this terrible bitter lesson about being lazy, and it lit a fire under my fat ass.” Subsequently, he wrote the piece in one day, recorded it the next and shot it in a single day in another week. Shaiman’s, in commenting on his mini-musical, declared, “If I’m going to stand on the soap box, at least let me sing and dance.” As Shaiman said on Keith Olbermann, the passage of Proposition 8 was kind of a slap in the face: “Election night, America throws this great party, and the gays [were] left off the list.”  

Truth and Consequences

The video has been called a “viral picket sign.” Personally, I think that it’s one of the boldest and best statements to come out against Proposition 8. Yes, it’s very in your face, as it’s supposed to be, but it’s also funny. The fact that we’re still trying to legislate against gay marriage in this country truly distresses me. Marriage, like many other things, should be a personal, private choice. People do not choose to be gay; they are born that way. To condemn them for something over which they have no choice or control does not seem to me to be either loving or forgiving.

Living is hard enough under the best of circumstances. Who are we to make those circumstances harder for other people simply because they want to live life just like anyone else: a house, a mortgage, life insurance policies, health insurance, maybe some children? I’ve known a lot of straight people who had no business being married. Their relationships were completely dysfunctional. They treated each other like crap, and their children suffered greatly because of it. There is nothing that says a marriage between a man and a woman is going to be perfect or better than a marriage between two women or two men. I know two men who have been together for a very long time and are married in every way except legally. They own property together, make all major decisions together, have friends together, love each other, have arguments just like any other couple. Worry over finances and whose family they will visit over the holidays. What makes their union different, or worse, wrong?

Look them in the face and tell them that their love for each other isn’t good enough. That their life together doesn’t count. That what they have isn’t real. That one of them wouldn’t grieve over the death of the other.  You cannot do it because it simply isn’t true.

The far right fundamentalists have very rigid ideas about the Bible and heaven and hell and right and wrong, and that is certainly their right. That is what this country is based on: religious and individual freedom. Far be it for me to say that they do not have the right to believe in the things in which they believe. The Mormons in Utah who poured so much money into getting Proposition 8 passed in California have the right to believe what they wish to believe as well. But it troubles me that there was a definitive blurring of church and state in this case, especially over state lines in which the LDS from UTAH came into CALIFORNIA and worked fervently for the passage of Prop 8. It seems that there should be some ramifications for the LDS church if they did not set up a separate entity to cover those massive donations.

The Circles of Hell

Essentially, according to basic theology of fundamentalism, just about all of the rest of us are going to hell: Jews, Catholics, Muslims, those who have not been born again, gays, people like me who prefer to keep my beliefs personal and private, and pretty much anyone who hasn’t answered the call to be born again. It’s a big list. On the other hand, for Muslims, all of the infidels will be going to hell. For Catholics, I’m not sure who goes to hell. Methodists and Presbyterians are a little more open about it, I believe.  Buddhists don’t believe in hell. Episcopalians are pretty close to Catholics, so I don’t know how that works, but I think that there’s purgatory in there somewhere. Unsure about Judaism. I know that a lot of the gay community worship at Unitarian Churches, so maybe there are no stipulations about hell. I think with LDS you go to hell if you do something against the prophet, and Quakers, well they’re so peaceful, I’m not sure how they would end up in hell.

I don’t even want to ponder which parts of hell where we’ll all land. It’s much too complicated and sometimes tedious, but Dante’s was very meticulous in creating places for everyone, so trust me when I say that no one should feel left out.

My point is this: why are we so concerned with who is going to hell? Shouldn’t we be more concerned with our own paths? I mean, my path has been pretty rocky. I know that I haven’t been a saint, but neither have I been a great sinner. In living my life, I would think that judgment for others is the last thing that I have time on which to dwell. I’m still acutely aware that my journey is not even remotely over. Like Frost, I “took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.”

If we’ve learned nothing in the past few months, then perhaps we need to go back a little bit farther in time. For example, let’s take a look at one man who spent 27 years in a prison cell unjustly and never gave up hope, who came out still believing in the goodness of people, in equality for all, and the possibility of change:

“Our single most important challenge is therefore to help establish a social order in

 which the freedom of the individual will truly mean the freedom of the individual.

We must construct that people-centered society of freedom in such a manner

that it guarantees the political liberties and the human rights of all our citizens.
~
Nelson Mandela

Speech at the opening of the South African parliament, Cape Town 25 May 1994.

 

More later. Peace.

Seen, Heard, Read

News from the Road, If I Were On The Road

What’s Snoo?

  • Unemployment figures for the month of October: 240,000, which means that Americans have lost approximately 1,000,000 jobs so far this year
  • Claims from aides in McCain camp: Sarah Palin thinks that Africa is a country (no . . . this is is a joke, right?)
  • Claims from Sarah Palin: The most that she ever asked for was an occasional diet Dr. Pepper (okay, governor)
  • Republicans want Joe Lieberman to caucus with them; Dems don’t want to lose a Senate vote since we are so close to the all-powerful 60. I say we should buy him a new wardrobe and let Joe the Plumber decide.
  • Joe the Plumber who hates Socialism has benefitted from that entitlement program called “Welfare” on two occasions. Hmmmm
  • W. has given permission for uranium drilling within three miles of the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River, which provides drinking water for three states. Way to go George! Just when I thought that you couldn’t do anything more asinine, you go and prove me wrong. Who needs a natural monument that is eons old? Who needs fresh drinking water? What a bunch of sissies. You show ’em. After all, you’re going to be far, far away in a land called Oz.
  • Michele Bachmann, who just weeks ago was calling for McCarthy like hearings into anti-American liberals in the Senate had this to say about Barack Obama’s presidential win: She was“extremely grateful that we have an African-American who has won this year.”
  • Gay marriage was defeated in California, but the defeat is not sitting well with the Gay/Lesbian community, as it shouldn’t. Expect to hear a lot more about this issue.
  • Since President-elect Obama’s election, the Iraqis have been more willing to sign the security agreement that they had been stalling. The Iraqis were worried that the agreement for withdrawal of forces by December 30, 2011 would not be honored by a Republican White House. However, they are more willing to negotiate an agreement with the upcoming change in the White House. The new agreement also prevents the launching of attacks of other countries from Iraqi soil (such as Syria).

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    Eugene Allen (Clark/Washington Post)
  • And finally, if you want to know who really makes the White House run, please read this incredible story about Eugene Allen. If this doesn’t touch your heart, then you are made of stone. http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2008361980_webbutler07.html

And Now a Word From Our Sponsor

This time last week we were getting ready to watch the returns from what would become one of the most historic elections in our country. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in this process. I only wish that I could take it a step further and apply for a job with the new administration. That would be like something out of a dream, to participate in an administration that is going to make sweeping changes. I mean, I know that it’s going to be a really hard row to hoe.

The problems that this country faces are enormous: Unemployment is creeping up every month, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it hit double digits. Our three major car companies are going under and need major help. This is probably going to be one of the worst holiday seasons for retail in a dozen years. I know that I won’t be out there spending my usual amount. That’s for sure. One of the only companies to turn a profit last quarter was Wal Mart; even Target recorded a loss. And we all know how I feel about Wal Mart. Everyone is hurting.

So I don’t delude myself that President-elect Obama is going to take office and miracles are going to happen. His first year is going to be hell, and there are going to be a lot of people pointing fingers and saying “I told you so,” because there is so much blame, and he is the easiest target. But I also have no doubts that given enough time, his plans can work.

The best laid plans of mice and men, and all of that. Everything worth having is worth waiting for, at least that’s what the cereal boxes and fortune cookies say. I just hope that when the finger pointing starts, and the naysayers begin with their doom and gloom, they remember how this country has felt for the past eight years, how as a nation, we have collectively lost hope, lost faith, lost our status as a global leader,

And so, like the Eugene Allen’s of the world, we must remember to put our coats on one sleeve at a time, and go to work, and do our jobs, and carry on, and give this man who we believed in enough to put into office a chance to do his job.

Here endeth the lesson. More later. Peace.

Why Do We Say I Do?

Corey and I were having a debate the other night that I found quite interesting, even more interesting upon reflection. It was about marriage as an institution. His stance was that marriage was nothing more than the government’s way of forcing people to comply with societal expectations so as to receive benefits, i.e., tax, insurance, mortgage, etc. He said that he simply did not believe in the “institution of marriage,” which caught me completely offguard as we have been together quite a while, and married for almost eight years. Now he affirmed quite vigorously when I began to get upset that he was not saying that he did not believe in being married. He was saying that he believed that the actual institution of marriage was something that society forced on people and that he would be with me whether or not we were married.

Of course, my response was to get upset and say that he did not want to be married to me and we never should have gotten married in the first place if he didn’t believe in marriage, ya da ya da ya da . . . and it took several hours and much talking before I would even listen to what he was saying and not to what I was hearing (which, I am not admitting, I tend to do).

But, not saying this in defense of his position or anything, I did do a couple of research papers on marriage traditions for both an anthropology and a sociology class that I had as an undergraduate, and I remember a few things from the research. Such as the fact that in many cultures, marriage was nothing more than a contract for land. Arranged marriages had nothing to do with love, and women truly had no say in who they married for thousands of years. If it was not a barter for land, then it was a political negotiation, depending upon how much power the interested parties had. Marriages were often for bloodlines, hence interfamilial marriages. Shotgun marriages or marriages to save face are actually still around, although they are not nearly as prevalent as they used to be. And the idea of actually marrying for an emotional tie is a relatively new development in the overall scheme of things (last hundred years or so).

But let’s look at the governator’s quote for a moment: “I believe that gay marriage should be between a man and a woman.” Now we all know what he was trying to say, or at least I think we do. But silliness aside, I know of several gay couples who have been together longer than some of my straight friends who have married and divorced twice. Yet these couples are not recognized in most states as being LEGALLY married. They cannot make decisions regarding each other’s care if one of the partners is hospitalized unless they have a legal document, and even that may not be honored. They cannot put one another on insurance as spouse, etc. So what is the legal institution of marriage? Yet another way in which the government can intrude upon our lives? Yes. Do we as married couples benefit from this intrusion? Yes. That married filing jointly box on the 1040 does save us some money, doesn’t it? But at the same time, yet again, the legal institution of marriage in the United States is an institution that is exclusive. It does not recognize everyone.

Corey and I live together under one roof. We have children (his step children). We buy groceries together, have bills together (boy, do we), insurance (auto, homeowners, life, health), make joint decisions regarding the house, the kids, the dogs, the vehicles, vacations . . . hell, we even make joint decisions on what body wash we’re going to buy. How does that make us any different from my gay friends? Corey and I love each other. We have made the decision to be a couple, and that means that we will trust each other, be truthful with one another, respect each other, not harm one another, not degrade one another, be true to one another. How does that make us any different from my gay friends? Now this is the point at which some people will jump in with their sweeping generalizations and say, well gay people just aren’t like that. Like what? Monogamous? Loving? Respectful? Caring? Please. Your intolerance is showing.

First Dance
First Dance

Listen, I’m not living in some bubble. Corey and I argue. We disagree. We have our moments just like anyone else. I don’t see us as living in some kind of fairy tale marriage in which life is perfect and nothing bad ever happens. Don’t you read my blogs? That’s what marriage is about. That’s what living with another person is about. But I believe in being married. Not for the sake of what the government gives me. Not for the big wedding. Not for the sake of our parents. I believe in being married because of something much more personal. I believe in promises, heart promises. That’s what marriage is for me: it’s a heart promise from one person to another. Just living with someone and saying that you promise is too easy. There’s something about standing up with your family (it doesn’t need to be with anyone else; we could have done it with just us and my kids) and promising out loud that makes it real. So I suppose that’s the one thing about me that is traditional. I wanted that, and despite his feelings about the institution of marriage, Corey wanted a bigger wedding than I did, so make of that what you will.

And I believe that that option should be available to anyone who wants it, who is willing to make that sacrifice, make that promise. Anyone who is willing to dive into marriage–as long as they aren’t 16 and stupid–should have that option available to them. Just don’t talk to Corey first because he’ll tell you that it’s just another government intrusion into your lives, but he  will also be the first to take that deduction on his taxes . . .

I wonder sometimes if he doesn’t just bait me to see how far he can push me . . . hmmm