[cross-posted to [livejournal.com profile] rymenhild]

Heterosexual marriage damages traditional conservative values. You didn't know that? Well, take a look at the newest wisdom from Michael Steele.

Republicans can reach a broader base by recasting gay marriage as an issue that could dent pocketbooks as small businesses spend more on health care and other benefits, GOP Chairman Michael Steele said Saturday...

"Now all of a sudden I've got someone who wasn't a spouse before, that I had no responsibility for, who is now getting claimed as a spouse that I now have financial responsibility for," Steele told Republicans at the state convention in traditionally conservative Georgia. "So how do I pay for that? Who pays for that? You just cost me money."

Imagine the (presumably Republican) small business owner A. A's employee, B, marries an otherwise uninsured person of the opposite gender, C. In the present American health-care system (if it can be called a system!), A now has to insure C, so B's marriage is a burden on A's business. I fail to see how this situation is any different from the marriage of employee D and otherwise uninsured spouse E, when D and E happen to have matching XX or XY chromosome pairs. In both cases, marriage impoverishes the small business owner! Shocking! Wouldn't it be easier for A if no one got married at all?

You know what's even more shocking? Married couples sometimes produce children, and they too have to be insured by small business owner A. A's employees' procreation places an unwarranted burden on A, that good Republican business owner. By this logic, Republicans should be anti-childbirth! In fact, they should support all manner of birth control and abortion, because these things save small business owners money. Oh, wait, I forgot, Republicans are against abortion. Why not outlaw sex, extra- or intra-marital? Then no one will have to worry about poor A's insurance outlays.

Actually, I have a better idea. Why not let the American government provide us all with health insurance? Then A won't have to worry about it, and all of those heterosexuals and homosexuals and bisexuals can get married and have children without imperiling A's bottom line. Now, that supports good Republican values.
I have a confession to make: I don't care about MP's expenses. I really don't. I don't care how much they spent and whether it was legal or moral or a massive waste of taxpayers' money. And I don't want to know why I should care, OK?

I do care about what the way in which the Telegraph has been talking about particular MPs reflects on the situation we're in socially, particularly in the recognition of same sex couples.

The Telegraph's original item was headlined: Ben Bradshaw: Mortgage bill paid on home part-owned by boyfriend. Where 'boyfriend' refers to Bradshaw's civil partner; which under UK partnership law is to all extents and purposes his husband. Using a word that colloquially means something more casual than boyfriend clearly indicates a demeaning of the relationship.

The meat of the article is basically that once he was legally partnered, Bradshaw used his living allowance to pay the interest on the mortgage - the complete mortgage, not half of it. The same paper covering David Cameron applauds the Tory leader for 'only' claiming on his mortgage interest: the exact same claim that Bradshaw was making. The only difference? Cameron is married to a woman. Skim down the Telegraph's PAGE OF DRAMA about the expenses: they don't complain about married MPs supporting their spouses..

And the Telegraph can get away with this - and a similar story about Nick Herbert - because they don't have to acknowledge that Civil Partnerships are legally in every way the direct equivalent of a marriage; because it's not called marriage, because use of that word would somehow cause the Church of England to explode, then people talking about it can happily assume that 'partners' are something less important and not deserving of the same respect of 'spouses'.

There's also nothing for reminding oneself of the general social inequality pervading our society like reading the comments on political blogs: Sundal Kundar mentions that Bradshaw has a point crying homophobia, and he gets this comment:
How do you know Bradshaw is the 'husband' and not the 'wife'?
And as for Liberal Conspiracy... I gave up when I realised the whole thing was being derailed by semantics junkies who apparently don't understand how the English Language functions. I wonder if anyone's told material scientists that they're 'illiterate' by implying oil has a psychological disorder about water?

I do think legal recognition for any group is the first step; because as long as any harmful behaviour is legal people are going to use that as an excuse for their hate, but it has to be true legal equality. This whole debacle illustrates that for me: while the UK legal status of Civil Partnerships is better than, say, the restrictions DOMA puts on actual marriage created in certain US States, it's still not equality.

This video, produced by the intelligence behind the Waking Up blog, is a great factual rebuttal of the kinds of stories beig put about by NOM and the tactics being used there. It was linked to by Slacktivist (and for brining that to my attention, H/T to Andrew Hickey) in his fantastic post The Burkha-logic of NOM.

This points to the key confusion of the persecuted hegemons. They are unable to distinguish between challenges to their hegemony -- to their privilege -- and threats to their faith itself. This is a spiritually perilous confusion, particularly so for Christians who claim to follow a crucified outcast.

The word I'm stretching for here, Stanley Hauerwas would say, is "constantinianism" -- the inversion and perversion of Christianity that occurred when a religion of slaves and women and the poor became a religion of emperors and empires. Constantinian faith requires and assumes the establishment of an official, privileged religion. It comes to believe, in the language of the First Amendment, that its own free exercise depends on such an establishment -- that its free exercise is incompatible with the free exercise of any other religion (or of no religion at all).

We've illustrated this before with the religious practice of wearing burkhas -- or, more accurately, the religious practice of requiring the women one controls to wear burkhas. That practice is intrinsically hegemonic, intrinsically constantinian. It cannot be left as a matter of individual freedom or conscience. It's not sufficient for those who believe in that practice for only the women of their household or congregation or sect to be clad in burkhas. That still leaves open the possibility that one might be exposed to the immodest displays of the wrists and ankles of other women in the market or the public square. The logic of the burkha requires that all women -- every woman that every man might see -- is fully sheathed so as not to assault the eyes of the faithful.

I'm going to expand a little more on how I see this happen a lot in all discussions that involve challenging someone's privilege, but I think this is one of the best takes I've seen on what's actually happening; there's a mindset here that's confusing power with rights, that leads to the idea that limiting the power of a religious group to dictate laws for the rest of us somehow violates their religious freedoms.


Organized Monitoring of the National Organization


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