I apologize for not properly blogging for almost a week. I’ve been overwhelmed with various press conferences, floor battles and public debates. It’s hard to fit anything else in between all of that and the 3-4 hours per day I spend working on my thigh-master. The fact is, a body like mine doesn’t just HAPPEN!
One of the more interesting things I did this week was my televised debate on same-sex marriage against Maggie Gallagher at Harrisburg Community College. Maggie is the head of the National Organization for Marriage, and the leading spokesperson against same-sex marriage rights in the US of A. Obviously there were going to be profound differences between us. She is female, and I am male. She oppose gay marriage and I support it. She thinks the check for her expenses will clear…
In any event, before I discuss the details of the debate let me just say that personally Maggie could not have been nicer. She greeted me warmly and debated calmly, without ever resorting to personal insults, or the dreaded “foreign objects” favored by 1970s era professional wrestler Bruno Samartino. Because I believe that the tone of the debate is directly correlative to how the country looks when this debate is resolved, I want it to be clear that my comments on the positions she took which appear below are in no way reflective of any animus against Maggie personally.
After we were introduced and instructed on the rules we were to ignore by moderator Scott Detrow, we each gave a 3 minute opening statement. As Maggie spoke I silently perused the audience, seeing if I could figure who was on my side and who was against me. Folks with rainbow umbrellas…with me. Dude with large, Gutenberg Bible on his lap and a “See you in Hell Leach!” T-shirt, probably not. Then I realized that it had actually been my turn to speak and that the prolonged silence was growing awkward.
To her credit, Maggie largely stayed away from the traditional arguments against same sex marriage. These include the following
= My God thinks it’s an abomination. He also thinks that eating shrimp is an abomination, but I really like Seafood Newburg, so we won’t dwell on that.
= It’s a slippery slope. If a man can marry a man, we have no choice but to allow a man to marry three women, or a 7 year old, or a goat, or lawn furniture. This was Rick Santorum’s famous “man on dog” argument. God I miss him!
= If a married gay couples moves into a neighborhood, suddenly thousands of red-blooded, happily married heterosexuals will suddenly Go Gay! They will leave their spouses, buy a ton of Judy Garland records and sign their kids up for “Sodom and Gomorrah Theme Camp”
Maggie’s arguments were a bit more subtle, but ultimately, in my view, still unconvincing. Her first argument was that gay people shouldn’t marry because “every child deserves a mom and a dad. That is the ideal and legitimizing any other arrangement undermines that.”
I pointed out that my bill would allow same sex couples to marry. It would not require straight couples to break up. If you have a mom and a dad, you can keep them. So marriage equality would not add by one child the number of children not being raised by a mom and a dad. (or MaMa and Gomez, as they are referred to on the Addams Family) .
So putting aside the fact that every single peer-reviewed objective study shows that the children of gay parents do just as well as the children of straight parents, and that the real relevant differential is between two parents vs. one parent, and that allowing gays to marriage increases the number of two parent gay families when children are involved, the very premise of Maggie’s argument is false. Same-sex marriage does not stop anyone from having a mom and dad.
Second, Maggie spent a great deal of time arguing that if gay people can marry, people who state religious objections will be treated as the racists who might say the N-word in public. They will be ostracized and even legally penalized. She cited some Catholic social service agencies that closed rather than serve gay people.
There were several problems with that argument. To begin with, the First Amendment will protect every one’s right to say bad things about gay people or their marriages. Maggie analogized it to race. You are still free to be a racist in America. You are free to say racist things, and even start a tea-party and hold up pictures of President Obama with a bone through his nose.
Now it is admittedly not considered polite to start spewing racism at most of your better Debutante Balls or Spring Cotillions. And I can’t promise that it will always be socially acceptable in all circles to engage in this sort of conversation.
Married Gay Waiter
May I take your order today sir?
Yeah, how about you bring me another
waiter you hell-bound buddy of Beelzebub.
Married Gay Waiter
You heard me you slithering sycophant
of Satan. You and your monstrous mockery
of a marriage.
Married Gay Waiter
Look, I just want to know what kind of
Oh, you want to talk about eggs do you?
You who won’t come near an egg if your life
depends on it, you marauder of matrimony,
you nay-sayer of natural nuptials, you wily
wanter of weird weddings.
Married Gay Waiter
You really like alliteration don’t you?
I do. Now give me a cheese omelet, and
hold the fruit, like you don’t do that every night.
But does the fact that this actual, real conversation I made up might get our alliterative friend in trouble a reason to deny basic human rights? I don’t think so. Nobody wants anyone punished for expressing sincerely held religious views. But there are people who religiously belief that race-mixing is wrong. Do we deny black people the right to eat in restaurants because some white graduate of Bob Jones University think that God might have a problem with that?
As the debate ended I shook Maggie’s hand, thanked her, and asked if she knew any single gay guys I could leave my wife and elope with. I laughed and laughed. She looked at me like I was a ferret. I am grateful she came up to discuss this important issue. But I remain convinced that the battle for full equality is one that, despite fits and starts, we will inevitably win.
I will be posting the full debate on line shortly. I’ll let you know how to get to it if you are interested. Oh, and please sign up for blog updates!