Steven (unzeugmatic) wrote,

Our Day in Court

There's a local columnist whose main purpose at the newspaper seems to be to write periodic anti-gay-rights screeds so that the paper can appear "balanced". That might be fine, except that this columnist is somewhat loose with actual facts -- even in an opinion page you'd think that a newspaper would call her out. It is pretty much a given that after any of her columns the people she talks about will have to write to the paper correcting her misinformation -- even people she has written in support of. It's something of a joke. And yet she continues on.

Her most recent anti-gay-marriage column was presumably a response to the five million times she was asked how gay marriage would, specifically, harm her -- something she had never once addressed, not in any way that made sense. This column was a listing of all the horrible things that supposedly already have happened in this regard -- and in every example she had the facts wrong. She brought up a case where a photographer was "forced" to work for a lesbian wedding despite her personal beliefs -- where the legal issue was the photographer breaking a contract, not the sexual orientation of the couple. She brought up a case where a student group on a campus couldn't meet because of their beliefs in the wrongness of homosexuality, while the problem at hand was actually a student group that restricted its membership, which is problematic for a group that received funding. Somebody once pointed out to me that this columnist simply gets her information from right-wing sites on the Internet and doesn't seem to have much interest in checking out their veracity. Again, that's certainly her right, but I think it's appalling that her employers require so little of her.

My point here is that for so long we've all been hearing a nonsense script about how gay marriage harms straight marriage, the same unexamined talking points simply repeated no matter how they are addressed or countered. We've been hearing exaggerated quotes from bogus studies to prove how bad it is for society if same-sex couples rear children. We've been hearing ahistoric falsehoods about the history of marriage. We've been hearing strange claims about how the sole purpose of marriage is procreation, an argument that falls apart so completely at such a surface level that you start to think that the people who say this (and repeat it and repeat it) are clinically insane. And all of this is presented in the public discourse as if, simply because somebody said it, it has value.

So now these talking points went to trial, where the goal is not to "balance" each side's views but to question them to get at the law. And the side fighting against allowing gay men and lesbians the same rights as heterosexuals could come up with absolutely nothing that would stand up in a court of law. Literally nothing. They barely even tried. Their witnesses even admitted they didn't have the expertise or data to support their statements. They couldn't point to any harm that would come about if same-sex marriage were allowed, none that held up in court. The talking points of the local columnist were never entered into the record, because in a circumstance where your lies will be caught out you don't tell them. Many five year olds know this.

For a long time now I've been saying that I have never seen an argument against same-sex marriage that boiled down in a legal sense to anything but "I just don't like it." I put the "because my religion forbids it" in this category, because these religions forbid lots of things that don't inspire political outrage -- only things that people just don't like do. Besides, that's not a legal argument for a legal issue. The main argument you see these days -- by people who have the integrity not to quote bogus studies or try to deny actual scholarship or even the experience of countries and states that allow same sex marriage -- is that things have "always" been this way and we can't experiment with society on such a grand scale. AKA "I dont' like it". Or maybe "I don't like it a lot".

The judge's opinion in the Prop 8 case tears all this nonsense down. Again and again. "I don't like it" doesn't cut it as a reason to harm others, not in his court.
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