Saturday, May 15, 2010

I'm Ok, You're Inferior II: More on the Movement Against Marriage Equality

In my last post, I wrote about how the movement to keep same sex marriage illegal is motivated primarily by bigotry. Today I'd like to go over three other things that inspire the National Organization for Marriage and some other prejudiced people to do what they do.

Goal No. 1: Subvert the democratic process
The campaigns led by NOM and others to keep marriage equality from becoming legal have been successful in many parts of the country. Thirty states have passed constitutional amendments prohibiting same-sex marriage. But at the same time that the anti-same sex marriage movement has been winning many battles, they've been losing the larger war.

In the past fifteen years, support for marriage equality has increased in all 50 states. In many states, support has increased dramatically in just the past few years. Furthermore, a majority of people under 30 support marriage equality, while support among senior citizens is only around 25%. America is moving irrevocably towards majority support of marriage equality. NOM claims that, "We need a marriage amendment to settle the gay marriage issue once and for all, so we don’t have it in our face every day for the next ten years." But it doesn't take a genius to figure out what their real agenda is: to build legal barriers against marriage equality as quickly as possible before they are overwhelmed in the court of public opinion.

Goal No. 2: Make a lot of money
Supporters and foes of marriage equality spent about $40 million each in the 2008 battle in California to enact Proposition 8, which overturned same sex marriage. That money goes somewhere. Some of it goes to people like pastor Gary Randall, who fights against marriage equality in my home state of Washington. Randall operates an organization called Faith and Freedom which raises money to fight against domestic partnership laws and marriage equality in Washington. He pays himself over $1,000 per week for a few hours work on behalf of the organization. But when pressed in a 2009 newspaper interview to explain why same sex domestic partnerships are harmful, he was unable to give anything like a straight answer. (I suppose some of fundraisers who support marriage equality are also only in it for the money. That's life.)

Goal No. 3: Maintain sexism and white supremacy
One of the National Organization for Marriage's project is called the Ruth Institute. The Ruth Institute's object is to promote ideas such as, "Marriage as the proper context for sex and childrearing." The project wants families to have more children. But as the author of the article I cited in my last post points out, "if you thought that the Ruth Institute would be content to let women have children on their own time--say, using techniques like fertility treatments or artificial insemination--you're wrong. Two of the top featured articles at the Ruth Institute's website...openly decry these practices. The only way women ought to have children, if you ask the Ruth Institute, is if a man is present to control the situation."

So NOM is sexist. But it's also white supremacist? Yes. One of the Ruth Project's goals is: "Maintain at least a replacement-level birth rate, so that the devastation of a European-style "demographic winter" is avoided." The demographic winter is an idea that's been kicking around the conservative world a while now. It suggests that the world will face problems in the next century because of falling birthrates. Consider the Demographic Winter project from the conservative Heartland Institute. It mixes some truth with some other easily disproven claims to make it appear that the world's population with shrink dramatically in the next century. For example, the project claims that, "The average birth rate for the European Union is 1.5, well below replacement (2.1)." This is true. However, they also claim that, "If current trends continue, by 2050, the world will hold 248 million fewer children under 5 than it does today." This claim is utter nonsense. Current demographic trends indicate that in the next century, the world's population will rise from the current 6.7 billion to 10 billion.

But take another look at Demographic Winter's bullet points. Almost all of them talk about low birth rates in Europe and the industrialized world. Only passing mention is given to the developing world, with mention of low birth rates in Egypt and the Philippines. This or course ignores the big picture: Africa's population will nearly triple in the next century, while Asia's will nearly double.

So it's not declining birth rates they're worried about. It's declining birth rates within the white, Christian part of the world. It's the same idea I wrote about last year, as expressed by Fox News' John Gibson, "Gibson urges viewers to have more children. By growing the native population, he claims, we can reduce pressure to allow more immigrants into the county. We wouldn't want to become like Europe where, "they are inviting in more and more immigrants every year to take care of things and those immigrants are having way more babies than the native population, hence Eurabia." What does Gibson mean by "Eurabia?" He clarifies this in the second clip, "I'd rather live with the Christians here than live ... under Sharia law in Europe."

This is exactly the same thing many foes of marriage equality worry about. It's also part of the conservative racism that created Arizona's new anti-immigrant law. American conservatives fear the demographic changes coming to this country, and they're not shy about it. As far as they're concerned, anyone who's not a straight, white Christian raising lots of straight, white Christian children is not welcome in their America.

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