Heterosupremacists and the Protection of Inequality
“We hold these truths to be self-evident,” wrote Thomas Jefferson in our nation’s Declaration of Independence, “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Well, apparently we could have used some elaboration. If we’d asked Jefferson himself, he would have had to concede that he was being quite literal when he wrote that all men are created equal, and that he really didn’t mean it anyhow because he rather enjoyed possessing human beings as he would a teapot, as long as they were of the right (or wrong, as it were) pigment. Since then, the people of the United States have worked diligently to disallow the inhuman indulgences of our forefathers and written instead new declarations of unassailable civil rights. Each individual cause has been a battle in the great war for equality, which is being slowly but steadily won by those who champion unqualified—which is to say, true—egalitarianism. Still, there are those who stand up daily to defend blatant injustice and the antique notion that some are greater in quality and more deserving under the law than others. Unfortunately, but perhaps expectedly, these advocates of evil comprise almost the entirety of the Republican presidential field.
In a Republican presidential “debate” staged this summer by CNN, each of the candidates expressed explicit disinterest in the equality of American citizens. Michele Bachmann stated plainly, “I also believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. I carried that legislation when I was a senator in Minnesota, and I believe that for children, the best possible way to raise children is to have a mother and father in their life.” I suppose the congresswoman may believe what she likes, but her beliefs completely ignore a recent study that showed a 0% abuse rate in lesbian households. This, of course, is compared to a 26% physical abuse rate and an 8% sexual abuse rate in heterosexual households.
When asked whether or not she supported a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, she answered, “I do support a constitutional amendment on marriage between a man and a woman, but I would not be going into the states to overturn their state law,” which is an incoherent thought. (Of course, however poorly articulated, her stance is made resoundingly clear by the existence of her Christian counseling clinics, wherein homosexuality is treated like a disease.)
Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum have spoken out in support of a constitutional amendment as well. Herman Cain has said that he believes marriage to be an issue best resolved by individual states, which expresses a troubling prioritization of state rights over human rights. Ron Paul said that he, too, wants federal government out of the marriage debate, suggesting instead that we all go look up “marriage” in a dictionary. Paul then went on to ask, “Why doesn’t it go to the church? And why doesn’t it to go to the individuals? I don’t think government should give us a license to get married. It should be in the church.” Apparently Congressman Paul is unaware that the majority of American citizens do not attend church. In any event, how marriages overseen exclusively by churches would influence taxation, property rights, and child guardianship is beyond the imagination of this author.
Both Mitt Romney and Rick Perry have signed a pledge to the National Organization for Marriage that they would seek a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Within the pledge is a promise to elect Supreme Court judges who “reject the idea our Founding Fathers inserted a right to gay marriage into our Constitution.” Whatever the Founding Fathers did or did not insert into the constitution is of no consequence. When the Constitution of the United States stands in the way of the equality of its citizens it must be duly amended. Incidentally, the Constitution says nothing at all about marriage. It does, however, say quite a bit about the influence of religion upon legislation.
This should be clear: a Constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage would be a Constitutional amendment to ensure inequality.
Sarah Palin, whose potential candidacy is supposed to be a mystery, said in the same succession of sentences that, having voted for a prohibitive amendment to her Alaskan constitution, “I wish on a federal level that that’s where we would go because I don’t support gay marriage,” but continued, “I’m not going to be out there judging individuals, sitting in a seat of judgment telling what they can and can’t do, should and should not do.” This is trying to have it both ways and does not make any sense.
There is a bizarre pattern of rhetoric inherent to each of these statements that actually tries to court the gay vote while deeming gay men and women inferior. That Palin can say that she supports a federal amendment securing the inequality of American citizens while simultaneously affirming that she will not “[sit] in a seat of judgment telling what they can and can’t do” is nonsense. When Wolf Blitzer pressed Herman Cain about his professed belief that gay men and women should not have the right to marry, Cain couldn’t even muster the courage to agree with himself, repeating mindlessly that he “supports traditional marriage.” This is laughable cowardice. If anti-equality politicians are uncomfortable expressing their own opinions, perhaps they should change them.
There is an insufferable tendency for those on the Right to ally themselves with the Founding Fathers, which they ostensibly think admirable. However, they do so to the extent that they value some human beings more highly than others. This is not worthy of admiration; it is worthy only of ridicule and scorn. This position is morally indefensible and cannot be reconciled with the tenets of justice, freedom and equality. And for pity’s sake, let us stop invoking the Founding Fathers as unequivocal moral leaders—they were no such thing.
When the argument for inequality stoops lowest, it begins to conduct multiple conversations at once. It is often repeated that the allowance of gay marriage necessitates the allowance of polygamy and the marriage of humans to other non-human animals. These issues are entirely unrelated. Personally, I cannot understand why consenting adult persons should be prohibited from marrying each other, no matter how great in number. On the other hand, that the legal rights of gay men and women would be compared to those of unthinking animals is so fundamentally offensive that I cannot bear to offer a rebuttal.
Advocacy of this particular inequality is Heterosupremacy and it must be regarded as such. Of course, Heterosupremacy is not exclusively a Right Wing cause. President Obama shares the spineless view that the right of consenting adult human beings to marry is an issue best addressed by individual states. There is one aspect of this debate that the Right has correct: this is a federal issue. No state in this union should have the right to devalue any citizen under the law.
Equality is a simple concept. It does not operate on a sliding scale. There is no such thing as more equal or less equal. There is no middle ground. There is equality, or there is inequality. Any denial of equality is an endorsement of inequality. We must no longer elect representatives that advocate the supremacy of one group over another. I challenge any reader to illuminate the differences between prohibiting marriage between people of the same sex and prohibiting marriage between people of color. Lest I be recommended to some dictionary or other, I would warn that such a suggestion prioritizes the integrity of linguistics over the rights of human beings. In any event, I value the definition of “equality” far more highly than I value the definition of “marriage.” Equality is self-evident. Equality is unalienable. Equality is for all.