The Supreme Court has spoken—and quite eloquently—about the right of all Americans to marry whom they love. Implications abound well beyond the American border. Remember that last month the Irish citizenry, so long captured by a Catholic theocracy, voted overwhelmingly for the right of all Irish to marry whom they love. Over 80% of young adults in the US favor gay marriage so that might tell us something of the future. It seems something is afoot—and it is setting the hair of some very vocal Christians on fire. Self-proclaimed Christians living in the past, people now with their heads on fire, are providing perpetual fodder for late night humorists. Here are a few raging firestorms: Presidential candidate Rick Santorum promises he “will not honor any decision which will force us to violate our clear, biblical understanding.” (What is so clear a Biblical understanding since the same book that condemns homosexuality also condemns eating shrimp and proposes stoning adulterers?) Bobby Jindal, another self-appointed theologian and presidential candidate shares his wisdom: “The Supreme Court can’t overrule God. This ruling paves the way for an all-out assault on religious freedom of Christians.” Comments Bill Maher: “they’re’ such drama queens, aren’t they?” He addresses these concerned ones and says: “You do realize that this is not mandatory. You don’t have to have sex with another man—it’s just an option now.”
Of course the spokespeople for religiously institutionalized homophobia are also incensed. Bishop Thomas J. Tabi of Providence, Rhode Island assures us that homosexual marriage derives “from the father of lies who seeks to confuse and deceive the church of God.” The US Catholic bishops rushed to the podium also. They tell us that for the government to declare that two people of the same sex “constitute a marriage” is “profoundly immoral and unjust” and that the decision constitutes a “tragic error” that endangers the “common good” and “especially that of children.” This comes from a group that has a bit of a moral monkey on its back when it comes to endangering children seeing as it could not protect them from pedophile priests and hierarchical cover up of the same over decades.
Does it really think that anyone is listening any more to its hypocritical rants about sexual morality aimed at a sexual minority that is, in fact, well represented (though fully closeted) among its ranks? Has it learned nothing from the Irish vote on homosexual marriage?
Of course presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, also a clergyman representing his brand of Christianity, has taken up the microphone. It is “like repealing the law of gravity” he assures us. The Supreme Court is “an imperial court” like the British crown of old and “we must resist and reject judicial tyranny, not retreat.” To the barricades! Where is Paul Revere when we need him?
But isn’t that the task of the Supreme Court? To “resist the tyranny of the majority” against the minority? Where was Huckabee when Citizens United and the Hobby Lobby decisions told us that corporations are persons and that corporations have a conscience?
Speaking of Citizens United, Supreme Court justice Antonio Scalia chimes in of course. After this decision, the Supreme Court itself, he tells us, is “a threat to American democracy.” (Maybe, if he has a conscience, he should quit then.) And Citizens United, which he enthusiastically supported and that defined “money is speech” and that opened the gates to billionaires dictating our legislators and judges is NOT a threat to American democracy? Scalia has a large family, lots of very Catholic kids. I have often wondered: What if one of them was gay? What would it be like being a gay son or daughter of Justice Scalia? Send prayers his or her way, please. And fast. And furious. Maybe there should be a fund-raising app to support the gay or lesbian daughter of Justice Scalia.
Supreme Court chief Justice John Roberts embarrasses himself by saying that the decision had nothing to do with the constitution. Last time I looked the constitution 1) established the Supreme Court and its rules and 2) talks somewhat unambiguously about how “all men (and presumably women) are created equal” and this means protecting the rights of the minorities and isn’t that what this decision was about?
Of course presidential candidate Ted Cruz deserves his day in the sun also. He calls the Supreme Court “lawless” and calls out its “naked and shameless judicial activism.” Again, no mention of the judicial activism of removing voter abuse laws from the southern states of the confederacy or naming Citizens United the law of the land. Cruz’ fellow Texan politician (now out of a job) Tom Delay warned that if the Supreme Court ruled as it has “all hell is going to break loose.”
Well, I suppose a lot depends on how and who defines hell. For our cultural comics, this hair-on-fire reaction is pure heaven, solid gold, endless nights of good humor. For people stuck in tired dogmas and ancient doctrines based on no-science, this moment may indeed feel like hell.
What do I say? I say: “Let the Homophones huff and puff. Love is the law of the land. Now there is a smart judicial decision that assures love can happen for all the country’s citizens, even those who constitute a sexual minority.”
Science has spoken on the utter naturalness of homosexual love for a minority of human beings and of at least 464 other species. This is why psychological science has for decades thrown out the silly talk of gays as “sick” or “disordered” (papal talk much favored by the opus-dei loving Pope Benedict XVI). Let those with their heads in the sands—archbishops and politicians and presidential candidates and Supreme Court judges and all—repeat the religious exercise that was the Galileo affair of 500 years ago. It is their right to choose to live in the past. Let the religiously sick wrap themselves in chains of doctrine based on nothing Jesus ever preached or taught if they want to.
In the Fall Pope Francis is coming to America. He has recently released an encyclical on global warming and the moral imperative for caring for the Earth and he has addressed it to all people of good will since, dah!, climate and the Earth are all of our concerns. He is calling a second gathering of a Synod on the Family this Fall as well. At the first there was a mild effort to lift some of the opprobrium the church commits against homosexuals, supported by his happy statement, “Who am I to Judge?” when asked about gay priests which seemed to hint at a slight thawing of Catholic homophobic dogma. But the backlash from Neanderthal hierarchy was fierce. Will he roll over and play dead, repeating ad nauseam the silly arguments against homosexuality that derive from bad interpretations of scripture and of course from the ridiculous teachings of sex (better no sex) from St Augustine in the fourth century? Will he be able to move beyond the chains of tired and mistaken dogma?
I doubt it frankly. I think the institutional church is crashing on the rocks of sexual issues just as an Irish poet early in the twentieth century predicted it would. We shall see. I wish Pope Francis well and pray for him to move on from condemnations of birth control and homosexuality and women’s rights that are so embedded in the rigid Catholic codex. But I am not holding my breath.
The handwriting is on the wall, however. With ever growing numbers of young adults rejecting homophobia, there are going to be fewer and fewer practicing Christians in churches that endorse it. Was it 95 parishes that the diocese of New York shut down this past year? Better start looking for more after this overcharged response to a court decision based on justice, common sense and today’s science.
Let everyone not wrapped in tired and disproven doctrines about sex rid themselves of anti-scientific dogmas and be free. The law of grace, not of fear, can now blow freely. Let us all celebrate—including those who care deeply about heterosexual marriage. Now you have a whole new community trying to do what you so dearly say you desire: Keep marriage an alive institution. Why not choose to help homosexuals be the best lovers and best married couples they can be—that would be a religious—or at least spiritual--commitment worth pursuing.