Monday, August 9, 2010

The Prop 8 Decision: Can We Laugh Now?

I won't lie: I had a hell of a time writing this. Oh, it was fun, to be sure, because any situation involving the Christian Right always comes with its own form of amusement. In fact, it seems that the CR holds dear the maxim "we've made a religion out of entertainment and an entertainment out of religion." But this time, I was torn between the ridiculous and the just plain disgusting: on one hand knowing that the CR reacted ridiculously and on the other that the CR reacted so viciously that "Christian" had no business being part of its label.

The decision handed down by Federal Judge Vaughn Walker about the Right's ban on same-sex marriages in California hit every nerve in the body of the CR. I'm sure that remarks about his sexuality will be the least bothersome to him. And while I haven't yet read about death threats, it goes without saying that there will be some. You can't be that stupid to think that if you say that his decision will bring about Armageddon,  no one will get out their crayons and scrawl a note.*

Such is the fine line between comedy and tragedy in this case: we laugh and cry at the same time at the Right's handling of the case/trial and of its reactions. The plot of the Prop 8 play had so very many twists and turns, so many elements: religion, politics, deceit, ineptitude, money, fear, power and greed. And pathos (in the form of love fighting hate) hung in front of them like some dingy scrim. Certainly from the Left's point of view, it was a "tale told by an idiot." The CR cobbled the script together with snippets of ideologies they thought everyone wanted to hear while they paid no attention to the laws and mores protecting a diverse (and secular) society. Some unschooled people of the audience fell for all the machinations, while most looked on in amazement because the clueless CR wound up portraying itself: reactionary, ruthless and lacking reason.

At this point, we have to ask ourselves what drugs the Protect Marriage (Prop 8) people were on when they asked the Alliance Defense Fund to represent them as proponents for the trial? To say that they were inept presents a lack of depth: they were horrendously stupid. 

 - They did not know before the trial that PROPONENTS OF  THE TRIAL HAVE NO "STANDING" TO APPEAL!! Only the governor and the attorney general have a right to appeal since the state of California was on trial and NOT Protect Marriage. Proponents are merely legal counsel to supporters of the defense. 

 - ADF CANCELLED all of their pertinent witnesses except two: David  Blankenhorn and William Tam.  
Proponents elected not to call the majority of their designated witnesses to testify at trial and call not a single official proponent of Proposition 8 presented to voters and the arguments presented in court. 
And they never vetted them properly (or at all) nor did they practice in a mock trial. Both witnesses were deemed completely unacceptable by the judge. They had no pertinent academic credentials and they both had ties to the George Reeker scandal as well. When asked about sources for a statement, William Tam gave one of the most anemic answers in trial history "I found it on the internet."

While they were supposedly acting as proponents for the State of California (NOT Protect Marriage), they did nothing to prove that the State of California would be harmed in any way by same-sex marriages. NOTE: Judge Walker has been known to weigh heavily on economic impact in cases like these. They certainly didn't do their homework.

Neither Blankenhorn nor Tam could come up with plausible reasons for the vicious ads placed during the campaign. In fact, these "experts" couldn't explain much of anything. The whole campaign was clearly discriminatory. And the defense folded before everyone's eyes. As with Mark Twain's sentiment above, monkeys might have done better.

Their slowly diminishing I.Q not withstanding, the proponents not only threw away their own case, but placed in stark contrast the points that Walker focused upon:
  •  The defendants were backed by a "broad coalition" of churches.
  •  No state has ever required "individuals entering a marriage be willing or able to        procreate."
  •  Domestic partnerships "lack the social meaning associated with marriage."
  • The purpose of Proposition 8 - evidenced by its campaign - was to portray gays and lesbians as less worthy of marriage and therefore less than equal citizens.
  •  They could not prove that same-sex marriage would in any way harm families or the citizens of California.

The Alliance Defense Fund DID PROVE that if you say "God" "Bible" "Family" and (probably) "abomination" enough, you can convince any Christianist to hire you. 

Has Protect Marriage asked for its money back?

As entertaining as the trial was, the reaction to its decision was stellar in its righteous outrage:
- Pat Robertson (the last to chime in, perhaps because God took too much time explaining it to him): "Why, homosexuals want to destroy the church"

- Tony Perkins: 
Despite Walker 's own biases, which are woven into all 136 pages of the court's opinion, protecting marriage is not discriminatory. Nor is it, as he mocked, an "artifact" rooted in "unfounded stereotypes and prejudices."
(BTW: Perkins had a tough time alluding to Walker's gayness on Face the Nation: he looked the complete homophobe in spite of himself)

- Tim Wildmon, leader of the American Family Association: 
“tyrannical, abusive and utterly unconstitutional” and  “It’s also extremely problematic that Judge [Vaughn] Walker is a practicing homosexual himself. … His situation is no different than a judge who owns a porn studio being asked to rule on an anti-pornography statute.” 
 Wildmon later called for Walker's impeachment.

- Bastion for the sanctity of marriage Newt Gingrich called the ruling a:
 “notorious decision” and showed “outrageous disrespect for the Constitution.”

 - Andy Pugno, general counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund (heretofore known as the  Loony Lawyers League), said Walker had
“literally accused the majority of California voters of having ill and discriminatory intent”  

 - Robert George of the American Principles Project said that same-sex marriage supporters have a  “revolutionary sexual ideology.” 
 -  The decision shocked Richard Land, past president of the Southern Baptist Convention, so much that he didn't put "God" in his pronouncement: 
"This is a grievously serious crisis in how the American people will choose to be governed,” he said. “If and when the Supreme Court agrees with the lower court, then the American people will have to decide whether they will insist on continuing to have a government of the people, by the people and for the people, or whether they’re going to live under the serfdom of government by the judges, of the judges and for the judges.”
 - Maggie Gallagher, chairman of National Organization for Marriage (NOM):
If this ruling is upheld, ...Parents will find that, almost Soviet-style, their own children will be re-educated using their own tax dollars to disrespect their parents' views and values.
 - And finally, Bryan Fischer of American Family Association:
What they want is not equal rights, but special rights. They want a special exemption carved out for them so that their sexually aberrant relationships can be recognized as marriages, an exemption we don’t grant to folks who want to marry a son or a daughter, or a mother or a father, an uncle or an aunt, or a child.

Just in: American Family Association provided the biggest laugh today by presenting the results of a poll. But accident (or was it - horrors! - sabotage?) the poll gave people  a choice that included the Supreme Court as an answer:

Which entity should have the final say in whether same-gender 'marriage' is legal? 
Congress - 0.64%
The Supreme Court - 85.77%
State legislatures - 1.49%
Voters - 12.10%

As if to cement the ADF and Protect Marriage people in their place, Judge Walker  threw some proverbial pies in their faces in his Fact section of the decision. IF an appeal is granted, these are the ONLY points that will be considered by the appeals court - no new wacko witnesses or dubious "studies":

  • Religious leaders may determine independently whether to recognize a civil marriage or divorce but that recognition or lack thereof has no effect on the relationship under state law.

  • California, like every other state, has never required that individuals entering a marriage be willing or able to procreate.

  • That the majority of California voters supported Proposition 8 is irrelevant, as 'fundamental rights may not be submitted to [a] vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections.'"
Proposition 8 places the force of law behind stigmas against gays and lesbians.
So there we have it: a bumbling, disorganized, clueless defense chasing after same-sex marriage and the "homosexual agenda" followed by The Christian Right reactionaries, their billy clubs of arrogant self-righteousness waving in the air. 
Yes, we can laugh now.

*Stock tip: Crayola.

To clarify some of the hilarity that went on, watch an indredulous, can't-stop-laughing Rachel Maddow: