The concept of holding on to a ritual or belief from a previous time that is passed down within a society and still maintained in the present is tradition, and they can persist and sometimes evolve over thousands of years. Every society has myriad popular traditions that are practiced and adhered to by a majority of people, but a tradition’s popularity should not be the impetus for enacting federal or state laws that penalize non-participants, or those who favor alternative traditions. Over the past several years, one tradition has been thrust into cultural and political discourse based around a religious belief, and it has served as motivation to subvert the Constitution’s promise of equal and civil rights with solid support from the religious right’s legislative arm, the Republican Party. Americans love traditions, but the idea of legislating a tradition is about as absurd as legislating morality, but that is the quandary facing America in 2012, and the Supreme Court in 2013.
The news that the Supreme Court will hear two cases revolving around same-sex marriage, and whether the highest court in the land will rule on mandating the traditional definition of marriage as the law of the land, is in one sense, a simple case of civil and equal rights, and on another level, a case of determining whether or not the bible is the law of the land. If one contemplates who supports the court striking down same-sex marriage laws, upholding California’s Proposition 8, and the Defense of Marriage Act, then there is little doubt the issue is not about upholding a tradition, but enforcing a religion’s dogma.
There is no question of whether or not DOMA or California’s Proposition 8 are unconstitutional based on their discrimination against homosexuals, so why the High Court is even hearing the cases is highly questionable. It is true both are laws that need to be struck down as violations of the Constitution’s guarantee of equal rights, but to judge them for what they are, bible-based laws disguised as tradition, is a waste of taxpayer dollars and the Court’s time. The arguments to support the state-sanctioned discrimination are beyond frivolous and would be rejected on their face if the subject was anything other than the rights of homosexuals, but as Americans have become accustomed, frivolity based on religion has become the order of the day for hate-based groups like the National Organization of Marriage and myriad evangelical organizations calling themselves Christians and working from a basis of hatred for other human beings. Such is 21st Century neo-American Christianity.
What should be evident, is that equality is the purview of the U.S. Constitution, not the bible, or god’s condemnation of homosexuality found in a couple of obscure verses in the bible’s version of the Law of Moses. It is doubtful the High Court, or legislators, would consider a law discriminating against Americans who eat pork, or shellfish, as constitutional based on ancient Jewish tradition in Mosaic Law, but they assigned the same importance to the question of whether or not same-sex couples have the legal right to marry. There is a tradition among Catholics to make the sign of the cross at specific times, but there are no legal sanctions against Americans who fail to heed that traditional practice, or financial benefits for Catholics the rest of the population is prohibited from receiving. Unfortunately, same-sex marriage proponents are not afforded the same latitude as Southern Baptists or Mormons who have different traditions than Catholics based on their religion.
Same-sex marriage, as a legal question, has significant financial and legal implications in federal and state laws that discriminate, by legislation, against same-sex couples with no justification other than, as Christians note, it is against tradition (translation; against the bible). However, it has not stopped same-sex marriage opponents and homophobes for concocting a laundry list of absurd notions to ban same-sex marriage with no basis in fact. Some of the insane pronouncements against same-sex marriage, and homosexuals in general, are; it jeopardizes opposite-sex couples’ marriages, propagandizes children into the homosexual lifestyle, incurs god’s wrath leading to natural disasters, and the ever-present leads to the downfall of civilization as we know it. Of course, none of it is true, but even devout evangelical maniacs are intelligent enough to know approaching the courts with a verse of scripture as the reason to uphold a discriminatory law is a deal-killer. However, there is at least one Supreme Court Justice who has implied that is precisely how he will judge the merits of the same sex cases the court hears next year.
Antonin Scalia, arguably the most political Justice in recent history has already ruled on the legality of same-sex marriage and homosexuality in general. For the second time in as many months, Scalia doubled down on his contention that homosexual relations in the privacy of the bedroom are as heinous as murder. Scalia claimed that homosexuality was illegal for 200 years and that it was a no-brainer that it still should be, but so was interracial marriage, African American’s right to vote, women’s right to vote, and many other laws that were struck down as violations of equal and civil rights. It is a pathetic argument from a pathetic human being and is typical of the pitiable arguments against same-sex marriage.
The challenges to same-sex marriage are only based on personal beliefs by those who adhere to the bible, and they are just that; beliefs. During the campaign for the presidency, Willard Romney said he supported a Constitutional Amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman, and he cited his “belief” as the sole reason to discriminate against other Americans. Is it not curious that he did not advocate for a Constitutional Amendment banning coffee, cola drinks, or non-magic underwear? Those “beliefs” have their basis in his religion, but he certainly did not propose banning Starbucks or Coca Cola under a Constitutional amendment.
This entire movement against same-sex marriage is another in a long line of attempts by devotees of the bible to impose their will on the entire population, and the fact they are using the United States Congress and Supreme Court are in themselves highly unconstitutional, and yet no-one is opposing the National Organization of Marriage or various religious groups on the real basis for discriminating against same-sex couples; the bible as law of the land.
Americans have moved past archaic superstition and recognized that all Americans deserve the same rights under the law, and religious fanatics cannot comport losing the battle to theocratize the U.S. Constitution. The groups fighting desperately to legalize discrimination are despicable cowards who know if they approached banning same-sex marriage on religious grounds, their challenges would be summarily dismissed as frivolous. Since they cannot go before the court and recite scripture and verse as the reason to suspend the Constitution, they have come up with the equally absurd contention that the courts legalize a tradition. It will be interesting over the next few months to observe the machinations of NOM, DOMA devotees, and religious fanatics as they attempt to convince the court their advocacy for legal discrimination has a basis in any fact that is not in the bible, their personal beliefs, or religious liberty to impose god’s hatred of homosexuality on the entire nation. One thing is clear; there is no legal or sane reason to use the law to discriminate against any person in America, but unfortunately when fanatical Christians and their Republican enforcers are involved, the concept of a sane reasoning is always the bible is the law of the land; regardless what the Constitution says.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.