Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney: “The court focused on adult rights—they said if heterosexual couples can marry, then to have equal rights homosexuals have to also be able to marry. That court's mistake was they should have focused on the rights of children—because marriage is primarily about the development and nurturing of children.”
Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee: “I tell people I'm actually just for keeping marriage in the only manner for which it's ever been known in any culture, in any civilization throughout all of history... Dear friends, until Moses comes down with two stone tablets from Brokeback Mountain saying we've changed the rules, let's keep it like it is."
Ho ho ho.
(Hey, wait a second—didn’t Huckabee just call Moses gay?)
All right, let’s deal with this nonsense one point at a time. First, marriage being “primarily about the development and nurturing of children.” Well, you know, it is for some people. And for some people it isn’t—couples who want to remain deliberately childless, but still enjoy a lifetime commitment to one partner, or couples who are, for one biological reason or another, unable to have children and also can’t adopt, because one of them has a medical condition that precludes them or because they can’t afford it. So, right out of the box, Mitt’s categorization of marriage is flawed, at best.
Beyond that, there’s the little problem of his assumption that same-sex couples can’t (or shouldn’t) parent. See, here’s the thing: kids reared by queers do as well as their peers. (And here, and about a million other places.) Not only is the notion that children of gay parents are less well off than their straight-parented cohort a complete fallacy, but same-sex couples are more likely to adopt older children, children of color, and/or children with special needs than any other group. It’s not straight married couples, nor straight singles, no matter how devout or how pro-life or how pro-family who adopt “tough placement” kids in the highest numbers, but gays and lesbians. Thus, unless we’re talking about the “development and nurturing” only of perfectly healthy, biological children, it makes sense to encourage gay marriage and parenting on behalf of the most needy of our nation’s unwanted children.
Moving on to Huckabee’s claim now that we must keep marriage “in the only manner for which it’s ever been known in any culture, in any civilization throughout all of history.” First of all, I’d like to point out the irony that he followed that up with a very specific religious reference, as if every culture and civilization has been dependent on the Ten Commandments. A perfect showcase of his ignorance, not to mention a perfect lead-in to my rebuttal. As we have before, let’s turn to those wanton purveyors of the radical homosexual agenda, Oxford University Press bloggers William N. Eskridge, Jr. and Darren R. Spedale for a little clarification on the divergent cultures (some of which indeed did not care a whit about Moses or his graven tablets) who have recognized same-sex marriage.
As one of us demonstrated ten years ago, many cultures in the world have recognized same-sex relationships as unions or marriages. (Eskridge, The Case for Same-Sex Marriage chapter 2 [Free Press, 1996].) These include ancient Greece and Rome, dozens of African cultures (what anthropologists call “female husbands”), and Native American cultures. Same-sex marriages involving “berdaches” (men or women with cross-gender identification) were common in dozens of tribes.And, of course, Britain has done the same.
As our new book documents, in detail, modern societies are also recognizing same-sex unions. Denmark (1989) was the first, in its registered partnership law. Dozens of other countries and provinces have followed Denmark, with laws providing same-sex couples with most or all of the legal benefits and duties of marriage.
…The Netherlands (2001) is the first modern nation to recognize same-sex unions as “marriages.” Similar same-sex marriage laws have been adopted in Belgium (2002), Canada (2004), and Spain (2005). South Africa’s Constitutional Court has directed that country to follow in the next year.
When people like Huckabee yammer on about how marriage has always been between a man and a woman throughout the entirety of history, they may be displaying their own ignorance of its speciousness, but they are quite certainly relying on the ignorance of most Americans, who have no idea that the pablum they’re being spoonfed about the history of marriage is patently false. And it’s a lie the media is typically reluctant to counter.
But, for a moment, let’s pretend that the whole of human history had never seen a marriage between two people of the same sex. So fucking what? We’re not still hoofing it from state to state on foot or on horseback, but, as I recall, Moses didn’t come down from Ford Mountain to decree that we could start driving around in automobiles before we drove off into the sunset, either. And if you’re in need of a more Ten Commandments-relevant example, I also don’t remember any cloaked graybeards giving the Almighty’s consent to a reversal on his position on torture, either, yet that hasn’t seemed to stop Christian Conservatives from cheering on as we line up the evil-doers for a little waterboarding. Curious, isn’t it, how people like Huckabee are willing to be trailblazers when it suits their purpose—that is, when it limits the rights of people they don’t like, but not when it expands the rights of people they don’t like.
It’s all just so much useless twaddle, as usual, preying on the decidedly ugly streak in their constituents that manifests as Hatred of the Other: Rooted in ignorance, inflamed by the merest hint of the suggestion that somehow, some way, their rights will be undermined as rights are extended to others, in this zero-sum game of I Got Mine, and snugly wrapped in the gossamer illusion of protecting families, protecting children.
And in their world, gay families with children who might be better served by parents who can legally marry don’t even exist.