Weekend update – 6/13/2015 (ironic bigotry edition)

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Yesterday’s Friday Links included the story of Nick and Sarah Jensen, two Australians whose “sincerely-held religious belief in the sanctity of marriage” is so strong, that they have publicly vowed to divorce if Australia legalizes equal marriage for gays and lesbians. There have been a lot of reactions. Queerty reports that locals of have reacted (on the website of the local newspaper which published the Jensen’s op-ed piece) such things as, “This is seriously the dumbest thing I’ve read in quite some time,” and “Talk about ignorant white trash attempting to guilt others,” and “You are brave to write an article and publish something like this…. This still doesn’t change the fact that you are deluded bigots.”

But the best reaction has been this: Straight couple told their gay marriage ‘protest divorce’ is actually illegal. Australian family law requires that a couple prove their marriage is irretrievably broken before granting a divorce. They must live completely apart for a full year before the divorce is granted, and must both swear that they do not intend to cohabitate in the future. Which is what they have also sworn they will do.

Of course, I actually prefer this headline: Same Sex Couple Threaten Not To Give A Shit If Other Couple Divorces.

11329771-172144855243_xlargeWhile this argument makes no logical sense, it’s hardly the first time the bigots have made this kind of argument. Rachel Maddow, following up on the story of Rev. Franklin Graham publicly moving his ministry’s money from one bank that advocates for equal rights to gays to another bank that advocates for equal rights for gays. Rachel explains why the fuzzy logic isn’t just a laughing matter: Anti-gay laws lose argument, win votes anyway.

The logic isn’t just fuzzy, it’s completely bonkers. The reason it’s bonkers is because it all boils down to obstinate emotional distaste. Emotional reactions are inherently non-rational. And In these cases the obstinancy is as much a product of both the type of emotion (“ewwww, icky!”) as it is about how deeply ingrained the notion is to their sense of self. It’s like the woman a year-and-a-half ago who wrote the op-ed claiming that gay marriage ruined her marriage. Except the story she told was how she and her husband had married young, then her very closeted husband had come out of the closet, they separated, and finally divorced.

There were lots of big logical flaws in her story. Their marriage was doomed before they started, but not because of gay marriage. Their marriage was doomed because of the insidious and  relentless societal homophobia that had driven her husband from the time he was a young boy to hide who he truly was and pretend to be straight. Gay marriage had not come to her state when he came out. In fact, her state had passed (by an incredibly wide margin) a ban on gay marriage about the time that it happened. Here belief that he had confirmed to her definition of a good, upstanding “christian” man when they married until he was transformed by the acceptance of gays by society was complete hogwash. Closeted people put forward a desperate façade that is doubly-tragic because for most of the time the closeted person is deceiving themselves at least as profoundly as they are deceiving other people.

Her story also, it turned out, contained a lot of factual lies. She claimed that her husband and his boyfriend had sole custody of their two small children, and that all of her rights had been trumped in court by the judge insisting that the gay couple’s civil rights overrode her religious beliefs. When the paper that published the op-ed got around the fact-checking it (but only after other people, including the ex-husband, wrote in to complain) it was found that she had primary custody of the children, and her ex had regular visiting rights. Records indicated that she had refused to let the father see the children after he started living with his boyfriend, and that the court had told her she couldn’t deny him visitation rights.

Frankly, it was a surprise that the court allowed him to keep the visitation rights under those circumstances, because usually judges in such conservative states go the other way—insisting that the gay parent only visit the children without their new partner, and are only allowed to have the children stay with them if the new partner is not present. Which is why that part of the editorial was transparently false to most everyone who read it.

Did she exaggerate because she thought it would make her case more sympathetic? Perhaps. I think it’s more of a bit of self-deception. In order to cling to her non-rational notions of how the world in general and her life in particular should be, she has to perceive any recognition of her ex as anything other than an evil monstrous sinful being as a complete defeat of her rights.

That’s part of what’s happening with the couple in Australia. They are so squicked out by the very notion that gay people exist, let alone that people might actually treat their loving relationships as socially acceptable, that it feels like an attack on them. Even though letting people you don’t know marry has absolutely no effect on you and your relationship. Evangelical nutcases like Franklin Graham are so squicked out by the idea that a business would think that two women adopting an orphan might be something to celebrate, that it must somehow taint his money and therefore him to be associated with it. Never mind that the bank he moved to is at least as gay friendly as the one he left. Never mind that he announced his plan first on Facebook, which is one of the large corporations that joined the amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to rule in favor of marriage equality. And so on, and so on…

They’re too busy being disgusted and outraged to think at all, let alone (you should pardon the expression) think straight.

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About fontfolly

I've loved reading for as long as I can remember. I write fantasy, science fiction, mystery, and nonfiction. I publish an anthropomorphic sci-fi/space opera literary fanzine. I attend and work on the staff for several anthropormorphics, anime, and science fiction conventions. I live in Seattle with my wonderful husband, still completely amazed that he puts up with me at all.

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