Hiding Homophobia Behind the Family

John Stewart had Senator Rick Santorum on the Daily Show recently and kinda softballed him on his stance on gay marriage. Santorum is sort of the right wing poster boy for disallowing gay marriage. He talked up a lot of the talking points currently getting shopped around and I just wanted to drop in a few extra points for people who take him seriously.

Santorum: No, no. Again, what’s society’s purpose in marriage? Society’s purpose – the reasons civilizations have held up marriage is because they want to establish and support and secure the relationship that is in the best interest of the future of the society, which is, a man and a woman having children and providing the stability for those children to be raised in the future.

I’m not sure if he’s saying this as a fact or as his observation of history. Specific examples of this would be helpful. Technically in the past four thousand years I would say that history has come out in favor of extended families living together or in close proximity and children having access to multiple generations of individuals. If you’re looking for and “ideal” situation in which to be raised, one father and one mother is hardly it. If we’re talking “ideal” here, I’d venture that being raised by a large group of wealthy people would probably be your best best for growing up happy and well adjusted. Spoiled maybe, but chances are you won’t be robbing banks or joining gangs.

Santorum: We have to. We owe it to children. Children need a mom and a dad. There are differences between mothers and fathers. And young girls and young boys need both.

I don’t doubt that children benefit from having positive male and female authority figures and role models in their lives to help establish gender identity, but I don’t think that necessarily has to come in the form of parents. Again, strong communities with involved caring adults are better than any 2 parents regardless of gender.

Santorum: I don’t think it’s dismissing the potential. I think we should honor every person in America – that every person has worth and dignity. There’s a difference though, when it comes to changing the laws of the country, that could harm children.

Insinuating that gay marriage would harm children is just flat out retarded and I’m sure he has no way to back it up.

Sanatorum makes a lot of claims about what is best for society but I seriously doubt he’s looked at any credible social science on the impact of homosexuality on society. Gay people remain a small segment of the population, and I seriously doubt that even if they adopted and seriously screwed up a bunch of kids (which they wouldn’t), I don’t think that population of kids would even be a blip on the radar. The numbers are just too small. Heterosexual couples would still be spewing out more screwed up kids on volume and chance alone. Not to mention parents who are alcoholics, criminals, drug users.. etc. etc.

Sanatorum’s fatuous arguments cover up his real issues with gay marriage. He and many like him are afraid of the implicit endorsement of homosexuality that comes along with recognizing gay marriage. It offers legitimacy to an orientation, lifestyle and culture that most of the christian right find disagreeable at best. Offering government endorsement of such “wicked” arrangements is beyond the pale to them. But they must hide their christian distain behind social rhetoric because religious intolerance is quickly becoming unfashionable, even to christian moderates.

In many ways this is another effort to push religious agendas behind the cover of pseudo-science that most of the population hasn’t the time, education or mindset to question. Stewart got in a couple of shots, but I think really should have dug into the religious motivations of this resistance.

With Iran’s recent execution of a couple of teenagers over gay activities, it is wise of the right to hide their religious motivations. Religious fundamentalism of any type is coming under increased scrutiny given increased terrorism from islamic fundamentalists, and I think people in general are swinging toward suspicion of hardline religious views. Couching their arguments in cultural and social arguments allows them to dodge a dangerous bullet. But to those who are paying close attention it comes off as cynical and underhanded.

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