Not that long ago Catholics were denied equal treatment before the law. Jews were institutionally discriminated. Black people were regarded as racially inferior. Women could not vote for fear that they would become masculinised. Black people couldn't marry white people because it was against the word of God. In fact, all of these horrendous inequalities and inhumanities were carried out under a religious mandate, warrant and commission. Don't ever forget that.
The inalienable rights we enjoy today were hard won - wrenched from the teeth of demented religious opposition. If there exists a people more deserving of modesty and self-restraint, I am yet to meet them. Time after time they forego their discriminatory practices. But. They never learn. Time after time they repeat the same discriminatory experiment. Have they no shame? History is the story of the demise and culling of bigotries, to the rise and irresistible spread of civil rights.
Today, the religious persist in their ignoble work to deny to other people, a same-sex minority, the civil and human rights that they themselves enjoy. They are repeating the same sick experiment we saw throughout history. They did it to every other minority, and now they're repeating the same sick experiment on a homosexual minority.
Full marriage-equality will come. By an historical awareness we can be sure of that. It is inevitable. But it requires action. On this we must take a stand and fight. We must be vocal and vociferous. We cannot capitulate to religious demagogues and fundamental fanatics. In five quotes, below is an explanation of the total inevitability of marriage equality.
One, marriage is an elementary human right. Hannah Arendt wrote in her book Dissent in 1959 here:
"The right to marry whoever one wishes is an elementary human right compared to which 'the right to attend an integrated school, the right to sit where one pleases on a bus, the right to go into any hotel or recreation area or place of amusement, regardless of one's skin or color or race' are minor indeed."
Two, marriage-equality is inevitable. The former mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg has said that the battle for same-sex marriage is the "civil rights issue of our day." His quote below explains why full equality before the law for same-sex couples is inevitable. He said:
"In the whole history of the United States, no law limiting the rights of a particular class of people has ever stood the test of time."
Three, marriage-equality is driven by the people whose actions drive politicians to change. Time after time lawmakers yield to the people. Then suddenly past bigotries and prejudices no longer exist. Blogger and editor of The Dish Andrew Sullivan said:
"When a government is upholding a position not just different from the people, but in a different universe, it's only a matter of time before the dam bursts."
Four, when bigotries are annulled by legal action they then suddenly seem very quaint, very primitive, very irrelevant. We look back and wonder how we ever lived in that kind of world. As Alexis de Toqueville said:
"As long as the majority is still undecided, discussion is carried on; but as soon as its decision is irrevocably pronounced, everyone is silent, and the friends as well as the opponents of the measure unite in assenting to its propriety."
Five, this continual culling of bigotries through the creation of new laws is the story we need to tell. The story of religious inconsistencies is the story we need to tell. If the religious could change their mind, from opposition to acceptance of the decriminalisation of homosexuality, then surely they can change their position on gay marriage. As Christopher Hitchens said:
"At every turn [the religious] try to make the public forget about their earlier obscurantism, in order that their present obscurantism may not be seen for what it really is."
Time after time they the religious repeat their experiment on us because we forget the history that has preceded us. The religious law is a dead-hand - unchanging, inadaptable, unalterable and unable to serve the realities of a changing society. Whereas civil and common law changes, adapts and alters the meet the fluent and ever-changing realities of a modern world.
Same-sex marriage is not a religious issue. It is a civil issue. It is not the mark of a religious creed. It is a mark of citizenship. It is a mark of community and citizenship. To the religious I say: By denying to others the rights that you enjoy, your are denying them the community, citizenship and sense of worth you enjoy. When will you ever learn that your attempts to deny to others the rights that you enjoy are fated to fail?
Liz Cheney recently sought to justify her objection to her gay sister from availing of the institution of marriage. She said: "I love my sister and her family and have always tried to be compassionate towards them. I believe that is the Christian way to behave." Andrew Sullivan said in response:
"I would like to respond on behalf of Mary and Heather and the rest of us: fuck your compassion. Just give your sister the basic equality and security for her own family that you have for yours. At some point, even the most cynical of politicians has to understand that this issue is not abstract. It affects your own sons and daughters, brothers and sisters."
And that is the bottom line. As Andrew Sullivan said previously: "As more people know gay people, the laws that stigmatise and marginalise us seem increasingly callous and simply wrong." In a few years we will look back and see the laws that prevented same-sex couples from marrying as exceptionally quaint and primitive.