After the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), conservative pundits took to the air to declare themselves the winner of the victimization game.
Talk-show host Rush Limbaugh decried the 5-4 decision as “filled with venom and rage.” DOMA’s defenders were being insulted and demonized—and probably much worse. They’re the real victims here, victims of gay couples who prey on unwary conservatives by getting married.
I have often said that what animates people on the left—what motivates them, what informs them—is defeating us. No matter how, no matter what, no matter what it means. Their hatred for us overwhelms anything else. No matter the result, victory that includes impugning and demeaning and insulting us is what they seek.
Ross Douthat sang a similar tune in the “liberal” New York Times where he imagined a future in which the religious are attacked for their beliefs and evil liberals make “traditionalism as radioactive in the America of 2025 as white supremacism or anti-Semitism are today.”
I really do want to understand. I’m open to debate. I’m eager to learn. But I don’t get it.
|I want to understand why conservatives think equal protection of marriage benefits is an attack on families, religion, conservative principles, traditional values and Western civilization. But I don’t.|
Who’s the victim?
The case overturning DOMA was brought by Edith Windsor, a resident of New York, who survived her lawfully wedded wife, Thea Spyer, and sought to claim the federal tax exemption for surviving spouses. Though her marriage was recognized by the state of New York, she was denied this privilege by DOMA and forced to pay $363,053 in estate taxes.
This seems unfair. Windsor was denied a privilege any married straight person enjoys.
The Court felt similarly. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion:
DOMA’s principal effect is to identify and make unequal a subset of state-sanctioned marriages. It contrives to deprive some couples married under the laws of their State, but not others, of both rights and responsibilities, creating two contradictory marriage regimes within the same State.
The court ruled that DOMA deprived some couples—in particular, gay couples—of rights that other married couples have in the same state.
Where then are the attacks on conservatives? It’s an empirical, not a rhetorical, question.
Conservatives have the same rights. Nothing has changed. They can worship whatever religion they choose. They can refuse to marry people who haven’t converted to their religion. They can preach against homosexuality if they so choose.
But groups like ProtectMarriage.com, which was pivotal in the passing of Proposition 8 in California, claim that gay people are attacking families:
Because only relationships between men and women can produce children, and children are most likely to thrive when raised by the father and mother brought them into this world, opposite-sex relationships have the potential to further—or harm—this vital interest in a way that other types of relationships do not.
If gay people can’t procreate, how are they a threat to families?
Are gay couples threatening children they adopt? Are throngs of gays (who are evidently harmless when single) sneaking into people’s homes and accosting children after marriage? Are they seducing mothers and fathers zombie-like into leaving their children?
If gay couples are such a threat to families, why can’t anyone seem to explain exactly how?
James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, tries. In Marriage Under Fire, he writes:
For more than 40 years, the homosexual activist movement has sought to implement a master plan that has had as its centerpiece the utter destruction of the family. The institution of marriage, along with an often weakened and impotent Church, is all that stands in the way of its achievement of every coveted aspiration. Those goals include universal acceptance of the gay lifestyle, discrediting of scriptures that condemn homosexuality, muzzling of the clergy and Christian media, granting of special privileges and rights in the law, overturning laws prohibiting pedophilia, indoctrinating children and future generations through public education, and securing all the legal benefits of marriage for any two or more people who claim to have homosexual tendencies.
Let’s focus on the claims. Nothing in the DOMA decision forces you to accept gay lifesyle. Nothing discredits scripture. Nothing muzzles Christian media. There are no special rights or privileges for gays. No pedophilia laws overturned. No children indoctrinated. No legal benefits extended to more than two people.
I do believe there are plenty of gay people fighting for greater acceptance in society. But I don’t understand why Dobson can’t explain how the legal protection of marriage benefits is an attack on families, religion, conservative principles, traditional values or Western civilization. Dobson can’t explain it and neither can anyone else as far as I can tell.
It seems like a lot of hand waving.
It’s been a couple of weeks now since the DOMA decision and my marriage feels the same. We haven’t suffered at the hands of any married gay couples and it seems unlikely we will. Not even Rush Limbaugh’s rights have changed. He still has the right to rail against the phantom gay couples at the heart of the dastardly liberal attacks on families.
David Akadjian manages training programs for a Fortune 100 company and writes under this alias for Daily Kos. Follow him @akadjian.