Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Pandering Republicans

Two Republican Governors are pandering to the religious extremists that run their party. One is doing it to prepare a presidential campaign, the other, because she’s probably just stupid.

Minnesota’s Republican Governor, Tim Pawlenty, followed through on his threat and vetoed his state’s recently passed “death rights” bill for same-sex couples. The law would have allowed a surviving partner to make funeral arrangements for the deceased partner, and the right to sue for wrongful death.

Pawlenty said he was doing so because of his exclusive support for “traditional marriage” and that the measure was addressing a “non-existent problem”. In his opinion, if same-sex couples want some weak approximation of the protections he vetoed, why they can always spend hundreds of dollars on legal fees and hope that if something happens the deceased’s family doesn’t swoop in and invalidate those documents—it only takes a homophobic judge to do that, and that’s easy enough to find. If Pawlenty left his megachurch from time to time and talked to real people, not just those he’s pandering to, he might know what a crock he’s spouting.

In his veto message, Pawlenty preached: “Marriage—as defined as between a man and a woman—should remain elevated in our society at a special level, as it traditionally has been. I oppose efforts to treat domestic relationships as the equivalent of traditional marriage.” He pontificated that a “surviving domestic partner” should not be “afforded the same legal recognition” as a legally wedded spouse

We’re talking about the right to make funeral arrangements—not marriage, not civil unions, not any kind of legal recognition whatsoever—just the right to make funeral arrangements for one’s partner! What kind of heartless bastard would kick people in the gut when they’re at their lowest? Tim Pawlenty is that kind of heartless bastard (just like another Republican governor was).

The mainstream newsmedia used to portray Pawlenty as a “moderate”. He’s not. Instead, Pawlenty is either just another radical-right extremist Republican, or a self-aggrandising opportunist who will use anyone and say or do anything to get power, which is even worse.

Meanwhile Hawaii—the state that caused the frenzy to outlaw legal recognition of same-sex relationships when it looked like that state’s courts were about to legalise same-sex marriage—has a similar Republican governor problem. Linda Lingle has said she “may” (read, she absolutely will) veto a civil unions bill in that state. Her party’s convention yesterday puffed up their chests and passed a resolution demanding that she do so, arguing that while people are free to “choose” their own “lifestyles”, "their choices [sic] may not always be good for all of society." If Lingle does veto the bill, it’ll prove that she’s stupid, and interested only in doing what the religious extremists in her state demand, not in doing her job on behalf of all the people of Hawaii.

Both Minnesota and Hawaii are proving, as I’ve always said, that Republicans were lying when they said they pushed Proposition 8 and similar measures not because the party was anti-gay, but merely because the measures were “pro-marriage”. The Republican Party is anti-gay to its very core.

And all of this news breaks on the sixth anniversary of the day on which Massachusetts became the first state in the US with same-sex marriage—not civil unions, not mere funeral rights, but full marriage equality. The state still exists and the world hasn’t ended, despite christianists’ predictions to the contrary. In fact, the state has the lowest divorce rates in the US. Seems to me they’re doing something right.


moosep said...

I’m truly concerned about what’s happening to this country. I think a misinformed, under-educated religious minority is trying to take over the country and turn it into a theocracy. And the sad part is that they see nothing wrong with that.

I don’t believe in God, but don’t argue with people who do. But when those supposed religious people try to take away my rights based on their religion, I see something wrong with that.

I’ve read much of the Bible. Jesus believed in treating people fairly and helping others. Something that seems to be the opposite of these supposed religious people.

These Christians obviously haven’t read their Bibles.

Roger Owen Green said...

I DO believe in God, and find that theocracy DOES seem to be an underlying belief, which, in my interpretation is absolutely the WRONG message - "render unto Caesar" and all that.

Unfortunately, you can "prove" almosty anything in the Bible, if you want to pick and choose.

Arthur (AmeriNZ) said...

moosep: I think that whenever people are convinced that god is on their side, that they're doing the work of their god in forcing religiously-based political solutions, nothing good can be the result.

Even otherwise good people will, if they have that mindset, inevitably do evil things in their god's name. There are very few people who can do religiously-based political work and walk away when their task is complete (and, interestingly, the only ones I can think of who've done that are liberals who fought slavery and, a century later, in the civil rights battles). Conservative religionists never finish because to them their way can be the only way and must be imposed on everyone else.

The fundamental, so to speak, difference between liberal and conservative religionists, it seems to me, is that liberals want to liberate humanity and the human spirit, while conservatives want to chain them up. Both sides believe they're following their god's instructions, and can find biblical evidence in support of that belief, but they're working toward very different, completely incompatible ends.

What you're describing in your experiences reading the bible is a classic liberal theological viewpoint—the god of love, the prince of peace and so on. Conservatives don't worship that god or believe in that Jesus. They have read their bible, just upside down and backwards, in my opinion.

Roger: I've never understood how anyone could read the gospels and take from that as their mission the subjecting of non-believers to repression and forced compliance. Conservatives don't believe in "render unto Caesar," they believe in the church becoming Caesar and using brute force.

My dad used to preach sermons on the dangers of exactly what you're describing—using the bible to justify whatever one wants it to. Sadly, that danger has only become worse in the years since then.