It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
-C. S. Lewis, God in the Dock
I got pamphleted today by a local Republican volunteer.
On the ballot in November is Amendment 43, which according to the pamphlet "defines marriage as only the union between one man and one woman." Referendum I is the counterpart, that establishes domestic partnerships and requires legislation that gives domestic partners equal rights to married couples.
The pamphlets I was given included descriptions of the Republican candidates in glowing terms, and one entitled, Protect Marriage in Colorado. This latter was actually the first I opened, because I wondered what the Republican take on Amendment 43 and Referendum I would be.
This is a direct scan off my flatbed scanner. It has not been digitally edited in any way, except to crop it out as an excerpt.
"Did you know," I asked the Republican volunteer, a man with gray hair and neatly-trimmed beard, perhaps in his early fifties, "that this brochure is patently wrong? I actually read the text of Amendment 43, and it doesn't say anything about breeding out of wedlock or making divorce more difficult. These are, after all, the things that produce families without mothers and fathers in Colorado, aren't they?"
He declined to answer.
"Studies have shown," he changed the subject, "that kids do best in families with a mother and a father."
"That's true," I replied. "And what have the studies shown about whether kids do better in single-parent families or in two-parent families with same-sex parents?"
"I don't believe any such study has been performed."
"They have, actually, and as you can probably guess, kids do better—they get better grades in school, and the whole family stays above the poverty line more consistently—when there are two parents instead of just one, even if the two are gay. So this line in your brochure, 'never intentionally create motherless or fatherless families,' is actually hiding the fact that it dooms single parents to remain single if they're gay, and that a child in that family will have to suffer with only one parent.
"This line is wrong too," I continued. "The amendment does not protect kids' rights to have a mom and a dad. All it does is take away legal rights for things like sharing insurance policies and having medical visitation and estate settlement rights. Now look at this one:"
"Have you ever," I asked loudly, "in the history of the United States, heard of any tyrannical judge who has forced any kind of marriage onto anyone? Ever?"
The volunteer stammered a bit. "No, this isn't about forcing people to get married against their will."
"Then why should it bother me that a 'tyrannical' judge would allow it?"
"It would force other people to recognize that people are married."
Then I messed up. I lost track of where I was going, and told him that I don't like to recognize marriages in which spouses beat up on each other either, but that it isn't the "definition of marriage" that makes it illegal; it's legislation against the physical violence. I still have to recognize the marriage even though I didn't approve of it.
That argument was a mistake. What I should have said was:
"Well, I really don't like black people, and I really don't think black people should be marrying white people. Yet, somehow, the government requires me to recognize their marriage, and I hate that! Do any of your candidates support defining marriage as only the union of one man and one woman of the same race?"
Man, I wish I'd said that. I wish I'd said that! As it was, he was already a bit pink by this time, and stammered that he could see we were going to have to agree to disagree. I reminded him that "agreeing to disagree" means that he could count on my cancelling out his vote on November 7, and that, thank you, he had indeed motivated me to do just that. I stuck out a hand, thanked him for his influence, and let him go.
Please, will some Coloradoan take the opportunity (if it arises) to use that line? I want so badly to give them the cognitive dissonance of hating my (utterly fictional) bigotry while attempting to justify their own. If you see a Republican with this brochure, will you ask them that?
Here's the rest of the brochure, just for fairness' sake.
Note that all the happy couples may be of different races, but they're never mixed. Point this out to your Republican, and note that you apparently are of similar feelings on it. If they feign offense, tell them that your bigotry isn't any worse than theirs. Marriage is marriage, and there's a long historical precedent for not interbreeding between races, even in the US. Common sense would dictate that you just want to codify what's already a widely-held belief.
Who would you suppose is behind this campaign of outright lies and bigotry? It probably wouldn't take you three guesses to get it:
Coloradoans, Focus on the Family wants you to vote for Amendment 43 and against Referendum I. I'm not going to insult your intelligence by telling you what to do with that information, just beg you please to remember it when you go to the polls on November 7.
(Cross-posted everywhere. Please link and redistribute heavily.)