Mary Bonauto will make the case for a constitutional right to same-sex marriage when the Supreme Court hears arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges tomorrow. The court's decision—expected this June—could legalize same-sex marriage in all 50 states. Pro-equality legal scholars, court watchers, and pundits are optimistic. (The NYT has a very moving story about the lead plaintiff.) Irish voters go to the polls on May 22 to vote in a referendum that will legalize same-sex marriage in the Irish Republic. The polls show Irish voters are likely to back marriage equality by a wide margin, and snarky Irish bookmakers are betting on a victory for marriage equality. (But Ireland's "Yes" campaign isn't being complacent.)
But two prominent antigay activists—one American, one Irish—are urging gay and lesbian couples to consider options other than marriage.
Ryan Anderson works for the Heritage Foundation, a stodgy, hard-right, rabidly antigay/anti-science/anti-abortion Washington think tank. But Anderson is the right's "fresh-faced, millennial, Ivy League-educated spokesman against same-sex marriage," according to the Washington Post. (Six years ago, WaPo gave the odious Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) the same "fresh-faced" treatment.) Anderson makes fresh arguments like "every child deserves a mother and a father." (Anderson and the Heritage Foundation do not support bans on heterosexual divorce, heterosexual remarriage, and adoptions by single heterosexuals; they have not proposed forced marriages for heterosexual couples who get pregnant out of wedlock.)
Jeremy Hooper, the legally married gay blogger and dad, put this question to Anderson last week: "Do you wish I were unable to marry? Unable to adopt?"
Anderson's "fresh-faced, millennial, Ivy League-educated" response:
Gay men who want to marry and have kids should marry and have kids with women. Because that's a recipe for long-term marital success. Just ignore the pain and heartbreak on display all over the forums at the Straight Spouse Network—to say nothing of the pain and heartbreak on display in divorce courts all over the Bible Belt—and focus instead on the successful marriages of the Bachmanns, the Haggards, and all the loving couples battling "SSA" on this freak show.
Get straight married—that's Ryan Anderson's "fresh-faced" suggestion for the gays.
Breda O'Brien has a different idea about what gays and lesbians should do. O'Brien is a shitty bigot and a professional homophobe who works for the Iona Institute, Ireland's version of NOM; she's also a shitty, homophobic columnist for the Irish Times. (Calling Breda O'Brien a shitty bigot and a professional homophobe can get you sued if you do it in Ireland. But I'm not in Ireland. So I'm going to say it one more time on behalf of all the gay writers and activists in Ireland who can't say it: Breda O'Brien is shitty bigot and a professional homophobe.)
Here's O'Brien's suggestion for gays and lesbians:
This week Breda O’Brien of the conservative Catholic Iona Institute took a hard line on gay Irish couples. They should not be allowed to get married, she counseled, and since they can’t get married they should abstain from sex. A perfect Catch 22. The only thing that gay couples can be, in the theocratic Republic that she and her fellow travelers would like to march us back to, is untouchable unmarried eunuchs.
Oh she knows it will be hard for them at first: "It will be excruciatingly difficult—I think you will need huge support, huge help, lots of very strong, loving relationships." But chaste loving relationships, naturally.... "Knowing that you are loved by God and that you are valued. Sometimes giving something up can lead to other kinds of happiness. You would have to be a very unselfish person to do that and I think very good people have great capacity for joy and happiness."
Not that she herself will be joining you in your “great joy and happiness” of course. She gets the goldmine, you get the shaft.
Don't get gay married, gays and lesbians, be celibate instead. No sexual release for you, no physical expression of romantic love, no recognition or celebration of your commitment. Yes, yes, yes: A lifetime of sexual and emotional abstinence will be excruciatingly difficult—also excruciatingly lonely, excruciatingly painful, excruciatingly isolating—but what's your pain and isolation and loneliness compared to the torment shitty bigot Breda experiences when she contemplates gay people having gay sex with their gay lovers in gay relationships that could lead to gay marriages?
Someone needs to explain something to "fresh-faced, millennial, Ivy League-educated" Ryan Anderson and "shitty bigot and professional homophobe" Breda O'Brien. And it's this: We already tried their ideas. Both of them. Marrying opposite-sex partners we could never love, struggling to remain celibate for fear of (actual) persecution or (fictional) damnation—what do Ryan and Breda think gays and lesbians were doing for the centuries (the millennia!) before the founding of the modern LGBT civil rights movement? We were marrying opposite-sex partners. We were struggling with excruciating loneliness. (Gay people who married opposite-sex partners struggled with excruciating loneliness and inflicted it on the spouses they lied to every day.) It didn't work.
Sham marriages and celibacy are not new ideas. They're old and terrible ones. What Anderson and O'Brien are advocating is a return to the closet. A return to the "good old days" when queer people were invisible and miserable and straight people could pretend we didn't exist.
No thank you.
Ryan? Breda? You two can talk up sham marriages and sexless existences all you like. But you're wasting your breath. You're not going to convince us to find ourselves a Michele Bachmann or to live a life devoid of sex and intimacy and commitment.
We tried the closet. And so many missed out on so much. We're not going back.