You can't always get what you want -- Mick Jagger
So congratulations to New York. I will drink to your courage, and your people, now just a little bit freer than they were yesterday. But it's worthwhile to think about this struggle in context. Why has it taken so long? What keeps this kind of statutory inequality from collapsing in a smoldering heap under the weight of it's own contradictions and transparently pointless hatred? And the answer is there to be seen by all - the toxic, primitive mythologies of organized religion in our culture. The grossly undemocratic, one would have to say un-American contributors of sectarian fear and divisiveness that indoctrinate children with patently false tales of mass murder and ancient blood feuds, imaginary creatures preaching a deadly kind of hypocrisy and unbelievable tales of ridiculous heroes, cartoonish villains and impossible events.
When you think about it, it is religion that unabashedly supports every discriminatory instinct, every tribal taboo and every base motivation a society can use to dominate, segregate and discriminate against any kind of measurable difference. Women are always targeted by religion - indeed, it is every bit as accurate to say that men universally use mythology to exercise unjust power over women, even down to their most personal and intimate decisions. Non-believers are a threat. They are always to be victimized. But beyond all that, religions rigidly enforce a kind of broad conformity among their followers, allowing them to categorize 'others' by appearance, styles of dress, behavior, relationships or any otherwise inconsequential pattern of diversity. A clear mark of any organized religion is that no matter how large it grows, there are always more people it hates than there are those it accepts.
And this is where we find ourselves today. An enlightened population, at least by historical standards, being forced to fight for basic human rights against nothing other than the forces of superstition and mythology. The kind of shamans and witches we should have left behind at least a hundred years ago. It is only churches that have the mindbending audacity to stand up in AMERICA and demand they be given special dispensation to discriminate. The presumption that they should be allowed to single out certain groups for unequal treatment and still insist they be taken seriously as Americans is beyond incoherence - it flies in the face of basic American values and needs to be called out for precisely what it is.
It is unclear to me why, at this point in history, when science has come so far in explaining everything from disease and genetics to the weather and the universe, we still allow these bastions of superstition and the supernatural to invoke the same old fears we overcame centuries ago to dominate the political conversation. If it is true that my right to throw a punch ends where your nose begins, then their right to worship supernatural deities and mythological just-so stories should just as well end where it begins to impact my ability to live my life in freedom. And along with the decision to raise a child, I can think of no more intrusive an act of discrimination than to determine I may not marry the person I love.
Because, while it is true that religion has long played a role in marriage, in that churches, within certain carefully proscribed legal parameters could perform marriages that were recognized as legal civil marriages, that's not the argument we're having here. We're talking strictly about the legal part of marriage, the rights, privileges and obligations, the legal and economic impact of marriage, and the application of laws to married couples. And while you certainly COULD choose to get married in a church, you have always had the option of a strictly secular marriage that carried with it exactly the same weight as a church wedding in the eyes of the state. To put it simply, while religion may care about marriage, marriage does not care about religion.
So it is unclear to me why we even offer religion a seat at the table in this discussion. We certainly don't when discussing other strictly legal matters. And churches are fantasy houses built on mythology - they can include whatever odd and undemocratic strictures in their dogma they wish, but there is NO reason why those should ever apply to people who choose not to follow that dogma.
Now, of course, the other challenge to marriage equality is political, and that represents a two-pronged problem of its own. First, politicians are imbued with the same bigotry, fear, misogyny as those they represent, so a primitive, superstitious, tribal electorate will most often choose a primitive, superstitious and tribal congressional representative. And certainly politicians are just as subject to the corrosive influence of religious indoctrination as anyone else. But it is also true that successful politicians must have a gift for holding up a finger and detecting shifts in the political winds, which is an important part of what we saw in New York.
So, the barriers are falling - the writing is well and truly on the wall now. As we watch the end of another generational fight to become the society we have claimed to be for centuries play out, it only makes it clearer how far we still have to go, and how much we have lost in the process. But with every passing day it becomes clearer - we have reached a point where we have to let go of superstition and myth. We have come to a place where these things serve no valuable purpose, but are holding us back. We do not need religion to understand philosophy, ethics or morality. But when religion and science collide, it is the stories without basis in fact that must give way. And even more importantly, when it is those very religions that serve as the engines of hatred and discrimination, when they fuel anger and violence rather than offer succor and peace, then they must be discarded, having served their purpose, they are now a toxic parasite on the body politic...