On Wednesday, when we learned of President Obama’s personal support of marriage equality, most civilized people rejoiced. Some of us saw this as a step forward in the continuing struggle for human equality in the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness.
And some found it an assault on “religious freedom.” Some found it an assault on marriage itself.
As near as I can tell, “religious freedom” is conservative code for “religious tyranny.” In this case, because the Catholic Church does not recognize non-heterosexual marriage, no one else is allowed to do so.
We last saw this attitude in the debate over whether or not religious institutions that own secular businesses (such as hospitals and universities ) should have to provide health insurance that includes contraceptive coverage. At that time, no one argued that, since the Catholic Church does not recognize secular divorce, the Church should have to continue to insure a divorced spouse. That might not just uphold Catholic doctrine, but cost money.
These proponents of “religious freedom” do not, for the most part, rally in defense of Muslims whose mosques are attacked. They didn’t stand up for the rights of Muslims to open a community center in lower Manhattan. They won’t defend the rights of religious institutions that DO support marriage equality (for example, these folks).
The only freedom they recognize is for their little group. And that’s not freedom.
On the same front page that heralded Obama’s statements about marriage equality, the New York Times ran this story about another group of people that would probably say they were defending religious “freedom.” A particular subset of fundamentalist Orthodox Jews thinks they should be above the law. They think that any member of their community who reports a case of child abuse to the police has not protected a child from a terrible person, but has betrayed the group. Just as the Catholic Church hierarchy thinks protecting the priesthood is more important than protecting the parish, these people think their reputation is more important than their children.
Look, if you don’t want to eat shrimp, that’s your business. If you don’t want to cut your sideburns, or if you want to spend Sunday in church, that’s fine with me. Amish and won’t use modern machinery? Have a great time. You can do anything you want as long as it only affects you.
But once you start messing with the life of any other person, you’ve crossed the line. You might be devout, but you’re un-American. There are many theocracies in the world where you might be more comfortable (check out Iran or Saudi Arabia).
You can’t wrap yourself in the flag and bigotry, too.
Martha Thomases, Media Goddess, looks forward to what she hopes will be a plethora of bridal gowns in this year’s Pride Parade.