The Fate Of Gay Marriage, Notre Dame, And The World

Michelle Goldberg on women’s rights, reproduction, and the fate of the world. Also, gay marriage hits the heartland and Notre Dame’s reputation is assailed by anti-choicers.



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On this edition of Reality Cast, I’ll be interviewing Michelle Goldberg on the past and  present state of women’s rights around the globe. Also, huge inroads have been made in the fight for same-sex marriage, and a group of fanatics decides that the university of Notre Dame needs to be sacrificed on the altar of sperm worship.

I think the spoofs of the Mac vs. PC commercials are about done, but I have to link to Planned Parenthood’s series that they recently released, comparing the pill to emergency contraception.

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I guess the motto for Plan B should be, "Plan B, because expletive deleted happens."

I’m sure regular listeners of this podcast are well aware of the good news coming out of Iowa. Yes, the Iowa Supreme unanimously ruled on April 3rd that laws banning same-sex marriage are violations of basic equal protection laws, and now it appears that same sex couples can marry in Iowa.  This news, needless to say, came as a surprise to many.

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That’s from CNN, and I was amused by it because they make it sound like a roving band of homosexual bacchanals are overrunning this humble Midwestern state, when of course what’s happening is rather staid, steady same-sex couples are getting the right, to paraphrase Dolly Parton, be as miserable as the rest of us.  

The decision is causing a meltdown amongst the homophobic right.  First of all, it shows that their arguments against same-sex marriage won’t fly even in traditionally more conservative places, because people with any intellectual honesty at all can see through them.  Second of all, the court said as much in the decision, using what I thought was a brilliant dose of thinly veiled humor.  My favorite quote from the decision was this. Quote, "The statute, the court found, is under-inclusive because it does not exclude from marriage other groups of parents-such as child abusers, sexual predators, parents neglecting to provide child support, and violent felons-that are undeniably less than optimal parents."

In other words, they called out homophobes for being less than honest with their claims that this is for the children.

The Des Moines Register got some reactions from folks hanging around outside the courtroom to hear the ruling.  The gay marriage supporters are adorably Midwestern, very straightforward and no-nonsense, like this guy:

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Unfortunately, even in the Midwest, your organized homophobes are mouth-breathing hysterics.

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Yeah, the so-called ex-gays, known by thinking people as sad sacks who returned to the closet.  But it’s funny that a Christian wingnut is actually arguing that a trait should be eligible for discrimination on the basis of mutability.  You know what’s a lot easier to change about yourself than your sexual orientation?  Your religion.  If that guy wanted to quit being a Christian, all he’s have to do is stop going to church and stop believing.  He wouldn’t need a bunch of fake therapists to convince him that he’s only Christian because Daddy didn’t  play catch with him enough.  

Does that mean that he thinks that we should be able to ban Christians from marrying in order to discourage Christianity?  Because, interestingly enough, that would be more effective than banning gay marriage has been in squashing out homosexuality.

But to leave it on a positive note, I’m going to echo the Iowa decision and point out that one reason to legalize gay marriage is for the children.  Like the one that this couple is expecting in June.  

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I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that Vermont, just a few days after this, overturned the governor’s veto and passed the first rock solid law legalizing gay marriage in the country.  Even though they’re culturally easy to dismiss as super-liberal, this law could end up being the basis of a major challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act, because there’s no way to say that the marriages in Vermont don’t count now.

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As much as I’d like to ignore it, I feel I have to cover the nonsensical controversy over President Obama going to speak at Notre Dame’s graduation.  This is a long-standing tradition of the university, and as far as I can tell, it’s apolitical. But now anti-choice nutters are claiming that the university has an obligation to shun and condemn anyone who is pro-choice, even though they’ve never done that before.  

For most people, this is a non-controversy, and the people kicking dust up over this are a marginal group of adamant sex-phobes that use religion as a cover for their deep misogyny.  But for Fox News, this is apparently one of the most important stories of our time.  Because even in the face of a crashing economy and an ongoing war, we cannot forget that women are having sex and getting away with it.

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Really? Catholics around the country are outraged?  This implies two things that I find hard to believe. One, that American Catholics follow the political controversies on the campus of Notre Dame with any kind of interest and two, that Catholics think that punishing female sexuality should be the priority of all people at all times, regardless of the circumstances.  Any and all polling data you could bring to bear shows how untrue this is—most American Catholics aren’t obsessed with banning abortion and the evils of contraception, and especially not to the exclusion of all other issues.

They interview one of the student protestors, and really it’s just sad to see someone so young already hardened into a right wing ball of loathing for others.

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So young, and already full blown wingnut who just denies facts if they make her uncomfortable.  I don’t know all the much about the campus of Notre Dame, but I also went to a Catholic university a lot like Notre Dame, and believe me, the hard right super conservatives who walk around with sticks up their butts freaking out about everyone else’s loose sexual morals were not well-liked any more at a Catholic school than a secular school.  Catholics are people like you and me, folks.  They have sex, they use birth control, they have the same abortion rates as everyone else, and find this sort of stuff ridiculous.

But Fox News would not lay off trying to make a controversy out of what just doesn’t want to be a controversy.  Mike Huckabee, who belongs to one of those Protestant denominations that thinks all Catholics are going to hell, was willing to exploit the situation, so long as women lose out in the end.

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Boy, Fox News can’t hide their prejudices no matter how hard they try.  "Pro-abortion"?  The President is always on about finding ways to reduce the abortion rate.  He’s pro-choice, but far from pro-abortion. And the hysteria that he’s going to get an honorary degree strikes me as exactly the sort of thing that wouldn’t even bear mentioning if Obama wasn’t black, and black men with a bunch of honors and degrees didn’t offend a certain segment of our supposedly post-racial country.

What’s going on here has a lot to do with something Michelle Goldberg said in the interview.  The Catholic Church has decided that squelching the rebellion amongst its parishioners, who largely use birth control and have no problem with premarital sex, is more important than anything else.  The lives of 9-year-olds are not considered too great a sacrifice in the name of sperm worship, and so obviously they don’t care if they ruin Notre Dame, too.

It’s a shame, because Catholic schools like Notre Dame have really worked hard for decades at being intellectually respectable institutions that fit into the mainstream of American life.  They don’t want their graduates to be crippled by anti-intellectual religiosity, and my Catholic school, at least, was interested in honoring the spirit of free speech and intellectual engagement.  But these hardcore anti-choice nuts and apparently a number of bishops are willing to dismantle Notre Dame’s reputation as a decent school in the mainstream of American life, and for what?  To take a pointless stand against women’s basic human rights.  It won’t succeed in anything but hurting the school.  Women’s rights will not be hurt if Notre Dame blows up in a frenzy of superstitious anti-intellectual sentiment, but the school and the image of intelligent, educated Catholics could go up in smoke.

And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, anti-choicers want everything at all times to be about how bad sex is edition.  Jill Stanek posted what may be the least amusing, at least intentionally amusing, song parody ever in response to Notre Dame inviting pro-choice Barack Obama to speak.

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Ooh, I think they’d do a lot better at selling themselves if they could write better song parodies.  That one makes the author sound like he learned to read of the back of cereal boxes.


Follow Amanda Marcotte on twitter: @amandamarcotte