Sunday, July 26, 2015

TWDNAASPUOHNTDSC rights! The struggle continues!

Move over black people, women, people with religions requiring them to wear special head coverings or smoke exotic substances, persons with disabilities, there's a new victim in town, cruelly ostracized by an unfeeling, narrow-minded society.

Senate Democrats are pushing an Equality Bill that says it is meant to add two new categories to the protected classes under the 1964 Civil Rights Act, sexual orientation and gender identity, but Andrew T. Walker of Ryan T. Anderson's Public Discourse blog finds that the actual secret intent of the bill is the opposite: far from protecting one oppressed group, it takes protections away from somebody else:
If passed, the Equality Act would empower the government to discriminate against those who do not accept a sexually permissive understanding of human nature that denies sexual complementarity.
Oh the humanity! Not the Those Who Do Not Accept A Sexually Permissive Understanding Of Human Nature That Denies Sexual Complementarity, or TWDNAASPUOHNTDSC. The who? Is that a thing?

Well, duh.
Sexual complementarity does not mean merely psychological or behavioral complementarity (i.e., what a compatibility test or personality assessment evaluates), nor does it mean merely physical complementarity (i.e. having the right “parts” that fit together)....
Only man and woman can engage in sexual intercourse (properly speaking), which is the physical expression of inward, unique reality about their personhood. Man and woman together are a microcosm of broader humanity in a way that no relationship exclusively male or female is ever able to be.
Man and woman together exemplify the actual embodiment of the universal principles of masculine and feminine. A single-sex relationship simply cannot have this embodiment. A man’s and a woman’s bodies—who they are as persons—come together each as male or female, and so by its very nature the union between a man and woman is unlike any other relationship.
TWDNAASPUOHNTDSC are just people who don't accept that you can deny that sex (properly speaking) is the physical expression of inward, unique reality about your personhood. Properly speaking, because improperly speaking would hardly be relevant to the discussion (since most people including members of all Christian denominations, to tell the truth, don't mind a little sodomy in their own love lives, to say nothing of the fancier alternatives). I mean, it can't get any clearer than that, can it? All I'm asking is don't discriminate against my feelings about inward, unique reality!

Or, to put it another way, this conservative-Catholic double-talk is meant to hide what ought to be obvious, that the opponents of this small expansion of civil rights protection (as in the 21 states where such laws already exist) aren't really afraid of being discriminated against; they're afraid of discrimination against their discrimination, or right to bully people whose inward, unique reality strikes them as disagreeable. You can see it very precisely in the semantic structure of the TWDNAASPUOHNTDSC expression; the victims of this new-style discrimination are victimized not for their own identity but for their refusal to believe in somebody else's identity, or, for short, my non-acceptance of something something something your denial.

I just thought of a kind of Jesuitical argument, by the way, that I believe may not have been used before, involving divorce. The right is always talking about the trashing of "traditional definitions of marriage", but fixating on a small part of the Christian definition, the "a man and a woman" part, whereas there's more to it, and at least some extremely traditional definitions of marriage treat it as an explicitly religious association, formalized by sacrament, and lay a lot of stress on the part that calls it a permanent and unseverable contract, as specified clearly in Mark 10:9 and Matthew 19:6.

And so Roman Catholic parish priests are permitted to regard those who haven't been sacramentally married as not married, and divorcés as still married to their original partners, and can refuse Holy Communion to people who are living in sin by those standards, and refuse to perform marriage rites for divorced people, which would lead to a situation that looks to a (conservative) Catholic like bigamy. There's no doubt about this whatsoever.

But can Catholic municipal employees refuse to perform such a marriage in City Hall? "I'm sorry, but Father Fred says it's impossible." Can a Catholic photographer reject divorced wedding clients on grounds that the wedding isn't theologically legitimate? Is some baker going to play St. Thomas More and cock-block the nuptials of Tiffany and Jason because Tiffany has an ex-husband somewhere and two kids or Jason belongs to a snake-handler denomination that regards the Blessed Sacraments as diabolical inventions of the Whore of Babylon?

They don't, of course, because as far as Tiffany and Jason go, most ordinary people, Catholics or otherwise, have a "sexually permissive understanding of human nature" that would make them feel like assholes if they stood in the way. Quite rightly, in that it would indeed be an asshole thing to do.

But if they wanted to, would it be legal? I don't know, but I'm sure that in states where it's legal to discriminate against people on grounds of marital status (30 states in employment decisions, 23 in housing) landlords wouldn't be allowed to argue "but these tenants aren't married" because they aren't married according to Father Fred's very traditional definition. That would be regarded as religious discrimination, on the landlord's part, and so, I would think, should be the objections of people from within a faith that holds same-sex couples can't be "truly" married because of their failure to be a microcosm of broader humanity and exemplify the embodiment of universal principles, whatever that means.

The number of people who object to divorcés marrying is a lot smaller than the number who object to same-sex marriages, of course. By the same token, the number of people who object to civil rights for persons of Chinese descent is traditionally a lot smaller than the number of people who object to civil rights for African Americans; that's why it was a lot easier to get rid of the Chinese Exclusion Act than Jim Crow. But that doesn't mean Jim Crow is any less wrong!

And because gay people, unlike the divorced, continue to be the subjects of employment and housing discrimination, harassment, and severe cruelty, their protection needs to be written into civil rights law. As for the TWDNAASPUOHNTDSC, they're assholes too; and while assholes have an extraordinary number of rights in our society, they don't have all of them.

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