Knowing when to fold 'em

Friends, it's not our year.

From the Times:
The battle over a bill that would legalize gay marriage in New Jersey shifted locations unexpectedly late Wednesday as sponsors of the legislation canceled a vote scheduled for Thursday in the State Senate, where the measure appeared headed for defeat.
While I understand that this is part of a larger series of maneuvers by supporters of the measure, I think a clear-eyed assessment is that 2009 is not going to be the year that marriage equality sparks a nationwide wildfire of acceptance and legalization. It's a pity, but I think our side needs to play the cards we've been dealt, call it a day, and regroup. For my part, I think it's pointless to hope that rallies and phone calls are going to change any minds at this juncture, and I've made my peace with the facts as they stand.

However, lest you think me complacent and lackadaisical, I'd like to alight briefly on this:
Carrying signs declaring, “God says no, Baroni votes yes” and “Phony Baloney Baroni,” a half-dozen demonstrators called out to passing motorists and party guests, warning the senator that constituents would hold him accountable for his vote.

“The Bible is very clear that marriage is between a man and a woman, and homosexuality is a sin,” said Bob Pawson, who said he is a longtime friend of Mr. Baroni’s and has volunteered on his campaigns. “So to promote this lifestyle — it’s actually a death style — is sending the wrong message.”

Really, folks? God says no? Was there a status update on His Facebook page that I missed? Or are you referring to a book that's a few thousand years old (give or take for various parts), and has been translated and redacted so many times as to make the certainty of understanding God's perfect will a wee bit on the dicey side?

Further, let's take a moment to look around. When people hear voices these days, we're less inclined to attribute it to demons, and more likely to prescribe antipsychotics. (They stacked up better in clinical trials.) Sometimes we actually allow women to speak in church, or even to run for public office (though only, presumably, with their husbands' permission). Very few people are executed by stoning these days, even the ones we're pretty sure have committed adultery. Perhaps we've reached the moment in American history where the Bible is no longer a valid justification for public policy? Hmmmmm? Mmmmmmmaybe?

And I like that "death style." Because gay = AIDS = death, especially for those gays in long-term committed relationships for which they are seeking legal marriage. Gay monogamy is the cholera of our time. This Pawson guy, he's a real sharp thinker. I'm glad he's such an important voice in our civic discourse.

So you win some, you lose some. Or, more accurately, you win in five states, and you lose in 31. But I still remain confident when I take the long view. Stupidity has a way of making itself obvious, sooner or later, and so we will be served well by being patient, organized and intelligent.

Update: Hark! What have we here? Why, it seems that despite the fact that divorce is forbidden explicitly by Jesus (who made no mention of homosexuality, as it happens), one particular modern woman has decided her marriage is a shambles and is walking away. Since nobody with a brain in his head would question her perfectly sensible decision, I think we can all agree that biblical dictates sometimes don't jibe with contemporary life.


  1. Jesus allowed divorce in some circumstances. He did not explicitly ban divorce. It is the RCC that bans divorce. And Ms. Sanford is on biblically sound ground, according to the Christian and Jewish bible, in divorcing her husband (admittedly, she'd need some help for a get).

    Yes, we all agree that biblical dictates don't jibe with modern sensibilities, but why bother with the bible if you think it is just a nice collection of fairy tales?

  2. GJ Where exactly did it say Jesus allowed divorce?

  3. There are, of course, a great many alternatives for relating to the Bible other than "nice collection of fairy tales" or "appropriate treatise for setting public policy."

  4. Really, Dan? If the bible is in fact a book of truths about the human condition (in at least some cases), then why shouldn't those who take it seriously in fact use it as an appropriate treatise for setting public policy?

    If we should treat the bible as just historically interesting literature, how does it differ from a nice collection of fairy tales?