Thursday, January 29, 2015

As Southern States Call for "Secession by Another Name" in Response to Marriage Equality, Catholic Right-Wing Leaders Prepare to Issue Follow-Up to Manhattan Declaration

Two days ago, I commented on what's happening out in the U.S. heartland after the Supremes announced they'll take same-sex marriage cases in their upcoming session, and after judges in one state after another (most recently, the Deep South state of Alabama) knock down bans on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional. As my posting notes, Oklahoma state representative Sally Kern (whose husband is a Southern Baptist minister) has introduced what David Badash calls a "trifecta" of bills whose plain intent is to inform LGBT citizens of her state that they're unwelcome there.

As my posting also indicates, in Alabama, state lawmakers are calling for all marriage licenses to be banned if same-sex couples are permitted to marry, and one legislator is calling for the imprisonment of any county clerk who issues a license to anyone to marry, gay or straight. My posting also reports that Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal has said that if the Supreme Court overturns all state bans on same-sex marriage, he wants an amendment to the Constitution giving states the right to ignore the Supreme Court ruling. 

Jindal is echoing Texas senator Ted Cruz here. GOP presidential contender Ben Carson appears to support such a Congressional nullification of any Supreme Court decision upholding the right of gay citizens to marry, and, as I had previously noted, former Arkansas governor (and Southern Baptist minister) Mike Huckabee is also calling for states to nullify any Supreme Court decision that would invalidate bans on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional. 

Today, Richard Faussett and Alan Blinder focus on this ferment in the heartland in a New York Times piece. Their report zeroes in on the states of North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Oklahoma, and Texas, where the battle over same-sex marriage is particularly heated right now. They focus, in other words, on Southern states, ones full of churched folks, who are treating gay rights exactly the same way these states (with all their churched folks) treated black rights in the 1960s. And before that in the 1860s. 

What's going on today vis-a-vis same-sex marriage in the evangelical-dominated, heavily Republican states of the Old Confederacy (Oklahoma was still Indian Territory at the time of the Civil War, but many of its residents held slaves and it leaned to the Confederacy) is, as the Moyers & Company blog notes, "secession by another name." It is, as Frederick Clarkson indicates in his Talk to Action report on Bobby Jindal's big Christian right rally in Baton Rouge last weekend, "a naked call for Christian political dominion" whose intent is for the nation to be governed by a theocratic minority, against the  wishes of the majority of the citizens of the U.S.

And as this noxious political rhetoric of theocratic dominion and secession spreads through the part of the nation that is now the rock-solid base of one of its two major political parties, a group of right-wing Catholic and evangelical leaders is poised to issue a new statement, as David Gibson reports for Religion News Service, that will say the following: 

A high-profile alliance of conservative Catholics and evangelical Protestants is set to issue a sweeping manifesto against gay marriage that calls same-sex unions "a graver threat" than divorce or cohabitation, one that will lead to a moral dystopia in America and the persecution of traditional believers.

Shades of the Manhattan Declaration, brain-child of right-wing Catholic activist Robert P. George of Princeton, which calls for people of faith opposing marriage equality to engage in acts of civil disobedience if same-sex marriage becomes the law of the land. This call, coming from the Catholic right, is rooted in the most direct way possible in the racist, secessionist history of the American South, where the right-wing white evangelical voters actively courted by the U.S. Catholic bishops and their right-wing Catholic allies in recent years now form the base of the political party these Catholic leaders have chosen to anoint as God's party at this moment in the history of the nation.

A dangerous alliance, it seems to me, one threatening the very stability of the nation, with its talk of rending the fabric of the union all over again to satisfy the whims of "people of faith" bent on attacking minority groups and removing rights from them . . . . With Catholic leaders, to the tremendous discredit of our church, at the forefront of the charge . . . .

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