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Political Rant: Abortion Rights and Marriage Equality

On a recent Meet the Press show several politicians, commentators and activists discussed abortion and marriage equality. The right-wing, anti-choice position was defended by Ralph Reed, former head of the Christian Coalition, founder of the Faith and Freedom Coalition (and well-known hypocrite[1]), Jim DeMint, former South Carolina Senator who now heads the Heritage Foundation and (through a video feed) Congressman, Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) who has recently proposed a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

The progressive view defending marriage-equality and a woman’s right to make choices about her body was presented by Rachel Maddow, host of TRMS on MSNBC, Michael Eric Dyson, sociologist at Georgetown University and, despite his supposed neutrality as host of the show, David Gregory.

From any but the most blinkered perspective, Maddow, Dyson (and Gregory) effectively dismissed the anti-choice arguments. But the progressive side missed the chance to present, up-front and publically, what the anti-choice, anti-woman, anti-abortion movement is about. So let me do it here:

It has nothing to do with the “sanctity” of marriage, with abortion, with protecting the rights of fetuses, supporting children or protecting life. It is first and foremost against women and gays, against their right to make decisions about whom they love, about their bodies, their liberty and freedom and, most of all, against their right to enjoy sex. It is steeped in ignorance, fear and prejudice.

The anti-abortion, anti-marriage-equality arguments are based on the following claims:

  1. The respect for life
  2. The support of children
  3. The dysfunctional nature of gay relationships

The first, of course, is nonsense. The right supports needless wars where lives are tossed away like used gum wrappers and called “collateral damage.” They support the death penalty despite compelling evidence that the innocent are victims far more often than the guilty and ignore the astonishing costs both in dollars and human suffering. They oppose sensible gun control despite the 30,000 needless deaths each year. And they have little regard for the well-being of the fetus as displayed by their lack of concern for the health of the mother or the unborn child during gestation.

The second is painfully hypocritical. Those who are honestly concerned with children favor and fund pre-natal screening, gestational medical care, pre- and post-partum counseling, paid maternal leaves, and Head Start, pre-school and day-care programs. The right-wing is against them all. And, if they truly wished to reduce the number of abortions, they would support the most effective ways to do so: sex education and freely available birth control rather than seek to defund or eliminate them.

The third has no data to support it. Gay couples show the same happiness profiles as straight. Children prosper or not in families independent of the genders or the caretakers. The notion that somehow children raised in same-sex households are vulnerable to psychological disorders is a myth, as this extensive review of the literature shows.

When you strip away all the nonsense, all the incoherencies and misrepresentations, the right-wing position on abortion can be summed up simply: Women should be an adjunct to men and sex is only for reproduction. A woman who has had sex without intending to become pregnant has sinned. The punishment shall be to bear an unwanted child – one that society has no obligation to support.

Their position on marriage-equality, denuded of its fine talk about tradition and misrepresentations of the data, comes down to nothing more than discrimination driven by hatred and fear. As Maddow noted, being against gay marriage has nothing to do with supporting so-called “traditional” marriage; it is simply discrimination against a segment of the population, denying them rights and privileges taken for granted by others.


[1] Reed long campaigned against legal gambling on “moral” grounds but, in the early 2000s was involved in money laundering through Jack Abramoff’s efforts to support the gaming rights of the Mississippi Choctaw tribe. Go here for details.

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