This article was published in 2006, but is being re-headlined in light of the blackmailing of America by right wingers desperate to take away women's rights.
But the people who respond to gay bashing are xenophobics-- people primed to fear differences, to fear... all kinds of things. They're the same ones who respond to ploys to keep fears of terrorism up too. They're the people who want to ban abortions. They are the abortion opponents who really want to ban contraception. Our May OpEdNews /Zogby People's poll shows that they are the 37% of Cathollics,the 25% of Protestants, 38% of Born-Agains, the 46% of Fox News viewers, and though the number of people in the following demographic categories were not enough to be significant, the 70% of people who listen to religious talk radio and the 61% of voters who were not born in the us who who believe health insurance should not cover birth control. (Compare that to opponents to abortion: Catholic 44%, Protestant 41%, Born-agains 72.5%.)
I believe that people who would oppose the use of a technology that could prevent abortion are the most extreme members of the religious right. Their agenda is not about being pro-life or anti-abortion, not about being anti same-sex marriage. They are trying to regress our culture back to another era. The anti- same sex marriage "bait" is is the tip of the cultural iceberg. The people who want to ban same sex marriage want to take us back to pre-revolutionary war times. They want a patriarchal, feudal society in which obedient serfs obey religious tyrants-- kings who claim they get their power from God. This may seem like an extreme claim. But it is a slippery slope that gets steeper and steeper as you look closer at where successes along this nasty path would take us.
The mainstream media are characterizing Bush's enevitably unsuccessful effort to change the constitution as cynical. It may be, but it is also a way for Bush and the right wing extremist Republicans to send a signal to this regressive portion of the voting population -- about 22%-- according to our poll of Pennsylvania voters, that they are still with them even in these tough times for right wing extremists. A vote for a same-sex marriage ban is a vote for the Catholic Church, for the right wing extremist Evangelical's or Catholic's favorite priest, minister or Bishop. A vote for banning same sex marriage is a vote for taking away women's rights, for putting women back in the home, under the dominion of the man of the house, cooking, darning clothes, barefoot and pregnant, serving her man.
Now the men are different. Our poll found that 28% of PA male registered voters would oppose insurance reimbursement of contraceptives. Again, I see these as the most extreme of the right wing religious zealots. We know that more men are born-agains than women. I see these men as the most likely to respond to the anti same-sex marriage laws. They are more likely to be xenophobes. They are more likely to be enamored with the patriarchal messages about women staying at home, women's role being the bearing of children, men being in control. I've written about these men before. They are small, fearful, insecure men, though they sometimes become powerful in their churches and communities. They are a small minority of the people of America. They are throwbacks-- archaic, backward throwbacks, amazingly similar to the mullahs of the Taliban they so intensely revile.
The legislators in congress serve the majority of Americans badly when they serve these cultural neanderthals.
The media, when they say Bush is being cynical, is being dishonest. Bush is earnestly reaching out to the neanderthal part of his most loyal base. He is sending them a message that, along with appointing neanderthal supreme court justices who will do their best to destroy the nation's contemporary culture, he continues to share their vision of a nation that diminishes freedom and democracy in the name of Jesus. This is not how most Christians think or feel. it is a distorted, twisted view that was fine tuned and developed by feudal lords, kings and the jaded popes of centuries long past. It is a "Christianity" tailored for building and holding power among an elite few. Call it Monarchristianity. It is something that should not be rearing its ugly head again.
The question is not, will Bush's anti- same sex marriage constituents buy Bush's constitutional amendment as a serious action. The question is, will they be satisfied with a symbolic message that Bush is still with them? Will they look at this sham effort that is doomed to failure as just a positive message in the conversation? Or will they take a fresh look and decide that they're not going to get the return to the dark ages that is what they really want from the Republican party.
We on the left need to figure out how to pry away as many people from this cult-like group of feudal neanderthals as we can. 57% of Catholics and 69% of Protestants support health insurance reimbursement of contraceptives. How do we build those numbers? How do we get these fearful, xenophobic, men and women to feel safe enough in a world with women as powerful and strong as men? How do we enable these people to feel safe in a world where people think differently and have different beliefs? One place to start is public schools. And why can't the enlightened religions of the world work together to support a vision of spirituality and religion that respects other faiths, that is based upon embracing the diversity that "God" created upon this earth? The anti-abortion extremists have a nibble-away strategy for wearing down the protections on women's rights. We need to start nibbling away at the 27% of the population who feel the need to take away women's rights, in spite of the positive effect it would have on reducing abortion. We can do it by educating their children, by resisting the oblique arguments they use to take money from public schools to basically give to religious schools. We can do it by doing expose's on the megachurches. We can do it by shining light on the extremism, the connections to the Catholic church. We can do it with entertainment-- movies, TV-- that puts these neanderthal perspectives in a negative light. We can do it by taking back the media, by treating the proponents and most vocal leaders of these groups not as respected members of the community, but as extremist, disloyal, anti-democratic as they actually are.
We must respond to the current move in congress with contempt and not let them get away with their extremism. Our poll, of a swing state that is fairly reflective of most of America showed that 73% of voters support insurance reimbursement for contraceptives and 66% support the right to an abortion. These are wedge issues that Democrats and progressives of all parties can get behind to expose the extremist Republicans posing as moderates, posing as representing the majority. Let's take the high road back to power.