Today’s lesson in straight privilege is brought to you by former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, a contender for the GOP presidential nomination in 2008 and possibly again in 2012. He is also an ordained Southern Baptist minister. In a recent interview with The Perspective, the student newspaper of the College of New Jersey, he repeated the old slur that legalizing gay marriage is equivalent to approving drug abuse, incest, and polygamy. As quoted in the Associated Press:
Huckabee added that his goal isn’t to tell others how to live, but that the burden of proving that a gay marriage can be successful rests with the activists in favor of changing the law.
“I don’t have to prove that marriage is a man and a woman in a relationship for life,” he said. “They have to prove that two men can have an equally definable relationship called marriage, and somehow that that can mean the same thing.”
Thank you, Mike, for defining inequality in a nutshell. We don’t think often enough about burdens of proof and why they fall where they do. More often, we take sides in existing debates without asking how one group seized the benefits of normalcy and whether they ought to retain it.
Do straights deserve to put gays on the defensive because we’re a majority? I thought one of the cornerstones of our American civil religion was the belief, embodied in the Bill of Rights, that the individual has certain fundamental human rights that shouldn’t be subject to majority vote.
Because we populate the planet? The harsh realities of nomadic desert life could explain why the Abrahamic faiths discouraged non-procreative sex, but environmentalists might say we need the reverse incentive now.
Because we’ve done such a good job keeping our marital vows? Three words: 50% divorce rate.
I think many traditionalists refuse to listen to gay-rights arguments because it’s scary to consider that our favorite “natural” hierarchies might be arbitrary and self-serving. Without even realizing it, we’re all somewhat invested in upholding social categories that make us feel better about ourselves.
The Bible has a word for basing our self-esteem on something other than God’s unmerited love for us. It’s called idolatry.