Mat Staver of the far-to-the-right-wing legal rights group, the Liberty Counsel, was encouraging Florida Baptist preachers to climb into their pulpits last Sunday and impress upon their captive Christian audience to Vote Yes on Amendment Two. This was the fearful's big push to convince large gatherings of people that those "scary queers" are about to come parading down the aisle and demanding a Baptist wedding...right now! The only way to stop this abomination would be to get to the polls for early voting, and hurl that first stone at those uppity gays and lesbians.
Hearing that this was the clarion call to all Florida Baptist Convention churches, I inquired with my neighbor if her preacher had said anything that Sunday.
"Oh, no! And he wouldn't. He doesn't do that sort of thing."
Whew! OK, so at least First Baptist Church in Tallahassee remained officially neutral on the question...although parishoners are greeted with those "Yes On Two" signs outside the Florida Catholic Conference offices across the street from their house of worship. And while Dr. Doug Dortsch choose not to speak on the issue, it's likely that at some of the other mega-Baptist churches in town, there was all kinds of fire and brimstone gnashing and wailing at the thought of a wedding with a man and a man or woman and a woman.
Oddly, and annoyingly, the proponents of Amendment Two are failing to tell their fearful constituency that Florida law not once, not twice...but in FOUR places in statute defines marriage as "One man and One woman". So, if Amendment Two fails, there won't be a mad rush for marriage licenses by members of the gay community.
Another bizarre notion is that somehow by amending the state constitution, and putting it there that marriage "or the substantial equivalent thereof" should be for one man and one woman, straight marriages will suddenly be protected. How? What are they being protected from? How in the world does defining marriage address the problems plaguing relationships right now? Y'know...things like drug and alcohol abuse, lying to your partner, domestic violence, a rotten economy that strains purse strings? Or what about those people who are so invested in this institution that they get married on a whim, and then call it off days later? How does that relationship build a strong married community?
Finally, there is this idea of quoting the Genesis creation stories of how God made male and female to procreate and populate the world and have dominion over the other creations. Nowhere in those stories do either the "P" or the "J" writer talk about marriage. And, really folks, if you start reading Genesis....as I have....you're going to uncover some stuff that would test the whole "Family Values" crowd: Sarah telling her husband Abraham to sleep with Hagar and getting angry when Hagar and Abraham have a son...Isaac's son, Jacob, steals his brother's blessing and is having sex with two sisters...Judah is sleeping with his daughter-in-law because he mistakes her for a temple prostitute...and Dinah gets raped by a man who desires her......it's actually a pretty good read! But woe on the fundementalist Christian who would actually talk about "those" parts of the Bible. Perhaps they forgot that these stories also all happened under God's watch!
My Baptist neighbor noted something important, and immediately apparent, to her in the Amendment Two debate. She could not help wondering how Amendment Two would have prevented one of the straight couples in our neighborhood from getting divorced. And then there's me and Isabelle...and our friends, Terry and Donna: lesbians in relationships for 17 and 23 years.
Perhaps what is really needed to protect marriage is to honor the ones currently left outside the legal gates. Amendment Two won't do that. And we are still a sea change in Supreme Court membership from seeing such recognition in the Sunshine State.