In case you get your I-states mixed up, Iowa has same-sex marriage, Illinois just got civil unions, and Indiana has nothing of the sort. Indiana is where they call themselves “Hoosiers,” which means “people from Indiana.” In Indiana, same-sex marriage is already banned AND the Indiana Supreme Court has already ruled that the ban is constitutional. And with a Republican legislature, there’s really no hope in sight.
For some reason, though, the legislature has found it necessary to go a step further, just to really rub LGBT faces in the discrimination already faced. On Tuesday, the Indiana House passed a marriage discrimination amendment with a bipartisan vote of 70-26, with many Democrats defecting to support the bill. The state equality group has very little influence; the only support for LGBT Hoosiers comes from a few public universities who don’t see too far past their campus borders.
Fed up with the incessant abuse taking place in his home state, Bil Browning has committed to using The Bilerico Project to bring the heat on Indiana legislators. I am all too happy to lend my support for Queersiers (a word I just made up, but one I hope catches on) by doing what I do best: responding to the insidious rhetoric of the religious right.
Indiana’s “pro-family” talking head is Ryan McCann, Director of Operations and Public Policy for the Indiana Family Institute. It’s clear by his response to the House vote that conservative Hoosiers are letting this unnecessary “icing on the cake” victory go to their heads—the rhetoric is not particularly tame.
He opens by boasting some “research” on marriage that was done by a bunch of “pro-family” scholars, citing their three fundamental conclusions:
1. Marriage is an important social good, associated with an impressively broad array of positive outcomes for children and adults alike.
2. Marriage is an important public good, associated with a range of economic, health, educational, and safety benefits that help local, state, and federal governments serve the common good.
3. The benefits of marriage extend to poor and minority communities, despite the fact that marriage is particularly fragile in these communities.
Actually, though I don’t trust the contributing perspectives, those three conclusions are pretty agreeable.
He also cites the tax-payer costs of “family fragmentation,” an estimate that includes costs for things like Head Start, Food Stamps, Medicaid, and other assumptions about the costs associated with impoverished children and unmarried adults. To give you a sense of these numbers, 17% of the cost estimate is for the “Justice System,” based on the assumption that boys raised in single-family households are more likely to commit crimes. In other words, these are extrapolations based on severe “pro-family” biases and not actual data. Still, the numbers—as meaningless and unfounded as they may be—suggest the state benefits if more adults are married and more children have married parents. The figure for Indiana is $839 million per year.
So, consider what he’s saying at this point: 1) Marriage has benefits for individuals, 2) Marriage is good for the health of society, 3) Marriage is good for underprivileged communities, and 4) Getting more adults married saves the state money.
Sounds like a great series of arguments for allowing same-sex marriage if you ask me. I’m pretty sure same-sex couples would appreciate those same benefits, as would their children! Good stuff all around.
However, redefining marriage to anything but the union of one man and one woman would only send these costs higher.
This is an outright lie. Let’s look at how he distorts the facts.
He starts by citing an FRC (hate group) “study” by Peter Sprigg (repudiated research distorter) suggesting a significant portion of same-sex couples in Massachusetts “seriously discussed” divorce after a year or less of marriage. First of all, discussed? Meaningless. Second of all, even if those numbers were actual divorces (which they aren’t), the numbers (35% and 46%) were less than 50%, so the overall divorce rate would go down. Plus, any same-sex divorcees would only become as single as they already are without the right to marry.
In reality, the evidence shows that not only have divorce rates in Massachusetts declined in the years since the passage of marriage equality, but they are the lowest in the country. By 2008, they were as low as the national divorce rate was in 1940.
So while McCann is trying to paint same-sex marriage as increasing the divorce rate, the reality is that with marriage equality there would be fewer unmarried adults and a lower divorce rate. It would only take 50.00001% of same-sex couples to stay married for the divorce rate to decline. The best McCann has to offer is that a significantly smaller group than that “discussed” divorce?
He then goes on to suggest that this supposed “higher divorce rate” from marriage equality would require Hoosiers to pay more taxes (again, based on the assumption there would be more unmarried adults and impoverished children). Not only is this completely illogical, but there is significant evidence to the contrary. The Williams Institute released studies this month showing that Rhode Island would make money by legalizing same-sex marriage and that Colorado would make make money even just for legalizing civil unions. Similarly, San Francisco’s chief economist testified in the Prop 8 trial about all the money his city could make were same-sex marriage legal there.
Indiana’s economy would have to be disturbingly off-base to lose money on marriage equality.
Of course, McCann doesn’t care about facts. He cares about his homosexual neighbor’s “spiritual development.” He may have used some economic arguments, but this is a religious battle.
It’s bad enough that McCann is blatantly saying that Indiana should go as far out of its way as possible to deprive same-sex couples of all the aforementioned benefits and lying to make his case. That’s tyrannical enough.
But McCann wants to erase gay people entirely. He sees same-sex sexual orientation as a “temptation” and a “lifestyle,” and he does not hesitate to promote the ex-gay ministries of Love Won Out. It’s funny how he started by trying to use social science to try to defend his point of view, and then a few paragraphs later, he completely defied them. It can’t be said enough: ex-gay therapy doesn’t work AND it’s harmful, and there is consensus on this point from all the leading psychological and sociological professional organizations. In fact, the ex-gay movement realizes four of the five forms of genocide identified by the United Nations. To promote ex-gay therapy is worse than bullying; it’s proposing eradication.
It seems to me Indiana’s social conservatives are getting incredibly cocky, as evidenced by unnecessary anti-gay efforts and untamed rhetoric. While McCann surely sees himself and his organization as compassionate, his lie-riddled propaganda promotes legal tyranny over Queersiers.
As these conservatives continue to harass our community by reigning over our private lives, I look forward to seeing Bil give them a taste of their own medicine. We’ll show the Hoosiers that committed same-sex couples are not the immorality they should be concerned about in their state government. Not by far.