Tea Party Redneck Meets Internet Hipster: Anti-Intellectualism and Political Apathy

The other day, one of my Facebook (and real life) friends shared a link to a blog post entitled “The Top Seven Facebook Cries for Help”.  It’s mostly just the same, tired hipster “I’m-so-cool-talking-shit-on-the-Internet” waste of bandwidth.  There was one statement, though, that just smacked of the kind of political apathy that is killing this country.  The number three “cry for help”, according to this self-appointed arbitrator, is political passion:

3. Divisive political rant
These people can’t just have a point of view. They need to share it with the world. All the time. Over and over, all day long. They treat their political outlook like their favorite sporting team, loudly cheering on their own opinions while at the same time, incessantly suggesting that everyone whose life experiences are different than theirs must have either a lower intellect or inferior moral character than they. The funniest part about the divisive political update authors is that they will tie everything back to their political opinion, no matter how unrelated a topic might be because by now they have invested their entire sense of self in their online political persona.
Example:
“Well I see that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has finally inducted Guns N Roses. What about Trace Adkins? I guess Obama and his liberal media are too busy electing A BUNCH OF DRUG ADDICTS than honoring a REAL AMERICAN.”

OR:

“Great news everyone (cough, cough…) The wheat grass shots at Whole Foods are now $3.50. We can all thank the Republicans and all their Wall Street fat cat buddies for yet another #EPICFAIL”
What this means:
“As long as I have something to complain about, I can continue to avoid taking a long, hard look at myself.”

First off, what the hell does “politically divisive” mean?  I take it the problem here is that the person who is “crying for help” doesn’t go with the flow.   Guess what, hipster?  Politics are divisive.  If you want a world where politics are not divisive, you’re inviting a truly Orwellian existence.  Maybe that’s what our hipster friend is looking for, though:  that Orwellian utopia where no one ever holds a strong opinion that might cause him to spend a moment thinking about the world around him.

The second thing that sticks in this oh-so-cool windbag’s craw is that those with opinions “need to share it with the world.”  Is Facebook really “the world”?  I’m not so sure it is, unless you’re randomly going about friending people you have no real-life connection with.  Even if it was, so what?  Things don’t get done in this world by sitting in the corner, quietly contemplating the body politic and the state of the nation.  Demonstrations.  Opinion pieces in the newspaper.  Political conversations with friends.  All those things are “sharing it with the world.”  Name one advancement in human history that didn’t come about because someone or many someones were audacious enough to “share it with the world”.   They even did it “over and over, all day long.”  What the hell was that Martin Luther King even thinking about making all of those long winded speeches, marching, and preaching his message of equality over and over, all day long?  What a pretentious, overbearing ass, amiright?

The last sentence of this self-important armchair diagnosis is the real kicker here.  This person–who has just dedicated his time to creating a judgmental post devoted to complaining about others–has the nerve to tell them that they are avoiding facing some fundamental personal flaws by dedicating themselves to their political commitment.  The hypocrisy is palpable, but that’s not the real issue here.

The hipster who wrote this piece is like so many others of his ilk–hipsters, as well as far too many of what I call the White Boys of the Internet.  You know the guy.  He is the one who dismissively says that “politics don’t matter”.  He just wants to have a good time.  If someone points out that the video game he’s playing has racist themes and imagery, he waves his hand and says, “I just want to be entertained.  I don’t want politics in my video games.”  If someone points out that the TV show he quotes from memory is full of misogyny, he huffs that, “It’s funny.  Why is everybody so PC?”  Then, he turns his attention back to memorizing more dialogue that he can use to impress his buddies.  He is intentionally ignorant.  He is intentionally offensive, thinking it marks him as a “real individual”.   It actually just marks him as a real asshole.

While the politically apathetic hipster generally hangs around the edges of progressive groups, he has his counterpart among the conservative types.  The right-wing equivalent to the hipster’s political apathy is anti-intellectualism.  This is the belief that ignorance and lack of education are badges of honor.  It manifests as slings of “snobbery” and “laziness” thrown at college students.  It spins the story that learning is unAmerican and teaching is outright treasonous.  It portrays the uneducated as “salt-of-the-earth,” and the educated as elitist and out-of-touch.  It glorifies faith over knowledge.

Anti-intellectualism is how the Right hopes to control the hearts and minds of America.  It especially informs the approach to public education, where it has been used as the basis for banning of books, destruction of programs, and firing of teachers.  Here, people who step outside the dead-white-guy view of history and scholarship are viewed as enemies of the state.  They “promote the over-throw of the United States government,” in the words of Arizona lawmakers.

The problem with anti-intellectualism is that it is anathema to democracy.  An ignorant populace cannot hope to make wise choices.  It cannot hope to think for itself.  It cannot begin to come up with new solutions to old problems.  Unfortunately, this does not concern the proponents of anti-intellectualism.  The anti-intellectuals of both the Republican and Democratic parties have a lot to gain from the idea that critical thinking and education are wastes of time and even dangerous.  If the citizens of this country can be convinced to reject logic and critical thought, they can be much more easily led via sloganeering and the cult of personality.  This is tied to what Paul Rosenberg refers to as the “imagination deficit”:

Our imagination deficit is closely tied to our critical thinking deficit. Minds that are perpetually muddled in uncritically accepted ideas and psuedo-facts, incapable of grasping clear-cut truths are hardly prepared to grasp projected possibilities and judge them soundly.

The anti-intellectual attempts to shut down critical thought through charges of “elitism”.  Even commentary on the existence of anti-intellectualism and the dangers it poses are shut down.  As Susan Jacoby wrote in 2008, our so-called leaders play into and encourage this by repeatedly stressing how they are “one of us”:

It is almost impossible to talk about the manner in which public ignorance contributes to grave national problems without being labeled an “elitist,” one of the most powerful pejoratives that can be applied to anyone aspiring to high office. Instead, our politicians repeatedly assure Americans that they are just “folks,” a patronizing term that you will search for in vain in important presidential speeches before 1980.

In the end, anti-intellectualism and political apathy are two sides of the same coin.  They both push us towards a dangerous precipice.  They discourage active, informed engagement in political life.  Those in power know this, so they seek to encourage these twin killers of true democracy.  A truly informed, active, passionate populace would be able to fight for their own interests, instead of being led to believe that the interests of the very wealthy are intertwined with their own well-being.  That cannot be allowed to happen, if the American elites are to remain elite.  Fortunately for the elites, they don’t have to worry about enforcing the fascism necessary to retain their positions of privilege at the expense of the vast majority of the American people.  The populace is happily putting that yoke around their own necks.

Some of my best friends…

If you’re old enough, you’ve heard one bigot or another try to explain away a racist statement.  Once upon a time, the go-to phrase was, “Some of my best friends are black.”  Today, in the State of Arizona, we have a modern version of that.  It concerns Latinos and Latinas, and goes something like this:  “I don’t have any problem with Mexicans.  I just hate illegal immigration.”  The storm around SB1070 has made this even more common.  It has a corollary along the lines of, “SB1070 isn’t about prejudice or profiling.  It’s about illegal immigration.”  I’m here to tell you that you can trust those statements every bit as much as the old “some of my best friends” apology.

I married into a Mexican-American family in 1992.  My husband is the first generation of his father’s family born in the U.S.  His mother met his dad in the 1960s, when she went to Mexico City to attend the university.  Like her, I am the Anglo wife and mother of Mexican-Americans.  So, when I speak of my anger over SB1070 and other demonstrations of ethnic hatred, it’s a personal issue.

My husband is a very light-skinned Mexican-American, but it’s obvious to whites that he’s not “one of us”.  As a kid, he said he was often asked, “I know you’re not white, but what are you?”  He was obviously Other to the white eye.  And often to the Mexican eye, as well.

When our daughter was young, Saturday was always Daddy-Daughter Day.  When she was very young, this usually entailed trips to the park.  One summer day in 1995, my husband and our three-year-old daughter took one of these trips to the park.  Rodeo Park, the place they went that day, was a large park in our very poor, overwhelmingly Mexican-American neighborhood.

It’s Arizona, so it gets hot early.  So, they prepared to leave after our girl played for about an hour. As they were preparing to leave, my husband was approached by a Tucson police officer.  The cop demanded ID.  He held my husband and our small daughter in the hot Arizona sun for about an hour.  He insisted on questioning my husband and waiting for a report to come back before he would let them go.  Like many minority individuals, my husband is easily spooked by police officers.  He knows what they can and will do to men like him in a way that white people will never know.  So, he stayed.

When the call came back that my husband was “clean”, the cop tried to laugh it off.  “Never can be too careful,” he said.  Of what?  Of a man being an involved father?  Of a man taking his child to the fucking park?  Of a three-year-old child?

An isolated incident, you might insist.  Just one overzealous police officer in one neighborhood of one town on one day.  Well, you’d be wrong.  It would happen again just a month or so later.  This time, it was not in Tucson, but my hometown of Globe, Arizona.  My husband again took our daughter to the park.  The park in Globe sat immediately across from the Globe Police Department.  During their visit to the park, my husband would be approached by a Globe cop.  What was he doing?  Why was he there?  Where did he get the kid?  Seriously…where did he get the kid?  I know it’s a small town and all, but I know they taught some basic biology at Globe High School.  I attended that school for a couple of years, so I can attest to that.

To illustrate the contrast, I had my own experience with the local Tucson law enforcement around the same time.  I was stopped for speeding on a Tucson freeway.  The officer noticed a loaded, concealed handgun in the car.  (It was only slightly visible.)  This was years before Arizona went wild with the concealed weapons laws, so it was absolutely illegal.  He wrote me the speeding ticket, then advised me that I should probably take the rounds out of the gun.  He told me he absolutely understood why I was carrying the gun, and he sympathized.  Then, he sent me on my way.


Of course these stories are common and widespread, across Arizona and the American Southwest.  They don’t just happen to the poor and unknown, though.  Raul Hector Castro is everything that the anti-Hispanic bigot claims to celebrate.  He’s a man who came to the U.S. and “assimilated”.  Learned English.  Worked his ass off, both physically and in school.  Earned not one, but two college degrees–a teaching degree from Northern Arizona University and a law degree from the University of Arizona.  Served as the Pima County Attorney.  Served as a U.S. Ambassador multiple times.  Elected to the office of Governor of Arizona.  Yet, despite all that, Gov. Castro has been stopped by law enforcement–in this case Border Patrol–three times. The most recent was just last month.

The incident was recounted in Nogales International by Anne Doan, a friend of the governor and University of Arizona employee, who was accompanying Gov. Castro that day.  She reported that the agents knew that the governor had just undergone a medical treatment that set off their alarms.  She talked of them making him get out of the car, having more tests, then being released…only to be stopped again and being ordered to show identification.  In Ms. Doan’s words:

After all of this chaos in the Arizona heat I thought it was interesting that the agents never asked me for my identification, and I was driving the car. Maybe I was the nuclear threat.
I understand Border Patrol has a job to do, but this was absolutely ridiculous. I feel less safe knowing that time and money is being wasted by agents who must check a box or file a paper knowing full well that there is no threat. It is the equivalent of TSA detaining a toddler simply because of random searches.
This is the anger that exists with that checkpoint. We residents understand why it is there, but are reminded every day at how wasteful and ineffective it is. I am sorry, but in America, Americans should be able to drive from one city to the next without being detained and questioned by other Americans simply to file paperwork.

The Border Patrol’s excuse has been that they only “delayed” him for ten minutes.  Others report it was about 30 minutes.  I think they’re missing the point, especially since this was the third time the governor had been stopped by U.S. Border Patrol.

The story of Castro’s first encounter with Border Patrol on another day almost 50 years ago appeared in a Salon piece:

Nearly half century ago, working on the front fence of his Tucson horse farm in his work clothes, Castro was stopped by a passing Border Patrol car. The agents asked if he had his work card. Castro said no. When they asked whom he worked for, Castro referred to “the señorita inside.” The agents nearly arrested Castro until he showed them the sign by his farm entrance: “Judge Castro.”

The Salon piece goes on to explain that the 1970s would see another incident, this time proving that Arizona isn’t the only place this can happen.  Castro reported that he and his daughter were stopped in San Diego, California.  The agent demanded to know where Castro was born:

I wasn’t about to lie. I was born in Mexico, I said. The guard starts questioning me. “What about that young lady?” She was born in Japan, I said, during the Korean War. He thought we were being smart. He didn’t want to let us go.  In the meantime, someone came by and recognized me. Governor, how are you?

“But,” the protests of bigots go out, “those are federal agents.  They don’t have anything to do with SB1070.”  Well, yes and no.  They are federal agents. However, they are just another illustration of where these laws come from, how they can be used to harass even our most celebrated, successful citizens simply because they have brown skin, a Mexican accent, and an ability to speak Spanish.  Two of the three incidents also occurred in Arizona, and were enforced by Arizona residents.

Things like SB1070 do not happen in a vacuum.  They come from a place of bigotry.  They come from the same place that moves the Arizona State Legislature to attack the ethnic studies program at Tucson High Magnet School, even as it has been proven over and over to be a positive influence on the education of our students.  They are motivated by the same hatred that moves people to post nasty anti-Hispanic comments on the websites of any Arizona newspaper that publishes a piece on Hispanics–whether they be citizens or not.  They come from the same place as the bigoted comments from other whites to me; the comments of those who see my white skin and assume I won’t care.  They come from an ugly place in the hearts of too many Arizonans.

Welfare reform, or How I came to hate the Democrats

I walked by my bookcase today and picked up Susan Faludi’s Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women. It was written in the days of Bush the Father and Reagan. It was a big influence on me at the time. I remember how Bill Clinton was elected after that, and we were told it would be all better. You remember, “Don’t stop thinkin’ about tomorrow…”

Then, we had Clinton signing into law “welfare reform” and making his wife look like a fool on the grand public stage. Go, Democrats, y’all.

I think I finally came to the realization that the Democrats would never be an answer to the problems faced by the poor, minorities or women when Clinton was in office. Before that, I had focused my hatred on the Republicans and Bush’s wars. But how was Clinton better? In fact, he had a more negative impact on my life than Bush ever did.

At the time Clinton climbed into bed with the right-wing to paint the poor as unworthy, I was enrolled fulltime at University of Arizona and my husband was working the same fulltime job he’s held since he was 15. Our daughter was about five, so childcare was very important. My education would be our way out of poverty, but Clinton and both political parties wouldn’t have it. As soon as Arizona had the excuse of “welfare reform”, they ended childcare subsidies for poor students. Apparently, the so-called Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 had this effect on many Americans, because it had never been allowed before.  We were living on less than $12,000 a year. There was no way in hell we could afford childcare for me to go to school. So, I had to quit. It would be another ten years before I finally got my degree, and it came at great expense. U of A had penalized me for quitting in the middle of a semester, so I had to go to an over-priced technical school. That left huge, huge student loan debt that we’re still drowning under today.  Thanks, Bill.

Title IX: Why it’s needed, why it’s just

I argue the glory the Title IX all the time. There are far too many out there who think it’s all about sports.  These are the ones who are most vociferously opposed to the law.  They comment on the law based upon what they’ve been told, having never bothered to read or research the law for themselves. This is the law that keeps schools from kicking pregnant girls out (while allowing the baby daddy to continue). Schools used to do that all the time. A girl who was pregnant or married was forced to quit; a boy who had impregnated a girl or gotten married could continue.

Even if it were sports-only, I would support it wholeheartedly. Our daughter played sports. I never suggested it to her. Her dad never suggested it to her. She wanted to play. Why should a boy who has that interest be given the opportunity, but a girl shouldn’t? There are a lot of really good things that come from playing sports. Comradery. Team work. Respect for others. Thinking on your feet. Girls need those things, too.

I hear opponents of the law claim that it takes away males’ opportunities. They ignore the fact that not one damn thing in the law mandates that. A school can reach compliance simply by showing that they’ve met the need of their student body. In other words, that girls don’t want to play. If it was true that girls and women didn’t care about playing sports, that would be the simplest thing in the world to meet, wouldn’t it? They can also comply just by showing that they’re “trying” to meet the law’s guidelines. Not doing, but “trying.”

More than that, though, I want to know why a male has an inherent right to play sports at a school receiving public money, but a female does not. Why is the male gymnast or wrestler more important than the female volleyball or soccer player? Neither raise money for their athletic department, so this claim that it should be based upon money raised is shot to shit.

Of course, then we have the “football makes money” argument that so many opponents of Title IX fall back on. A very, very few college football programs turn a profit. The sport is so expensive to play that most money “raised” by football goes to pay for football. Only a few big-name schools, mostly in the SEC or BIG XII, actually turn profits. At one time, the only sport at the University of Arizona that made more than it spent was men’s basketball. I didn’t hear the cries of how unfair it was for baseball or football to continue being funded, even though they did nothing but take money.

The tl;dr version? Title IX is awesome, and I’m so glad my daughter grew up in the Title IX era.

The cost of addiction: How alcoholism killed my best friend

We went to see Texas Trash and the Hangovers on Halloween. Seemed fitting. Rose introduced me to my husband on a Halloween night 13 years earlier.  He was playing with one of his old bands on that night. So, why shouldn’t she and I go see his current band play on the anniversary of that date? It seemed perfect.

When the Hangovers played, I watched the band. I didn’t see where she went. I would later learn that in those 45 minutes, she downed 13 drinks. And she had already been drinking before that. She was a hardcore alcoholic, though, so that’s just how she did things.

After the gig, we drove back to our house. She wanted me to get more booze. I told her no. I also told her she had to stay; I would not let her drive.

We sat, talked and smoked for a few hours. A couple of hours later, she went into the bathroom. Almost an hour later, she was still in there. I went to check on her. She was unconscious on the floor. I couldn’t rouse her. I called 911.

When the paramedics arrived, they were able to restore her to consciousness very quickly.  In fact, it seemed like they had barely walked through the front door, and she was already sitting up and talking rationally to them. They asked her what she had taken. She said she had 16 drinks. I only saw her have three, so she had 13 while away from me. They asked her about drugs. She denied taking any drugs. They wanted her to go the hospital. She refused. I agreed to sit up and watch her. And I did. All night.

The next morning, about 7:30, I went to bed. She seemed okay. At 9, I got up because our son was curled up on the couch with her. She was breathing. I took him to bed with me. An hour later, Lenny took the kids to the park.

At 11, Lenny woke me. “Rose is blue,” he told me. I got up quickly. She was gone. Cold. Blue lips. No life. Not coming back. I called 911 again. They came and told me what I already knew. Two days before she would have been 33, my best friend was dead. Alcohol and prescription drugs.

Gateway drugs, lost lives, and American hypocrisy

Years ago, I read a piece in our local newspaper, the Arizona Daily Star.  It consisted of studies and interviews with doctors at the University of Arizona’s University Medical Center.  The subject?  Recreational drug use.  The thesis was that of all recreational drugs, the one that does most damage–both socially and physiologically–is alcohol.  Having experience with all kinds of drug users, I knew this to be true from my own life.  I’d watched people kill themselves with alcohol, and I’d watched people kill themselves with heroin.  I’d lived with and loved drunks, and I’d lived with and loved junkies.  I’ve always said, “Give me the junkie over the drunk any day of the week.”

Just today, I ran across another study that made the exact same point.  In the November 2010 BBC piece “Alcohol ‘more harmful than heroin’ says Prof David Nutt”, a former drug policy official from the United Kingdom discusses a study he was involved in.  This peer-reviewed study was posted in the Lancet, the British medical journal.  It’s conclusion?  The most socially and physiologically dangerous recreational drug is alcohol.

The study “ranked 20 drugs on 16 measures of harm to users and to wider society.  Heroin, crack and crystal meth were deemed worst for individuals, with alcohol, heroin and crack cocaine worst for society, and alcohol worst overall.”  Again, “alcohol worst overall.”

On of the study’s shortcomings is that they also include some criteria like “international damage” and “crime”, which is generally only going to apply to black market drugs.  That’s not really an effect of the drug.  That’s an effect of the law.  More crime was associated with alcohol once upon a time, simply because it was prohibited.  Prohibited drugs, as well as most other black market products, are going to involve crime.  The very nature of legal prohibition requires that.  Even more, though, prohibition brings in the element of organized (and disorganized) crime.  This is something they can make money on.  During the era of alcohol prohibition, organized crime was a big player in the manufacturing, smuggling, and distribution of illegal alcohol.  Violence, such as the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, was committed in order to define territory and eliminate competition.  In addition, broken “contracts” cannot be fought over in court; the wronged party must take a stand or risk becoming a mark forever after.  There’s no way to compare legal and illegal drugs at this point in time, simply because of the black market factor.

But what of the “gateway” nature of illegal drugs, people will demand.  Well, it appears that alcohol is the culprit there, too.  In a recent study published in The Journal of School Health, researchers reported, “As you can see from the findings of our study, it confirmed this gateway hypothesis, but it follows progression from licit substances, specifically alcohol, and moves on to illicit substances.”

The major problem with these studies, though, is the conclusions they draw.  The researchers are more concerned with focusing on alcohol in order to win the deadly War on Drugs.  Why?  It is a losing proposition.  People like to feel relaxed.  Cultures have had their own acceptable highs as long as there have been cultures.  The better answer is to admit that people have a right to decide what to do with their own bodies.  Whether you are talking about women wanting abortions or people wanting to get intoxicated, it’s time that we stop pretending that the government is the landlord of our bodies.  Our bodies.  Ourselves.

Marriage, Civil Unions, and Religious Freedom

With Obama’s recent stance change on gay marriage, I’ve been giving more and more thought to the idea of marriage. The underlying feelings I have aren’t any different than they used to be; I’ve just been trying to determine if my beliefs are internally consistent. Philosophical musings, in other words. This is what I’ve come up with: the legal protections associated with “marriage” should go away for everyone. Radical idea? Well, hold on a minute…

My idea isn’t that all of the legal privileges of a committed relationship should go away. My idea is that they should not be defined by or as “marriage”–for anyone. The idea of the civil union has been part of the marriage debate for a while. The problem is that it’s been framed as the bastard child of marriage. There has been the superior state of “marriage,” which only heterosexual couples were to enjoy. Then, gays, lesbians, and bisexual people in same-sex relationships were to have the lesser state of a “civil union.” That’s unacceptable, in my opinion.

When my husband of 20 years and I got married, it wasn’t because we believed in the traditional definitions of marriage or any of it’s related bullshit. We married for the legal protections. In February of 1992, we learned we would become parents later that year. Marriage would legally protect us and our child. There are still a lot of legal penalties to having a child out of wedlock. Issues of paternity, rights to the child, child support, taxes, medical decision-making, and a whole host of other shit are made easier if you’re married. So, we got married about a month after we found out about our daughter’s impending arrival. Had we not gotten married, our commitment would have been the same; marriage was just to head off the legal bullshit.

All that legal bullshit is relevant whether you’re in a same-sex or an opposite-sex relationship, whether you have kids or not. Being able to make medical decisions for your partner, being able to cover each other on your insurance, getting the tax breaks, and so much more. It’s vital, important stuff considering the society we live in. The video “It Could Happen to You” explains some of the vitally important stuff better than I ever could.

So, what to do?

Christianity was a late-comer to Western marriage. An interloper, if you will. Marriage was constituted in a lot of ways that had little to do with religion. The Catholic Church (which was Christianity at the time) got into the act fairly late. One of the quotes used to justify marriage stated, “But if they cannot contain, let them marry:  for it is better to marry than to burn.”  (1 Corinthians 7:9)  In short, if people cannot control their sexual urges, they should marry rather than “burn”.  It has debated whether this meant “burn in hell” or “burn with passion”.  Doesn’t matter which way you interpret it, it’s hardly advocating marriage as a holy, desirable state filled with “sanctity”. So, why are those who want to “protect marriage” so sure that their religious views are what constitute marriage, when Christianity didn’t even establish a sacrament for marriage until late in the game? Arrogance, mostly.

My fix for this problem? Get rid of all legal protections for those who are “married”. If you want a Christian wedding, have it. If you want a Wiccan handfasting, have it. If you want a Hindu wedding, have it. If you want a Jewish wedding, have it. But none of those things will give you legal protections. (Right now, all but Wiccan handfasting do provide legal rights and protections. So, the state is picking and choosing between religions, establishing religion, in violation of the First Amendment.) You can have your religious beliefs and ceremonies, but the state should not be sanctioning them or giving you legal privilege based upon those beliefs or ceremonies. This is especially the case when the government is picking and choosing which religious ceremonies give people those legal privileges.

So, would the legal privileges for committed relationships go away entirely? No, they would not. Civil unions would be required for all couples who want such privilege. Same-sex gay, lesbian and bisexual couples would have the same rights as opposite-sex heterosexual and bisexual couples. All would require civil unions.

The religious right claims that marriage is defined by what “god” wants. Guess what? The state isn’t supposed to be recognizing what your god wants as part of the legislative process. That’s in the Constitution. Want your religious ceremony? Go for it. Just don’t ask for tax breaks or other legal recognition based upon it.

In short, the legal commitment of individuals should be the only thing that provides legal rights and privileges for all couples. Those legal commitments should not in any way, shape or form be bound to religious rites. That’s what the separation of church and state is all about.