Thank you, Alabama, for proving that winning legal battles is not enough in the face of religious extremism.
It isn’t a great surprise that the fight for same-sex marriage has boiled down to civil rights against the repressive invasiveness of domestic zealous religion, a power so coercive that even in this day and age we’re having fights about evolution, mandated prayer in public schools, and whether the president was actually correct in his assertion that the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition were really all that bad.
Our LGBT+ family remains under the cosh of powerful people’s interpretation of the Bible. People like Alabama’s Chief Justice Roy Moore, who forbade probate judges from handing out marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Alabama after the Supreme Court gave the go-ahead.
While Moore found a legal loophole to, in the short term, butt-vomit his bigotry over the court-affirmed rights of LGBT people in his state, he will lose, and same-sex marriage will come to Alabamans in the very near future—at the time of this writing the Supreme Court ruling was still being regarded as optional. Moore’s quest is utterly in vain.
But that does nothing for the people who are being screwed over now. That does absolutely shit-all for couples wherein one of the partners dies before Moore’s “qui-toxic” crusade comes to an end, whose possessions will be assessed completely differently from a married person’s, in the manner of a cisgender straight couple.
It does nothing for poor spouses who can’t get on each other’s employer-provided health insurance, and then become injured or sick and go bankrupt before that error can be remedied (not helped by Alabama’s Medicaid program, one of the stingiest in the nation). It does nothing for same-sex parents who could face parental-rights fights if only one member of the couple shares genes with a child; and don’t even start with taxes and the deductions not permitted (indeed, you pay more taxes to be a gay couple, and derive fewer benefits therefrom).
This list goes on and on and on, and is populated solely due to the reluctance of a fanatical government cabal to provide civil rights to a small segment of the population. When marriage does indeed go ahead, these civil rights will have NOTHING to do with anyone’s religion. People will be just as free to promote their ideas of family values, rancid and free of fact though they may be, while same-sex couples finally receive equal Social Security benefits.
Why is it important for us rural folks to take note of this? Because in Alabama, only some marriage licenses are being handed out, and that correlates largely with major cities, to the extent that Alabama has them: Montgomery and surrounding cities, Birmingham, and Huntsville. The marriage fight is a proxy for all LGBT rights—although you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s the only rights quest our people has—and now we know, as proved by Alabama, that the great resistance will come from rural areas, even after the courts have completely ruled in our favor.
In cities the greater population has had us in their lives. We work where they work. We take our dogs to the same dog parks they do. We participate in the same gentrification. We whine together about how unsynchronized the lights are on West Peachtree. We buy overpriced coffee, treat our pets like people, and read the New York Times. We collectively crap on people who drop “Homeland” spoilers within 24 hours of the initial broadcast. For years we have had common ground with the city folk.
That’s not the same out here in the wilds of Somewhere Near Middle Georgia. And it’s not the same in anywhere that is not Atlanta, Savannah or somewhere similar.
The Supreme Court will rule in our favor. But that’s no guarantee that fanaticism, embodied in someone like Roy Moore, won’t fuck it all up.
Simon Williamson, a native of South Africa, lives with his federally recognized spouse in the wild yonder of Newton County. You can follow him on Twitter: @Simonwillo