Here is a puzzler of a position, one held by pretty much every Republican candidate and group, but I will let Michele Bachmann’s words stand for all. This is what she had to say at a townhall meeting in Waverly, Iowa the other day:
“All of us Americans have the same rights, we have the same civil rights…There shouldn’t be any special rights or any special set of criteria. We all have the same civil rights.”
Now obviously this is the position of the United States Constitution, that we are all of us equal before the law, with the same rights. But does Michele Bachmann really believe it? Do any of them?
It doesn’t seem so.
Marriage, says Bachmann, again speaking for the others as well as her self, is between a man and a woman. The Constitution didn’t say this, of course, but they got the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) to back it up and they cling to DOMA like a baby to a pacifier.
Whoa, there, what happened to those equal rights? If we all have the same rights, if we are all equal and if there are no special criteria, how can marriage be limited to opposite sex unions?
Through some abuse of common sense, logic, and the English language, actual equality becomes “special criteria” or what Republicans like to call, “special rights.”
You will hear things from GOP males like this: “I can marry a woman. So can he! We have the same rights!” and as a consequence this: “If he wants to marry a man, that’s special rights! He’s asking for rights I don’t have!”
Obviously, the real question is this: Do you have the right to marry the person you love?
The answer is “Yes” for heterosexuals. The answer for gays and lesbians is, “No.”
So no, gays and lesbians do not have the rights as heterosexuals. Far from having the same rights, they have fewer. They have a deficit in the rights column.
It is obvious then that granting gays and lesbians the right to marry is not a case of granting special rights, but a leveling of the playing field. That’s why we call it “Marriage Equality.”
So the answer to the first question is therefore this: No, Michele Bachmann and other Republican candidates in the 2012 election do not support the idea that all Americans have the same rights.
In fact, what Republicans are advocating are special rights – special rights for heterosexuals, rights not everyone in the population has. Because that’s what special criteria are: heterosexuals can marry, but gays and lesbians cannot. If that isn’t special rights, nothing is. DOMA is a perfect example of special rights in action. And the Republicans are defending it to the death – and on our dime.
But it’s not only marriage equality. What about Women’s Reproductive Rights? Why does a zygote have more rights than the woman in whom it is found? It has a right to live, but she does not if it comes down to a choice between the two. Equal rights would mean the woman has just as much right to live as the zygote. Her husband, her children, would have as much right to keep their mother as the zygote would have. But they don’t. A child doesn’t have the rights a zygote has, for crying out loud, an issue I raised here the other day.
How about healthcare? If we all have the same rights, why does Michele Bachmann have a right to socialized medicine at our expense but we don’t have the same right to socialized medicine? If we are all equal, don’t we all have the same right to healthcare?
Or religion? If we are all equal, if we all have the same rights, why do Republicans advocate special rights for Christians? Why are other religions, including Islam, less equal by not being afforded First Amendment protections? Why should Muslims be banned from serving in the U.S. Military, as Rep. Rick Womick (R-TN) demands? Aren’t we all equal? If we are all equal then it’s absurd to say that it’s necessary to speak out against Sharia but not necessary to speak out against Mosaic Law. They are identical in every important way, so if one is bad, are not both bad?
And what about the 1% and the 99%? If everyone is equal, shouldn’t everyone pay taxes? But they don’t. It’s okay for the top 1% of the wealthy in this country to pay fewer taxes than you do. It’s okay for them to pay no taxes at all. But you absolutely have to pay taxes. It’s patriotic, we’re told. We must all sacrifice: “shared sacrifice” Republicans like to call it. But the sacrifice is not really shared is it? Some people have to sacrifice, but not everybody, because for Republicans, some people have special rights – a right not to pay taxes, a right not to suffer, a right to be spared the sacrifice the 99% are required to suffer out of “patriotism.” If we all had the same rights, as Bachmann says, we would all suffer, we would all sacrifice, equally.
Republican political theology is all about special rights – special rights for the rich, for corporations, for Christians, for men, for heterosexuals, for white Americans. Take away advocacy of special rights and the Republican Party has no platform at all.
But hey, we’re all equal. Just ask Michele Bachmann.