Asexual Marriage is Under Attack
83 religious, right-wing organizations signed a letter to Mitch McConnell condemning the Respect for Marriage act and citing “platonic marriage” as a “startling expansion of what marriage means”. Today, we break down the letter. Next week, we examine these organizations closer.
(we originally thought- and stated- that this was going to be a 3-part series. After recording, we had enough content that this will actually be FOUR parts)
Courtney: Asexual marriage is under attack. Yes, yes, I know, to a lot of you out there, that is going to sound extreme. But bear with us, we are going to tell you exactly what is happening, in the very words of the usually Christian Nationalist organizations who are actively trying to strip many queer people of their rights – including, but not limited to, Asexual and Aromantic people.
Courtney: My name is Courtney, and I’m here with my spouse, Royce, and together, we are The Ace Couple. We have been married for eight years as a very publicly Asexual couple, at this point, and this episode isn’t going to be very fun, but it is very important. So I implore you to stick with us, because far too often, we fall into the trap of shrugging these things off as very extreme, radical views that are never going to have any real attention paid to it, but that is kind of what the opposition is banking on. While we shrug them off as having silly extreme views that have no merit and have no logic, they’re organizing, they are lobbying Congress, they are raising money, and they are gaining political ground far faster than we are. [laughing slightly] So for as silly as it sounds to us, it is vital that we pay attention to exactly what’s happening and exactly what they are saying.
Courtney: So recently, on July 26th of 2022, there was a letter drafted to Minority Senate Leader, Mitch McConnell. It was signed by 83 leaders of national or state organizations. And although we know that a letter is not law, we know that these are very much organizations that do have the ear of conservative politicians. They begin the letter by stating, “As the heads of national and state organizations leading the effort to protect life, religious liberty, free speech and the family, we write to denounce H.R. 8404, the so-called ‘Respect for Marriage Act,’ in the strongest possible terms.”
Courtney: So for those of you who are unaware, the Respect for Marriage Act is something that they are currently trying to pass. It did kind of get rushed through after everything came crumbling down with the overturning of Roe versus Wade. Because obviously the the big tidal-making implication of Roe versus Wade is abortion rights, and that’s what we’ve seen immediately overturned in multiple states that had trigger ban laws that basically said, “If Roe versus Wade ever gets overturned, that day, that very moment, abortion will be illegal in this state.” So naturally, many people have been concerned, “Well, why hasn’t Roe versus Wade actually been codified in law?” Because our Supreme Court’s a weird thing. If the Supreme Court makes a decision, that does become an established legal precedence, but it is not itself a law. So any legal case will be using that precedence, and that precedence is quite safe for a period of time – so long as that case is still on the books. So with the overturning of Roe versus Wade, there was no legislation in place protecting abortion. So you overturn Roe versus Wade; there are no background laws to fall back on.
Courtney: But Roe versus Wade had many other implications other than strictly abortion – which is in itself bad enough, don’t get me wrong. This is horrific that this has been overturned. But the cases preceding Roe versus Wade that allowed that to become precedence very much hinged on things like right to privacy, and if we’re overturning privacy rights, there are many, many, many laws. It is a – I really don’t want to say it’s a slippery slope, [laughs] because that’s often what the conservatives say.
Royce: It’s usually used as the start of a disingenuous argument, but this is actually a case here –
Royce: – where things could snowball.
Courtney: You’re chipping away at a foundation which holds many, many important established rights, and we don’t want to see them all come crumbling down, but that’s kind of what’s become a possibility now. So seeing what happened and knowing that conservatives are not intending to stop at overturning Roe versus Wade – they want a full abortion ban, and they want to take it further – Congress said, okay, well, Obergefell versus Hodges was the landmark case which essentially legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states across our entire country. That is going to be under scrutiny next. So to try to preempt taking away the rights of millions of queer Americans should Obergefell versus Hodges be overturned, they are now trying to codify the right to same-sex marriage in law, so that there is a law to fall back on even if that case goes out the window, much like Roe versus Wade did. And that’s what they’re referring to in this letter.
Courtney: Now, this Respect for Marriage Act holds that “No person should face discrimination because of who they are or whom they love, and every married couple in the United States deserves the security of knowing that their marriage will be defended and respected.” I don’t know a single queer person who would argue with that. But that is the essence of this letter where 83 organizations are saying, “We disagree with this in the strongest possible terms.” And their argument, as per this letter, says, “The truth is, while H.R. 8404 does nothing to change the status of, or benefits afforded to, same-sex marriage in light of Obergefell, it does much to endanger people of faith.” I just don’t even know what to say to that. After Roe versus Wade just got overturned without a law codifying it, I just – I just want to scream. Because what kind of argument is that?
Royce: The “My religious liberty gives me the right to shape the world and reduce the rights of other human beings” is not an argument. Like, you can’t continue with this conversation because the people that believe that don’t want to have a conversation.
Courtney: And that’s something we will be circling back to, that very concept. Because far too often, on people who are on our side of the political spectrum – I’d rather say the human rights spectrum, because I hate that human rights are politicized, but yeah, you know, that’s politics for you! [laughs] I just… We’ll circle back to that, because a lot of the arguments we make don’t matter to them. We’re trying to debate rights and prove why we deserve rights. But we need to actually listen to what they think and what they believe, because in many cases, it’s a lot more extreme than anybody gives them credit for. A lot of people think this comes from, like, ignorance, and it’s not. It’s not.
Royce: I think that this follows the same pattern that the rise in fascism that we’ve been seeing is, is that there are people who probably think themself more moderate, who are easily pulled in one direction –
Royce: – but that pull is coming from an unreasonable extremist position that will not be shifted.
Royce: And the only way to do that is to shut down the extremists and sever their ties to the main population.
Courtney: And the issue with extremism is that those who are on the complete opposite side of the spectrum, or even a lightly more moderate but more left-leaning progressive-y version, not being a polar opposite – sometimes we give things just, like, way too much grace, and we write it off as, like, “Well, this is ignorance. If we provide [emphasizing] education, then people will understand!” And it’s like, this is not an issue of education.
Royce: This is the group of people that are trying to undermine the entire education system.
Courtney: Literally! Oh my goodness. We’re gonna come back to that, too. Bingo. Thank you, Royce. [laughs] So, the very next sentence of this letter actually quotes a Supreme Court justice, Justice Alito – [strained] not our favorite – says: “Justice Alito was right when he predicted the Obergefell decision would ‘be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy.’ We are seeing this play out more and more against those who decline to openly embrace extreme views regarding marriage and human sexuality.” So here’s the issue. We’re looking at people who are bigoted to queer people, and we’re saying, “That’s extreme.” They’re looking at queer people, who are just existing, and being like, “You’re extreme.” But they’re not writing us off. They’re fighting us, literally in the court of law, and thus is the issue.
Courtney: To provide just a little bit more context while we proceed with this letter, the very first signature on this letter of 83 is Michael P. Farris, who is the President and CEO of Alliance Defending Freedom. That in and of itself might not mean anything to you unless you are armpit deep in politics, like I am. But I am sure every queer person listening to this is at least tangentially aware of the infamous gay wedding cake court case. I believe that was in Colorado, if I recall; it was a few years back. A baker refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple. Michael P. Farris was the lawyer defending the baker. So when they say things like “This does much to endanger people of faith,” what they’re saying is, “We don’t want to be sued for discriminating against you.” That is what they are saying. That is the heart of this. And when they say “to be used to vilify Americans unwilling to assent,” that is what they are saying. This is literally the background of the first signature on this list.
Courtney: But they say, “Moreover, the proposed Act goes far beyond merely codifying same-sex marriage in federal law. It is a startling expansion of what marriage means – and who may be sued if they disagree –” See? There it is. I told you. [laughs] They just don’t want to be sued for discrimination. They proceed: “that threatens the freedom of numerous ‘decent and honorable’ Americans of different faiths, creeds, and walks of life who wish to live consistent with their deeply-held beliefs. For example…” We’ll get to these examples. But need I just briefly remind you that the statement I read earlier, the Statement of Administration Policy for the Respect for Marriage Act, says, “No person should face [emphasizing] discrimination because of who they are or whom they love.” So what they’re saying on paper – and this is not the subtext, we’ll get into the subtext later, but on paper, they are trying to make this a very legal, very “we don’t want to be sued for discriminating against you” issue. They’re not outright saying, “We don’t think gay people should be able to marry,” although they called these “extreme” views of marriage. They also said it’s “expanding what marriage means.” So clearly, they disagree that a gay marriage is, in fact, a marriage. But they’re trying to say, “No, no, no. It’s not a matter of them not being able to be married. We just don’t want to have to bake cakes for our businesses.”
Courtney: And, like… you talked about a slippery slope. [laughs] Again, it feels so gross to say, but recently, after the overturning of Roe v. Wade, we saw a sharp uptick in instances of, like, a pharmacist at a CVS or a Walgreens refusing to sell condoms to a married woman. Things like that have happened all over the place, and they’re saying, like, “Well, it’s against my religious beliefs. Condoms do not fit in with my religious beliefs.”
Royce: Did I ever tell you once that happened when I was working as a cashier?
Courtney: No! What?!
Royce: Super religious co-worker refused to sell condoms to a teenager, and I just waved them over.
Courtney: Did you really?
Royce: Right in front of her. Yeah.
Courtney: How have we been married eight years and you never told me that that happened. Was that when –
Royce: I was 17 when that happened, too.
Royce: I was also underage.
Courtney: Was the coworker also underage, or was this someone older than you that you were just like…
Royce: No, she was old. She was, I don’t know, 20s, 30s. She was older. I didn’t want to get into it with her because I remember her repeating some just blatantly incorrect things about, like, Darwin or evolution that I just –
Courtney: [laughs] Oh. Wow.
Royce: I didn’t have the “100% I’m sure this is how to refute this,” but I looked it up later. Plus I don’t think I wanted to get into it at work. But…
Courtney: Yeah. I mean, I understand that, especially as a 17-year-old. [laughs] Wow. So like, yes. Things like this have been happening for decades. However, we definitely saw a sharp uptick. People were more emboldened to do this after Roe v. Wade came toppling down. And, like, I can already hear the thoughts of people – who are probably not in our target audience, so they’re probably not actively listening to this, but if they were, [laughs] I can hear people say, “Well, there’s a difference between someone who works for a company, at a Walgreens, because if that’s part of your job description, you should do your job, but that’s different if you’re just a small business owner. If you’re a small business owner, you should be able to run your business the same way.”
Courtney: Listen, I’m a small business owner. I am a small business owner. I have made custom hairwork for Trump supporters, and it has kind of killed me inside, but at the end of the day, I’ve said, you know, the fact that they lost a loved one and I’m making a memento to help them remember their deceased loved one really doesn’t have anything to do with our political views. I’m not going to pick a political fight with someone who is mourning. And I don’t see that as being apolitical in my business, either, because I have actively used my business to advocate for things like the CROWN Act and to raise money for Black Visions Collective.
Courtney: And I am by no means apolitical in my business, but this is way, way more than just refusing business to someone you disagree with. And that’s something that they don’t believe. They do not believe the statement that I just said. [laughs] Because when you listen to their arguments, they will make it purely about artistry, and “This is an artist, and art is a protected level of free speech.” And they will argue that, “Well, an artist shouldn’t be forced to create art that they disagree with.” And this – I’m talking specifically about the wedding cake – “You know, the baker is an artist. They’re decorating the cake. This is art, and art is free speech. You can’t make someone say something they disagree with.” Which is a way to get moderates on your side, because you could also, with just that argument alone, without taking it deeper, also say, like, “Well, should a tattoo artist be required to tattoo a swastika on someone because they agreed with it?” Most people are going to say, “Absolutely not! You shouldn’t be required to do that.” The issue is that Nazis are not a protected class of people.
Royce: Yeah. This is a very intentional wording by people who have been trying to overturn various aspects of law for decades. They’ve tried and failed at so many avenues that they’ve found the ones that work.
Courtney: Yes, they’ve found the ones that work. And that is exactly why: because they found the manipulative wording that does appeal to some moderates, and that’s how you sway people. And that is their tactic, because of course, even on the surface, I would be sitting here being like, “Well, of course a tattoo artist should be able to decline not only something overtly hateful but just something they don’t want to do, because free choice!” [laughs] Like, that is not inherently a flawed manner of thinking. But the reason why we need to take it further is because we have anti-discrimination laws on the books for a reason. Otherwise, I mean, think back to Jim Crow laws. There were businesses who were saying, “Because I am a business, I shouldn’t have to serve anybody I don’t want to, including Black people.” And that’s been used for just about any minority you can think of at one point or another, somewhere in this world.
Courtney: And there has to be a line drawn where it’s, this is a systemic issue if we allow large swaths of people to be boxed out of things. And the issue with that line… If I were debating this with someone who believed the things in this letter right now, that would be a – to them, a flawed debate point. Because if I say, “Well, don’t you agree that there should be laws on the books defending Black people against overt discrimination like this?” They’d more than likely agree with me. They’d say, “Well, yeah.” But their argument is, “No one can choose that they were born Black, but they can choose to be homosexual.” Which we know is not true. We know that should not matter, but this is their worldview, and I need our listeners to know that this is their worldview. Because what we think is a good point, by bringing up other types of protected groups of people – it’s not equivalent to them, and you can’t make it be equivalent to them, because they just don’t see it that way. As much as that sucks for us, we have to find a different way to fight this.
Courtney: So to return to their examples, which – I got on a bit of a tangent there. So to summarize the “startling expansion of what marriage means,” they say that “would require federal recognition of any one state’s definition of marriage without any parameters whatsoever,” which, might I just add, is really rich for the party that usually is the first to cry “States’ rights.”
Royce: Oh, the states’ rights discussion has absolutely no merit. If you can’t do something at the states, people try to do it at the federal level. If you can’t do it at the federal level, they try to do it at the state level.
Royce: It’s just a matter of finding an opening.
Courtney: Yes. And that’s their issue, is “Find the opening, and find the scapegoat.” Because they’re saying, like, “Well, if one state says gay marriage is legal, then all of a sudden all the other states have to acknowledge that. Absolutely not!” But I digress. They say: “This would include plural marriages, time-bound marriages, open marriages, marriages involving a minor or a relative, platonic marriages, or any other new marriage definition that a state chooses to adopt, including those undemocratic imposition by a state Supreme Court. Such recognition impacts a myriad of federal laws and policies regarding marriage, its benefits, and rights of parents and children.” So let’s unpack that.
Royce: Before we do that, can I just take a moment to express how much I hate when a disingenuous argument just throws pedophilia into the middle of it?
Royce: Like, everyone agrees pedophilia is bad.
Courtney: Well, also, it is absolutely absurd to me that they even put that in there, because there are currently 44 US states where it is legal for a minor to get married with their parent’s consent. Like, that’s already an issue that I vehemently disagree with.
Royce: I was actually just about to ask: of these 83 signatures, did any of them include religious organizations that have had a history of, like, arranged marriages to minors?
Courtney: I haven’t gone deep enough to determine that yet, but there are a number of religious colleges and universities that almost seem more concerned about, like, marrying their students off with their parent’s consent in very strictly religious parameters than they do actually educating them and getting a degree. So, like, marriage is definitely a fixation for a lot of these. I didn’t go deep enough to actually see if there’s a hidden underbelly of arranged child marriage, but we know that that is an issue in the United States. 44 states allow it! Why, that’s most of them! [laughs] That is most of them. And people don’t know that. So if someone reads –
Royce: I was going to say, not refreshing myself on Kansas laws, I want to say that 16 is the age here.
Courtney: That could be. There are some states that say, like, “16 with parental consent,” and that’s still a minor and I still think that’s an issue, but there are several states where there is no age requirement whatsoever. There are some states where a parent can marry their eight-year-old to a 50-year-old, and that is totally legal. And that is fucked up. I hate that I have to say this. And we know that this is fucked up, and that’s why they’re using it here in this paragraph. They’re like, “Ah, well, marriages involving a minor? [theatrical gasp] Scandalous!” That’s already so very legal. It’s horrible. It is way too legal right now already and has no merit in this conversation because of that fact. So yes, minor or relative – the relative’s also an odd one, because even when gay marriage is legal in all the states, currently, I would say most if not all of the states – I don’t have the actual numbers on hand because I didn’t think to research this, but I know I have read many states who have laws against marrying someone in your family, some states even require a blood test to prove that you aren’t too closely related. I know that that’s a thing in at least some states. So, there are already laws on the books that prohibit that.
Royce: But yeah, that’s not the point. Like, the reason this is being written – the reason that these arguments of pedophilia and incest get thrown in is because they’re very knee-jerk reactions.
Royce: You say those two words to any – to the vast majority of people and you get an instant hot-blooded reaction to it.
Royce: They forget the casual bigotry that’s in the rest of that paragraph.
Courtney: Yes! [laughs] Absolutely. It’s really – it’s throwing bigotry spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks [laughs]. Because, to go in order: “plural marriages” – we’re gonna, for the sake of our conversation, say, you know, polyamorous marriages, more than two people marrying. We do think that should be legal, and I don’t think our belief that that should be legal actually negates any anything.
Royce: I think that was the main oversight of the Supreme Court ruling that made gay marriage legal was it did explicitly say “a couple.”
Courtney: And honestly, the H.R. 8404 that they’re condemning in this letter also uses the word “couple.” It literally says, “No person should face discrimination…” and “every married couple in the United States.” So that’s also just like… right now, that’s not even on the table. That is not even on the table. I think it should be on the table, but it’s not. But they know that their base, the people they’re appealing to – that scares them. So they’re going to throw it in anyway, even though it’s not on the table.
Courtney: “Time-bound marriages” is an interesting one because I’d venture to guess that most Americans don’t know that that exists.
Royce: I didn’t.
Courtney: And I’ll be real, I’m not the most educated person on time-bound marriages. But for as uncommon as they are in the United States, just globally and throughout the span of history, there is a precedence for it. It’s not a new, radical, frightening thing. There are situations where you can decide to get married for 10 years, and at the end of those 10 years, part ways if it’s not working or renew your marriage if you’d like to continue. I don’t actually know how many states have something legally in place for that in the US. But regardless of current legality, I’d also say – just like “plural marriage” or polyamorous marriage, I’d also say, what is the harm? [laughs] Like, you are not hurting anybody by agreeing to a temporary marriage that could either end or be renewed after a certain selected period of time. I don’t see any issue with it. No problem.
Royce: I don’t want to take up too much time in this episode as we’re discussing this, but I think the answer is that the definition and the tax benefits of marriage need to be completely eliminated from our government. Because the existence of tax benefits for marriage is a financial incentive to participate in what is being pushed as the Christian orthodox version of marriage, and that is all sorts of…
Courtney: It’s by design.
Royce: It’s all sorts of First Amendment violations, like separation of Church and State.
Courtney: Yeah. They really like to forget that one, don’t they?
Royce: The thing is, I mean, one notable Republican Congresswoman stated that verbatim recently.
Courtney: [laughs] Yup.
Royce: But the thing is, there shouldn’t be laws surrounding relationships.
Royce: They should not exist.
Royce: That should be completely decoupled from government. And for everyone concerned about taxes, certain relationship structures should not be incentivized by taxes. It should be solely a matter of income and dependents.
Courtney: Yes. The issue is that there can’t be no laws about relationships period –
Royce: Well –
Courtney: – because of…
Royce: – again, everyone agrees pedophilia is wrong.
Courtney: Everyone agrees pedophilia is wrong [laughs]. But also, the complicating factor is assets. And yes, you can choose to share assets without legal protection if you trust someone enough to do it. However, in issues of, like, “Someone dies, where does their assets go?” If they did not intentionally write a will saying “this is where all my assets are to go,” the legal precedent is that it goes to your first immediate family member, and that is a huge, huge reason why so many queer people, especially, really benefit from the legal connotations of marriage. Because say a gay man has been disowned by his entire family, but he has been married to a man, or at least partnered to a man, for decades, and he dies, we don’t want his assets going to his blood family who disowned him and hates him. And he doesn’t want that either. He probably wants that going to his husband. So –
Royce: I –
Courtney: There does need to be some level of legal precedence, but I agree that tax benefits are an issue.
Royce: I get what you’re saying for the current system.
Courtney: Yes. [laughs]
Royce: But I think that the correct answer is that all of us, as a society, as a culture, need to start doing those legal precautions in absence of family, in absence of marriage.
Royce: If you have a falling out with your family, you’re going to die one day.
Royce: And it might be unexpected. Do that paperwork now.
Courtney: Oh, absolutely. And that’s something that I’ve advocated for personally and with my business for years is, like, fill out an advance directive for your medical needs. If you were to, for example, fall into a coma tomorrow, who do you trust to make your medical decisions? That is vital to have on the paperwork, and that is free to do. And you can Google an advance directive for your state and fill it out today. It is not too hard to do. Wills can be a little more difficult, depending on what you actually have for assets. But… I mean, having that paperwork is very, very important. But we absolutely, as a society, need to reevaluate what our tax system is and why we are or are not incentivizing certain lifestyles. And as much as we are saying this, these people writing this letter, they want tax benefits for straight couples with kids. That is by design.
Royce: These people writing this letter see America as a fundamentally Christian nation –
Royce: – and do not actually believe in freedom of religion.
Courtney: Correct. [laughs] Correct. So… Well, the only caveat I have to that is that there was one Jewish organization who signed this letter, in the 83. So, “religious right” is 100% correct. “Christian” is 98% correct. [laughs]
Royce: I mean, if we’re gonna be real here, there is an overlap between Judaism and Christianity. The Abrahamic religions have common text, in origin.
Courtney: They do, and some of the organizations on here will call themselves “Judeo-Christian.” They follow Judeo-Christian ideology. So they’ll say, “We are Christians,” but they’re pulling almost exclusively from the “Old Testament,” and they’ll be quoting sort of similar overlapping things to what the Jewish organization is quoting – the Talmud, for example.
Courtney: But pressing on: “open marriages.” I mean, see my same issue with polyamorous marriage. Like, open marriage should be fine. If there’s a married couple and they are romantically and/or sexually attracted to each other and they decide, you know, “We’re just going to occasionally sleep with other people,” whether that’s a swinging situation with both of them involved, or if it’s like, “You sleep with other people and I sleep with other people, but we both come back home to each other at the end of the day,” I don’t care! As an Asexual, I don’t get it, I don’t understand, but I don’t care. [laughs]
Royce: And the big issue for our audience is that through these first two points – I mean, we have an Asexual marriage, a marriage between two Asexuals.
Royce: Which seems to be exceedingly uncommon.
Courtney: Yes. [laughs]
Royce: The general consensus is that if you are an Asexual and you’re going to date an allo, you either need to figure out some means of working that relationship or have an open or polyamorous relationship if you are able to, and both of those are already under fire in this letter.
Courtney: Yes. Which works for some people, and I love that for them. If that is what works for you. We have said in the past that we do think that some people are a little overly confident in their advice-giving to Asexual people who desire a romantic relationship who just assume that, you know, statistically, there are more allosexual people in this world, so statistically speaking, if I’m to partner with someone romantically, they’re going to have sexual inclinations that I don’t. The number one piece of advice is, like, open relationship or polyamory. Let them have sex with other people and you’re golden. And we’ve said time and time again that that will not work for everyone. And I want everyone to know that it’s an option. I want everyone to consider whether or not it could work for them. But I don’t love the, “This will solve all your problems” confidence with which people will give out that advice sometimes.
Courtney: So regardless, there are many Aces – some we know. We know of some Aces who have open marriages or polyamorous relationships because they are Asexual but, their partner is not, or just because they themselves want a romantic relationship with multiple people. Like, whatever the reason is, it doesn’t matter what the reason is, it matters that that’s an option that works for them. And we don’t care. There shouldn’t be any laws hindering them from that. That’s the crux of it.
Courtney: We already touched on the “minor or relative,” like, mmm, bad faith argument, throw it out. But then we come to “platonic marriages.” Now let me just say, let me just say, every single time I have this conversation, either in person or online, on Twitter, face-to-face with another person, and I say, “The religious right hates Asexuals,” whether or not the person I’m talking to is Asexual, there’s like a 90% chance that I’m just going to get, like, a Surprised Pikachu face in response. [laughs] Even other Asexuals are like, “What? They really hate us that much?” Yes.
Royce: I am not sure how to translate platonic marriage into a legal definition. What does that mean, as defined by this letter?
Courtney: That’s a great question, actually. Because I watch and listen to what people like this actually say, and I have for years. And based on what they actually say – and we’ll pull up some receipts later. We’re gonna dig into actually some of these organizations and what they are literally saying on paper on their websites. Their version of “platonic” almost certainly means “celibate.” So like, no sex. And I know that very often in the Asexual Aromantic general Aspec community, most people will use “platonic” to mean both Asexual and -romantic, because normally if it’s, like, lacking sex but still has romance, we’ll usually use the word “romantic” instead of platonic, and then “sexual” to take it in the other direction.
Royce: But the idea of a romantic relationship that is not actually sexual does not exist to the people writing the letter.
Courtney: 100%. And I have so many websites and quotes to back that up. We will get there. Yes. So… yeah. I mean, “platonic” is definitely one of those words that have lightly different connotations depending on what community you’re in, and that’s just really another reason why we need to actually pay attention to what our political opposition is saying. Because if we apply our definitions of certain words to what they’re saying, then we’re just going to be talking back and forth and debating the wrong points that are irrelevant to one another until we die. [laughs]
Courtney: But, I guess I just really want to reiterate how important it is to actually know what they’re saying. I know there are some of you out there – and it’s because every time I say something like this in such explicit terms and I point to an organization or a law or a letter or a non-profit and I say, “They are saying this! They are saying this, and this impacts Asexual and/or Aromantic people,” depending on which issue we’re talking about, people will be like, “Oh, well, you’re just fearmongering. No one’s actually coming for Asexual rights in any meaningful way.” [laughs] The number of times people have told me that I’m fearmongering within the last, like, three, four years has been ridiculous, I’m not fearmongering. I’m just actually listening to the other side. I’m not dismissing them as ridiculous bigots who don’t have any logic and saying, like, “Well, ignore them.” I’m listening to what they’re saying.
Royce: I mean that is also true. They’re just ridiculous bigots with a lot of money and influence in our current political system.
Courtney: Yes! Well, we even had someone in our life recently, where – and I mean, she’s very sweet, bless her heart. [laughs] We, for the most part, very much like her and align with her politically in a lot of ways. She knows that we are Asexual. She doesn’t totally know what that means. She definitely gave us the whole, like, “Well I don’t understand it, but I still respect it,” [laughs] kind of a like, “Yeah, alright, you’re halfway there.” But she also has, like, queer children and siblings who are gay and bi. And so it’s like, she has many queer people from different branches of the queer spectrum in her life. She definitely gave us the – while we were ranting about, like, “There are these people trying to take our rights away! There are people calling us groomers!” and she’s like, [sweetly dismissive] “Just ignore them. Just just ignore them. Like, there’s no room for that negativity in your life. Shrug it off,” and “All we can do is vote,” and it’s like, [sighs] You’re so close. You’re so close. [laughs] I understand the impulse to shrug off negativity, because, like keep yourself happy, keep yourself uplifted, stay mentally healthy, that’s important. But there are people actively trying to take our rights away [laughs]. And just ignoring them is how they win! That’s why they’re winning.
Courtney: So yes, their version of “platonic” is very much “not sexual.” And we’ll get into this. We’ve been talking for a while. I’ll so this is probably going to be a three-part series. This part, we’re talking about the letter itself, which is very new, very present, very relevant to right now. This is what they are saying right now! Then we’ll get into, in the next episode, these organizations and what they’re actually saying outside of this letter, what they’re saying on their own websites, what they are lobbying for in legislation. And then I want the third episode of this to be the fact that this is not new. I know this is going to be a surprise to a lot of our listeners out there. But these same talking points have been in circulation for years, specifically against Asexual people. And every time I mention, you know, “They are coming for Asexual people,” it’s either Surprised Pikachu face or it’s, “This is just what they said about gay people! They just have a new target now,” which is in some ways correct, but is also in some ways diminishing of the actual fact that these people literally do hate Asexuals. [laughs] It’s almost like they’re like, “Well, they lost the war against gay people. So now they’re trying to find a different marginalized group to attack.” It’s like, no, these are happening simultaneously.
Royce: It’s more that they identify all queer people as the same…
Courtney: Sin. [laughs]
Royce: I was gonna say – I almost said “people,” but I don’t think they actually value us as people.
Courtney: Oooooh. Yeah. It’s the sin, right? Like, the same reason why this branch of religion hates homosexual people is the same reason why they hate Asexual people. And we’re going to get into this a ton in the next episode, so please stay tuned. But the cliff notes are they think that God created sexuality as a gift to give to humans to share amongst one man and one woman. That is God’s gift to us, is this sexuality between one man and one woman.
Royce: Because animals don’t exist.
Courtney: Exactly. [laughs] Animals don’t have a sexuality; it’s only humans! But yes. So the same reason why they say, like, “Well, a man and a man is against God,” they also say, like, “A man and a woman who don’t utilize their sexuality within the sanctity of marriage, also, equally wrong.” [laughs] Like, “You’re not relishing the gift from God.”
Royce: Within very particular parameters.
Courtney: Very particular parameters. And I’m not putting words in their mouth, I promise you. I promise you I’m not putting words in their mouth. Next episode, next episode, please tune in. We’re directly quoting these 83 groups who signed this letter on their own websites and their own blogs and their own articles.
Courtney: So for as much as we… To recap, for as much as we agree that polyamorous marriage, cool; open marriage, cool; time-bound marriage, absolutely, give people the option, why the hell not? For as much as we’re like, “Yeah, that’s no issue,” they’re also throwing in “marriages involving a minor and a relative” in exactly the same list as all of those, and “platonic marriage.” None of this is equivalent. What this really shows is that they see anything outside of their very narrow worldview is seen as deviant.
Royce: It’s seen as the same as the worst of that paragraph, which was pedophilia.
Royce: Which was the common refrain –
Royce: – during the gay marriage debate.
Courtney: Yes! Yes, absolutely. And that’s why, at the very top of this episode, I was like, “I hate to say the word ‘slippery slope,’” because that’s what they said in the push for gay marriage equality. You know, “A man and a man should be able to marry. A woman and a woman should be able to marry.” Asexuality wasn’t a major talking point during those issues, so it’s still kind of on the fringes of both sides of this conversation. But when we’re like, “Yes, of course two men should be able to marry; of course two women should be able to marry,” the argument on the other side of things was, “Well, this is such a slippery slope. If we expand the definition of marriage –” which they believe to be one man, one woman – [mock scandalized] “If we expand that definition of marriage to include two men, then what’s next? A man marrying his dog? A woman marrying her brother?” [laughs]
Royce: In actuality, the nonbinaries come in like a wrecking ball.
Courtney: [laughs] And they just try to smash it all to bits! I mean, this is a conversation for a totally different podcast, because this could probably be its own three-parter, is the fact that our current framing of sexuality is so inherent to gender that there are so many nonbinary people that don’t even relate to words like “gay” or “lesbian” or “homosexual,” because the very labeling of the sexuality itself also inherently infers the gender of the person who has that sexuality. And like, that’s so limiting, and it’s so wrong. And we have so expanded our knowledge of what the range of human sexuality is that our language is way behind. It’s way behind. But that’s a different three-part series. [laughs]
Courtney: But today, we’re talking about the religious right, who are actively lobbying Congress to stifle the rights of queer people, including explicitly Asexual people, despite the surprise of queer people and straight allies alike. And I will just… let’s put a pin in this because we’ll be exploring this deeply in the next episode, but the end of that paragraph was, “it infringes on the rights of parents [emphasizes] and children.” So just remember that while we see a gay couple raising a child as a human rights win and “thank goodness that that child has a loving home,” they’re seeing that as “that is infringing on that child’s right to have straight parents.” I am not even kidding. [laughing] I’m not even putting words in their mouth. That’s what they say. That is what they say.
Courtney: So that was just the first bullet point of their issues with H.R. 8404 was, to summarize, plural marriages, time-bound marriages, open marriages, marriages involving a minor or relative, platonic marriages, or any other new marriage definition that a state chooses to adopt. Pressing on. Their second bullet point is, this bill “effectively deputizes activist groups to sue religious individuals, organizations, and businesses that operate according to their sincerely held religious belief that marriage is between one man and one woman.” So again, they don’t want to be sued for not making a cake for a gay couple. [laughs] That’s the most literal obvious parallel we have, because it is literally the same guy helping draft this letter. But the fact that they’re saying this “deputizes activists” is, again, so impossibly hypocritical in comprehension, considering the fact that recent Texas abortion laws have set up, like, hotlines to rat out anybody who is not only having an abortion but providing one or helping someone to seek one. Like, that is way further in the direction of “deputizing people” than anything I’ve read of anyone on our side doing.
Royce: Again, they don’t care about hypocrisy. They don’t care about consistency. They have a goal, and the ends justify the means.
Courtney: And the issue is that they’re all capitalists. A lot –
Royce: Not really.
Courtney: No, no, no, no, no, no, no, listen, listen, listen. A lot of them are business owners, a lot of them are CEOs, who have no morals, but they know branding, they know brand awareness. They know how to market themselves, and they don’t give a fuck about ethics. [laughs]
Royce: Oh, I was gonna say, I was going to comment on the conservative refrain that “We love America and we love freedom when we love capitalism,” but if it’s drugs, businesses can’t sell a product to people that want to buy it.
Courtney: I mean…
Royce: Because you don’t actually have freedom. You don’t actually have the right to run your own business if it’s something you’re selling that I don’t want to authorize you selling.
Courtney: Well, the thing is, they don’t actually care about the scheduled substances. They care about the fact that they’re allowed to use the War on Drugs as a scapegoat for imprisoning Black and Brown people. Like, that’s the hidden racism of it. Like, the War on Drugs is not a war on drugs. It’s a war on “Who can we use this law against disproportionately?” So, they have their reasons, both spoken and unspoken.
Royce: I think the underlying point is that logic and reasoning have no place in this argument.
Royce: We will not win this argument by making a solid debate. That’s not what this is about.
Courtney: Which… Yes. And you are right. And that is what sometimes frustrates me to no end about the online Asexual community. Because our organizations are not all even nonprofits. Some of them have incorporated as a nonprofit; some of them have not. But our organizations that you’re aware of – your AVEN, your TAAAP, I actually quite like Asexual Outreach, but your Asexual Outreach – a lot of them don’t do a lot of actual activism. They serve their own purposes. Fine. They do their infographics on Twitter. They put out blog posts. They do general Ace 101 education. They host Asexual forums. Those have their time and place, and they have their value, certainly. But do we have a single Asexual organization who is lobbying Congress to say, “No, this is fucked up. People are trying to say platonic marriage is wrong and should be criminalized, and we are going to draft letters and we are going to call senators. And we are going to rally our community around the fact that they are trying to take our rights away and we will not stand for it”? No, we really don’t. We do not have that.
Courtney: But back to the letter. And here’s something we get a lot. We get this a lot in conversations on Twitter every time we bring this up. Because some people will be surprised but disappointed. They’ll be like, “Oh, I didn’t know, but this sucks. Like, I believe you. I’m on board. Now that you’ve laid it out for me, I get it.” And those people, I don’t fault at all, because a lot of them actually, in our online Asexual community, skew young, so a lot of these people are just starting to dip their toes into the nuances of this sort of political activism, and I do not fault any of those people whatsoever. However, there are some people who are very politically active, but very politically active in the, like, gay men’s rights, or explicitly gay men and lesbian women, and they haven’t really figured out the intersections of being transgender, being nonbinary, multispectrum people, for that matter, Asexual people, who will say, like, “Yeah, I get that. What you’re saying is frustrating, that individual people believe this, but I don’t see a systemic issue where Asexual and/or Aromantic people are being discriminated against. Like, what is the systemic issue?” Those people sometimes very much frustrate me because they don’t understand that this group of people sees all queer people under the same lens – the same lens of this is not the heteronormative, amatonormative biblical philosophy that I live by in the confines of my religion.
Courtney: Because the second bullet point here outright says, “Not only does it deputize activists to sue us,” but it also says, “Activists will argue this includes (1) faith-based foster care providers who are alleged to be performing a state function through child placement services; (2) religious social service organizations that are heavily funded by and work jointly with the government to serve their communities; and (3) religious organizations and businesses that provide services under contract with the government. Although the issues to be litigated would be many, there is no question the proposed Act subjects religious people, businesses, and organizations to countless new lawsuits merely for practicing their faith.”
Courtney: So what they consider “merely practicing their faith” is inherently intertwined with faith-based foster care providers – children who do not have homes with their families who need shelter and guidance and financial support and love and emotional wellbeing. They’re essentially saying, “Well, what if we’re a Christian organization and we’re not going to let this child, who is an orphan in the foster care system, go to a home with two gay parents,” because they genuinely think that two gay parents is worse than being in an oppressive religious foster system. And that is just demonstrably fucked up.
Courtney: I just, I mean, to bring it back to Roe versus Wade, there’s so many people who are like, “Adoption is a great option,” as if it is 100% positive and perfect 100% of the time. I don’t know a single friend who has been adopted or been in a foster care system who has not suffered tremendous trauma from it. There are absolutely foster parents and adoptive parents who are very good and are doing a net good for those kids. But not when they see it under this religious lens of, “We need to save these children,” especially when it comes to minority populations, where, “Oh, we need to save these children from Africa. I want to save and adopt this child from Haiti to lift them out of poverty,” or “I’m going to adopt a child from Asia.” There is so much white saviorism embedded into the Judeo-Christian white Western ideology of adoption that is like, “That child is better in our house than anywhere else.”
Courtney: Heck, even in this country, so many Native children historically have been ripped away from their families and placed in white Christian households, and that is what we call genocide. Too many people think genocide is just a mass slaughter of people, just outright murder, which it is. But genocide is also cultural obliteration through systemic procedures like this.
Royce: And that is something I wanted to bring out because I saw a thread fairly recently that spoke about this where they were specifically talking about why it seems that there are so many more young people that identify as queer than older people, percentage-wise. And part of that is because sometimes it takes a long time to figure that out. And if you’re not shown a particular word or a particular idea, it might take you a while to finally find it and resonate with it. I mean, we find people of all ages who say, “I just heard you or someone else say something, and this is the word or the concept that I’ve been looking for my entire life.”
Courtney: “That resonated with me.”
Royce: “That resonated. I’ve gone sixty years, and I knew that something was different than what I saw in other people, but it wasn’t until now that I saw that word.” But beyond that, the violence, the discrimination, the pressure that has driven so many people to suicide, the conversion therapies –
Royce: – there is an overwhelming pressure to eradicate queer people from our society.
Royce: And it is very much in line with genocide.
Courtney: Yes. It really is. It really is. And this is a group of people, mind you, who will take facts and twist them to suit their narratives. Because again, they’re capitalists. They care about the branding, the marketability, spreading their message more than ethics.
Royce: Beyond that, if you’re hearing something in a major news source, it is several times diluted from the original source.
Royce: There are extremists driving most opinions.
Royce: And the common dialogues that are happening are intentionally diluted to try to manipulate you.
Royce: The driving forces behind them are far more directed and extreme than we often give them credit for.
Courtney: Yes. Which, I mean, to go to your point about how there are older queer people who come into their queerness later in life because they just weren’t exposed to it, whether it be because they were in their own religious bubble or whether it because they weren’t seeing it represented in media and pop culture – I mean, I think especially in the Asexual Community, where we have been lagging far behind other queer representation, we’re often talking about how we need queer representation so that people know that this is a thing, it’s real, it’s valid, you can be this too, maybe this is the missing puzzle piece that you haven’t been able to place your whole life. Like, we are very very aware of this.
Courtney: What we see as a gap in education and a gap in representation they see as grooming. That’s why queer people are once again being called “groomers,” including specifically Asexuals. There are articles we’ve talked about in past episodes on this podcast where they are calling Asexual people “groomers” for talking about the fact that Asexuality exists. Because where we see… there are people who are just – a certain percentage of them are queer. That is just how it is. A certain percentage of them are queer. They are not straight. They are not cisgender. That’s just how it is. And those people who are that way should know that that’s okay, and there are others like them. Where we want to just validate what is already there, they think that, biblically speaking – because this all goes back to their religion. And that’s why you can’t argue with logic and facts, because they’re using a religious text. They’re saying, “People are inherently straight, and they are either male or female, and they are straight and they are sexual, but they should only have sex in marriage.” That is what they believe. That is what they think.
Courtney: So when we say, “Well, there are more people identifying as queer than ever,” we’re like, “They were always queer. They just know better now. They have better representation. They have better access to resources,” they’re seeing, “We are converting them. We are corrupting them.” That’s why you see people say things – which we laugh off often in our community, like, [mock exaggeration] “They’re transing our kids!” Like, we’ll see that and laugh at it, like, “Haha, you can’t just trans someone. You can’t wave your wand and be like poof, you’re a different gender now.” Like, we can yuk it up all we want, but that is not going to change these religious extremist views.
Courtney: So the third and final point of why they, in the strongest possible terms, oppose this Marriage Equality Act, they say, “The IRS could rely on this congressional declaration requiring full recognition of same-sex marriage to strip 501(c)(3) organizations” – or nonprofit organizations – “of their tax-exempt status if they continue to adhere to their belief that marriage is only between one man and one woman. H.R. 8404 creates the foundation for fulfilling this warning by implicitly giving the IRS congressional support to punish religious non-profits.” So they’re talking churches, but they’re also talking adoption agencies, which we already talked about. There are so many Christian-based adoption agencies in the United States. So, they’re also saying, “Not only do we not want to be sued for not making a cake for a gay wedding,” they’re saying, “We don’t want to lose our tax benefits if we don’t allow a child to be adopted to a queer couple.”
Royce: Which, just in case any of our listeners are not aware, queer people do, in fact, pay taxes.
Courtney: Yes, they do! And, yeah, I’d say, if there was an organization that was discriminating against queer people, I don’t think they should have tax-exempt status as a nonprofit. I don’t care. I do not care what debate you have or argument you have. There’s no changing my position on that. You don’t get to discriminate against queer people because you say it’s against your religion.
Courtney: And the the most nefarious part of this is that a lot of these organizations that have ties with very Christian-based adoption and foster agencies also have very strong ties with anti-abortion agencies who, I mean, pre fall of Roe versus Wade – I’m still trying to get used to that shit – before that, would have these very predatory clinics that I’m sure you’ve heard at least a little bit about, where they will appear to be something akin to a Planned Parenthood, something that will say at first, like, false advertising, get the foot in the door, like, “We’ll help you make the right choice for you,” implying that abortion was ever an option. But then you’ll get in and it will be very predatory, and they will use everything in their religious playbook to convince you that abortion is a sin and that adoption is the only real option. And some of the issue with those that people don’t always discuss as much is that they don’t want a single mother to raise a child on her own. They want a two-parent – one man, one woman – household. If there’s a woman who comes in pregnant and she is single, they don’t want her to abort, but they don’t want her to raise that child on her own. Everyone always says, “Well, oh, you say you’re so pro-life until the child is born. And then you aren’t actually giving government aid to people who are impoverished and people who need child care.” Yeah, because that was never a part of their issue. They don’t want a single parent raising a child. These organizations outright say that one man and one woman is the only way to raise a child, period. Not just in marriage, not just one man and one woman should marry. One man and one woman should raise a child, and that should be the only way to raise a child.
Courtney: So, they end this whole letter by saying, “In sum, the proposed Act is far more extreme than codifying Obergefell, just as the so-called ‘Women’s Health Protection Act’ goes well beyond codifying Roe, and it is dishonest for its sponsors to claim otherwise. Through its sweeping language and creation of new and broad enforcement mechanisms, the bill multiplies the threats against tens of millions of Americans who in ‘good faith’ proclaim a marriage view with which the Act’s sponsors disagree, while laying the foundation for increased federal action and litigation against them. We call on you” – again, “you” being Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell – “to reject H.R. 8404 and to urge your colleagues to thoroughly abandon this harmful and unnecessary legislation. It has little to do with protecting rights; its text betrays an intent to stigmatize and take rights away – especially those belonging to people of faith. Sincerely,” 83 signatures from CEOs and presidents and executive directors of various federal and state agencies – organizations, I suppose; agency kind of implies that it is related to the government, but they are very much not. They are lobbyists. They are religious extremists. They are churches. They are universities. They are private clubs for religious CEOs.
Courtney: But for as much as they say in this letter – and again, it’s a letter addressed and sent to Mitch McConnell, but when I was looking up, I looked up every single one of these 83 agencies, and that’s what our next episode is going to be about – loads of them have a blog post or an article or just a public declaration of this letter right on their website. So this is not only just for Mitch McConnell, this is for the public. They wanted this letter to be public. So what they are presenting to the public on paper is, “Oh we’re not saying that gay people can’t marry. What we’re saying is that we’re gonna get sued if we don’t agree with that lifestyle. And that this is going to open the door for platonic marriages and open marriages and pedophilic marriages.” So, totally unwarranted slippery slope argument with that. But also, like, “We don’t want to get sued for discriminating against you.” That’s what they say. That’s what they say.
Courtney: So if you take them verbatim based on this letter alone, one could theoretically make the argument that they are not opposing queer marriage or gay marriage specifically – because they already said “no platonic marriage,” and their version of platonic, like – [laughing] they are already very explicitly anti-Asexual marriage; they’ve made that clear. But they’re like, “Oh, no, no, no, gay marriage is fine as long as we can discriminate against them, but this law says we can’t discriminate against them. Our only concern is that we want to discriminate against them and not get sued.” That’s what they’re saying on paper. And in our very, very, very very, very capitalist society, there are moderate people who will say, like, “Well, yeah, discrimination is bad, but also capitalism is a thing. Capitalism, like, that’s fine. Like, people are making a bad call. Like, capitalism will just sort it out. Like, if someone overtly sucks, people just won’t patronize that business. Right?” Worked so well for Amazon. [laughs]
Courtney: So I just want you to remember that this letter is saying, “We’re not saying gay marriage is bad. We’re just saying open marriage, platonic marriage, Asexual marriage – we’re saying those are bad. But if someone’s gay, like, we don’t want to have to service them in our own businesses. Like, we should be able to turn them away, because the free market.” Which, hmm. I find it very hard to even figure out how to fight against any legislation that is so deeply rooted in capitalism because of the fact that legal precedence is so garbled and messed up in our current system. Like, how many right-to-work states do we have?
Royce: Not only that, like, how easy is it to name a law something that seems favorable to you, but then to write in legalese that most of the population can’t understand undermine them. Like, “right-to-work” is really “right to fire you for any reason.”
Courtney: Exactly! Exactly. There are so many right-to-work states that, like, if you say. “What does the right-to-work mean?” to someone who hasn’t read the law and doesn’t understand legalese, like, well, that says that I have a right to work. Like, no, it says your employer can fire you for any goddamn reason they well please. [laughs] And the issue with that is that if you live in a right-to-work state and you’re Asexual, for example – and I mean, interchange that with any minority or marginalized identity, any of them – and say you’re Asexual in a right-to-work state, but your manager in charge of hiring and firing hates Asexual people. They decide, “I don’t want to be working with this person,” and they fire you. There’s no legal recourse. You could be the best person in the entire company at your job, but if you live in a right-to-work state, it doesn’t matter, because they can fire you for any reason they want. And that’s why they put things in right-to-work legislation, because they want a way to skirt around and circumvent anti-discrimination laws.
Courtney: And sure, maybe there are some of you out there that are like, well, it’s a little extreme for someone to be like, “I hate an Asexual so I’m going to fire them.” Well, let me tell you this. First of all, bigotry doesn’t make sense. But second of all, a few years ago, I was just on Facebook, and someone on my friends list on Facebook who had many mutual friends, their bio on Facebook literally only said – this was their entire bio – “I have a deep-seated hatred for asexuals.” And they were a manager at a company. So I look at that and it’s like, if your bio on a social media site is like “My entire identity that I am presenting out to the world is that I hate this specific group of people,” and you’re in charge in any way of the employment of anybody, there’s there’s room for discrimination there.
Royce: And the comment to HR won’t be “I’m firing this person because they’re Black” or “I’m firing this person because they’re gay.” They’ll make up some excuse that is not provable in court.
Royce: And it’ll go through.
Courtney: Yup. Exactly. Exactly. So one could also argue that while they’re saying on paper in this one letter that they just don’t want to get sued for practicing their faith, these anti-discrimination laws are going too far – they already have way more legal protections surrounding their relationship to capitalism than any queer person actually has with their human rights in this country. Because they have laws that are codified in many states, if not at the federal level, depending on which issue we’re talking about here, versus queer people, who just, like, same-sex marriage, which is also a very limited parameter for queer rights to begin with, is just hinging based on the precedence of a single Supreme Court case, which we know very, very well can be overturned, because of recent events.
Courtney: So it is just baffling to me that they say, like, “Well, we already have Obergefell versus Hodges, so what more do you need?” [laughs] Hmm. I don’t know. Why don’t you ask Roe versus Wade? But these are the same people who wanted Roe versus Wade to tumble down, so we can’t just take their word for it. Because while we’ve been saying for decades, “Roe versus Wade is law. It is the law of the land, because the Supreme Court deemed it so,” for decades, these exact same people have been saying, “That can’t fly. We’re gonna fight and overturn this.”
Royce: And that is very intentional. Because they are saying, “You’ve already gained this ground. Please, please, please don’t make a Constitutional Amendment.”
Royce: “Please don’t actually codify this. Because we can defeat a Supreme Court ruling with enough time.”
Royce: “The chances of repealing actual legislation get less and less and less. So please don’t actually focus on your human rights and actually codify them.”
Courtney: Yes! And the fact that the Supreme Court is a lifelong position, and right now they have stolen seats from their political opposition, and they are heavily stacked in their favor, which It is why they were able to overturn Roe versus Wade. The next Supreme Court session – there is more on the table. Like, hell, why stop there? Let’s just keep unraveling this shit. Let’s just keep overturning laws that we don’t agree with because we have the courts in our favor, so they will do what we want. And yet they have the audacity to say, “Well, a state Supreme Court in any given state of the 50 states that we have, if they say gay marriage is law, that’s not democratic! That wasn’t a democratically-elected Supreme Court in that one state, any given State!” How fucking dare they! [laughs] [slightly yells] How dare they?
Courtney: So yes, obviously we are very riled up. This letter may seem to just be a letter, but they are saying the quiet parts out loud now. I know how many of you are surprised to hear that they are explicitly saying “platonic marriage” in a letter alongside “pedophilia.” I know some of you are surprised. But this is not new. These organizations have not changed to course correct. They haven’t just latched onto something recently. They’ve been thinking this way consistently for years. And that’s why we damn well better start paying attention to them now, because we need to figure out how to combat this. Because if we keep dismissing this as “radical views that aren’t going to hold up in a court of law because of preceding Supreme Court cases,” we are going to keep losing.
Royce: I mean, they already have held up in the highest court of law.
Courtney: Literally. Literally! So that’s why this is important. This is why we’re making a three-part series of this. Because this first episode is the letter. “Platonic marriage” is explicitly laid out; there is no debating that. But next episode we’ll talk about what “platonic marriage” means to them. We’re going to these individual organizations, what they are saying on their own websites to their own supporters. And then, for our third and final part of this really fun series, we’ve got some articles we’ll dredge up from years past – some just a year or two ago, some several years ago – that have been saying the same thing specifically about Asexuality and Asexual marriage or queerplatonic marriages.
Courtney: And it’s just our hope that by the end of this three-part series, you understand a little better about what the opposition actually thinks and what they are literally saying. Because something has to change. Something has to give. We need to do this, not only for our own rights, but for all of the queer people in our community, for gay marriage, for trans people, for Asexual marriage, for queerplatonic partnerships, we really need to come together and understand who our real enemies are. I am sick to death of seeing the religious right lobby Congress in this way and succeed while us queer people are arguing on Twitter about whether or not M-spec lesbians exist. [laughs] Like, sure, we have things to sort out in our own communities and we can have those discussions, but the bulk of our ire and our political motivation needs to actually go toward legislation and things that are productive. And no, that doesn’t just mean voting. I’m not going to just be like, [singsong] “Vote blue no matter who,” [laughing] because I know how frustrating that is. Trust me, I know how frustrating that is. But there is more to politics than just showing up at the ballot box on the day of.
Royce: There is. I do need to pause for a moment and be like: but actually vote in local elections.
Royce: Local elections are so much more important that everyone gives them credit for.
Courtney: Also that.
Royce: Vote in everything you can possibly vote for.
Royce: But then also there is more to be done.
Royce: We are a minority. Just voting, we will be outnumbered.
Courtney: Yes, yes, yes. I mean, in Kansas right now – as of the time we’re recording this, I will say, the count is not in yet. As of the time this is released, the August 2nd election will have passed, and in our state of Kansas, we literally have a Constitutional amendment to our state Constitution as to whether or not we will protect abortion rights. And I am, like, breaking out in a cold sweat every fucking day, because for as much as all of the polls are coming back that, “Oh, a strong majority of Kansans agree that abortion rights should be legal,” the yard signs we’re seeing in our neighborhood and in our city beg to differ. There are so many, like, “Value both the mother and the child” signs.
Royce: The problem is is it’s like 70-80% of Kansans believe that you should have the right to an abortion, but only like 25% of Kansans vote in local elections.
Courtney: And the ones who vote in local elections skew conservative, because they have organizations like the ones that signed this letter telling people what to believe in these terms. I kid you not, one of the signatories of this letter is the executive director of Kansas Family Voice. Kansas Family Voice is telling people how to vote right now. We don’t have as many progressive organizations, and they are fighting dirty. They are fighting dirty. They are spreading so many lies. When I turn on the radio driving in my car down the street, they’re saying, “Oh, there are painful dismemberment abortions that are happening in Kansas that are people coming from all the surrounding states to get these third-trimester abortions that hurt the baby when the baby’s already viable,” and it’s like, none of that is happening. And they’re also like, “Your taxpayer dollars are paying for that.” Literally, in this state, it is illegal for taxpayer dollars to pay for any abortion services. That is already illegal. They are outright lying. So they’re lying while we’re trying to [mocking tone] stick to the facts and be ethical. And I don’t want to say, like, it’s time for us to fight dirty [laughs] but –
Royce: But it actually – it absolutely is.
Courtney: It’s kind of time for us to fight dirty. [laughs]
Royce: The internet has proven how much faster disinformation spreads than correct information, and like, how much time and effort it takes to actually fact-check something and prove it, compared to just making shit up.
Courtney: It’s really screwed up. And that’s why I also say, like, they have a ton of capitalists on their side who know business and branding and marketing, and they know what gets a message out, and they know how to close a deal. I say that as a business owner. I say that as a business owner who knows how to close a deal, and I hate myself for it. [laughs] I am only half joking. It is very weird to be a progressive small business owner. [laughs]
Royce: So what you’re saying is we’re up against the unholy unification of lawyers and used-car salesmen.
Courtney: Literally! Literally! The first signature on this is a lawyer. [laughs] I kid you not. I kid you not. So… and like, here we get so far progressive in our online discourse that we are just literally fighting with each other. There are people who will be like, “Transphobia is an issue,” and then people who are, politically speaking, ostensibly on each other’s side, will be like, “But actually, saying ‘transphobia’ is an ableist slur, because people actually have phobias, which are medical fears, and therefore, you should change the way you’re speaking. Like, let’s say transmisia instead.” And I swear, I am not hating on people who literally use -misia instead of -phobia. I am not trying to do that whatsoever. But there are people who will attack our own for being like, “Well, you’re ableist for using ‘transphobia’ or ‘homophobia,’ and therefore, you’re my enemy.” And then the people who are still saying “transphobia” and “homophobia” are like, “Well, no, you’re my enemy because you’re tone-policing me. Like, I’m frustrated. This is my lived experience. People have attacked me for this, and this is the language I use to talk about that issue.” And then we’re just fighting with each other, and we’re not actually fighting the opposing side, while the opposing side is like, you know, “Those platonic marriages, might as well be marrying minors. They’re groomers. Those asexuals, they’re pedophiles.” And they’re gaining ground in legislation! Do you see the issue? Do you see the issue?
Courtney: So I’m saying, we need an Asexual organization who is either going to take initiative and lead and educate people about actual legislation and try to push the needle in the correct direction as far as voting and lobbying is concerned, or at least an Asexual organization who at least has the strength and humility simultaneously to defer to other longer-standing queer organizations who have already been doing this work for much longer, and actually put their full support and weight behind them. Because otherwise we’re just out here in Ace 101-land being like, “Did you know that Asexuality means that someone experiences little to no sexual attraction and that’s really valid?”
Courtney: And honestly, honestly, anybody who needs to hear that, I don’t fault you for needing to hear that. You’re probably someone who is pretty young. I don’t say that derogatorily. But if you are a preteen, if you are a teenager, if you are a white Western teenager, then probably invalidation of your sexual and/or romantic orientations is probably the biggest social hurdle you’ve had up to this point. And if that’s the case, that is still the biggest issue you’ve had, I don’t want to undermine that at all. But there are so many deep-seeded, underlying systemic issues that do have direct ties to Acephobia, Arophobia, things that are just deeply entrenched in not only amatonormativity but also just Judeo-Christianity or Evangelical Christianity or sometimes even Catholicism that hurt real people. And it is disproportionately going to hurt poor people, people of color, sex workers, trans people. The more intersectional minority identities you have, the more likely you are to get targeted by these systemic issues. And that’s why it’s important to look at it, identify it for what it is, and address it instead of just dismissing it as just nonsense, silly bigotry.
Courtney: So please, I hope you will join us next week, where we dive into each of these individual organizations who signed this letter, and the week following, where we cite some articles where we prove that this isn’t new. This didn’t come out of nowhere. This isn’t out of the blue. We just haven’t been paying attention.
Courtney: So until then, please make sure to follow us on whatever platform it is you are consuming this podcast. And we’ll reconvene next week for another very fun episode. Goodbye.