God Gave Us Sex...So You BETTER Do It Right!
Conservative Christians think marriage should be “conjugal” NOT “consent-based”. Religious lobbyists say marriage was the first institution created by God before man created government and is, therefore, based in religion and procreative sex, not love and autonomy.
- The Letter
- Family Research Council
- Family Policy Alliance
- Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee
- The Family Foundation
- Florida Family Policy
- Massachusetts Family Institute
- The Heritage Foundation
- Christian Civic League of Maine
- Hawaii Family Advocates
- Michigan Family Forum
- The Family Leader
- Minnesota Family Council
- Idaho Family Policy Center
- Family Action Council of Tennessee
- Texas Values
- The Family Foundation
- Albany Update: New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms
Courtney: Hello, everyone, and welcome back to what is… what, Part 3 of a hopefully four-part series?
Royce: Part 3 of the rest of our lives.
Courtney: Part 3 of the rest of our lives. [laughs] So, when we sat down to talk about this letter that 83 religious right-wing organizations drafted to Mitch McConnell, we thought, “Can we do this all in one episode, or should we make this a two-parter?” But we’ve been talking for hours upon hours now. [laughs] So it seems like this might be our entire August of episodes. But I promise you, this is important. Please stick with us. And when we come out on the end of this, we’ll have just, like, a silly little jokey yukking it up Reddit episode for all of you. [laughing] We’ll lighten it up a little bit after we cover the important bits.
Courtney: But for those of you who are just joining us for the first time: my name is Courtney. I’m here with my spouse, Royce. And together, we are The Ace Couple. And if you have not already, and you have the time to spare, we do recommend going back and listening to our last two weeks’ worth of episodes, because they are very much intertwined with the conversation we are continuing with today. Because we are, in fact, digging deep into a pared-down selection – pared-down, believe it or not – of the 83 organizations who drafted this Acephobic letter to Congress, which was directly opposing the Respect for Marriage Act. Our first episode on this topic covered, primarily, the letter itself: what it said, why it’s important, why they specifically mentioned platonic marriages”being a threat to religious liberties. And last week, of course, we talked about some of these organizations and what they actually believe and what they’re saying on their own websites and in their own articles.
Courtney: We are continuing that thread this week, and we are picking right up with the Family Research Council. One of their key issues they cite as being “marriage and family formation.” And they state that “Although marriage is both a religious and a civil institution, at its heart, marriage is a [emphasizing] natural institution, rooted in the necessity for humanity to reproduce itself. Marriage is naturally the union of one man and one woman, because that is the only sexual union capable of resulting naturally in such reproduction. Family Research Council believes, and social science demonstrates, that children and adults thrive in this family structure. Therefore, public policies should encourage this ideal familial context.”
Courtney: So across our last couple weeks of episodes and even in the past much earlier episodes, we’ve talked about how not only amatonormativity but compulsory sexuality and heteronormativity are all deeply ingrained in the laws that govern our country. And this organization, right off the bat, is saying, “This is a religious institution and a civil institution, but also natural.” But further than that, they say, “The policies we enact into law should encourage people to have a one-man, one-woman marriage that is solely for the purpose of procreation.”
Courtney: So this organization also goes so far as to lay out, well, “What is marriage? Marriage is a covenant, a sacred bond between a man and a woman, instituted by and publicly entered into before God, and normally consummated by sexual intercourse.” God’s marriage must be permanent, i.e., no divorce. It must be sacred, i.e., not a same-sex marriage – one man, one woman. It must be intimate: “The intimacy of marriage. Marriage is the most intimate of all human relationships, uniting a man and woman in a ‘one-flesh’ union. Marriage involves leaving one’s family of origin and being united to one spouse, which signifies the establishment of a new family unit distinct from the two originating families. While ‘one flesh’ suggests sexual intercourse and normally procreation, at its very heart the concept entails the establishment of a new kinship relationship between two previously unrelated individuals, by the most intimate of human bonds.”
Courtney: “Mutuality. The mutuality of marriage” means that the relationship should be a “free self-giving of one human being to another.” The marriage partners should give themselves to one another, although they are very quick to point out that “Mutuality, however, does not mean sameness in role. Scripture is clear that wives are to submit to their husbands and to serve as their suitable helpers, while husbands are to bear the ultimate responsibility for the marriage before God.”
Courtney: It should also be exclusive. No open relationships, no polyamory, no adultery. And basically they say that, you know, adultery is a sin. This is something that we know. But they say that adultery actually led to six consequences: direct consequences of “humanity’s rebellion against the Creator’s purposes.” And that is, “(1) polygamy, (2) divorce, (3) adultery,” – I don’t know how adultery can be, mmm… a penalty for adultery. But, uh, “(4) homosexuality, (5) sterility, and (6) gender role confusion.” So let’s not blame sterility. Like, let’s not blame people who are sterile [laughs] for being sinful. “It’s the sin of mankind that led to this, your punishment.” That is vile. But also “gender role confusion.” So, when religious right activists like this try to speak out against transgender rights, they genuinely think this is a sickness and a punishment for mankind’s sins. This is a punishment and a hurdle to overcome. So when we say, you know, like, “#BornThisWay,” or – it’s a bit antiquated now, but like, back in the day, it was like, “Oh, I’m a boy born in a girl’s body” was one of the early talking points that got reiterated over and over on a large scale to try to explain the trans experience to cisgender people. And while some people do feel that way, it’s certainly not universal.
Courtney: But when the religious right hears this, they say, “That is something to be fixed, because that is a punishment for sin, and punishment is to be overcome.” And they also think that punishment is good, and that submission to a God, a higher power – if you’re a woman, submission to a husband – is inherently good. So, when they also lobby to protect things like conversion therapy, they’re not saying, “Well, this isn’t someone who is just inherently transgender. This is someone who is cisgender but suffering as a result of the sin of mankind, and we need to save and help this person.” And there’s no amount of logic or science or emotional reasoning that is going to break through that barrier.
Courtney: But they do say, I mean, extrapolating on sterility, is that “Fertility is implicit in the biblical reference to the ‘one flesh’ union.” So again, sex is a requirement, and that sex must be procreative. And they say, like, “Well, at times, lack of fertility is a result of personal sin. Sometimes it’s a fact of nature. But God is often shown to answer prayers for fertility offered by his people in faith.” So they’re like, “Oh, you can’t have children? Just pray about that. And if you still can’t have children, like, well, I guess you didn’t pray hard enough?” It’s really, really upsetting. I don’t like any bit of it.
Courtney: And extrapolating on “gender confusion,” they say, “Gender role confusion is a sixth and final result of humanity’s rebellion against the Creator. Where God’s design for man and woman to be distinct yet complementary partners in procreation and stewardship of God’s earth is diluted, people will inexorably be confused about what it means to be masculine or feminine, and the lines between the two sexes made by God will increasingly be blurred. Despite the above-mentioned ways in which God’s original design for marriage and the family was compromised, however, the Bible in the Old Testament continues to extol the virtues of the excellent wife and to celebrate the beauty of sex in marriage.”
Courtney: So again, all that, they’re like, “Here are the six ways that humankind has been punished for rebelling against God, but despite all that, sex and marriage, that’s beautiful. That’s what we’re aspiring to.” And that’s a thing you’ll see over and over on websites of organizations like this, will be the “complementarity in marriage,” talking about how a man and a woman complement each other and how that is God’s design and intended and important and mandated. And it’s often used in a very sexual context, where they actually say, like, “Men and women complement each other sexually, and that should be acted upon and celebrated within the confines of marriage.”
Courtney: I’m honestly… Going through this website based on all the other websites I’ve been through recently, I’m honestly most surprised that they even put in the word “normally” when they say “normally consummated by sexual intercourse,” because I don’t think I’ve seen a single other website in these 83 I’ve been to that have anything short of “sex is mandatory within marriage.”
Courtney: Moving onto the next organization I have marked here, we have the Family Policy Alliance, where one of their key issues specifically mentions sexuality, where they say, “Marriage is God’s design for uniting the male and female halves of humanity and serves as the ideal context for romantic, sexual love and for creating new life. Forms of sexual interaction outside marriage between one man and one woman distort God’s gift of sexuality.” So that’s something we heard in previous organizations, was, “Sexuality is a gift from God. If you are not utilizing it in the proper context, you are shunning God’s gift.” They even say – and like, this is the thing. Because I know some Christians who would absolutely guffaw at the very notion of a human Christian person declaring that they know and fully understand God’s will. But they literally say, “From God’s perspective” – this is a quote here. “From God’s perspective, it is impossible to decouple sexual relations from the covenant of marriage.” Impossible! “God created marriage as a lifelong covenant –” Which is pretty interesting. I mean, maybe I need to brush up on my Adam and Eve creation story, but like, what was their wedding ceremony like? I don’t think they had a pastor to, uh, ordain the marriage. There certainly wasn’t a government involved to legally recognize the marriage.
Courtney: Which, here’s something that’s just really interesting, and we’re going to put a pin in it before we go to our next source. But they do say, “A word to those who are single. Living a pure, single life in our society today is challenging. Especially as we are all bombarded with the temptations of a hyper-sexualized culture. As a single person, you may feel as though life is unfulfilling or lonely. Yet despite what progressive media would have you think, our Lord Jesus Christ lived a single life of purity and was still joyful and fulfilled. The Apostle Paul too conducted his ministry as a single person. They both found their intimacy and fellowship within the family of believers.” So that’s kind of saying, “It’s okay if you’re single and also celibate.” Which is kind of bananas to me, because I have also read people citing passages about the Apostle Paul to use that as “Asexuality is still not a valid reason to be celibate or not marry.” And it’s all kinds of weird. It’s a whole can of worms. But I’ve got an entire article about this where they say, you know, “There is such a thing as ‘the gift of celibacy’ that some of us have, but being Asexual alone is not the gift of celibacy, and Asexuality is not a reason to not to have sex with someone despite not wanting to.” So, these are actually two slightly competing ideations on the same… they cite here First Corinthians 7:7 for the Apostle Paul. It’s really interesting how they do twist things differently. And I’m honestly surprised to see that they’re saying, “Well, in this context, it’s okay, as long as you’re both single and celibate, “because I’ve heard the exact opposite used with the same Bible passage cited.
Courtney: And then we have Focus On The Family. They’re, I mean… a lot of these organizations are wildly problematic organizations, but this one in particular has a history. We don’t have time to get into all of that. But they have this whole archive of articles on marriage and, more specifically, sex and intimacy. And some of these really, really suck. [laughs] Like “Sex is a Relational Need,” from 2009. And they’re really easy to nitpick, and honestly we’re probably going to come back to one of those when we get into some of these older articles.
Courtney: But the most annoying part for me was that going through some of these lightly more recent ones, some of them actually had decent points, where if I didn’t know what article they were coming from, I’d be like, “Okay, that’s a little surface level and maybe a little fluffy, but they didn’t say anything wrong or bad.” And it was some things like, “What is quote ‘normal’ sexual desire?” Which is definitely something a lot of people in the Asexuality spectrum ask themselves, and at the end of the day, their answer to that was like, “Every couple is different. Every couple has a unique sexual relationship, and accept yours for what it is.” And like, I was kind of mad that I couldn’t actually find any issues with [laughing] that line of thinking, because this is such a horribly problematic organization, who is also signing a letter saying, “Platonic marriages are a threat to religious liberty.” So some of the newer ones, not super bad. But some of these older ones do get bad. But that’s – we’ll just put a pin in Focus On The Family. We’ll circle back to them later.
Courtney: A lot of these organizations, by the way – I mean, it’s an important side note, but a little outside of the scope of these particular episodes. Nearly all of these organizations are also talking about how harmful pornography is, just in general, to society and especially within marriage. You can’t consume pornography if you’re married!
Courtney: But we have here Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee, where they say one of their key issues is “Defense of Family.” And they don’t even really try to word anything in their own words or modern context. They just say, “Concerned Women for America through its Board of Trustees has established Defense of Family as one of its seven core issues on which we focus our efforts. Below is one verse that supports the Biblical foundation we find for our focus on this issue.” And the verse is Genesis 1:27: “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God he created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on this earth.’” And they say, “Populating the Earth is a mandate from God, not a threat to humanity.”
Courtney: And the thing about that “Be fruitful and multiply” – hmm, I’ve seen some people take that way too literally as, Adam and Eve are a metaphor for all humans who exist, period. And when God is saying to Adam and Eve – who in the context of the story, the only two humans on the earth, period. There are no other humans unless they copulate – they’re saying, “God isn’t just saying to Adam and Eve be fruitful and multiply. They’re saying that to every human thereafter.” And that’s how you get the Quiverfull ideology, where there are people who literally think you should have as many children as “God will bless you with.” You can be married and already have 10 kids and contraception banned, off the table. Because you should still be having sex, and if you’re still having sex, it is up to God to decide if he’s going to bless you with more children. And I have known people in my life like this, who genuinely feel this way. And those are the kind of people you run into when they’re refusing to sell condoms to other people because “Oh, my religion says I can’t.” And it’s like, that’s fine if you don’t want to use contraception and if you want to be out here, screwing like bunnies with your one sexual partner for the rest of your life constantly. That’s fine. You can have 20 kids, for all I care. But as soon as you refuse to sell contraceptives to someone else, when you work at a pharmacy, now you’re infringing on their right. And the religious right is not going to see it this way, but that is just how it is.
Courtney: My gosh, one of the Quiverfulls that I knew – his wife had their third child – and they were still young, in their 20s, by the way – they announced that she was pregnant again two months after giving birth with their third child. And I was like, “I don’t even think that’s medically advised.” [laughs]
Royce: It’s absolutely not.
Courtney: [laughing] No. It was like, “Jeez! Give the poor woman a break!” [laughs] And I didn’t even realize that they were Quiverfulls at this time, and I think I made, like, a half joke, like, “Wow, you guys really aren’t wasting any time, are you?” And he got very serious. And he stopped and he sat me down and he was like, “Absolutely not. We’re not wasting any time. Because we believe that it is our duty to give God the opportunity to present us with as many children as he will bless us with. And every child is a gift from God. And we can’t turn down the opportunity to receive a gift from God.” And I was like, “That sounds…” [laughing] ’Kay. Okay. Your marriage, your deal, your religion. I’m not going to butt into that. But I was like, “I didn’t expect that conversation to get so serious, [laughs] but okay. Now I see.”
Courtney: Next, I would like to present to you the Family Foundation. They are a Kentucky-based organization that says “human sexuality” is one of their issues. “Recognizing the biblical and biological reality that we are created male and female and that human sexuality is a gift to us, designed and intended for our own good within the bond of a committed, lifelong marriage between one man and one woman.” So that’s the thing again. That’s what I keep getting hung up on. These people are literally saying, “Human sexuality is a gift from God.” That is also how they… That is also how they define children. They also say children are a gift from God. And that is also why there are so many, like, anti-abortion, you know, “life begins at conception” sort of camp people: because children are a gift from God. Human sexuality and sexual intercourse within marriage is a gift from God. So, who are we, mere mortal humans, to shun these gifts from God?
Courtney: And just think about that. Like, how many Asexual people have we heard from who have said that growing up, they felt like they were broken. As teenagers, as early adults, they thought they were broken. Something they were supposed to have was just lacking and gone and they didn’t know why. How easily compounded is that feeling if you grow up in an environment like this, where you’re being told, you know, “Abstinence-only, no sex until marriage, but once that marriage comes, sex is a beautiful gift from God, and human sexuality is a gift from God – that it is your duty as a husband or a wife to act upon.” That has got to be so difficult for an Asexual person growing up with a religious ideology like this. Because that just adds the additional religious hangup on top of the societal hangup on top of anything that’s personal or internal hangups and just general confusion. Because people who are growing up in an environment like this are also probably not getting comprehensive sex education in school either, because they’re being homeschooled or because enough people in their area feel this way that they’ve lobbied the schools to get sex education gutted.
Royce: Or private religious schools were another major talking point of previous articles.
Courtney: Private Christian schools. Absolutely. In my school… I mean, I struggle to call it “sex education” because [laughs] it was basically, “Here are the scariest possible iterations of all the STDs. This is why you don’t have sex [laughs] until you get married.” So like it wasn’t comprehensive sex education. But even as much as – or as little as we got, there was still an option for parents to pull their kids out of school on those days. Like, it was almost like going on a field trip. Like, “You need a parental consent form for us to scare the bejeebus out of you with these STDs.” [laughs] So, there are just general confusion, not knowing what the actual scope of human sexuality is or safe ways to explore it. It’s really disgusting.
Courtney: So, and here’s another thing that gets me. Because anytime I mention the religious right, the people who aren’t paying attention to the religious right – or people who are, like, more moderate Christians who are like, “Well, no real Christian would actually be advocating for this,” to which I say, like, “I mean, you can say that, but… [laughs] have you seen what they’re saying?” They’ll say, like, “Well, they’re not actually using scare tactics or fear-mongering.” No, they absolutely are. They’re not just saying, “We don’t want gay marriage.” They’re saying, “Gay marriage is going to erode the very fabric of society.” They aren’t just saying, “Yeah, people should have kids.” They’re saying, “People have to have sex and have to have kids. This is a requirement.”
Courtney: But listen to how nonsensical this is, from the Florida Family Policy Council: “In Florida and across the country the marriage rate is steadily declining. Young people are delaying marriage and not getting married, the cohabitation rate is skyrocketing – causing societal instability and costing the taxpayers enormously.” So, like, how is that not scare tactics? “It’s causing societal instability and costing taxpayers enormously.” Which, again, a lot of these organizations are saying that the answer to all of society’s problems is marriage between a man and a woman. They’re like, “Poverty? Try marriage.” Like, “Homelessness? Food insecurity? Have you considered… marriage?”
Courtney: And here’s where we really, really get to the crux of it. So, Florida Family Policy Council also says, “Marriage is the very first institution created by God. It was established before civil government and even the church itself. God gives us the most intimate, dynamic, and lasting of all expressions of all human relationships in marriage. It’s the fountain from which children and family springs forth. And it is the institution which provides basic social order.” And that right there is a perfect demonstration of what I was saying, where people take Adam and Eve and God’s commandment to “be fruitful and multiply” as a metaphor for all people. They’re saying, “This wasn’t just told to Adam and Eve. This was told to all mankind. And it is the first institution this world has ever known, and it is the backbone of all society.” So, if anything threatens what their view of marriage is, they do see that as an attack on the basic social order. And they do see it as preceding civil government and even the Church. They’re like, “The sanctity of marriage was the first institution created by God.” And that’s why the religious right fight so hard to keep this under their very narrow parameters.
Courtney: To further illustrate that point, we have the Massachusetts Family Institute saying, “Massachusetts Family Institute upholds the virtue and value of the natural two-parent, marriage-based family as the fundamental foundation of both society and civilization. MFI recognizes the union of one man and one woman as marriage and steadfastly maintains that no other relationship is legitimately a marriage. MFI also stands firm in the belief that marriage is to be a life-long commitment and that sexual intimacy must be confined – or should be confined within its bonds.” And then they go on to spew a lot of uncited nonsense of how, like, married men and women have healthier, happier, lives. Science shows that society does better when everyone is married in this way. And while some might read this sentence of “sexual intimacy should be confined within the bonds of marriage.” and they’ll say, “Well, that means that you shouldn’t have sex outside of marriage,” the other side of that coin is that you must have sex inside of marriage. And a lot of people don’t read that subtext, and they don’t always say that part out loud. But we’ve had previous sources that have already said as much, that it is a marital duty. And we have more articles to come that very explicitly say as much.
Courtney: So then, we have an article which was actually linked back to the Heritage Foundation, which we covered earlier. But this is a different one of these 83 organizations, who is directly linking to them. So a lot of them work together and share the same articles and, like, they communicate. They organize. And for as disingenuous as that letter was, that letter – need, I remind you – said, “This isn’t about queer marriage. This is about, you know, religious people getting sued for discriminating against queer people.” That’s what they said on that letter, which they announced to the public.
Courtney: But to their own demographic, here – this article’s called “Marriage: Where Do We Go From Here?” And it says, “How do we best advance the cause of marriage as the union of a man and woman, husband and wife, father and mother? Some say we should abandon the defense of marriage and retreat to only protecting religious-liberty exemptions. They argue that this is the best course of action in light of what they take to be an inevitable defeat. Others go further and suggest that we should simply disengage with politics entirely, retreat to our own communities, and rebuild a marriage subculture there. As tempting as these plans may be, they aren’t the right answer.” So… that was a lie.
Courtney: But here’s where you really get into it. So they cite the Defense of Marriage Act, which was signed into law by Bill Clinton, and it defines marriage for federal purposes as the union of one man and one woman, and allows states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages granted under the laws of other states. So that got overturned by Obergefell versus Hodges, which we’ve mentioned multiple times at this point, and although that – you know, they’re citing that, but they’re citing what Justice Alito said. And this is kind of important for the purposes of knowing what they actually think and how they actually see this argument. Because if we are in any way to combat it, we need to know that we are not talking about the same kind of marriage here. When we’re saying we want marriage equality, they’re playing a whole other ballgame. They are seeing marriage as something completely different than what the rest of us are seeing.
Courtney: “Justice Alito,” they go on to say, “framed the debate as a contest between two visions of marriage – what he calls the ‘conjugal’ and ‘consent-based’ views.” And what they’re saying is, as the religious right, they think “conjugal marriage” is marriage, viewing it as a “comprehensive, exclusive, permanent union that is intrinsically ordered to producing new life.” “Consent-based marriage” is what the rest of us are thinking. Like, “I love this person. I want to marry them and spend the rest of my life with them.” We also talked about the basis of consent and autonomy on a previous source, which really drove home the fact that they did not believe that autonomy was a valid reason to pursue anything outside of what they deemed marriage to be. And breaking it out on “conjugal” versus “consent-based” marriage really helps define that for us who don’t have the language. Because we’re just looking at them, baffled, being like, “That’s not how I see marriage! Like, I’m not religious!”
Royce: It just confirms how traditional or orthodox this thinking is. Because this is not free will. This is not the freedom of a human to participate in society at their will. It’s about being born into a role and fulfilling that role without really any say or choice in the matter.
Courtney: Yes. Which they will argue, you know, “That’s the backbone of society. This is what keeps society together. This is what creates a civilization.” So, they’re basically saying, like, “For the good of society – Because you live in a society, you must adhere to these rules.” Which is wild from the people who refuse to wear fucking masks during the pandemic! Oh, “My body, my choice! This is autonomy. This is my body.” And we’re like, “Please, for the good of society, stop spreading disease, or at least do your best to try to mitigate the amount of disease you’re spreading.” Like, rules only apply to them when they want it to, when it serves them politically.
Royce: But Courtney, Jesus didn’t wear a mask.
Courtney: Oh, Jesus didn’t wear a mask! He also wasn’t a white man. [laughs] He was also, as far as I know, celibate and single. Jesus was AroAce. You can’t convince me otherwise. [laughing] Jesus was a AroAce Brown man who befriended sex workers. I’d drop my mic but [laughing] I need it to finish recording this podcast.
Courtney: But yeah, they even say… so I said what “consent-based marriage” is in my words, but he cited here that “a proponent of the consent-based idea that marriage is a commitment marked by emotional union.” So, like, sex is innate to their worldview of what marriage is, so of course Asexuality challenges that. Of course it does. There’s no other way around it. And I almost don’t want to read this, because it’s like, well, that’s already done and over with, but like, mind you, this was written in 2014. This is how organized they’ve been, and this is why we need to pay attention to them.
Courtney: They say, oh, “What Justice Scalia predicted was the Court will do whatever it thinks it can get away with. And as recent events in the lower federal courts suggest, judges seem to think they can get away with a lot. We must, therefore, rally in support of our constitutional authority to pass laws defining marriage truthfully. We must make clear that Court-imposed same-sex marriage via a Roe versus Wade-style decision will not settle the marriage debate any better than it has settled the abortion debate.” [sighs] That’s really sad to read in this year 2022 after Roe versus Wade got overturned. I still can’t believe I have to say that out loud. But also, to refer back to their letter, their letter said, like, “We still have Obergefell versus Hodges, so why do we need a law codifying same-sex marriage when we have that Supreme Court case?” Here they were years ago, years ago, saying, “Roe versus Wade didn’t settle abortion debate.”
Royce: As I said earlier, that is completely 100% intentional. They’re saying, “Please don’t make this any more difficult for us to overturn, because that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Courtney: Mhm. Mmmhm. And doing that baby steps is also what tries to get moderates. Like, “Well, we’re not trying to completely do away with gay marriage. Like, if you think gay marriage is cool, we’re not coming for gay marriage. We just don’t want this law that’s going to have additional ramifications, but gay marriage is still totally cool and protected” – until next year, when they come for gay marriage during the next Supreme Court hearing.
Royce: You’ve admitted that you don’t like saying “slippery slope” because it is the argument that a lot of the right uses.
Royce: But it definitely seems like a case of projection, where that slippery slope is something that they are actively using in most of their endeavors at the same time that they’re using it as a defense for any sort of precautions.
Courtney: Well, they use it twofold. Because they absolutely say… So, literally, there was an example where we were told Asexual marriage should be banned because then people will just start marrying their siblings if we decouple sex from the institution of marriage. And it’s like, ugh! That’s less a “slippery slope” than you just pushed that argument right off the cliff. [laughs] Like, there was no chill. [laughs] But they not only use that to scare the people who are going to have a really big knee-jerk reaction to, I guess – can you call it incest if it’s not a sexual marriage? I don’t even have vocabulary for what that is. [laughs]
Royce: The point that they are driving is incest.
Royce: Those are the two commonly-thrown-out arguments, are incest and pedophilia.
Royce: Because there is a nearly universal knee-jerk uniform reaction.
Courtney: Yes. So, they use that against us and our talking points, while meanwhile, they very intentionally try to chip away at things very slowly and appear, on the surface, to be very moderate. Like I said, this letter was very public. Most of these organizations put this letter out publicly, declaring, like, “We signed this! Make sure you also go out and call your Senator and tell them you also oppose this.” Meanwhile, a lot of these articles are, like, going to their mailing list, their specific subscribers that are going to be coming to their website. It’s very much catering to their own base. They are way more extreme to their own base than what they’re letting on publicly, and that is by design.
Courtney: And they even say here – which I’m baffled that they aren’t saying outright “We are also pro-life”; I’m sure they also are. But they round out this article by saying, like, the final takeaway here is “We must all take the long view,” and “There are lessons to be learned from the pro-life movement.” And they break down basically 30 years’ worth of what the pro-life movement has been doing behind the scenes. And this was written in 2014. They knew they were gaining ground in 2014 if they wrote that. [laughing] And now in 2022, it’s so bleak to read because we know that they won! They won, goddamn it.
Courtney: So here, this is not being extremist or alarmist. This is not fear-mongering. This is literally saying they are trying to enforce monogamous heterosexual compulsory sexuality upon everybody, and a gender binary. And they’re literally saying, “Let’s take a page from the pro-life movement, because they know what they’re doing.” [laughs] It’s bleak. It is very bleak. It is very grim. I don’t much care for it, but we need to know about it if we’re gonna fight it.
Courtney: We have the Christian Civic League of Maine, which, for some reason, just redirects all their articles to Google Docs. Not all of these websites are particularly good. But they, again, reiterate the same talking points: “Human sexual relationship is a special gift from God. Sex finds its full expression within marriage.”
Courtney: I’m pretty sure this was copied verbatim from a previous source, but Hawaii Family Advocates: “Marriage is God’s design for uniting the male and female halves of humanity and serving as the ideal context for romantic sexual love.” Romantic and sexual: both compulsory, under their biblical worldview.
Courtney: From Michigan Family Forum: “Strong families are founded on the following ideal: the life-long marriage of one man and one woman. Healthy, life-long marriages enrich the lives of the couple, their children and the community around them. For decades now, the social sciences have provided clear and convincing evidence that not all family structures are equal. A marriage which is healthy and enduring enriches the couple, their children and the community around them. Alternate living arrangements, broken families and never formed families are not as beneficial as healthy marriages and they are frequently the cause of many of our social ills. Marriage changes two people’s lives and society clearly benefits. Looking at the marriage vow, one sees that couples promise to remain faithful to one another, to support each other financially and emotionally. This removes a burden from society when spouses look after one another, particularly in sickness and old age. Marriage also changes our behavior in ways that make both parties happier, healthier and better off financially. Marriage yields significant dividends. Children of intact marriages tend to engage in risky behavior less frequently, do better in school and have better mental and physical health than children from broken or never formed marriages. Adults who are married tend to enjoy better mental and physical health and accumulate more wealth and are less likely to engage in risky or illegal behavior than unmarried adults. Finally, our senior citizens enjoy better support from spouses and children in their later years if they remain married. Clearly, society does benefit by marriage and rightly rewards married couples for the stability they bring to society. Our public policy must actively work to help couples choose and succeed in building strong marriages.”
Royce: So I assume there are few if any actually statistical studies referenced in that whole thing? Also –
Courtney: No direct references, no.
Royce: Also, the whole financial thing we already talked about. Our tax system incentivizes that, so, of course, people who engage in that lifestyle are going to come out more financially secure, because that’s how the system was built.
Courtney: Yes. And that’s also by design. I’ve seen… I don’t know if I have the webpage up, if we’re going to get to it verbatim. Now, at this point, since it’s come up, I hope I have it up here, we’ll see. But there is one of these organizations that outright mentioned tax policy, and it’s like, “Yes, our tax policy should be incentivizing this lifestyle.” And they compared children to, like… [laughing slightly] it was a very capitalistic mindset where it’s like, “Children are additional workforce and therefore should be treated as capital and incentivized in the same way that business capital is.” [laughing] And it’s like, what are you talking about? That is a human.
Courtney: So here we have The Family Leader: “We believe human sexuality to be God’s gift to us. We support public policy that benefits families and encourages individuals toward healthy, biblical marriages; and we oppose policy that encourages individuals to pursue alternate means of sexual expression or fulfillment, including, but not limited to fornication, pornography, prostitution, adultery, homosexuality, and transgenderism.” [sighs] Yikes.
Courtney: From the Minnesota Family Council: “Jesus reaffirmed that marriage is a gift from God (Genesis 1:27), a relationship unique among all others (Matthew 19:3-6). Marriage unites in a lifelong union the two halves of humanity, man and woman, each with their [emphasizing] complementary role in order to serve as the proper place for romantic, sexual love and for creating new life.” There again: “romantic, sexual love.” We’ve seen that so many times. “Marriage is building block upon which all of society is built, and it is at the heart of the family. Together, marriage and the family serve as foundational institutions upon which all other institutions depend. When marriages and families break down, the moral and social fabric of society breaks down, and the most important ‘check’ on the power of government is lost. We support efforts to encourage and strengthen marriages and families, including eliminating marriage penalties in social programs and encouraging families to stay together. We oppose efforts to penalize marriages, encourage a culture of divorce, or redefine marriage.” We know from all the other sites that they are working with actively in lobbying Congress that redefining marriage means platonic marriage and plural marriage and open marriage. Because again, these aren’t just random organizations we’re picking and choosing. They all signed on to exactly the same letter. They are working together.
Courtney: From the Idaho Family Policy Center – they like to keep it brief, very terse. They like to say, “Sex, gender, and marriage. Recognizing God’s good and gracious design for gender, sexuality, and family life. Matthew 19:4. ‘Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female? And the two shall become one flesh?’” That’s all they had to say about that. They’re like, “Boom, mic drop. What more is there to say? That Matthew, he knew what he was talking about. What a guy.”
Courtney: Illinois Family Institute – which again, the letter said, “We don’t need a law because we have Obergefell versus Hodges, is the letter they signed. They say on their website, “We strongly support the institution of marriage, which is the union of one man and one woman. We oppose the redefinition of marriage that allows for the legal recognition of intrinsically non-marital, same-sex relationships as marriages. We believe the 2015 Obergefell ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court not only overruled state’s rights, but also erodes the public understanding of and respect for true marriage and the natural family (i.e., mother, father, and children) as the proper foundation of our society. We support the enactment of a U.S. Constitutional amendment to protect marriage and restrict activist courts.” So they’re not even going for a law. They’re like, “Amend the U.S. Constitution to say that marriage is between a man and a woman, because we directly disagree with Obergefell versus Hodges.” Which makes it so disingenuous that they signed that letter that said, like, “Oh, we’ve still got Obergefell versus Hodges. Don’t worry. We’re not coming for your gay marriage. Don’t worry.” Like, this is just about litigation.
Courtney: From FACT, or Family Action Council of Tennessee – one of their key issues: “Supporting healthy, biblical marriages. Except for the nano-second of history represented by the last twenty years or so, marriage has always been viewed as a relationship between a man and a woman. Rather than marriage being purely a social construct to be scrapped as society changes, marriage is the name that has been given to a life-long, sexually exclusive relationship between one man and one woman.” There it is! Marriage is inherently sexual. They also say, “Since June of 2015 Supreme Court Obergefell decision that redefined marriage to include same-sex marriage, FACT has been legally challenging that ruling.” So again, why did you sign the letter saying “No, no, no. Don’t worry. Obergefell versus Hodges is fine. It’s in place.” How disingenuous. And yet, if we look into them any deeper and say, “No, they’re going way further than what they’re saying,” we get accused of fear-mongering. This is what they are saying. This isn’t what we’re saying. These are their words. That’s why this is such a long, several part episode, is because we have sources upon sources saying exactly the same thing over and over again.
Courtney: FACT also says, “Human sexuality is a gift from God and is a visible expression of the invisible reality of the kind of unity, fellowship, union, intimacy, and commitment that exists within the nature of a Triune God.” “Triune, I imagine three. Like, is that the Father, Son, the Holy Spirit?
Royce: I’ve never heard that before but I have to assume that’s what it’s based around is the Holy Trinity.
Courtney: That’s what I have to assume. But yeah, they say, “Therefore, any expression of sexual intimacy outside of the union and commitment reflected in the marriage between one man and one woman is a distortion of God’s design.”
Royce: Again, because the first amendment doesn’t exist and we’re actually living in a theocracy.
Courtney: Yeah. Which is… So here’s the thing, too. Because, like, this has become a joke. I don’t know if school-age kids are still saying this, but definitely they did when we were in school, was like… So, say you’re in middle school and you’re dancing with [laughing] someone of the opposite sex for the very first time. And it’s like, you still have to kind of keep arm’s length away, because people would be like, “Make room for Jesus,” is what they would say, right? [laughs] Like, your bodies can’t be too close together, even though you’re fully clothed, in public, because you have to make room for Jesus. And like, that almost takes such a bigger, more warped reality when they’re saying that human sexuality “is a visible expression of the invisible reality” that is God. They are saying that sex within marriage is an expression of God. We are atheist and Asexual and we beg to fucking differ. [laughs] But the thing is, like, they can believe that in their marriage if they want to. The issue is they are actively lobbying to try to put their views into law.
Royce: Right. I mean, one of the earlier articles that you referenced explicitly wrote that the people signing the article and maintaining that organization fundamentally did not believe in human autonomy.
Courtney: Yes. Which, that’s the most explicit they’ll ever get. But again, it’s their words, not ours. But it’s there. We just have to find it. We can’t just shrug them off as extremists or “Oh, they’re just, you know, queerphobic.” Like, we can’t just do that. Because they’re politically engaged. They are politically engaged AF.
Courtney: So I don’t have that much to say about Texas Values that hasn’t already been said in a hundred different ways on a hundred different other sources. But there was one that was like, that’s a new wording of that that’s deeply alarming. Texas Family Values, of course, say, well, “The Texas Values is committed for family values,” blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. You have, you know, abstinence-only education, except for marriage between one man and one woman, where it “is promoted as the expected context for sexual activity.” So there’s the word “expected,” which I don’t love.
Courtney: But here – this one is really, really weird: “Gestational agreements that require the child involved to be raised in homes with a married mother and father.” Tell me that isn’t disgustingly similar to the laws, like I cited in a previous rant about Missouri – and other states who have similar laws, but Missouri’s the closest to us – which I know for a fact they have in effect where you cannot, as a pregnant person, divorce your spouse if you are pregnant. It is just, the court won’t hear your case. You cannot see it through if you are pregnant. And this is what they’re going for. They’re not even just saying, like, “Well, wait til the baby’s born. Then you can sort out, you know, custody and logistics and all that.” They aren’t saying that. They’re saying, “We want agreements during gestation that this child will be raised in a home with a married mother and father.” It’s like, “You stay married to raise your child, or else we will give your child to another family who does have a married mother and father.” That is disgusting.
Courtney: Yeah, this one didn’t go as far as I’ve seen, but it’s very much along the same lines, where the issue of marriage to the Family Foundation: “If we want a robust economy, we have to have thriving, two-parent families. If we want better outcomes for our children, we need to protect marriage. One study found that the cost of family fragmentation in Virginia taxpayers is at least $750 million annually.” [laughing slightly] “The cost of family fragmentation.” 750 mil. That’s not cited. I don’t know where they got that number. But “The Family Foundation believes in marriage as a lifelong union, one man, one woman, an institution of God and a foundation for civil society. An abundance of social science shows us that men, women, and children benefit economically, physically, and emotionally from a stable two-parent marriage and family. Marriage promotes social order and provides a vehicle for long-term economic development and security within society.”
Courtney: And their proposal is that, um, you need to tighten divorce laws. No-fault divorce is in issue. It makes divorce “too easy.” You should, instead of divorce, “encourage marriage counseling.” But they also say, “We oppose making sexual behavior a protected class. Every year there are efforts in Virginia to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected classes in non-discrimination laws. This is not only unnecessary, as no evidence of discrimination exists, but has potential negative ramifications on religious liberty.” Again, we don’t want to get sued.
Courtney: So then we have Albany Update, New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, where their “Statement on Sexuality” cites a lot of Bible verses, but says, “God created sexual intercourse and called it good (Genesis 1:28). However, sex is only good [laughing] when it is placed within its proper context.” So, we know by now what their proper context is. But they’re also saying, “God made this. God called it good. Who are you to not enact upon it in the proper context?” They also say, “Sex is an immutable characteristic.”
Courtney: Okay, okay. I had to go back. So that was my last source, but I didn’t have the page directly open that was talking about kids being like human capital, and I was like, I feel like we really need to mention that to drive home the point that tax breaks incentivizing people financially to have this very specific family structure is by design and purposeful, I really wanted to find it. So I found it back at The Family Research Council – one of the earlier websites we cited, mind you. They have an entire page dedicated to “Family Economics.” And they say, “The family is the great generator of human capital (knowledge, attitudes, skills, and habits of the individual) and generates much financial capital as well. The principle of fairness applies to the tax treatment of the family: it should get the same deductions as business does in the tax code for similar investments in human capital. Further, per-child tax breaks are important in encouraging the birth of children not only for the solvency of Social Security and Medicare but also to ensure the well-formed workforce needed by modern economies.” [laughing] Is anyone else just like wildly disturbed by that frame of thinking? Like, for as much as these people claim to love and look out for children, I’m like “You’re not treating that child like a child. [laughing] That’s a small human you’re talking about.”
Royce: I honestly can’t say that I’m surprised at this point.
Courtney: No, I mean, it’s not surprising if you are paying attention and you know how things work. But I want more people to frame the conversation of amatonormativity and compulsory sexuality around what the actual policies are and what the actual lobbyists are. Because way too often, if we say, like, “Amatonormativity is entrenched into law,” people who don’t know much about what amatonormativity means, people who maybe only on the surface level understand the fight for gay rights and trans rights but none of the queer nuances in between or on the fringes, are going to say, like, “Well, nobody’s actually coming for Asexual people. No one’s actually coming for Aromantic people.” Yes, they are. Yes, they are. And they’re not subtle about it. They just keep the most extreme views in their own private spaces and their own private bubbles, to their own audience, and they temper everything down when they present something public-facing.
Royce: Well, that’s the, I think, basic argument against the people who come out and say, “Asexuals don’t face discrimination.” The argument is, “Yes, we do. You just don’t see Asexuals.”
Royce: How many Asexuals do you know in your personal life, do you see in your feeds? How tuned in are you to the actual discourse that’s going on?
Courtney: Absolutely. And I mean, as an Asexual married couple… I mean, we kind of basically – [laughing] If anyone watched Pose, where, you know, a trans woman can’t legally marry a man, but if they don’t know she’s trans – if, when we’re applying for our license, if I can pass and we just say, you know, “This is a woman and a man. Nothing more to see here,” if we can pass in person, like, it’ll fly, it’ll go under the radar. And we’ll just call the marriage the marriage, as legal as any other one, because we got the damn license, you know? Which is – I mean, I say “on Pose” as if that never happened in real life. Of course things like that happened in real life. But that’s a big pop-culture reference for a show that I know a lot of our listeners have seen. We kind of did the same thing. There’s no law in Kansas saying, like, “Asexual marriage is allowed.” We were just like, “Well, lots of kinds of marriage is allowed in Kansas, so shoot, let’s just do it. [laughs] Let’s just do it, you know? [laughing] Better to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission.”
Courtney: But a lot of these laws – and people are like, “Well, how are they going to enforce that? How are they going to enforce that? It’s not like they’re going to set up cameras in their bedroom.” Like, yeah, we know. We know that. But at the same time, there are court cases that have been brought against people for “sham marriages.” That can be a federal offense because you’re getting tax breaks for being married – usually, most people are. I mean, there is no such thing as marriage equality , because there are so many disabled people who can’t get married for fear of losing their benefits. Like, I don’t want to talk about everyone having equal footing here, because that’s not the case. But it’s basically another form of tax fraud if there is a court somewhere who feasibly says, like, “No, your marriage is not legitimate.” And that is really muddy and messy and subjective. And the subjectivity is the issue.
Courtney: And when there are people here who are saying – there’s an entire legal camp of marriage where a Supreme Court Justice has said that there is an ideology of marriage that is specifically “conjugal marriage” and “for the sake of reproducing,” they could theoretically come for any couple who publicly declares that they don’t want to reproduce, whether or not that involves sex. And, like, is it likely? No. Could it happen? Yes. And that’s the problem. That’s the problem. Especially when we have so many organizations – 83 of them, in fact – who are opposing enshrining something as simple as same-sex-couple marriage into law, which is currently legal, and just, like, reconfirming that. Things are gonna get ugly in the upcoming years. With the Supreme Court that we have, are you kidding me? Of course! There are gonna be more contentious overturning of various landmark cases, just like we saw with Roe versus Wade. So like, yes, it is an issue.
Courtney: Vocally Asexual couples… I hope to my gnomes that they don’t start coming literally, in a court of law, for individual Asexual couples, but there’s not really anything stopping them. And if you get in front of the very conservative judge who sees marriage as an innately conjugal thing, it could happen. It could happen. And there are marriage consummation laws on the books right now in many states. And I’m not trying to be alarmist or extremist. I’m trying to tell it how it is. ’Cause this is how it is.
Courtney: And in fact, in our next episode, next week, we have a couple of older articles. These are not explicitly religious right organizations. These are – no, some of them are, but some of them are more broad in nature that are going to talk about things like what the legal implications are for a queerplatonic relationship, what Christian conservative Asexual women are being told in advice columns when they ask their religious leaders and people they admire within their community what it means to be Asexual. And so we’re going to dig into some of those things. Because this isn’t coming out of nowhere. It’s not out of the blue. There’s a precedence for all of these hateful lines of thinking. And we need to be aware of them before it becomes a legal issue. Because it is rapidly becoming a legal issue. So, tune in next week for more misery! [laughs] Please follow us on all your favorite platforms for your weekly dose of misery. [laughs]
Royce: Someday, we’ll talk about fun things again.
Courtney: Someday, we will feel joy. [laughs] But today is not that day. And next week is not that day. But I hope you’ll join us anyway, because, woah! Some of these articles are a doozy. So we’ll see you then. Goodbye.