NOM’s blog has a new post up, with its most outrageously outraged headline ever, about NJ Gov. Christie nominating an openly gay man to the state Supreme Court:
Tell Christie to Withdraw Nomination of Pro-SSM Judge For Extremist Views Equating Christianity and Slavery
The basis for their outrage? A letter written by nominee Bruce Harris in 2009 to State Senator Joe Pennacchio about marriage equality:
When I hear someone say that they believe marriage is only between a man and a woman because that’s the way it’s always been, I think of the many “traditions” that deprived people of their civil rights for centuries: prohibitions on interracial marriage, slavery, (which is even provided for in the Bible), segregation, the subservience of women, to name just a few of these “traditions.”
I hope that you consider my request that you re-evaluate your position and, if after viewing the videos, reading Governor Whitman’s letter and thinking again about this issue of civil rights you still oppose same-sex marriage on grounds other than religion I would appreciate it if you you’d explain your position to me. And, if the basis of your opposition is religious, then I suggest that you do what the US Constitution mandates—and that is to maintain a separation between the state and religion.
Maggie Gallagher surprised me by calling this letter “intemperate” in the National Review. Really? The only problem mistake I saw was the comma after “slavery” (this is why no one invites me to parties). It wasn’t until NOMblog picked up the story that I saw her objection.
But is it valid? Does Harris equate Christianity and slavery? Of course not.
The only link between slavery and Christianity in Harris’s letter is a factual parenthetical that is factual which factually points out that the Bible in fact factually provides for slavery. Which is a fact. Harris is just pointing out something that theologians have been grappling with for centuries, including many who created Christian arguments against slavery. It’s no crime merely to point out that these verses exist (or to warn against a glibly literal application of the Book to public policy). In fact, it’s anti-Biblical to pretend the verses aren’t there.
Harris’s letter does three simple things:
- It cautions against using tradition as an argument against marriage equality.
- It cautions, on Constitutional grounds, against using religion as an argument against marriage equality.
- It politely requests information on what other grounds the good Senator might be opposing marriage equality.
Bruce Harris’s letter is clear, temperate, factual attempt to point out some truths and open an honest dialog. Maybe that’s why Maggie and NOM hate it so.