August 26, 2008

AFA vs. Hallmark: Gay Marriage Greeting Card Flap Illustrates Fundamentalist Stupidity

It really makes my day when I receive a "Dear Manmeat" letter from Don Wildmon, and the one I received yesterday afternoon was a particularly fun one. The American Family Association is in a lather because Hallmark has started selling greeting cards for same-sex marriages. Now, the friends of gay people can send the same sort of overpriced cardboard bits of sentiment that the friends of straight people can send. The horror!

Hallmark defends gay marriage cards - Urge your local Hallmark store to refuse to carry them

Take Action!

Urge your local Hallmark store owner to join others in refusing to carry Hallmark gay marriage cards in their stores.

You can find your local Hallmark store contact information here.
[Note: I have changed the link to one directly to Hallmark; the one in the email tracks the clickthrough to give the AFA numbers it can claim as people objecting to Hallmark's policy even if the person clicking supports Hallmark's decision.]

Please be polite, but firm when you contact your local store.

August 25, 2008
Dear Manmeat,

Tuxedos... how obscene!Hallmark is reinforcing their decision to carry gay marriage cards with a message to supporters of traditional marriage – buzz off!

According to their website, corporate emails, and in response to phone calls, Hallmark is telling those who contact the company it will carry “cards that use specific language and images appropriate for same-sex wedding ceremonies.”

Same sex marriage is not recognized in 48 states, but Hallmark has chosen to become a corporate advocate in advancing homosexual marriage.

However, some local Hallmark store owners are refusing to carry them. Earlier this week, Jordan's Hallmark, which owns seven Hallmark Gold Crown stores in Idaho, announced its stores will not carry gay marriage cards in their stores.

Thank you for caring enough to get involved. If you feel our efforts are worthy of support, would you consider making a small tax-deductible contribution to help us continue?



Donald E. Wildmon,
Founder and Chairman
American Family Association
Ah, the dumbness, how shall I count the ways?

Let's start with the assertion that Hallmark shouldn't sell gay marriage cards because same-sex marriages aren't recognized in 48 states. How many states recognize bar mitzvahs with legislation that recognizes 13 year old boys as adults? And the survey says... zero. Precisely no states consider thirteen year olds as something other than minors, despite the fact that Jewish religious custom proclaims them to be adults. Hallmark had better stop selling greeting cards for that occasion. The same number of states also recognize officially your daughter's third birthday, your wedding anniversary, or the fact that your nephew got an A in math last year. In short, whether or not a given state has a law recognizing something is absolutely meaningless in this context. Hallmark is in the business of selling greeting cards, not of marking the passage of laws.

But let's pretend for a moment that Hallmark only sells greeting cards for occasions that are sanctioned by state laws. If this were the case, then Hallmark would sell same-sex marriage cards only in states where such unions were recognized, which is only a few. Not the two states which this latest "Dear Manmeat" letter asserts, however, but fourteen states in all which recognize gay marriage in some form or another, whether it is called "marriage" or "civil union" with the same rights as different-sex marriage or with some more limited number of rights. That's nearly a quarter of all the United States; a redundant statement to make, I know, but since the AFA's Grand Poobah appears incapable of distinguishing between two and fourteen, we shouldn't take for granted that he knows how many states there are.

But let's sink deeper into the AFA's fantasy world and pretend that there really are only two states — Massachusetts and California — that recognize gay marriage in some form. Should Hallmark not sell appropriate greeting cards for gay weddings in the other 48 states? Well, I don't know. Do people sometimes mail cards from one state to another? Hmmmm... anybody have statistics? This one's a real head-scratcher. I mean, it's not like someone living in New Mexico might have a gay friend in Massachusetts, right? Nobody from Florida could possibly know anyone in California! Surely, God has commanded that there shall be no mixing between states upon penalty of smiting.

Perhaps the most shocking news to Wildmon and Co. might be that (gasp) same-sex weddings take place even in states where gay marriages aren't recognized. Believe it or not, for a lot of people who get married, the main thing is commitment to one another, not the question of legal status. The fact that there are states heartless enough to deny the right of one human being to sit at the hospital bedside of a sick or dying loved one notwithstanding, people who happen to be of the same biological gender still have ceremonies to declare their mutual commitment in places that don't provide legal recognition of that commitment. Note that none of Hallmark's cards, for this or any other occasion, include phrases like "Congratulations on the government recognition of your relationship." Greeting cards mark personal occasions, not changes in legal status.

Case in point: a few years ago, two gay friends of mine and LL's had a wedding ceremony and reception in St. Petersburg, Florida. Florida doesn't recognize same-sex marriage, and their official civil union had actually taken place in Vermont. They did that in full knowledge of the fact that they would not have anything like the rights and privileges of other married couples when they returned to Florida... but they did it anyhow, as a statement to one another. As the majority of this couple's friends and family lived in America's nethermost realm, however, they also had a purely symbolic ceremony and reception when they got back home. Finding an appropriate greeting card for the occasion was a matter of some deliberation, and having had cards like those Hallmark now sells at that time would have been quite helpful. So, whether Florida had or had not recognized the legal status of this couple at the time, I would have bought such a card to go along with the very nice picnic set that LL and I gave them as a wedding present. You see, there's a difference between a committed relationship, a marriage and a wedding. I don't suppose that a bunch of dunces like the AFA, who apparently can't even count up to 14 successfully, would understand a concept as abstract as that.

So if Hallmark is really telling the AFA's deluded Paul Reveres, galloping clumsily through our cultural countryside and shouting their fool heads off that "The homos are coming! The homos are coming!", to "buzz off," then all I can do is mark the fact that they've made the right decision in this instance. I would have used a different four-letter word than "buzz," and it's quite possible that Hallmark did, too. The AFA's membership likes to pretend that they're too timid to use the more appropriate word "fuck" for "buzz," although any of us who have been on the receiving end of a fundienutter's vitriol knows what kind of language they really use when they think nobody's looking (and they can always pray for forgiveness, which they "know" they'll get... which is a big part of what makes them such immense pricks in the first place).

And about the graphics that accompanied today's daily dose of Donald Wildmon's "meanmeat" fantasy life; am I the only one confused by this? Is an image of two tuxedos too horrible to contemplate? Is that all it takes to shock the flock? Is the email implying with the second graphic that the 12 apostles were involved in gay marriages? I mean, I wouldn't be at all surprised if they were, and I wouldn't think less of them if it were the case that John had jammed his joystick up James. It's hard to think less of something than not at all. Nonetheless, I'm a bit surprised that Don Wildmon would be promulgating that sort of thing as historical fact. Then again, I was a bit surprised when I got an email from him asking me to make his dreams come true on a Saturday night in March, too.

Moon-Faced Assassin of Joy as depicted in Clive Barker's 'Nightbreed'In the end, like most of these moon-faced assassins of joy, Wildmon just needs reassurance that even with gay people getting married, he'll someday find the right man to fulfill his failingly-suppressed needs. He's got the same basic problem that all Christian literalists have. They've signed on to a cult that, on the one hand, is filled to the rafters with homoerotic imagery and on the other hand tells them to disregard the attraction they feel toward it, a conflict sloppily tied up with the promise that if they can just wait for it long enough that they'll get to sit back and watch the pain they've inflicted upon themselves all their lives acted out as sadistic fantasy by stern judges and bloodthirsty horsemen who will torture and behead those who actually enjoyed life. Without the sadism of the apocalyptic vision, which they demand we all believe is a truth rather than the product of asceticism driven to the point of hallucinatory madness, none of this pays off in the end. It is only through the infliction of suffering upon the other that they can derive meaning from the torture they inflict upon themselves.

Attacking greeting cards is no big deal when you're determined to spend eternity lending a hand at driving red-hot pokers into the eye sockets of real people, after all.

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