Brownback Mountain

May 13, 2007 by susan
Sen. Brownback, waving from silver convertible in parade

Protecting our families on Mother's Day

by susan
Sen. Sam Brownback, he who once boasted that there were no gay people anywhere in his family tree (or was that some other Dobsonian militant?), has made safeguarding the nation from terror his number one issue. Safeguarding the family, that is, from the terrors of gay marriage.

On Mother's Day it's nice to know that someone is looking out for my family. Frankly, we were feeling a bit shaky and my gay nephew has been exhibiting some menacing behaviors, like talking about his hopes for finding Mr. Right, okay, Mr. Left. Yeah there's more.

Brownback apologized yesterday to the Wisconsin Republican convention after making a gaffe that likely cost him every vote in the state. He called Peyton Manning the greatest quarterback to ever live, forgetting that in the land of cheese and sausage this is blasphemy. Packer quarterback Brett Favre is the divine son of Vince Lombardi, and Bart Starr is the holy spirit within him. (If you don't live in or near Wisconsin, none of this will make any sense to you, nor should it.)

Brownback quickly called the focus back to where it should be, on
the family.

Now, I can appreciate this. I like my family, the siblings I grew up with, the children I -- also grew up with. It worked well for us in most ways, and that's because we were really, really lucky. Sure there was some hard work involved and an inherited moral compass to help chart the course, but there were also huge advantages having to do with class and race, which generally translate into a panoply of options not dangling off the branches for those whose family tree didn't grow in such rich soil. There were other unearned fortunes as well, including abundant good health for all of us, and parents who lived to ripe old ages. We were, as they say, born on third base, and, unlike George Bush, we know we did not hit a home run.

For more and more familes, that's simply not the case. Under the compassionate conservatism of George Bush we've seen the rug pulled out from under the middle class and turned into a magic carpet for those at the top. The stock market soars while wages for the middle stagnate or plummet. Look what's happened to the mechanics at Northwest Airlines, or the employees at Circuit City.
It does not strengthen the family when both parents are working harder and harder for less and less.

So to harken back to a 1950's era family as the solution to all of our cultural ills is as romantic and deluded as proposing a return to the horse and buggy to stop global warming. Both have their merits and charms, if you don't think about the -- fall-out that they also produce.

The Wisconsin gaffe followed a minor coup for Sen. Brownback. After months of stalling the confirmation of District Court nominee, Janet Neff, he managed to get a second confirmation hearing in order to grill her about her attendance at the commitment ceremony of her long-time neighbor's daughter. Neff's answers, that this was only a civil commitment and not a "same-sex union", apparently satisfied Brownback that she was not soft on the gay marriage issue. Thank god that Brownback and one other committee member were on this one.

At the risk of sounding Dobsonian myself, I also worry for the kids I see traipsing through the streets and malls like packs of feral jackals. I suspect they're no more self-absorbed than we were as adolescents, but it does seem they're being fed a much more unhealthy diet, literally and culturally, than we were. I'm not in a hectoring mood right now, so I'll skip the homily on how there's more to life than getting laid and getting stuff, but all around us we see signs that it's broken adults, not broken families, who are letting these kids down, and I include those at the top of the media chain in the ranks of the broken.

It's time to cultivate adulthood, to encourage those who love each other, regardless of their body type, to commit to the perils and pleasures of a life-long marriage. To encourage those who want children to raise them with healthy guidelines, a sense of wonder and a sense of the coolective good. To focus less on all things sexual, including orientation, and more on all things maternal and paternal, like responsibility and respect and that good old moral compass. Sorry. But it's Mother's day and I'm entitled to a little preaching.

Brownback and the Dobsonians have a turn-back-the-clock mentality, where gay people are to be tolerated for the freaks they really are (I suppose tolerance is progress) and given few options. Preferred option? Choose not to be gay. Hey, Rev. Ted Haggard made the switch in two weeks. Second option? If you are too weak to find the right path, then quash your desires and live a celibate life --you know, like a Catholic priest.

Well, a powerful tornado blew through Brownback's state last week and flattened the entire town of Greensburg. Evangelicals tend to link God to these disasters, usually his disapproval for wanton and carnal acts. But seems like Greensburg is about as American as apple pie and -- Kansas. Betcha there aren't a lot of gay folks threatening the town with marriage. So some times you just have to wonder whose side god is really on.

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Randi Reitan (not verified) | May 14, 2007 - 7:46am

How old is this nephew .... I happen to know a most wonderful young gay man. He comes from a loving family and has not only inherited a moral compass.... he has used it and led us all on a journey that has made us a better and stronger family.

Living a life surrounded by a dear family makes this mama want the same for all my kids ... both gay and straight. With the first three joyfully celebrating weddings in this year ..... it makes this issue all the more real .... and I thank you for writing about it.

Happy Mother's Day ... Randi


susan | May 14, 2007 - 9:37am

Happy Mothering to you too! You seem to have done a great job of it. The nephew is 40, smart, funny and successful. One catch. He lives and works in Hollywood, where the needle on the moral compass tends to waver! Not his, of course, but you know . . .
Mencken, I think, has a famous line about Hollywood -- It's like taking a trip through a sewer in a glass-bottomed boat.