Douchebag Decree: Barbara MacEwen & the Haters of New York
Still thrilled about New York's victory for marriage equality? Yep, me too. I wish I could have finished off Pride month in the Big Apple amongst millions of ecstatic fellow QUILTBAGs.
You know who's not as happy, though? Douchebaggery all-stars like big-gay-storm-fearers NOM (which stands for National Organization for Marriage, and yes, they often write it as "NOM") and the Campaign for Children and Their Families. Both of these hateful, misleadingly named groups have been thorns in activists' sides for awhile, but now, NOM has a new heroine and faux-"casualty": Barbara MacEwen, the town clerk for Volney, New York.
Barbara MacEwen's signature has been required on all Volney marriage certificates for a whopping eighteen years. Though she hopes to be reelected for a fifth term, MacEwen made an announcement last week: On July 24, she intends to stop doing her job.
Currently, those marrying in Volney must go through MacEwen. Despite a few conveniently vague comments about God, it's safe to assume it's occurred to MacEwen that such a stunt might prevent same-sex marriages from happening there at all. Luckily, although New York's new legislation reportedly gives exemptions to anti-gay religious organizations, there is no such option for public officials. What she plans to do is not allowed.
I have a special fury for people who oppose marriage equality (seriously, WHY?), especially when they grapple for an excuse in religion... or when they act as if our marriages make them a victim. This week, Barbara joins many other hateful figures in the Hall of Douche.
Don't worry, though: Taking a page from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, MacEwen doesn't think Those People have infiltrated Volney anyway. In a much-reprinted soundbite for POLITICO, she hastened to say, "I don’t know of anybody like that in my town. I’m sure that there might be, but I haven’t heard about anybody."
Gee, I wonder why the QUILTBAGs she knows aren't out to her.
As usual when it comes to queer rights, those who support these sentiments about New York's progress are talking about anything but queer rights. MacEwen's calculated statement, "I don’t feel I should be forced into something that’s against my morals and my God" attempts to frame her opposition as being about something more salient than homophobia, namely freedom of religion. Here's the thing, though: When a person's job is, explicitly, to sign documents for couples that can married by the laws of New York, religion does not enter into it. Far-right groups such as the Heritage Foundation want clerks like her to have "conscience" amendments, which, as Jill Filipovic points out, is awfully similar to the anti-choicers' goal to enable doctors and pharmacists to refuse to provide life-saving abortions, morning-after pills, or, well, whatever they feel like refusing.
So, what's next? The only part that seems clear at this point is that Barbara MacEwen will not succesfully thwart Volney's marriage-minded couples. Is she resigning? Being fired? Working toward enabling a deputy to sign for her? Putting aside her bigotry and doing her job?
I guess we'll find out at the end of the month. In any case, MacEwen & co., the joke's on you. Though sometimes slowly, progress is being made, and a Central Park's worth of douchebags couldn't obscure that.
Photo via the Syracuse Post-Standard.
Central New York officials, religious leaders prepare for same-sex marriage law to go into effect [The Syracuse Post-Standard]
NY Town Clerk refuses to sign same-sex marriage certificates [Left of the Hudson]
Town clerk balks at issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples [LGBTQ Nation]
Of course. [Feministe]
Barbara MacEwen, Religious Liberty, and Special Rights [Waking Up Now]
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