A lot of people, when discussing their own political platform or ideas, will adhere to a candidate or political figure because he or she most accurately represents them. This doesn’t mean that this figure will stand for everything the individual believes, but a lot of people are happy to settle for the “lesser of two evils.” This means a lot of issues will be compromised, and voters just have to settle for the outcome. If this has something to do with due process of hiring at the government level, then there is room for debate.
However, should civil rights also fall into this category? Should equality for tax-paying citizens of this country be compromised just so the religious and secular alike will stop arguing? Of course not. The culture war is not a war of control over a specific port or access to oil. It’s a war of victims and persecution. It’s citizens of our country being denied respect and equality for the sake of someone else’s doctrine of religion.
If we are to resolve the issues, it stands to reason that someone will be left unhappy. We do need to find some common ground in order to reach a resolution. HOWEVER – some of the commonly accepted “truces” that people have come up with and consequently put up with are unacceptable as they still favor religion over equality. I have some alternative compromises that I’d like the religious right to make, which allows for equality of every citizen and respects the individual right to practice religion without legislating it.
Issue #1: Abortion
Compromise: “Abortion should be illegal except in cases of rape or incest.”
Unacceptable. Rape and incest cannot even be defined at the GOP level to a degree in which everyone is happy and everyone is equally included. The GOP also says that “actual rape” rarely results in pregnancy and also discredits marital rape. The definition of “forcible” rape that is convenient enough for the GOP to accept can potentially discredit a woman date-raped because she was drunk, someone with limited mental capacity who may not fully understand the implications of her consent, statutory rape, and the like. Cases of rape or incest is a cop-out. Abortion on demand, without apology, and free from medically unnecessary restrictions is what women should have access to, regardless of how the religious feel about it.
Compromise: “I would personally never get one, but…”
Acceptable. While sounding a little pretentious and a little bit holier-than-thou, this is a perfectly acceptable compromise. The religious right is left with their superiority complex, the pro-choice population has their abortion services back, and nobody is forced into undergoing either an abortion or a pregnancy they did not sign up for.
Issue #2: Contraception
Compromise: “Employers should offer contraception in their medical coverage plan, unless they are a religious institution, in which case they should be exempt to preserve religious freedom.”
Unacceptable. First of all, health insurance as provided by an employer is partially paid for by a percentage taken out of an employee’s paycheck, so denying an employee the right to purchase birth control is far more draconian than this compromise seems. Secondly, a religious employer has absolutely no right to decide whether or not a woman takes birth control. It is the informed decision of a woman and her physician whether or not she should utilize birth control, not the decision of a politician and employer. This compromise also suggests that everyone who works for a religious employer shares that particular religion – I’m sure that some of the nurses, technicians, and doctors who work at St. Jude’s hospital, for example, do not consider themselves strict Catholics. Forcing them to boycott contraception coverage is the imperialism of religion on the non-religious. Allowing them to have the opportunity does not chip away at religious freedom, as no one is shoving the pill down the throats of the religious populace.
Compromise: “I would never use birth control, but…”
Acceptable – see above. Also, honey, you might want to think about it, because no matter how religious you think you are, almost everyone buckles and does the nasty for recreational purposes anyway. If you’re okay enough with sinning in order to have sex, you might want to consider sinning just a little more and preventing a tiny human from being made in the process. No pressure, though – I don’t want to force my personal beliefs on you.
Issue #3: Sex Education
Compromise: “Sex education should remain in schools, but should emphasize abstinence and adoption over contraception and abortion.”
Unacceptable. First of all, the fact that the sex education program should emphasize abstinence AND adoption suggests that even the lawmakers realize that abstinence education doesn’t work well and pregnancies happen anyway. Secondly, it leaves young people completely clueless regarding the very real threats of STDs, pregnancy, how contraception works, and the like. So
if when the reality of sex occurs in the lives of these young people, they are completely at risk of contracting a disease or getting pregnant because they simply were not informed. The fear that educating kids on contraception, sex, and the like will encourage kids to have sex is incorrect. Their hormones are encouraging them to have sex, not their sixth period health teacher. Telling kids that abstinence is the only choice tells them that there is no room for compromise and they act out, resulting in misinformed and unprotected sex.
Compromise: “Sex education should remain in schools, and teach abstinence and adoption as well as contraception, STD prevention, abortion, and the like.”
Acceptable. If all of the options, including abstinence vs. contraception, termination vs. adoption, etc, and all of the options are discussed honestly and respectfully, a young adult can weigh his or her options and decide which route is best for them personally. No one else can make this decision for them.
Issue #4: Gay Marriage (not a particularly feminist issue, but a huge factor in the culture war and something Generation: Handmaid supports wholeheartedly)
Compromise: “Gay marriage should not be legalized; however, gay couples should be able to have civil unions.”
Unacceptable. A civil union is a cop-out, similar to the “separate but equal” argument used against racial integration decades ago. Homosexuals are tax-paying citizens being denied equality simply because they are gay. This is nothing more than an issue of civil rights being withheld because someone is uncomfortable with the lifestyle.
Compromise: “I don’t think my church should have to marry gay couples, but they should be able to go get married at city hall.”
Acceptable. The issue of homosexuals getting married in the church is an issue with the religious institution itself and should be taken up with the Pope/whoever. The government allowing homosexuals to marry in the eyes of the law and offering them the same benefits and respect of married heterosexual couples is what needs to happen if we are to say we are the greatest country in the world with real freedom.
Issue #5: Equal Pay
Compromise: There is no compromise. An employee who is a man and an employee who is a woman should be paid the same for doing the same job and promoted/given raises according to their work performance and nothing else. Anything else is just good, old-fashioned sexism at work. This is not a discussion and there are no compromises to be made.
With all of this in mind, I leave you with a fantastic article found on Jezebel: I’m not interested in finding a truce in the culture war. I’m interested in winning it.
Go forth and debate the Romney beast, my loves.
“I know why there is no glass, in front of the watercolor picture of blue irises, and why the window opens only partly and why the glass in it is shatter-proof. It isn’t running away they’re afraid of. We wouldn’t get far. It’s those other escapes, the ones you can open in yourself, given a cutting edge.”
-Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale