Let’s take a trip in the way-back machine to “Saturday Night Live” in the late 1970s. Specifically to the recurring skit featuring The Coneheads, a family of aliens with giant bald heads shaped like, you guessed it, cones. Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin played the parents and Laraine Newman played the teenage daughter.
Part of what makes the skits funny is how the Conehead family interacts with regular old humans on earth who accept the very strange mannerisms and speech of the Coneheads when given the simple explanation, “We come from France.”
Because you know, France is the home of some very weird shit. Or at least is foreign enough to Americans that to be French or to be alien is pretty much the same thing.
Anyway, I thought of the Coneheads today when I read that right-wing talking head Ben Shapiro declared that same-sex marriage is so completely preposterous that even martians beamed down from Mars or whatever would agree.
See “same-sex marriage” is on the lips of conservatives everywhere right not because the United States Senate just passed the Respect for Marriage Act, which passed the House over the summer. This is not to be confused with the anti-LGBTQ Defense of Marriage Act, which passed in 1996 and which is repealed by this new one. Biden is expected to sign it.
“Love is love, and Americans should have the right to marry the person they love,” Biden said in a statement. “The Respect for Marriage Act will ensure that LGBTQI+ couples and interracial couples are respected and protected equally under federal law, and provide more certainty to these families since the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs.”
Dobbs, of course, is the case that overturned Roe v. Wade, thus opening the floodgates for states to ban abortion. The Supreme Court, which has a terrifying right-wing majority thanks to Trump, has also indicated that it’s open to overturning marriage equality. The Respect for Marriage Act is an attempt to mitigate the damage that would result. It doesn’t make marriage equality the law of the land, but it would make it so if you get married in a state that recognizes you as an equal human being and then you move to another that doesn’t, your marriage won’t go poof in the process (something that happened all the time before the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision). It should also be noted that the Respect Act protects interracial marriage.
Anyway, in a conversation on “The Ben Shapiro Show” with fellow hater Matt Walsh, Shapiro proved once again that the extreme right has not exactly evolved on this issue, saying he is “highly annoyed” that opposition to marriage equality is always framed as a religious argument and that anti-LGBTQ people are using religion to cover for their bigotry.
“This is what the left loves to do, they love to say if you’re pro-life, the reason you’re pro-life is because of your crazy religion,” Shapiro says. “That is not the argument for marriage. The argument for marriage has literally nothing to do with religion.”
Setting aside the fact that religion is invoked over and over again when people argue against same-sex marriage, what, then does it all boil down to? Baby-making, of course.
“You could be a visitor from Mars and you could see that all of human procreation relies on man, woman, child.” Shapiro says. “This is not particularly difficult stuff.”
I would argue that this is, in fact, particularly difficult stuff. I mean, people have spent years looking for signs of life on other planets and trying to communicate with aliens. Oh, wait. I think he means that the idea that marriage is only for procreation isn’t particularly difficult stuff.
That, too, is untrue. That argument only works if you exclude the many people in opposite-sex marriages who can’t or don’t want to have kids.
But then, I’m not from Mars. So what would I know?
Now, what do the Coneheads have to do with Shapiro? Nothing, at first, besides my desire to simultaneously distract myself from the awfulness of the world and to inhabit a time when Shapiro and his hateful face did not yet exist.
But then the more I listened to Shapiro talk, the more his strange monotone patter made me think that he, too, might be from France.
D’Anne Witkowski is a writer living in Michigan with her wife and son. She has been writing about LGBTQ+ politics for nearly two decades. Follow her on Twitter @MamaDWitkowski.
Photo by Gage Skidmore