Who's Your Daddy

Children of a lesser god

In February, my ancestral home, Greece, became the first Orthodox Christian country to legalize same-gender marriage. The new law affords LGBTQ+ gay couples the same rights as straight married couples – including the ability to adopt children.

It passed in spite of stiff opposition from the Greek Orthodox Church, whose high-ranking officials made personal calls to members of Parliament urging them to vote against the law. They argued that it would wound the family unit, ultimately leading to the end of civilization. However, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis countered that it was already the law in 15 European Union states and over 30 other countries around the world, and none of those horrors have yet materialized.

Meanwhile, in the United States, LGBTQ+ rights are under constant threat. In fact, according to the ACLU, in 2023, a record 510 anti-queer laws were proposed in the country. Already, in the first two months of 2024, we’ve seen over 460 of these bills.

But marriage rights are solid, right? I mean, the Respect for Marriage Act is the law of the land. Well, a key component to marriage equality in this country is based on the SCOTUS ruling in a case called Obergfell v. Hodges, in which the justices ruled that the 14th Amendment requires every state to license same-gender marriages and to recognize those performed in other states. That wasn’t part of RMFA.

As I mentioned in my December 2022 column about RFMA, Justice Clarence Thomas has been suggesting “revisiting” Obergfell since the court overturned Roe v. Wade. (Or, you know, now there’s an activist conservative majority.) He’s not alone.

As recently as last month, Justice Samuel Alito reiterated his opinion that SCOTUS should take a second look. This time, he alluded to it in a statement he penned commenting on a case that the court declined to hear.

In that case, a lesbian woman sued her employer, the Missouri Department of Corrections, for discrimination. During the jury selection, her attorneys asked if any of the potential jurors had grown up in a religion in which they were taught that homosexuals should not have equal rights to other people. Several individuals did say that had been their experience but that it would not prevent them from being impartial. Nevertheless, they were dismissed with prejudice.

Alito saw the case very differently. About the lower court’s ruling, he wrote, “[T]he danger I anticipated in Obergefell, namely, that Americans who do not hide their adherence to traditional religious beliefs about homosexual conduct will be ‘labeled as bigots and treated as such’ by the government.”

Let’s be honest, bigotry has been couched under the guise of religious fidelity for millennia. Racism, antisemitism, and even misogyny are all deeply rooted in religion. Bigots are removed (rightfully) from juries all the time. But Alito doesn’t seem concerned about the rights of those who may believe Black people are untrustworthy because their faith says they bear the sin of Cain. No, he’s only interested in protecting the homophobes — all part of his quiet war against LGBTQ+ people and our families.

The efforts of the Greek Orthodox Church did have some effect – 40 percent of parliament either voted against marriage equality, abstained, or were absent. In the end, the bill passed thanks to votes from other parties, including Syriza, the official opposition — led by Stefanos Kasselakis, a gay man.

For Mitsotakis it was a matter of equality for all Greeks. He argued that a democracy should not, “have two classes of citizens and certainly not have children of a lesser God.” Frighteningly, that seems to be exactly what Alito would like to see.

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