Updated: August 2, 2013 6:25AM
How can McDonald’s sell cheeseburgers, even though they’re banned in the Bible, which is fairly clear about not mixing milk and meat?
OK, the Bible isn’t clear at all — I’m just making stuff up, a popular pastime when it comes to matters religious. There’s a pair of lines in Exodus about not boiling a kid in its mother’s milk — cruel, if you think about it — that Jewish scholars decided centuries ago means not to mix any kind of meat with any dairy, since you can never tell if any given patty is related to a certain cup of milk.
The question remains: How can McDonald’s sell cheeseburgers, violating Jewish law? Not a toughie. Answer: Because the laws of kosher don’t matter to anyone but observant Jews. There is no health reason why you shouldn’t mix milk and meat. Jewish dietary law has no bearing on secular law. Jews, a scant minority, are uninterested in trying to force their arcane practices upon non-believers (except in parts of Israel where, alas, emboldened by numbers, observant Jews seem determined to show they can be just as bullying as any other faith).
Anti-gay Christians are now approaching their cheeseburger moment — welcome, welcome — after the Supreme Court has tossed out much of the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8. The legal whip drops from the fundamentalist hand, which strikes them as oppression, forgetting they can still practice whatever private dogma they like regarding gays — never marry their own gender, disown their own gay children — but gay marriage is going up on the menu in more and more states. Society is marching — running, really — off without them, into a future of gay folk living openly without fear.
It hurts, bubbie, I know. Here’s a Kleenex.
You’ll get used to it. Take it from a Jew. You get used to the world not singing along with your religious peccadillos. (Not that keeping kosher and discriminating against gays are comparable, except as religiously inspired irrational acts). No harm in cleaving to your faith in the midst of a carnival of all you don’t believe. At Christmas, it isn’t like I suffer through all these foreign practices — caroling, wassailing, midnight massing. I accept them with humility — it’s not my party, but it’s someone’s party. It isn’t all about me.
That takes practice, but you’ll get used to it. Used to more gay couples in TV commercials. Used to more same-gender pairs gazing out of the wedding announcements. My younger son and I were walking up Clinton Street last week and a pair of men coming out of the French Market paused to kiss — bye-bye honey, see you at dinner — directly in front of us. I felt the need to say something — a common reaction of mine. “We’re not in Northbrook anymore,” I said, a lame invitation to discuss the tableau, which went unheeded. The boy said nothing. Maybe he didn’t notice. Still, saying nothing is an undervalued skill. Michele Bachmann and her ilk, who clearly lost and will keep losing, announced they will re-double their efforts.
“Time is not on the side of those seeking to create same-sex ‘marriage,’ ” said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. “As the American people are given time to experience the actual consequences of redefining marriage, the public debate and opposition to the redefinition of natural marriage will undoubtedly intensify.”
Perkins says lots of dumb stuff, but you have to savor this bit of gibberish, because it is wrong in every particular. Time is not on their side. Time is conveying them onto the bench of shame with Bull Connor and Henry Ford. If you look at any opinion poll, desire to oppress gay people is directly proportional to age — older folk have the strongest anti-gay bias, younger people, less and less.
And the “actual consequences of redefining marriage” are that fellow American citizens whose relationships were ignored or trivialized by society suddenly can get buried together in military cemeteries, make important medical decisions for each other, and hold their heads high at PTA Parent Night.
There is a bedrock truth below all this, one that would have been unchanged no matter what the court ruled: Gay people don’t make worse spouses, or parents, or friends. If they did, chuckleheads like Perkins would wave any scrap of evidence like a flag. But there is none, so bigots have to try to twist these advances into some kind of religious oppression — that hating gays is a bedrock of Christian faith and to try to change that is persecution.
Good luck with that one. Ask the next rabbi you see if he feels oppressed because the United States government doesn’t enforce Jewish dietary laws. He’ll take a step back — distancing himself from the crazy person — and say, “No, and believe me, we know what real oppression is.” That’s where Perkins et al. will be in 50 years, only their privately held torch will not be a harmless dietary quirk, but a shameful, refuted hatred gilded with a thin, worn and crumbling veneer of faith.