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Santorum explains why anti-gay fight is a do-or-die thing for social conservatives.

We often dismiss anything Santorum says as nothing more than craziness, yet in this clip, Mr far-right-frothiness shares what is the most important piece of information that every LGBTQ and/or progressive advocate must understand. This is essential information because it explains everything. It doesn’t make him any less crazy, but it expresses why the logic and fairness of marriage equality seems so lost on social conservatives.

Some bloggers have already drawn attention to this clip, but most have focused on the comment about “smart people.” While easy to jump on such a phrase, doing so misses the really important part of what Santorum said. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not supporting him or defending his comment. But the reality is, if we understand where the opposition is operating from, we are far ahead in terms of achieving our full equality. Some suggest that understanding their side isn’t important. “We are right and they are on the wrong side of history,” activists smugly say. This is a true statement yet it also fails, or will impede our progress. What follows, is always that since we are right, we don’t have to care about how our opponents see things, and winning becomes a power-over effort. This is the same tactic they use in their efforts to keep full equality from us. In a power-over conflict, especially where emotional and heart-felt beliefs are at stake, no side is going to loose without putting up the biggest fight they can muster.

But here is what Santorum said that is really important and useful.

He sees (and values voters see), their source of power “as the family and the church.” These are the methods of organizing people within which they believe they have power. Therefore, their every effort is devoted to protecting these two structures. This is why a fight for LGBT Rights is a moral fight for them, and winning over LGBT Rights is more important than anything else. It is bigger than abortion; bigger than women’s rights; bigger than anything, because no issue touches the family and the church as much as the acceptance of gay people-at least from their perspective.

The Church is a larger representation of the family, or we could see it as the family as a microcosm  of the church. We see this in so many ways. God is our Father, and we are the children of God. The Church sees Adam and Eve as the first family, (even though they weren’t married ). Everything about the power structure of “the Church” fits well with traditional gender roles. But contemporary culture doesn’t conform to these rigid gender roles. Queer relationships call for a different understanding of family and gender roles where equality is more important than subservience.

This is why Santorum has called Gay Marriage the hill he will die on. Because to him, there truly is no bigger threat to the two things he believes in most. This doesn’t make him right, but it is essential that anyone who is for LGBT Equality understand how critical this appears to a person like Santorum.

The reality is that true family includes all of us, and LGBT persons are families and parts of families. We are mothers and fathers, and daughters and sons. We are spouses and partners too. A rigid attempt to force all families to match some mythic idea of gender roles and family causes real destruction instead of restoring some lose sense of goodness.

It also explains why organized Religion has seen such a decline in the past few decades. So much of their base theology is about forcing irrational gender and power roles. Not all theologies do this. For example, Liberation Theology is extremely empowering to individuals in a faith community, and the community as a whole. But the “God is our Father” emphasizes gender and power roles that just don’t fit the reality of A contemporary world. But that, is a subject left for another blog post.