The American Family Association (AFA), a band of fundamentalist Christians in Tupelo, Miss., is all worked up over a new children’s book called Promised Land, a fairy tale about a prince who marries a male farmhand.
OneNewsNow, the AFA’s propaganda arm, issued a breathless story recently letting its legions know that at the end of the book, the men kiss, get married and start their own family.
This did not sit well at all with William Matt Briggs, a professor at Cornell University. OneNewsNow noted that Briggs wrote a column in which he asserted, “Two men cannot marry – and two men certainly cannot start a family. That is biologically impossible. These are not only theological truths – they are scientific realities as well.”
In an interview with OneNewsNow, Briggs added, “It goes against the culture because quite obviously two men or two women cannot procreate. It’s just something that cannot be done.”
I looked up Briggs. He’s a statistician. Far be it from me to argue with a number cruncher from a distinguished school like Cornell, but two men can get married. See, back in 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that denying same-sex couples the right to marry is a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment. Briggs might have heard about this. It was in all of the papers.
Also, two men (or two women, for that matter) can have a family. Anyone who has ever adopted or used a surrogate can explain to Briggs how this works.
Promised Land is a children's book about a prince who marries a farmhand, written by Adam Reynolds and Chaz Harris and illustrated by Christine Luiten.
But I’m being sarcastic, of course. Briggs surely knows these things. I’m guessing he just doesn’t like gay people that much, and he – along with the AFA – is determined to expose all the nefarious plots cooked up by the LGBTQ community to brainwash children. (Briggs helpfully points out that the popular live-action “Beauty and the Beast” movie contains “an exclusively gay moment” designed to persuade kids to “look with a kinder eye on homosexual relationships.”)
“We have reached a point of decadence that I don’t think anybody could have predicted, say, 100 years ago,” he said. “And that’s what this book is trying to show you: that not only is the level to which we’ve fallen normal but it has always been this way."
These tiresome attacks on children’s literature from right-wing, fundamentalist scolds pining for the good old days of the 19th Century long ago lost any semblance of entertainment value. In 1989, they collapsed on the fainting couch when Heather Has Two Mommies was published. Daddy’s Roommate in 1994 led to all manner of earnest pearl clutching. In 2003, Western Civilization nearly collapsed when King & King appeared in bookstores. Two years later, the adventures of two gay penguins in And Tango Makes Three really got the Religious Right in a lather.
I get that Briggs and the gang at the AFA don’t like Promised Land (although, actually, I wonder if they have even read it). But there’s an easy solution to that: They should not buy it, and they should refrain from reading it to any kids they might know.
Instead, they should feel free to sit at home, stewing in their bigotry and insisting that the formation of loving families is somehow a threat to the republic.
The rest of us are moving on. With any luck, we’ll soon be so far ahead we won’t even be able to see the bigot brigade stumbling through our dust.