Tuesday, November 17, 2009

LGBT Civil Rights

It has been very fashionable in the straight white world to be outwardly pro-civil rights for black people no matter how you really feel (I know because I am able to pass among them - yes, it's spooky!). It has become faux fashionable to be tolerant of homosexuals but the idea of civil rights only applies to white people's black friend. Straight white people - and some blacks straights I know - act offended at the very suggestion that our struggle for equality may be equivalent to the black struggle for civil rights - which it is of course. But our experiences are obviously different and so what? As all my fierce black LGBT brothers & sisters realize, it IS all about civil rights. Many differences in our struggles, of course. We homos were never enslaved en masse against our will for several hundred years (except for the black slaves that happened to be gay - yes, there were gay slaves!) and we have had fewer riots. But I can give you one huge similarity and one huge difference.

Similarity: the bible. Fundamentalist Christianity has been used to justify racism and homophobia equally. You know those White supremecists - the KKK? Steeped in Christian racism! Steeped in it! Now the Klan and its influence has been cut down to size, thank god! - still a threat but not like they were at the height of the struggle for black civil rights. The face of homophobia in this country, however, is today the full-blown face of fundamental Christianity. There is nothing else to it.

Difference: I may not be totally accurate but it seems to me that the civil rights struggle for equality among the races was NEVER put to a popular vote. Has it? On any scale? I'd like to know. What I do know is that interracial marriage rights - that have been DEFINED as CIVIL RIGHTS - were not won by popular vote and they have never been subjected to a public referendum. Interracial marriage was legalized once and for all by the Supreme Court Decision in Loving v. Virginia (1967!). White racists (who were and still may be the majority of America) decried the decision but the uproar soon settled down and white racists contented themselves to quietly seething under their breath instead of mobilizing to restore miscegenation laws that were based on their racist biblical values.

Why? because when interracial marriage was legalized the white christian racists were too frightened to do anything about it.

Why is this important? Well, what do you think would have happened if interracial marriage HAD ever been put on the ballot somewhere in the country? Behind the safety of that ballot box curtain white people would have had no problem voting what they believed - voting against what they feared. But then again, blacks were getting so uppity during that time - who knows what kind of wild mayhem would have befallen our already riot-torn cities?

The point is that, out of abject fear, Catholics and fundamentalist christians dropped their opposition to interracial marriage after the Supreme Court settled the dispute. THE CHURCH WAS FORCED TO CHANGE THEIR BELIEFS THAT THEY SAID WERE BASED ON THOUSANDS OF YEARS OF TRADITION - THAT MARRIAGE IS ONLY LEGITIMATE BETWEEN A MAN AND A WOMAN OF THE SAME RACE. After saying over and over that Marriage ALWAYS meant one thing - no mixing of races - suddenly they CHANGED their definition of marriage.

Now the Catholic Church makes another claim: that Marriage has ALWAYS only meant one thing - union of one man and one woman. That it would be "changing the meaning of marriage" if two people of the same sex were recognized as fully equal with their demand that marriage can only be between one man & one woman (at a time).

And now, once again, the Catholic Church claims that GOD HAS DECREED THAT THEY CANNOT and WILL NOT change their beliefs to accommodate the modern world. And since LGBT people are not at all scary to them - they can see that we are basically harmless - they have no reason to fear retribution the way they feared it in their tiny racist minds by inventing images of big black scary bogeymen - rampaging African Americans - who they had spent so long convincing themselves and each other were nothing but savage rapists and murderers.

White racist homophobic christians are not afraid of everyday queers because there are enough of us who look just like them. So they have no problem overstepping their boundaries as religious non-political organizations and spending millions of dollars funding referenda like Prop 8 & Maine's Question 1. They would never have done this after the law between interracial marriage was struck down.

To put the best spin on it - civil rights legislation, based on race has been seen, even by racist white christians, as settled law. No one dares put THOSE Civil Rights questions on a ballot. It would probably NOT be allowed. If they did put the question on the ballot as to whether blacks should be considered equal to whites, the racist white majority in this country would surely have re-legitimized the institution of slavery for blacks by now. Especially in the Southern States.

Did anyone ever suggest that interracial marriage rights be a matter of individual states to decide? I don't think so. But when it comes to OUR CIVIL RIGHTS, it seems all you have to do is get a number of signatures on a petition and then get the Catholic Church and Mormons to pump millions of dollars into a hateful campaign to motivate the hateful ignorant and voila! The majority has spoken - they must be appeased in their ignorance because it has something to do with god. And you don't want to piss god off, you know.

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