Posts Tagged ‘Civil Rights’

I Don’t Want To Vote On Marriage Law

January 15, 2012

I have a problem with the majority voting on the universal human rights and fundamental freedoms of the minority. It doesn’t matter which groups we are discussing when we say the “majority” and “minority”; what we have are two sets of people – human beings – that are different in some way.

Legislation can be introduced to help define and clarify, to put in black and white, what we hold to be universal human rights, but even without these laws in place, they are called universal human rights because we know that these are so basic, so beyond reproach or question that laws are almost superfluous. Almost. The majority can become blind to the minority. This can lead to a belief that the differences that define the the minority are somehow a threat to that which defines the majority, or that the differences of the minority are undesirable because they’re not shared by most people. And so laws can act as a safeguard for the rights of the minority for cases in which their voices cannot be heard over the crowd.

I think it is horrific that we allow any human being to have their rights curtailed by the whimsy of popular opinion. That is one of the reasons I am angry about this November’s ballot initiative in Minnesota, which leaves it up to us, the voters, to amend the Minnesota Constitution to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Other reasons that I’m angry about the proposal include the traditional objections to polluting our constitution with language that would bar citizens from their rights, because I support human happiness and this amendment would hurt gay human beings, and because I detest the political drama and fear-mongering that is caused by this American Idol-esque “let the people have a say” and “down with activist judges” posturing.

So why are we voting on whether Bob and Steve should be allowed to get married? Well, because bigoted, sex-obsessed, fearful, religious zealot nutjobs…oh, we’ll skip that for now. Let’s just go with this:

Some people (see past sentence) want to amend the constitution to “protect” heterosexual marriage from gay people, and they think the best way to do this is to amend the constitution. Per Article IX of the MN Constitution we, the voters, must approve any changes to the constitution. That’s why we’re voting on Bob and Steve’s rights this November.

But why do the bigoted, sex-obsessed, oops some people want to amend the constitution? Why is the law in the Minnesota Statutes not enough? Judges refer to the Constitution to make decisions and rulings. Right now, judges in Minnesota can point to the constitution and say that nowhere in our Constitution does it explicitly ban the marriage of gay people. This amendment would put language in place that would explicitly ban the marriage of gay people. Several states have already used the lack of this language in their constitutions to overturn statutes that ban gay marriage, thus making gay marriage legal in those states. Some people in Minnesota are trying to prevent that from happening in this state.

This is marriage law that we’re discussing, not theology. Churches can be as restrictive as they want about marriage within the confines of their religion, but every resident of Minnesota should have the right to be treated as equal to every other resident of Minnesota under Minnesota law.

So no, I don’t want to vote on the proposed amendment that would make it very difficult for gay residents to marry in Minnesota. And I don’t want you to be able to either.

But if it is there when I step into the voting booth in Novemeber, I will be voting NO, the Minnesota Constitution SHALL NOT be amended to provide that only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Minnesota.

….

And in light all of that, this is a heartening development from Friday:

From The Colu.mn:

Legislators Propose Repeal of Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment

DFL legislators in the Minnesota House introduced a bill during the legislative recess on Friday to repeal a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage from the 2012 ballot. The bill faces high hurdles as the Republicans still control the House.

Here’s text of the bill:

H.F. No. 1885, as introduced – 87th Legislative Session (2011-2012) Posted on Jan 13, 2012

A bill for an act relating to marriage; repealing a proposed amendment to the Minnesota Constitution recognizing marriage as only a union between one man and one woman;repealing Laws 2011, chapter 88.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA:

Section 1. REPEALER.

Laws 2011, chapter 88, is repealed.

Sec. 2. EFFECTIVE DATE.
Section 1 is effective the day following final enactment.

The bill was submitted by Karen Clark of Minneapolis, Leon Lillie of North St. Paul, Kate Knuth of New Brighton, Rena Moran of St. Paul ; Marion Greene of Minneapolis, John Lesch of St. Paul, Mindy Greiling of Roseville, Carolyn Laine of Columbia Heights, Ryan Winkler of Golden Valley, Alice Hausman of St. Paul, Linda Slocum of Minneapolis, Joe Mullery of Minneapolis, Phyllis Kahn of Minneapolis, Dianne Loeffler of Minneapolis, Frank Hornstein of Minneapolis, Bill Hilty of Finlayson and Kathy Brynaert of Mankato

Props for the effort, but as the article points out, this is likely not going to get anywhere since the Republicans control the House, and the seated Republicans are fairly united in their support of the amendment:

Those in red boxes are Republican legislators. Source

 

Gay is the new black…or isn’t it?

January 11, 2012

One of my friends posted a YouTube video on his Facebook wall, and I thought it was interesting enough to listen to the entire 11:34 piece (woah, attention span…where did you come from? You usually take off once I sit down at the interwebs).

The author of the video is speaking in response to the rallying cry “Gay is the new black”, and specifically to this article published in the Huffington Post at the end of December.

Image source: Fox News

Monique Ruffin’s Huffpo article is an interesting piece on how the “Black Church” is supporting oppression of gays. She calls out black Christians who would deny civil rights to gay people. She is also wondering how some black people in general would bemoan the phrase “Gay is the new black”, and asks them to see the similarities between the black struggle and the gay struggle, not just the differences between the two.

For me, the sufferings of a person or a group of people at the hands of other humans are frightening and heartbreaking. Instinctually, I feel that if any group can be oppressed, then I can be oppressed. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. made this very point when he said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” This is why I’m always flabbergasted when I see some black Christians fighting against the civil rights of gays. We know firsthand the impact and dehumanization of discrimination.

Melvin too calls for blacks and gays to see the similarities of their struggles, but he lists 5 reasons why gay is not the new black.

1.You can’t compare oppressions. If I understand Melvin’s point, he’s calling out those who oversimplify the fight for civil rights undertaken by blacks and by gays and lumping them together in the phrase “Gay is the new black.” Like Ruffin, he asks us to avoid trying to say that one is more of a struggle than the other, but urges us to recognize that each had and has its unique challenges and battles; they are not the same. I liked this section:

Who the hell cares? Who the hell cares? Inequality and oppression are evil, regardless of the form they take. By comparing your oppression to someone else’s, you’re trivializing that person’s struggle and creating a hierarchy, which prevents you from seeing how the two struggles are related and building alliances.

2. Black is still black. “We can’t just hone in on homophobia and ignore other systems of inequality.” Here he describes how the struggle for black equality is not over, and those who lobby for gay rights under the banner of “black rights were then, gay rights are now” are blind to the the ongoing battles still being waged for black rights.

3.  _____ is the new black. I found this argument to be very similar to number two. Again, Melvin is pointing out that discrimination comes from all corners, and chastises people who are so proud to support gay or black rights and forget the Latina, the person with a disability, the woman, the muslim. The take away from this is we can’t just focus on homophobia and forget the other injustices being fought.

When I hear someone say that gay is the new black, and that gay rights are the new civil rights issue of our time, it makes me think they’re pretty ignorant. It makes me think, you know, that person just doesn’t really give a damn about people of color, women, people with disabilities, transgender people, or any other group facing discrimination these days.

4. Gay is not the new anything. Here Melvin gives props to the gay community. Gay is not new, gay oppression is not new, the gay struggle is not new. Gay people have been fighting their fight for over a century. He’s saying gays don’t need to tie onto the black struggle to get their message across because the gay community has been holding its own.

5. So, transgender is the new gay – not. This is a different presentation of 2 and 3: There are other marginalized groups out there, not just the gay community. He is specifically speaking about the transgender community here. Melvin makes an argument that the GLB community has for the most part largely ignored issues facing transgendered people.

In closing, Melvin tells us that we can’t compare gay oppression and the black oppression, but we can learn from the movements of both groups and the ways they have each organized.

So, is gay the new black?

In Ruffin’s Huffpo article she is using the phrase “Gay is the new black” to hit black Christians who discriminate against gays over the head. She is not breaking down the phrase to ask if it is a perfect metaphor, she is using it to remind black Christians that gays are being discriminated against, as they were once were (not in the same way, but nevertheless, they both have been are being oppressed). Melvin is more concerned with the actual metaphor and is asking us to stop using it.

Every activist group needs a battle cry, but is this the right one for the GLBT community? Does it simplify and trivialize other types of discrimination?

It is a frustrating situation; when it comes to civil rights, why is there any other distinction that “human”?