Each Friday, LA Progressive presents a comment we editors find to be most profound, insightful, unusual, or even annoying– we then highlight the comment in an effort to bring attention to the broad range of positions taken by our readers.
This week, Reggie Brown comments on Sheria Reid’s article, “Same-Sex Marriage Ban: Bigotry Isn’t Only a Southern Brew” which addresses the banning of same-sex marriage in 31 states.
Reggie Brown comments:
… as long as it’s the other guy who is responsible, then we avoid uniting in a collective effort to dismantle these laws…
You hit the nail on the head, Ms Reid. One way to move forward on this issue is to convince those in our community who hide behind archaic verses in the Bible to acknowledge that their bias is based on Cafeteria Christianity. People pick and choose passages in the Bible based on what they already believe, just as they tend to seek out friends and articles that reinforce their predetermined viewpoints. If they don’t like gays, they’ll justify it by saying it’s God’s Word they’re following, not their own inherent bias. Those of us who see homosexuality as a natural part of human sexual expression are more likely to focus on Jesus’ biblical record of love and acceptance. In our faith communities, we need to remind people to distinguish between equal rights in civil marital contracts versus holy matrimony, which is a religious concept.
The question we face now is how to generate enough support for gay rights to get past this political quagmire we’ve been in since the 1970s. The GOP has repeatedly used the fear of gay rights as a bludgeon against our Party’s candidates. Homophobia is one of the right wing’s biggest fundraisers and get out the vote strategy. Right now, LGBT citizens and some supporters are fighting for equality, but for the most part, young liberals assume it’ll all work out eventually, and older Democrats just won’t take a stand on it. Somehow we have to convince most Democrats that it’s in our best interest to move forward with this. President Obama could lose the election fall because anti-gay bigots flock to the polls to vote not just against him, but for the upcoming pile of anti-gay legislation in many states.
I can think of some strategies, especially in minority communities. Creating faith-based LGBT-friendly groups to raise awareness, and to plan and implement walk-outs and protests every time a pastor or other leader preaches against gay rights would help. We can also correct our friends and colleagues when they confuse or merge civil marriage with holy matrimony. Most importantly, we can point out the parallels between the black civil rights movement and today’s gay rights movement. The next time someone claims that the gays are hijacking the African-American civil rights movement, remind them that bigots also used the Bible to justify slavery, and later miscegeny. We don’t have to compare oppressions between different groups, we just have to recognize the similarities in function and effect, and work to stop them. When people claim that oppression of gays and lesbians is not comparable to that of African-Americans, they are empirically wrong. Not only is the oppression similar, but the path forward may benefit from some of the same techniques we used in the 1950s.
Here are some statistics:
Number of lynchings in America from 1882 to 1968: 4,742 (27% of which were lynchings of white people)
Number of homosexuals killed by Hitler for being gay: approx 250,000
Number of gays and lesbians killed via the Catholic Church’s terrorist actions such as witch burning: Millions
Aside from the horrendous number of gays and lesbians killed throughout history, both African-Americans and homosexuals have been denied legal equality in this country, and the resistance to change was propagated via churches and community organizing. The purpose and effect is to keep both blacks and gays disempowered personally and politically.
Thank you for your article, and I hope we can all work together in the fight for equality.