Wednesday, February 16, 2005

'Gay is the new black'

Surprisingly, I've never typed that phrase on this blog before, though I've used it in conversation several times. At any rate, The Birmingham News draws the parallel explicitly today in a story on the slew of anti-gay bills clogging up the Alabama Legislature.

You already know about the constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage -- it's already illegal, but you just never know what those liberal activist French-type judges might do -- but Sen. Hank Erwin, R-Montevallo, has decided that gay people shouldn't be able to adopt children either. Because, you know, they'll just make 'em all gay, and besides, it's icky when two dudes kiss. Also in the pipeline is the wild-eyed plan by Rep. Gerald Allen, R-Cottondale, to eliminate all written evidence that gays ever existed.

Why all the fuss over gay people this year? Well, first off, everyone knows it's Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve, so there. Also, as the president of the state Christian Coalition -- truly a beacon for compassionate, non-discriminatory policy-making -- notes, 2006 is an election year, and a gay-marriage ban polls well. "People will, and can, ride the wave or get in on the parade," he said.

Well, unless it's one of them there rainbow-flag-type parades.

9 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, I just don't think the "plight" of present-day gays is comparable to that of the pre-Civil Rights Era blacks.

No one's making gay people use separate water fountains or facilities, no gays are being put into slavery, and I'd venture to say that even in the south, fewer people are going to shout "queer" than they did the n-word in earlier days.

"Gay is the new black" is almost akin to invoking Godwin's Law, as a 2005 gay person arguably has it many times better than a 1950's black person. MUCH better. In an era of "don't ask, don't tell," television shows that glamorize gay (Queer Eye, Will & Grace, etc.), anti-hate crime laws and political correctness, the only downside to being gay is not being able to take part in a centuries-old religious ceremony.

Gays have the same rights as other Americans - they have the right to marry the person of the opposite sex they choose. You can't get much more equal than that.

As for the adoption bill, I'm torn. I'm skeptical that a gay couple could effectively teach a child about the "birds and the bees" when they're being told about it by the aforementioned "Adam and Steve" or "Eve and Eva." But, if there are children that need adopting and there are not enough straight couples willing to adopt, then I see the need for these kids to have a home.

And Gerald Allen's crusade? I hope he won't try to get state funding for his Bookburningmobile (Made by BMW).

11:58 PM  
Blogger Alabamian said...

Sorry, anonymous commenter, but the analogy holds up pretty well. Politicians passed all kinds of anti-black legislation in the 1950s and 1960s to stir up voters' emotions and try to distract from their failures in other areas. Today, politicians are passing all kinds of anti-gay legislation to stir up voters' emotions and try to distract from their failures in other areas.

There are two definitions of marriage. One is legal, and the other is religious. The government is in charge of the legal version, and it shouldn't discriminate based on sexual orientation when it comes to bestowing legal marriage rights. Religious officials retain the right to recognize, or not to recognize, any marriage they wish. I don't see how it could be much simpler than that. Any argument to the contrary would be based on your personal religious beliefs about homosexuality, and a given person's religious belief about homosexuality -- or any other subject -- shouldn't dictate public policy on that subject.

How could you possibly argue that it's better for a child to remain in state care rather than living with two loving adoptive parents who happen to be gay? Where are the family values in that? Are you honestly afraid that gay parents would take a child and "make him gay"? And are you actually giving some credence to that laughable "Adam and Steve" ad?

If you think the lack of marriage rights is "the only downside to being gay," I'd advise you to talk to a few gay people sometime and see if that squares with their experience. You might be surprised.

12:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, anonymous blogger, for not attributing my comments to myself. I do stand by my comments, but I seem to forget to scrawl my moniker on occasion since I don't have an automatic login on here like I do on LJ when I comment on other blogs.

I'll agree with you somewhat that "politicians are passing all kinds of anti-gay legislation to stir up voters' emotions and try to distract from their failures in other areas." Alabama is far from perfect, and we can come up with multiple ares in which Alabama can do better.

But even with the emotional voters part of the analogy, the treatment of gays in 2005 pales in comparison to the treatment of blacks pre-Civil Rights era and even to this day. I can maybe think of two hate crimes against gays in recent years, but we're still not talking about regular lynchings, burning crosses, fire hoses, separate facilities, grandfather clauses, poll taxes and slavery blacks have endured for the majority of our country's lifespan. I said present day because I consider the treatment of Fabien Zinga in his 1999 UA SGA campaign as a good example of racism in the modern-day era.

Even though blacks and gays have that "emotional voter similarity," it's not strong enough to build an analogy between these two loaded topics given the enormity of the plight of blacks compared to that of gays.

I liken my view on the "gay is the new black" analogy to my view on the Bush-Hitler comparison abstract scene created by a Rhode Island high school student. Though Bush and Hitler were men and leaders of their respective countries (I'll agree they do share those similarities), I don't believe anything Bush has done during his tenure as president has compared to the intensity and evil of Hitler's Holocaust.

Gay marriage is a huge issue in 2005, and it's important to have all sides of the issue in the discussion. Alabama would have to discuss the issue sooner or later with other states also considering the issue.

I didn't say that it would be better for children to remain in state care. For all I know, state care may be awesome...maybe the kids play XBox all day. I don't know, because I've never been to a state care facility (or orphanage if they're still called that), and I don't believe you have, either.

I simply question a gay couple's ability to teach their child or children about human sexuality and how to find a mate of the opposite sex. Do you believe a parent can effectively teach their children life lessons with a "do as I say, not as I do" attitude? Can "Adam and Steve" effectively teach little Billy about the affairs of a man and a woman when the two of them prefer the company of men? Would you trust Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown to teach students in a DARE program not to use drugs?

Legally, other than not being able to marry, what other downside is there for being gay? What other "rights" are they not getting?

J.B.G.

1:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since the earliest days of our country, we've found new ways to exclude minorities from our "all men are created equal" vanguard. Women, blacks, immigrants - name your group and we've found seemingly incontrovertible evidence that they're just not equal to us and therefore don't deserve the same treatment that we do. Just because homosexuals are the new flavor of the week doesn't make it anymore justified. And as far as rights go, I remember hearing something about "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." If happiness is not the opportunity to marry the one, consenting adult person that fills your life with joy - then I am afraid, sir, that I do not know what happiness is.

-WN

2:30 AM  
Blogger Alabamian said...

By implication, you've conceded that the government is discriminating against homosexuals today, just as it discriminated against blacks in the 1950s and 1960s. You're just arguing about the degrees of discrimination rather than whether it exists.

Trust me when I say you wouldn't want to grow up in a state care facility. As to your "do as I say" argument, it's based on the assumption that homosexuality is a choice, which science indicates is untrue. More than 450 animal species engage in homosexual conduct in nature; surely you won't claim they all do it purely by choice.

Even if homosexuality were a choice, do you think parents are utterly incapable of teaching their children to make different choices than they made? Are you going to argue with a straight face that parents with a drinking problem can't teach their children to abstain? That parents who dropped out of high school can't teach their children the importance of a college education? Sorry, I'm not buying what you're selling.

If you don't think the opportunity to get married to the one person you choose -- consenting, of age, and not related to you -- is a right, then push for a constitutional amendment to ban marriage altogether. You're being disingenuous when you put "right" in quotation marks.

2:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, I've never said gays are being discriminated against, especially when I say that "have the same rights as other Americans - they have the right to marry the person of the opposite sex they choose."

As for your "animals do it" argument, I offer two counter-arguments. Genesis 1:26-27 (NIV):

(26)Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."
(27)So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
We may be similar to animals, but we're not their equals--we're their superiors. If our actions can be deemed OK because the animals do it, then we're not acting like the superior species, we're not acting like we're the image of God.

If we tackle your "animals do it" argument head on, I'll submit to you other animal behaviors.

Around 140 species show cannibalistic tendencies under various conditions. If the animals do it, does that mean we can?

Lions may kill and sometimes eat young cubs. Even certain primate species practice infanticide. And some of them may be related to us (if you believe that sort of thing). If the animals practice infanticide, does it excuse Andrea Yates for killing her children?

The female praying mantis may eat the head of the male after copulation. That should excuse a woman for doing the same to a man after sex, right?

The problem with your scenario of a parent with a drinking problem teaching their kids about the dangers of alcohol is that many adults with drinking problems cannot admit they have a problem-they may not admit they're wrong. And they'll keep drinking and their children will emulate it.

A gay person can't up and quit being gay cold turkey, especially if you argue that it's not a choice. Can a gay person hide their gay traits or actions and effectively teach their kids about normal sex (man and a woman) and safe sex?

Are gay parents going to be able to tell Billy or Janie how to attract a member of the opposite sex and what to do if they choose to have sex? I don't think a gay person is the best teacher here.

I use "right" in quotation marks because I believe gays have equal rights (since they can still marry someone of the opposite sex like everyone else), and in some cases, stronger rights. Hate crime legislation in some states can bring heavier punishments to those found guilty of a crime against gays or other minorities.

I do not believe that gays have the right to rewrite the definition of a religious rite that has hundreds of years of history. Sure, there's the religious and the legal definition of marriage, but when the legal definition of marriage was created, it would have been kind of silly to have to come up with another name for it.

You can give gays civil unions if they want a "legal marriage" (the same thing different name), but don't give them the right to cheapen a religious rite.

Some proponents of gay marriage say that marriage has already been tarnished because "50 percent of marriages end in divorce." I've always heard that statistic but never where it came from. I question its validity. And just because half may abuse it doesn't mean the other half do not hold it sacred.

I don't consider marriage a right as much as a privilege. Sure, we have the right to choose a mate of the opposite sex whom we love and care for, but in this era with high divorces, it's more important than ever for religions to make sure they don't marry a couple at the drop of a hat. My diocese requires couples to notify them of their marriage at least four months in advance, and couples usually have to have some counseling with a priest before marriage. All religions should do something like this to keep the marriages they perform sacred.

And maybe that waiting period isn't such a bad idea for legal marriages, either. Maybe if couples were required to fill out paperwork and wait a month or a few months, maybe some would realize they aren't cut out for each other instead of going through it and divorcing in the future. Hey, fewer divorces would make some government jobs and housekeeping easier.

12:48 AM  
Blogger Alabamian said...

Wow, you just compared consensual homosexual acts, which don't hurt anyone else, to cannibalism and infanticide. Does the word "overreaction" mean anything to you?

If "hundreds of years of history" is the standard by which we wrote all of our laws, then monarchy and slavery and child labor would all still be the order of the day. Society has to be able to adapt to changing times. Your arguments seem to be entirely based in your religious faith, which, while I respect it, is tangential to the legal issues at hand. You think homosexuality is sinful, which is fine for you to think, but you shouldn't impose your personal religious beliefs on society at large.

As for your argument that gays already have equal protection because they can "marry the person of the opposite sex they choose," let's flip things around. Let's say you live in a country where 90 percent of the citizens are homosexual and where heterosexual marriage is outlawed because that's what the majority wants. Under your theory, it would be fine for the government to bar you from marrying the woman of your dreams, because, after all, you have the same right as everyone else: the right to marry the person of the same sex you choose. I hope you see the fallacy of that argument now.

The problem with calling heterosexual unions "marriage" and homosexual unions "civil unions" is that the latter term connotes second-class status and thus violates the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee of equal protection under the law. It's the same reason we outlawed segregated schools: Even if the law called for the same services to be provided separately for both races, that separation inherently creates inequality.

If you can't distinguish between religion and law, and it looks like you can't in this context, there's no need to continue this debate. Unless you have some kind of legal grounds upon which to base your argument, please don't reply.

11:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ironic that you claim that I overreacted when I accused you of doing the same in my first comment.

In animals, homosexual acts and infanticide or cannibalism have one major thing in common: They occur naturally. The animals do not pick these traits up from watching TV or reading graphic novels-they're programmed to know how to do it. Infanticide and cannibalism may be more gruesome than homosexuality, but whatever cosmic force that created those animals put those acts into the programming just like the homosexuality.

So the question still stands: Should any act that occurs naturally in other animals be excused when a human does it?

--

Your theoretical 90 percent homosexual country forgets one thing: Humans are still only created by heterosexual sex. Changing the demographic doesn't change the laws of nature.

A 90 percent homosexual country wouldn't be able to survive because the homosexual nature of the majority of the country would be detrimental to having a growing or even stable population. With same-sex families, there is no procreational sex, so your population dwindles as it gets older and dies. Without a family system that promotes childbirth, you lose your workforce as the adults become elderly and retire, and you have no one to replace the retiring workers. You also lose your army and security forces in the same way, so your country grows more ripe for the taking by enemy regimes.

--

"What's in a name?" Would calling a gay marriage a "civil union" really violate the Fourteenth Amendment? It's just a name, and gays could still be given the same legal rights as heterosexuals that get married. Maybe you interpret that a seperate name treats gays unfairly, but remember, that's your interpretation. The amendment doesn't spell it out in black and white, and such interpretations of the amendment are left to the Supreme Court.

"Seperate but equal" applied to the case of segregated schools because while the schools may be furnished equally, the older schools would have more history and prestige. The name Harvard would carry more prestige and history than "Black Harvard," for instance.

Maybe gays would embrace civil unions, a term of their own. If 50 percent of all marriages ended in divorce, then I would believe many gay couples would not want that taint or statistic looming over their gay marriage, so having their ceremony called a civil union would have a much more positive ring to it.

Many people believe in the separation of church and state. When our government adapted the religious marriage into legal documents, "separation of church and state" wasn't considered. It was more simple to just adopt the idea of marriage than to create a new concept of a "civil union" or something similar. Rewriting the basic concept of marriage would fly in the face of the religions that brought the concept of marriage to the New World, and would seemingly force religions to rewrite the rules on marriage.

J.B.G.

1:09 AM  
Blogger Alabamian said...

No one is telling religions what they can or can't teach and promote in their own churches. No religion has to recognize any marriage with which it disagrees. But no religion has the right to demand that the instrumentalities of law be used to enforce its worldview, which is what you're promoting.

"'Separate but equal' applied to the case of segregated schools because while the schools may be furnished equally, the older schools would have more history and prestige. The name Harvard would carry more prestige and history than 'Black Harvard,' for instance." And thus would be the case with the term "marriage" versus the term "civil union." Thanks for making my point for me.

I'm going to let your wildly outlandish comments about cannibalism and infanticide speak for themselves, since you've already blinded yourself to the distinction I drew between natural acts that harm others and natural acts that don't. It's not my fault if you didn't read my last comment closely enough to discern that argument, and it's not my fault if you don't see how patently absurd it is for you to assert that while animals engage in homosexual conduct because it comes naturally, humans engage in it not because it comes naturally but because of cultural influences.

This post is off the main page, and there's no point in continuing a debate that no one else will read. You're free to spout the same talking points later on a future post about gay marriage, but as for now, the comments on this post are closed.

1:55 AM  

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