Monday, July 14, 2008

We should be ashamed of ourselves...

udreamofjanie - Washington Fundies Are InsaneI read Miss Britt's anti-tolerance post last week, and whole-heartedly agreed with every word.

It hit me even more as I watched The Great Debaters this weekend and hurt with the sting of shame and disgust during a scene in which a black woman stands alongside an empty bench at the bus stop because the bench is labeled "whites only". I find it disturbing to my most inner core that this type of thing ever existed. That shit is never okay and never should have been okay, yet it was accepted by society at large not so very long ago. It was legally sanctioned bigotry, discrimination, and hatred. Blacks were "tolerated", not included.

In kind, I am increasingly disturbed by the current "tolerance" of our country towards gays and lesbians. Tolerance is not something to be exhibited towards other adults when we're talking about equal civil rights. It is not enough to tolerate gays and lesbians if it means we are limiting their freedoms and protections, the same freedoms and protections the rest of us enjoy. You may find it offensive to see a same-sex couple in public, but I think we all know how I feel about people being offended at the sight of things which are legal. Try exercising your right to turn your head or close your eyes instead of telling people to only display their affections behind closed doors.

We cannot legislate acceptance. We cannot make it law that we all embrace each other as part of the same human race. But, it is not fair to have legislation that in its lack of inclusion or outright exclusion gives us permission to be bigoted, to discriminate, and to hate. Not including homosexuals in the Equal Employment Opportunity Act, passing amendments into constitutions disallowing marriage or civil union by same-sex partners does just that, though.

The gender of the people with whom I prefer to have sex and relationships should never keep me from getting or keeping a job. You know, unless the job requires me to be sexually attracted to and aroused by or in love with someone of the gender I don't prefer...not many of those out there.

The issue is religious and has no place in our country's laws. I don't think there should be legislation requiring all churches to marry same-sex couples, but it is absolutely wrong to have laws that don't allow them to be married by anyone, anywhere or that declare their marriage as illegal. It would be wrong to have an amendment that states someone who has been blind since birth cannot carry life insurance. Instead, the life insurance companies base their offers or rejections of coverage on various risk factors that affect their livelihood. Can we not just leave it to individual churches to decide whether or not marrying a same-sex couple goes too far against the church's beliefs? There are plenty of churches that won't marry a couple for any number of reasons, depending on the strictness of their beliefs. Nothing prevents these couples from getting married at another church or in a non-religious least, not if the couple is a man and woman. They are still married under our country's laws, even if a particular church, or group of churches, doesn't accept the validity of that union. Gays and lesbians should be afforded the same rights. Period.

I am a registered republican, for reasons with which I still agree. But, these "republicans" of late have lost their damn minds. I will never knowingly vote for a candidate if they have openly acknowledged their opposition to giving every adult the freedom to make a law-abiding and legally-recognized commitment to another adult, regardless of gender. I've cast my vote solely for this reason before, and I won't hesitate to do it again. While my political leanings generally sway me to the conservative side of the ballot, my conscience tells me that anyone who endorses legalized bigotry, discrimination, and hatred of fellow Americans is not my representative or leader.

Slavery was abolished, and all slaves were considered "freed" people, but it took another hundred years before they had the freedom to co-exist with the white folk of our go to the same schools, see the same health care professionals, eat in the same restaurants, sit on the same benches.

While gays and lesbians are free to be who they are and not hide (provided they are not serving in our military), able to have their own communities and celebrations, they are not truly free to enjoy the same freedom that every other adult citizen has. They are this generation's "freed" people. I just pray that I am alive when we all shudder in disbelief at the fact that our society felt gays and lesbians did not deserve the same equalities as straight people.


fringes said...

Great post, Woo. You should start reading Andrew Sullivan at The Atlantic. I think you'll find him a kindred spirit.

Churlita said...

Amen, sister. Amen.

heather said...

hell yeah! well said.

didn't know you were (usually?) a republican though. does this mean we can't get along anymore? ;)

Celebrate Woo-Woo said...

fringes - Thanks. I'll check him out.

churlita - Yep.

heather - I think we can continue to get along just fine. I'm sure most of my online friends are the usually-not-republican kind, and I wouldn't have it any other way;>

JanieBelle said...

Hello Woo. This is a great post, well thought out and well said.

I'm a little perplexed though.

Given that both the commonwealth and national Republican party platforms specifically call for Constitutional amendments to codify the bigotry which you have said you will not support, does that not rule out voting for any Republican? It would seem to me that any vote for any Republican would give those platforms your tacit approval.

They seem also to directly conflict in multiple places with your implied sentiments of separation of church and state when you say, "The issue is religious and has no place in our country's laws."

From the 2008 Republican Party Platform:

We believe that keeping the reference to “One Nation Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance is very important.

We believe we have an obligation to be good stewards of God's creation for future generations, and we will do so while safeguarding our property rights.

We believe that life and Constitutional rights begin at conception and continue until natural death.

We believe that the Congress should pass legislation which declares that life begins at conception.

We will advocate for a constructive national dialogue on the importance of protecting human life from conception until natural death.

It is important to have references to God in the Pledge of Allegiance. As it states in the
Declaration of Independence, “we are endowed by our Creator with the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” which makes clear that certain rights can’t be taken away by government.

We believe that the Congress should pass a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

...and those are all just in the first three pages.

Clearly, these are all religious opinions that the party wishes to legislate. I'm finding the official platform difficult to reconcile with the words in your post.

Two things I will agree with the Republicans on however, are these statements in the platform:

Statements regarding religion and morality made by the Founding Fathers are just as important today as they were 200 years ago.


Public schools should teach more American history and civics.

Considering how very much at odds Virginia's Republican Party platform is with the first statement, the drafters of the platform stand as shining examples of the necessity of the second.

Celebrate Woo-Woo said...

janiebelle - Thanks for chiming in. For now, it does seem the Republican platform conflicts with my views on the couple issues touched upon in this post, and since those issues are of extreme importance to me, they prevent me from voting for Republicans even though I may be in agreement with other stances.

I do happen to believe in life beginning at conception and would like to be able to see it protected, but I do not believe this along with any type of religious associations. I am of the belief that a being with a distinct heartbeat and a genetic makeup different than those of someone else is a living being. Because the vocal pro-life/anti-abortion groups are religious-based (at least it seems that way), they have the wrong approach to the issue, in my opinion. I can't be supportive of laws against having the choice to abort when we currently have such poor sex and pregnancy-prevention education and limits on access to reliable contraception. I also am not supportive of an absolute exclusion of legalized abortion.

My affiliation with the Republican party has more to do with spending and social programs, usually, but my opinions on those don't trump the fact that all Americans deserve equal rights and protections.

Miss Britt said...

I think that MOST Americans (while certainly not the LOUDEST Americans) find themselves scattered among party lines.

I am the classic "fiscal conservative" and "social liberal".

I think it's impressive when people who have to make a tough decision refuse to just throw their hands up in the air and say "screw it! They are all crooks!".

It takes a truly great American to sit down and sort through your priorities and think. And choose. And act.

In other words, uh, Bravo!

heather said...

good to know cause i'm so not relinquishing my claim to one of the boys for cheeks. lol

JanieBelle said...

Thank you for the clarification, Woo.

Celebrate Woo-Woo said...

miss britt - Thank you;>

heather - Of course not!

janiebelle - No problem.

Tera said...

Fantastic post! You better tell it!