Friday, June 15, 2007

Gay Rights: The New Civil Rights Movement

I just wanted to add to our editorial today:

To many casual observers, my roommate is the ultimate meathead. He lifts six times daily, subsists solely on tuna fish and amino acids, and buys his whey protein wholesale (in such quantities that the three-gallon jugs dominate the top of our fridge, blocking access to my go-to healthy snack--Doublestuf Oreos). Yet, underneath his motorcycle helmet, there lies an unusually developed brain. Though he'd never admit it to his Iowa City Fitness buddies, the kid is a teeming intellectual, a shrewd political observer, and a social liberal. And, occasionally, he'll stop flexing his cheese-grater abs and dabble in profundity, transforming into Noam Chomsky in an Abercrombie polo.

A couple of months ago, he had one of those moments.

"You know what?" he said, suddenly waxing political. "I think in about 40 years, we're going to look back on the way we're treating gay people now like the way we treated black people 40 years ago, in the '60s."

It hit me. Why the hell didn't I think of that? That's a perfect way to describe rampant, harmful culture of homophobia that we cannot seem to escape in this country. It is no longer acceptable to spew the hateful N-word in public, or even to spell it out in print. Why, then, can one hear the derogatory use of the word "faggot" echo off of every wall of every college dorm, high-school basketball locker room, and GOP convention ballroom (see: Ann Coulter) in America on any given night?

What is this change-resistant juggernaut that's keeping us in the dark ages, subjecting people who are predisposed to liking members of the same sex to constant humiliation and utterly unequal protection under the law? Why, until the Iowa legislature extended protection to homosexuals in the state just months ago, was it LEGAL to NOT give a person a loan, or a job, or a home mortgage, simply because he or she was gay?

One of the most laughable arguments--and you hear right-wingers spouting this malarkey at alarming rates--is that, unlike race, homosexuality is a choice. This ludicrous assertion--that all gays are masochists who just love being pummelled by hate groups, discriminated against in all facets life, and ostracized from churches and society generally, and thus willingly choose to live as de facto second-tier citizens--is echoed by the same sad souls who believe "Creationism" should be taught alongside evolution, who deny research showing that homosexual males all seem to have this interesting little discrepancy on their X chromosomes that straight males don't happen to possess and identical-twin studies linking homosexuality to genetics, and who chalk up the fact that every other person in the free world has a gay uncle (who just happens to have been raised the exact same way in the exact same household as their straight father) as an example of "gay rebellion." Our only defense against people espousing this untenable belief is that they themselves will soon fall victim to Mr. Darwin's theory, a la the Reverend Jerry Falwell. RIP.

OK, so what else can the anti-gay religious right throw at homosexuals? "America was founded on Christianity, and Christianity says homosexuality is wrong, so we can outlaw gay marriage." Whoa, hold on. People actually say this. The same nation, Pat Robertson and and his crew claim, that specifically inserted a semi important (First Amendment) clause that "government shall respect no establishment of religion," that was conceived and delineated by documented atheists like Thomas Jefferson and deists like Ben Franklin, that was first colonized by people ESCAPING one-way theistic thought and religious persecution in England, was actually founded as a Christian state? I guess I don't follow...

So let's get down to the real problem: the fact that many Americans define "different" and "worse" the same exact way, i.e. "John is gay, so he's different than us," means the same thing to these people as "John is gay, so he's worse than us." The dilemma's simplicity makes it all the more troubling.

Until that mindset changes, Ann Coulter will still have Dale Earnhardt-status among the majority of Deep South-staters, and gays will be left where blacks were prior to 1964-65. If you believe this is OK, you're just as complicit as whites who looked the other way as blacks were denied access to the ballots and public facilities. If you're not an opponent, you're just another accessory.


Jon Gold said...

The only problem I have with your argument is that it devalues the agency that all people have to choose their sexual partners. While your other points are entirely correct, I think the deterministic view of sexuality as simply "built-in" is a little limiting.

Also, isn't it interesting that we argue nature against nurture in homosexuality, and not a word about heterosexuality is mentioned? Is it nature or nurture that makes us straight?

Mason Kerns said...

you know're right. i should have elaborated further on how it shouldn't MATTER how much nature/nurture come into's wrong to discriminate cuz its wrong to discriminate.

for another blog entry, perhaps...