Civil Rights: 1 step forward, 3 steps backward

Posted on Saturday, November 8th, 2008 at 6:16 pm.

As we’ve already discussed at length, last Tuesday’s election marked a historic moment as a (half-) African-American reached the white house.  Unfortunately, the election also resulted in 3 more states banning gay marriage: Florida, Arizona, and California.  California will still allow civil unions, while the other two will not.

I’m not sure what the exact numbers are, but this puts the number of states that have constitutional bans or laws against same-sex marriage at more than 40, and it leaves Massachusetts and Connecticut as the only states where homosexuals can marry.  Some other states allow civil unions with various degrees of rights compared to regular marriage.

A quote for the NY Times sums it up:

“It is the definition of bittersweet,” Mr. Turman said. “As an African-American, I rejoiced in the symbolism of yesterday. As a gay man, I thought, ‘How can this be happening?’ ”

Sadly, the large numbers of African-Americans that Obama mobilized helped contribute to these bans, with 70% of blacks supporting the ban according to California exit polls.  Ironically, they do not see anything wrong with disruption of a minority group’s civil rights in favor of separate-but-equal, make-believe rights.

I’m not really sure what Obama himself thinks.  He’s voted in favor of gay rights in the past and is in favor of civil unions but openly claims that marriage is only supposed to be between a man and a woman.  Does he really believe this or is he just trying to pick his battles rather than piss off a lot of his voters?

I am reminded of the VP debate, in which Biden and Palin started arguing about gay marriage only to realize they both agreed completely a minute later (that it shouldn’t be allowed).  The bottom line is that pro-gay-marriage is just not a position worth taking at this point (politically) because America is still squeamish, bigoted, misinformed, and confused about the issue.  Here’s my opinion of how people should resolve their issues with gay marriage so we can move on as a society:

  • The bible tells you homosexuality is wrong?  Fine, don’t let gays marry in your church.  The legality of marriage has nothing to do with religious marriage, let alone a particular religion’s notion of it.
  • Gays make you uncomfortable and seem strange?  Don’t hang out with them.  Don’t bother them, and they won’t bother you.
  • Worried about the word marriage?  It’s a word – get over it.  If you must, tell people you and your opposite-sex partner are getting straight-married.  That way you can still use terminology to imply your superiority to homosexuals, but it is completely voluntary.
  • Worried about the sanctity of marriage?  Take your own marriage very seriously. Don’t get divorced.  Don’t have an affair. Tell your church to focus on banning divorce, and once that is complete, they can go back to attacking gay rights.

This list encapsulates the absurdity of the issue:

10 comments to “Civil Rights: 1 step forward, 3 steps backward”

  1. Comment by Vishal:

    I was going to post on this, but the real problem here is that whites and Asians majorities were against the ban while Latino and African American majorities were against.

    The latter two groups went hugely for Obama in California but way against gays.

    Mike, Obama is basically a very liberal/progressive guy. The problem is that a clear majority of the electorate is generally against gay marriage in the states that he has to win.

    You can’t win over the religious voters unless you totally ignore gay rights and just focus on the economy.

    That’s why he didn’t take a public stand but allowed his words to be used in ads.

    Obama’s favored route is to put liberal judges in place and then have them deal with it. Basically like abortion…

  2. Comment by Vishal:

    Oh but I do want to say something else.

    The black community is far too small for it alone to have been the swing vote (their 40% margin).

    Latinos were the main group responsible for its passage. Latinos should be at least 25-30% of the voting population of California I believe.

  3. Comment by Mike:

    “Exit polls in California found that 70 percent of black voters backed the ban. Slightly more than half of Latino voters, who made up almost 20 percent of voters, favored the ban, while 53 percent of whites opposed it.” – NY Times

  4. Comment by Jon:

    I don’t really get the whole thing against gay marriage, but I guess that’s because I’m not very religious. Aside from morals and beliefs, is there any other reason to not allow them? I assume the benefits like tax breaks and health care sharing has something to do with it, but the focus seems to be more on the whole “God hates gays” crap. Secular my ass.

  5. Comment by Mike:

    Exactly. It’s crazy that there even is an argument about it at all. It’s like slavery or not giving women the right to vote. There’s no logical basis for these things, but the majority of the people want things to stay how they are or don’t really care about it at all.

    People are uncomfortable with homosexuality, worried that gays can’t raise children without any supporting data, and instructed by their parents and churches that being gay is a voluntary sin rather than an unchangeable, harmless piece of who you are.

    I’d like to say with confidence that a hundred years from now, the zeitgeist will have changed, gays will have equal rights, and people will wonder how such primitive prejudice could have ever been the norm. But unfortunately, whoever wrote the bible wasn’t too crazy about gays, and two millennia later, their opinion is confusing the hell out of many millions of people and impeding moral progress. I don’t think religion is going anywhere any time soon, especially with the growing Latino population here. Ah, science damn it.

  6. Comment by Vishal:

    Look, the problem that gay marriage advocates have is that they “know” that gay marriage will be okay in 20-30 years because our generation will be in charge and we are far more progressive as a whole than our parents.

    The other issue they have is that they want it now in a far less tolerant situation. I’m almost certain that we’ll see gay marriage in most states in our lifetimes, but the question is just of when.

    Do they wait until the boomers are gone? Do they wait until the generation after them is gone?

    We know they’ll have gay marriage when our generation is seniors, but you do have to keep in mind what our parents and grandparents grew up in.

    Most of my parents’ Indian friends voted for the gay marriage ban in Florida which contributed to it going over 60% and passing. As sad as it is from our point of view, they grew up in a far more constrained culture than ours, so I can’t really fault them for not being as open minded as we are.

    Just keep in mind that it was only 40 years ago that this country was in the midst of a massive civil rights battle. Blacks were second class citizens till then, and the whole “openly” gay movement began well after that.

    Oh, and don’t worry about younger Latinos or blacks, fairly certain majorities of them voted against it. It’s their parents that voted for it…

    The only age group that voted against Prop 8 was youths 18-29 by a 61-39 margin. The exact same margin of seniors voted for it the other way… and inbetween they supported it by a roughly 10 point margin.

    Honestly, I know it sounds sad, but you’ll just have to wait till we’re in the 45-64 range… by then most of our population will be tolerant except the seniors who’ll still slightly favor those kinds of bans.

  7. Comment by Dan:

    I can’t wait until I’m 60 and I’m the stick in the mud voting against rights for some new demographic that I don’t trust. As per Gundam SEED, I’m predicting that when I’m 60 I’ll be against giving equal rights to the genetically modified, and passing state constitutional amendments preventing them from marrying or being in the same schools as non-genetically modified… FOR OUR BLUE AND PURE WORLD!!! (青い正常世界のために)

  8. Comment by Jon:

    I can’t fault people for having their beliefs, but you’d think we’d have learned something in these 40 years. This stuff is just as ridiculous as it was 40 years ago, and even before that with women.

  9. Comment by Mike:

    Very interesting, Vishal. Where did you get those numbers? Are they just for Florida? I’d like to see how the more conservative parts of the country fare.

    lol Dan. Let’s come back to this website in 40 years and see if you were right.

    Jon, sure people are entitled to their opinions as long as they don’t bother anyone else, but if they are going to restrict other people’s rights, I’m less inclined to give them as much space. I don’t like the way people treat “beliefs” like some untouchable, irrational, yet vastly important thing, like picking a favorite color, if it actually mattered. If somebody wanted to restrict my quality of life, they’d better have a damn good rational basis for it.

    Also, I think it’s amusing how people act like the bible is some kind of permanent document that was written in modern English 2000 years ago and has been untouched since. I’m no expert on the subject, but my understanding is that the anti-homosexual remarks in the bible didn’t show up until it got translated into English, as opposed to earlier versions such as those in Hebrew and Greek.

  10. Comment by Jon:

    So long as they don’t push their beliefs on me or use them to restrict anyone’s rights, I don’t mind. I totally agree that just because a bunch of people believe one thing doesn’t mean others should suffer, unless there’s a good reason for it.

    And yeah, ancient Greece seems like it was very accepting of man-on-man action. The stuff they did would freak people out these days.

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