Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Bigotry today! Bigotry tomorrow! Bigotry forever!

Regular readers will know that I am a staunch supporter of equal treatment under the law for all citizens, including based on sexual orientation. In short, I believe in the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution. That gays should have the same civil rights as other law-abiding Americans seems a no-brainer to me. And it isn’t just that I support civil rights for gays. It’s that, for all the heated rhetoric, I’ve yet to hear a single compelling argument against it. Not even necessarily one I agree with... just one that I think isn’t completely ludicrous.

Not everyone thinks that way.

My friend Bob over at Planet Albany blog has a report on a march in Albany against equality for gays.

I want to preface my remarks by saying I do not know for sure what Bob’s position is. I have never heard him state his own personal position explicitly. Mostly, he just relays the position of the Catholic Church and other social conservatives which is, of course, staunch hostility toward these civil rights. Given his avowed status as a social conservative and his megaphoning of the Catholic Church’s positions, one can infer his own view but I do not wish to put words into his mouth (a courtesy not often extended in the other direction). Hence, an explicit statement would be welcome.

But to sum up his reporting, here is my take...

-Opposition to civil rights for gays has “religious foundations” (no surprise there) and is a heart rendering example of unity between fundamentalist Christians and fundamentalist Muslims;

-Democratic state Sen. Ruben Diaz, the leading opponent of equality in the New York legislature, has “love in his heart” for gay people... he just doesn’t think the state should treat them as full-fledged citizens. Gay people might have a little less objection to this view if they weren’t forced to pay the same taxes as full-fledged citizens. Maybe Diaz should show his “love” by getting them a tax break. If not, Diaz should understand that I love Hispanics too... so long as they don’t expect any rights;

-Saint Diaz, a Pentecostal minister, doesn’t appear have an actual legal argument for why gays should be denied constitutional rights, at least as reported by Bob, but he does object to people calling him meanie names. Diaz seems to be under the impression that him being a minority gives him license to take discriminatory positions against other minorities and then snivel when he’s criticized for it; bullies usually are the ones most hypersensitive to criticism. Diaz vowed that he is “not keeping his mouth shut” despite the fact that he has nothing of substance to say... though that’s usually the case about those who talk to loudest;

-A speaker from the New York State Catholic Conferences fears the ramifications of the Church having to (gasp) treat gay people decently. The Church might, for example, have to choose between its anti-gay positions and its participation in the adoption industry. Sorry, but that’s a pathetic argument against equality. Equal treatment under the law a constitutional right. Participation in the adoption industry is not. It’s that simple;

-That speaker wrongly claims that Catholic Charities has already been forced to close adoption agencies in Boston and Washington, D.C. In actual fact, they were not forced to close such agencies. What they were actually forced to do is to choose between helping kids and their anti-gay positions. That they chose the latter is sad and telling, but it was their choice and the consequences are on their conscience;

-A “Reverend” Duane Motley implied that tolerance for gay people was responsible for straight people getting divorced and living together unmarried... going so as to invoke the menace of health problems, school dropouts and crime;

-Motley also made the counterintuitive claim that legalizing gay marriage would weaken the institution. It’s more likely marriage would be STRENGTHENED by the inclusion of people who believe so strongly in that institution that they want to participate in it and are willing to struggle to do so.

-Some wonder why there’s a growing backlash against churches who are abuse their tax-exempt status to lobby for the arbitrary denial of rights by the state to citizens based on nothing more than their personal religious whim. Some feel churches should not receive these *SPECIAL RIGHTS*. Here’s why. Churches can get a tax exemption while demanding gays be denied rights by the state... and this tax exemption might be threatened if gays were ever granted equal rights. Gays must pay full taxes even while being denied full rights. The revenue not paid by tax-exempt churches is a burden passed on to all taxpayers, including gays. So the cruelest irony of all this is that gays are essentially helping, against their will, to fund organizations hell bent on making sure they are treated like crap. Churches are benefiting from services paid for by those whose oppression they are committed to. No grounds for resentment there!

It’s unfortunate that religious leaders hide behind their religion to excuse their own bigotry. The Constitution gives anyone, individuals and churches alike, the right to be a bigot; it does NOT give the state the right to act in such a fashion toward law-abiding, taxpaying citizens. The state does not follow religious diktats. This is because (and Bob would certainly agree with this) neither the US nor NYS is a theocracy.

At least opponents of black civil rights in the south tended not to hide their prejudices behind the respectable veneer of religion. They simply came out and said, “We hate (black people) because they are inferior beings.” Ditto for those who wanted to keep treating women like chattel. Such candor may be crude but at least it’s honest enough to drop the intellectually insulting pretense of something loving and holy.

Note: Clearly, this is just my take on the anti-fairness rally. You can judge for yourself by reading Bob’s report directly by clicking here.


PlanetAlbany said...

Hi Brian: When have I put words in your mouth?
I have indeed been skittish about opining on this issue, and my social conservatism is much more about abortion-related matters(on which I have not been reluctant to opine). It's safe to say my opinions on this issue are less strong than those of Revs. Diaz and Motley, and I do think reasonable people can disagree. I don't think, however, that you agree with that last point, and I think that attitude tends to discourage debate. I think, for example, that it is perfectly reasonable for Catholic adoption agencies to decline to place children with homosexual couples, whereas I think you characterize their position as bigotry. Since most people don't want to be called names like bigot or homophobe, they become leery of engaging in this debate.

Brian F said...

I call the current debate as I see it. I think linking gay marriage and the social ills Rev. Motley mentions is vile. Sorry, but I don't think hatemongering is something that should be pussy-footed around. Many (not all) opponents of gay marriage do not hide their strong feelings against any legitimacy granted toward gays. I do not hear you complaining about that. I don't think people like to be called faggot or accused of undermining marriage or of wanting to indoctrinate children or blamed for all the ills of society any more than they like to be called bigoted.

You say your position is less strong than that of Sen. Diaz; not knowing your position, I can't comment but I hope you were right.

If the issue were granting equal rights to Catholics or blacks, I don't think you'd have a problem with calling it bigotry.

However, I am game. You say that reasonable people can disagree on the issue. If you know of anyone with a reasonable argument as to why law-abiding gay citizens should be refused the same set of legal rights as law-abiding straight citizens, encourage them to post it here.

PlanetAlbany said...

Law-abiding single heterosexuals do not have the right to demand that Catholic adoption agencies hand over children to them; nor do law-abiding homosexual couples. Those people can go to other adoption agencies which may well place children with them, but Catholic agencies have the right to determine that they prefer to place children with married heterosexual couples, both because that is in accordance with their religious docttines and because they believe such placements are better for the children concerned. You may characterize such beliefs as bigotry; I disagree.

Brian F said...

This is a great example of you trying to put words into my mouth. I did not say or imply that the adoption argument you posted constituted bigotry. My 'hide behind their religion to excuse their own bigotry' remark was (since this was the topic of the essay) referring to churches' lobbying against any STATE recognition of gay rights in general and gay marriage in particular. I consider this bigotry because I've yet to hear a reasonable argument why the state should discriminate against law-abiding citizens based on their sexual orientation. All the arguments I've heard against gay marriage have all been based on some form of bigotry: that gay unions should not be recognized as legitimate because that would imply social acceptance of being gay. Sorry but when one wants to treat a group as inferior (and more importantly, demands the state do so) and can't even conjure up a reasonable (reason-based) justification for that inferior treatment, that IS bigotry. How else would you describe it?

The adoption agency issue is merely a straw man. Perhaps legitimate in its own right but in no way the fundamental basis for anyone's (to my knowledge) opposition to the state legalization of gay marriage. Rather than being an argument against gay marriage, your adoption agency issue argues instead for reform of adoption laws. It is hardly a reason in and of itself to prevent ANY group of law abiding citizens, be the gay couples, interracial couples, interfaith couples or whatever, access to a state institution.

Brian F said...

You suggest that you're open to a reasonable debate so here goes. My question to you would be this.

If adoption laws were modified to continue permitting religious-based adoption agencies to refuse to place children with gay couples if they so desire, would you support marriage equality?

Anonymous said...


planetalbany: from the poughkipsee journal editorial... "there simply is no sound legal argument for the government to prohibit gay couples from having the same rights and liberties as straight couples."

it adds that there are 1324 rights that married couples have that gay couples don't.

Brian F said...

Bob: at that rally you blogged about, the speaker who immediately preceded Diaz declared that gay people were “worthy of death.” You (nor Diaz for that matter) saw fit to even mention this disgusting statement but if I called this man a bigot, *that* would be your trigger to complain about incivility?!!

Fortunately, I know you're a decent, non-hateful person, but the phrase ‘not keeping your eye on the ball’ seems a wholly inadequate description.

PlanetAlbany said...

I did not hear any "worthy of death" statement.

Brian F said...

Upon doing further research, I realized that I was mistaken.

The pastor who denounced gays as "worthy of death" preceded Diaz at a Bronx anti-gay marriage rally the week previous to the Albany one.

I apologize for the error.