Posted by mike in Politics at 11:57 pm on November 4, 2008

There’s no questioning that history was made tonight (and, as I said yesterday, I’m extremely pleased with our country’s ability to make the right decision after its recent track record of not doing so). But make no mistake about it: we also saw plenty of evidence of just how far our country still has to go before realizing a truly equality-based society.

Gay is the new black.

Despite the fact that we’ve taken a major stride tonight in overcoming our country’s long-standing tradition of racism, we’ve simultaneously taken steps to ensure that we continue to immediately replace that racism with another form of bigotry. It’s as though we just can’t stand to not have some group to discriminate against. Those who were the last to concede that their racism was no longer going to be accepted in our society have been among the first to redirect that hatred towards homosexuals.

Arizona and Florida have voted tonight to ban gay marriage in their states. California, somewhat shockingly, appears to be doing the same, reversing its Supreme Court’s decision from earlier this year. This only increases the number of states that explicitly deny rights of their citizens in a manner eerily reminiscent of the kind of treatment interracial couples received only a handful of decades ago.

And let’s not forget about that bastion of forward thinking, the great state of Arkansas, which has voted to disallow gay couples from adopting (the fact that they cannot marry in that state already being a foregone conclusion).

That’s a full sweep for the anti-gay-rights movement in 2008. It makes it hard to read and listen to all of the self-congratulatory rhetoric about the outcome of this Presidential election without feeling pangs of falsehood behind the declarations of an age of equality. The Chicago Tribune, for example, said that “Obama’s victory is one of those events that reveal [sic] how far the nation has traveled.” This, of course, is indisputable. But the other results we’ve seen this evening also reveal just how far we still have yet to go.

Gay and straight drinking fountains

Comments (12)

12 Responses to “Long Way to Go”:

  • Jesus christ, Mike. How Liberal are you??

  • I’m not “Liberal” (or any other meaningless label you’d like to attempt to apply to unnecessarily sum up my ideologies). I’m in favor of freedom and equality. That’s not a niche-group belief. It should be something that every American supports.

  • So you detest any Conservative or traditional values? Trying to get a gauge here.

  • Right, you’re trying to look for a way to oversimplify my beliefs so that you can give them a blanket label. Please don’t. :)

    I “detest” anything that is designed to discriminate against a group of people based solely on bigotry, if that’s what you’re asking. If you consider this to be a “traditional value,” then I guess I’m against traditional values in this case.

  • Alright, how about specifics?

    Universal Health Care?
    Government in general?
    Legalization of illegal substances & prostitution?
    I’m going to assume you’re for seperation of Church & State (which I support)
    Abortion?
    Big Oil?
    Going Green?
    I see you’re pro-gay marriage
    Education?
    Tax breaks for big business?
    Immigration? (limits / no limits?)
    War / Military?
    Taxes in general? (higher, lower, specific targets, etc?)
    Driving / Drinking / Smoking age / Smokers rights?
    General attitude towards young or old people?
    Baseball purist or modernist / Selig supporter?
    World relations?
    Gun control?
    FCC in general? (I’m actually split on that)

    You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to.

  • Yesterday we elected an African American president. I don’t think it will be long before we elect a female president. I think it will be another 150 years before we elect an (openly) atheist president. (I’m sure there have been past presidents who claimed a religion solely to get elected.) Long way to go still.

    Another local election which shocked me was the decriminalization of an ounce or less of pot in MA. Who’da guessed that one? We’ll see if the legislature lets that one slide by.

    On a side note, there are now *no* Republican members of Congress (either house) from New England. Joe Leiberman will have to carry the conservative flag for awhile.

  • “Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man.”
    “Religions are all alike – founded upon fables and mythologies.”
    “I do not find in orthodox Christianity one redeeming feature.”
    “Question with boldness even the existence of God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear.”
    –Thomas Jefferson

    We’ve had atheist Presidents before, just not for a long time. Jefferson especially made no secret of it. That said, I can’t say I disagree with you—it’ll be a long-ass time before this country elects another one, if ever.

    Tree: I think you’re getting beyond the scope of my post, so while I don’t have a problem addressing your questions, I don’t think I’ll do so here. It still seems to me like you’re hoping to get one summary-type of viewpoint from me, and I promise you that you’ll have more fruitful conversations with your fellow citizens if you stop thinking that way. :)

  • Jefferson wasn’t atheist, he was deist — somewhat different. Most of the Founding Fathers were deists, which is basically the belief in “God as the watchmaker”; he puts the universe together and then lets it run of its own accord. It’s probably about as close to atheism as you might see back then though.

    I’ll also point out to Tree that if you believe in the separation of church and state, there’s absolutely no reason to deny marriage to gays. As far as the state is concerned, a marriage is a legal contract sharing property and power of attorney-type privileges. If you don’t have a religious objection to gay marriage, there doesn’t seem to be too many reasons to oppose it.

  • Yep, I consider deism to be the 18th-century version of atheism. It’s, as you say, as close as they could’ve gotten at the time, given the amount of scientific knowledge available to them.

  • Really good (and surprisingly civil) discussion here about this issue.

    http://volokh.com/posts/1226172636.shtml

  • I think it’s an incongruous comparison to liken intolerance of sexual orientation, or intolerance of racial groups, to intolerance of religious beliefs. There are things that people can control about themselves, and others that they cannot. An idea is a much more valid target for criticism than is a genetic makeup, and if there’s one thing many religious beliefs such as this are founded upon, it’s willful ignorance. And there is absolutely no arguing the fact that the majority of votes drummed up in support of Proposition 8 found their basis in churches (churches attended primarily by minorities—the racial kind—nonetheless!).

    That said, I don’t kid myself into thinking that my views of religion are anything less than extreme. But make no mistake about it: criticizing a belief is not bigotry. It is intellectual interchange; it is the very basis of the progression of knowledge, and thus of society itself. It is, if anything, virtuous to question ideas. In stark contrast, it is the very definition of bigotry to deny rights to a group of people due to nothing more than prejudice against that particular group.

    So while I agree that that entry is indeed civil, and has a valid point to make (that is, that more could probably be achieved by protesting the government that has allowed such a law to pass, rather than the bigots who proposed it in the first place), I think it’s intellectually dishonest to excuse the religious beliefs that are the foundation of that law. The statement, “And after all, it’s government policy we’re legitimately protesting, not religious doctrine” seems to me to be sort of missing the point of the particular kind of anger that the protesters of the Mormon church are demonstrating. Religious beliefs are what directly resulted in the government policy in the first place. Of course they should be the subject of scrutiny, open to criticism, and yes, even protest, just as much as the policy that they effected.

    Will such protests lead to a change in beliefs? Of course not, but it’s no different than passing a largely symbolic measure such as Prop 8 in the first place: The latter gives people a chance to express their intolerance from the safe anonymity of a voting booth. Likewise, a protest of the church that fosters these beliefs is a chance for opponents to let their disagreement with it be publicly known.

  • The OP itself had some valid points, although like you, I don’t fully agree with its premise. But I thought the ensuing discussion in the comments section was noteworthy for its civility and for caliber of the comments posted. I didn’t read all 90-something comments, but in the first 30-40 I saw no “fags are sinners!!!” bullshit so common from supposed Christians. I have to assume that all comments there are moderated and the senseless comments are deleted. If so, good for them. Maybe if more forums were like that the message that inane bullshit and thoughtless drivel are not to be tolerated would become pervasive. I may have to visit that site more often.

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