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06/30/2009

What they need to 'lose' is the tired victim act!

by Jeremy Hooper
"I hear they threw bags of urine at a temple. If we had lost, it never would have occurred to me to react that way."
-Alaina Stewart, a Mormon church member who was involved in the Prop 8 fight, speaking to Time magazine

When reading Time magazine's recent look into the Mormon church's political activity, the above comment really stuck out. For starters, it sounded like a rhetorical bag of bull caca, considering that in all the time we in the gay community spent covering Mormon church developments in the days following the November elections, there were no public reports of any watersport-laden protests. But beyond the questionable hearsay about gays putting the pee in protest, the comment also made us think about the fundamentally flawed way that our organized opposition tends to view the marriage equality landscape.

The win/loss motif gets play in matters like this because we humans tend to be black/white, either/or, left/right thinkers. It's shorthand: If one team wins, then another has to lose. It's just easier to think that way. We get it.

The problem? In terms of marriage equality, the casual acceptance of the win/loss idea can be quite detrimental to the message we need to be sending to society. Not on our side, mind you. On our "side," it really is a win/loss situation. Whenever we gain ground, we have won. Whenever we suffer setbacks, we feel the loss. And by "we," we're of course referring to society as a whole.

But on the anti-gay "side," there is no comparable setup. Sure, they like to phrase it in pass or fail way, with their win/loss stakes existing on a polar opposite plane from our own. However, the truth is that there is no victory/setback game for them to experience. There is no gain to be had. Rather than win/loss, their battle is one in which (a) they can cause us all to lose fundamental American freedoms, or (b) they can simply accept that gay people are part of this world and not lose a damn thing!

So looking back at the quote: Ms. Stewart quite indignantly states that if her side had "lost," then she wouldn't have thrown piss-bags. Well no, as well she shouldn't! Had her side been in California's minority percentage on Nov. 4, then NOT ONE SINGLE THING would've changed on Nov. 5! Had they voted for McCain/Palin, then yes, they would have experienced a loss. Had they voted for other losing propositions, then yes there could have been losses. But had they failed on the matter of whether Tom and Steve can pledge a lifetime of legally-sanctioned monogamy, then their setbacks would begin and end within their overactive, fear-duped, "marriage-protecting" imaginations!

We gay and lesbian folks, along with our supporters and allies, were the only ones who had something to lose in the Prop 8 fight. And guess what? We lost it! So our rage -- while again, seemingly un-piss-laden -- was unabashedly real, raw, and human. Why? Because our wounds were equally real, raw, and human! Wounds that Ms. Stewart's fellows, without any provocation beyond court-mandated civil fairness, chose to foist upon us!

Equal rights is not and will not ever be a two-side victory. Those who support peace and fairness have won, even when they lose. And those who have made the unfortunate choice to back bias? Well, they will never know true triumph until they stop throwing figurative bags of urine on equality's warm fires.

The Church and Gay Marriage: Are Mormons Misunderstood? [Time]

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Your thoughts

A wonderful, insightful post. I have often wondered about the same thing, and just what concerns the right wing so much that they would put such a tremendous effort forward to take away gay rights, and how it effects them at all. I mean, it can't be just that the bible says its wrong, because if that was the case they'd be protesting outside of seafood restaurants. It's unreal to me how a group of people can be so afraid and hateful of another.

Posted by: Callie | Jun 30, 2009 2:23:04 PM

I remember reading that article, and I was particularly fond of it because I found it honest to both sides of the debate. I also found the last bit of that paragraph intriguing ("I think about my kids in school," she says. "I want them to be accepted, to feel it's O.K. to be different." Of course, this is precisely the sentiment motivating the gay-marriage movement.). I find it surreal that we are actually fighting for the same thing (given different perspectives) in opposite directions. I feel that our cause is the only one that will give her what she seeks for all children, including hers, but I might be biased.

Posted by: DanM | Jun 30, 2009 5:15:48 PM

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