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From the Edsel to biased rhetoric: Bad products will always be sold/bought

by Jeremy Hooper

When looking at the religious right's rhetoric, it's easy to think of it as fringey nonsense that isn't worth the paper (virtual or literal) that it's printed on.  Those of us who dedicate even a portion of time absorbing the code word-laden chatter that the far-right passes off as fact recognize the "gays are militant/ children need protection/ gays threaten the family" for what it is: strategic political prose that needs not be shelved within a mile of an library's nonfiction section.  So it's easy to toss that nut aside, assuming the vast majority recognize it to be both cracked and rotten.

The problem with that?  Some people are willing to accept anything that comes from these social conservatives, assuming that those who invoke the name of God would never invoke the authenticity of Milli Vanilli.  Others are more discerning in their opinions, but have had their ideas shaped so much by the uber-loud far-right noise machine that they find themselves passing off anti-gay talking points without considering the political motivations that lie --and we do mean lie -- by the soundbites.  Then there are those who couldand would be absoultely appaled by the "pro-family" battle plan, yet simply do not have the time in their days to learn the nuances of this whole "culture war" fight.

We're not sure into which camps the writers of the following two letters fall.  But for whatever reason they have been duped into believing that gays are "haters," rights should be left to the whims of a bare majority, and that discrimination fights are two-sided battles with both sides deserving equal footing.  Have a look:

From Binghamton, NY's Press & Sun Bulletin:

I protest the accusations of hate, along with blacklisting, boycotts and smear tactics directed against businesses, religions and individuals who oppose same-gender marriage. The real haters are those who use revenge, intimidation and coercion in their campaign to force their behavior upon society.

These haters have endlessly persecuted the Boy Scouts of America for refusing to accept homosexual Scout masters. If same-sex marriage is legalized, they may seize the opportunity to file lawsuits against any clergyman or religious body that refuses to perform such ceremonies.

Opposition to gay marriage is not hate speech; it is not the same as discrimination by race, religion, ethnicity, age, gender or handicap.

From Palm Spring, California's Desert Sun:

California voters have spoken, not once but twice and the repeat ruling is no gay marriage. Marriage is still defined, as it always has been, as a union between a man and woman. Why are we continuing to report upsets, concerns and disbelief over its passing? The election is over and the majority has spoken without any kind of deception or misrepresentation.

So please, let's stop the front-page slandering of Mormon churches and their members and the majority that voted against Prop 8. If we stood out picketing against gays, we would be seen as hateful and discriminating. So why is it different for homosexual groups to commit crimes against the Mormon churches and to encourage others to ban their businesses? Don't they have just as much right to their opinions as homosexuals do?

Move on. The election is over. Lick your wounds and go home.

These are the people we have to move.  These are the opinions we have to bend towards fairness.  These are the folks who have to see that we in the LGBT community are not fighting for the sake of practical politics: WE. ARE. FIGHTING. FOR. OUR. LIVES.

We will not move on and we will not "lick our wounds."  We will suffer as many scars as it takes for us to reach the sweet, peaceful day when one's sexual or gender identity will not make them more susceptible to pain.  And we will fight until the far-right gets off the pain-inflicting train that has brought them to such infamous prominence.   

Opinions allowed [Press & Sun Bulletin]
Majority has spoken [Desert Sun]

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Your thoughts

The problem is that some of the points the first letter-writer makes aren't too far off the mark. I think anyone should be allowed to boycott or protest whatever business or organization (including religious organizations, including GLBT organizations) they so desire, as long as they are doing so within the law. But the law is often a blunt instrument. As Thomas Jefferson wrote, "Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual." The recent case in the southwest of a wedding photographer being sued for refusing to take a lesbian couple as clients is an example of the slippery slope we're already on. The lesbian couple should have the right to marry, along with all the attendent benefits and obligations that marriage entails, but a random photographer who doesn't approve of lesbian marriage should not have her livelihood threatened for asserting her rights as a citizen to make her own judgements, however ugly those judgements might seem to others.

When the first writer says, "If same-sex marriage is legalized, they may seize the opportunity to file lawsuits against any clergyman or religious body that refuses to perform such ceremonies," I fear he or she is correct, all protestations from gay marriage advocates aside. Can you really assert with any degree of certainty that it won't? That doesn't justify in any way denying equal rights to a whole class of individuals, but for you to claim that there is no basis for that fear is either willfully ignorant or blatantly hypocritical. Unfortunately, there is just as much intolerance for dissent on the left as on the right, and just as many who don't seem to recognize when their ideas about their own rights impinge on the rights of others.

Posted by: Michael M. | Dec 7, 2008 12:52:31 PM

The point is not whether or not this will happen. As Alan Keyes and company are showing, people can even sue the president over nonsense.

The point is whether they will have legitimate grounds for a lawsuit. And they really wouldn't.

Now in all honesty, you really don't need to come with anecdotes regarding a photographer without telling the entire story. It is a common ploy by the religious right.

Lastly there is nothing wrong with protesting the Mormon church over their acts in the matter. Why is it okay for AFA to launch boycots against McDonalds, Ford Motors and Disney but not okay for lgbts to do the same?

Posted by: a. mcewen | Dec 7, 2008 2:47:37 PM

"If we stood out picketing against gays, we would be seen as hateful and discriminating. So why is it different for homosexual groups to commit crimes against the Mormon churches and to encourage others to ban their businesses?"

Because gays have never banned the Mormons from doing anything. And if queers did get organized, raised money from the other gays, and then used that money to make sure two men or two women could get married but under no circumstances could a man marry a woman (or four for that matter, the filthy hypocrites), then the LDS church would be pissed and have every right to protest in front of Homo Headquarters. They wouldn't just "Move on." Move on and do what? Get on with your family? Get on with your life? What family? WHAT LIFE?

These people don't see the difference between persecution and protest. How can an organization campaign endlessly to snatch rights away from a minority, and then fall back into a victim stance because they're a minority too? You can't be the majority of voters and then act like you're getting picked on by the gays. You're getting picketed on, and get used to it, because this isn't over by a long shot.

Posted by: L.A. Fields | Dec 7, 2008 5:04:43 PM

Michael M., I think you are allowing yourself to fall into the trap that the spin masters on the anti-gay side have set. The photographer case you mention is in New Mexico, and as far as I am aware, NM doesn't allow same-sex marriage. Cases like that, as well as the cases involving the Boy Scouts, have nothing to do with same-sex marriage but are strictly based on anti-discrimination laws.

Those law suits have been filed in the absence of same-sex marriage, and as far as I can tell, same-sex marriage provides no additional basis in law for any of those law suits. In fact, the California Supreme Court decision specifically protected religious organizations from any potential adverse legal ramifications when it eliminated the prohibition of same-sex marriage.

The lying liars on that side purposefully conflate every issue related to anti-discrimination against LGBTs with same-sex marriage, and that is blatantly dishonest. And, more than dishonest, it is hateful.

Posted by: Dick Mills | Dec 7, 2008 6:01:12 PM

Aw c'mon Michael. Are you really that naive? Let's look at the flipside. My partner and I were married in an ELCA church in a state with a DOMA still on the books. Why didn't the state stop it since it was announced in the paper? The answer is - because they couldn't. As long as the separation of church and state is a philosophy shared by all the states, the government will not tell a church what they can do - short of human sacrifice.

Please stop drinking the kool-aid, it's not good for your brain.

Posted by: Mike in the Tundra | Dec 8, 2008 8:09:45 AM

(quoted) "Opposition to gay marriage is not hate speech; it is not the same as discrimination by race, religion, ethnicity, age, gender or handicap."

That's one of the cornerstones of the anti-gay movement: the little devil on the shoulders of Officially Recognized Good People who whispers "this one group.... it's all right."

Sometimes discrimination against gays is defended on the grounds that "homosexuality is a choice." Aside from anything else, anyone using that standard should oppose civil rights protections for religious groups -- religion is a choice too.

And contrary to the claims, yes, Christianity is a "popularity contest." Any religion that makes proselytizing (a/k/a "evangelism) its centerpiece has winning popularity contests as its highest priority. That's the reason for the bleating about victimization and the urging of those offended by California writing discrimination right into its constitution to "lick their wounds and go home."

In other words, go back in the closet and shut up. And anyone who takes that advice deserves what they get.

Posted by: BobsFriend | Dec 8, 2008 9:21:38 AM

Well, for one thing, Americans can get their heads outta their a$$es and look at other countries. Canada has in 5 years not had one example of any religious institution or official being sued or complained against for failing to perform gay marriage. We separate Church and State in this country, as the U.S. is supposed to do. Further, when people mention the religious service aspect, I remind them that there ARE churches marrying same sex couples -- United, Unitarian, some Episcopalian and synagogues -- so if you believe it is a religious institution there is STILL gay marriage! So why can a minister marry 2 gay people and the civil society will not recognize it? Sorry, the only people trying to "impose" their views on society are certain churches... the REAL haters.

Posted by: Strepsi | Dec 8, 2008 11:29:35 AM

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