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Those who can't remember the past...

by Jeremy Hooper

As this Prop 8 trial chugs along, we keep hearing a familiar refrain from the anti-equality side, wherein they become shocked -- SHOCKED! -- that anyone is acknowledging religion's role in justifying past civil rights abuses. Here, listen to the Alliance Defense Fund's Jordan Lorence doing exactly that:

*Source: A Look at Prop 8 Judge Vaughn Walker [FOF]

But here's the thing: Some things are not opinions. Some things are not "liberal" or "conservative." Some things are simply historical truths. And in American history, it is simply a fact -- A FACT -- that faith, largely of the Christian variety, has been a major motivator when it comes biases against African-Americans:


Now, this of course should not be a monolithic indictment of people of faith, then or now. That goes without saying. However, this blighted period of history ABSOLUTELY should be acknowledged in our current civil rights debate. Doing so does not mean that the LGBT community is trying to make a direct comparison between sexual orientation and skin color, or the injustices foisted on the same. We're really not trying to do that. We're simply saying that faith justifications are not always right, especially when they are used to deny a specific minority population of some kind of gain!

Jordan Lorence should be shocked when people bring up religion's documented role in denying civil coexistence, because it's all pretty startling. Though it's not the messenger nor the LGBT who deserve his scorn: It's the overreaching idea that personal testament should lead to persecutory treatment.

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Your thoughts

Damn those facts and their liberal bias!

Posted by: RainbowPhoenix | Jan 14, 2010 4:44:41 PM

"doing so does not mean that the LGBT community is trying to make a direct comparison between sexual orientation and skin color, or the injustices foisted on the same. We're really not trying to do that."

I am, and I'm sick of black bigots pretending I cant. Until everyone involved with the civil rights movement in America apologizes to the Indians for trying to compare their relatively safe place in society to Ghandi fighting colonial oppression, a comparison that seemed to have been VERY common, I'm not going to apologize for making a comparison either.

Especially since 90% of the people whining about how gays cant compare their struggle to what blacks went through are always careful to compare gays in 2010 to blacks in 1950, conveniently forgetting to mention that while MLK was allowed to march through Washington gay people weren't even allowed to exist without being hauled off to jails or nuthouses.

Posted by: wackadoodle | Jan 14, 2010 5:09:03 PM

Wack: I don't mean to say we shouldn't draw parallels. Of course we should. I certainly do.

What I meant to convey in that line is that we're not directly saying "this thing is exactly like that thing." The social conservs accuse us of hijacking "The Civil Rights Movement" (big "C" big "R"). It's an intellectually negligent argument which fails to acknowledge that there are any number of civil rights movements that have sprouted up throughout history (and will continue to as long as bias persists). So I was just trying to stay out of that trap, and instead say: "No, we are not 100% like the African-American civil rights movement -- but SO WHAT?!?!? We have our own merits: Some connected, some less so, but ALL valid!"

Does that make sense?

Posted by: G-A-Y | Jan 14, 2010 5:30:10 PM

There are two things going on here first people of certain brands of faith still believe that gays choose to be gay - therefore we're not entitled to equal rights because of our "choice".

Secondly just like the word "marriage" they're pitting the idea that only people of non-Caucasian races are entitled to 'civil rights' and what's really sad is IT WORKS and the anti-equality groups involved know this because they know that African-Americans & Latinos as a group tend to be extremely religious. It's only about muddy the waters.

Posted by: Alonzo | Jan 14, 2010 6:36:11 PM

Folks, let me assure you, as a black woman I am, as are other black folks, quite in solidarity with you on the comparisons. NOBODY'S situation with regard to civil rights abuses from a dominant culture WILL be the same, but there are certainly a great many things IN COMMON with the bias blacks suffered.
For starters, the myths, demonization and infantalizing of black and gay men in particular and their sexuality as immature, predatory and promiscuous.
To say nothing of the daylight disdain for black women and lesbians, but after dark compellingly prurient interest in the same outside of polite company and discussion.

And gay folks do have something uniquely sad that blacks of that period or NOW do not: you weren't jailed or sent to a mental hospital for being black.
Nor did your parents throw you into the streets utterly abandoned by your entire family and community for the same.

In so many ways, gay kids are denied an education because of the stresses of bullying, by teachers AND their peers and siblings. There is a higher drop out rate, and even the opposition loves to cite the depression and suicide rates among gay people without mentioning the damage done by living with such institutional bias.

They believe weakness or lack of character in gay people is inherent and feel assured of the supremacy of heterosexuality, as much as racists felt assured that black people were weak and lacking in morals as well.

The stupid irony is that they believe so firmly in an inherently weak and immutable immorality, but not in the immutability of sexual orientation.

And the other similarity is the expectations that gay people live like children, under the utter control of the dominant culture. To not form adult bonds, have sex or raise children. Not challenge straight authority or show emotions like anger or pain no matter how cruelly treated or hurt.
And I've noticed that when discussing the reactions by gay folks after Nov. 4th in CA, the descriptions were as if talking about 'children throwing tantrums for not getting their way' and being not mature enough to accept the majority's authority in the voting process.
And in conversations, straight folks tend to talk down to gay folks as if addressing children.

That is very familiar to me because racists, even people who think themselves not especially hostile, nor racist DO tend to talk to people of color like that.

So believe me when I say that the analogies to the struggle that gay people have to the struggle of blacks AND Jews is legitimate.
People could argue too that Jew's identity isn't visually distinct, and some Jews were closeted.
But the point isn't they were.
The point is WHY.

And the brutal discrimination faced by disenfranchised minorities bears enough resemblance throughout history that ALL of it should be rejected on PRINCIPLE alone.
A principle like equality has stood the test of what is right in our country.

Posted by: Regan DuCasse | Jan 14, 2010 7:44:31 PM

Brilliantly stated, Ms DuCasse.

Posted by: Coxygru | Jan 15, 2010 4:22:51 AM

I'm happy for the editors of this clip. They managed to get "out of control judge" *and* "judicial activism" within 20 seconds of each other. Good for them.

These debates are like a two-person poker game, where everyone can see each other's cards, and the anti-gays have always had a better hand. But every year, our hand gets better :)

Posted by: DN | Jan 15, 2010 9:08:37 AM

Thank you, Jeremy, for putting these documents out there! Sometimes I feel like our fight for equality will never be won, but when I see these newspaper clippings, I know we will win our freedom!

Down with religiou persecution!!!

Posted by: John in MN | Jan 15, 2010 9:58:47 AM

@Alonzo: While I agree that "people of certain brands of faith still believe that gays choose to be gay", the last time I checked, EVERYONE gets to choose their religion or lack thereof. (Well, once they are old enough that Mommy can no longer drag them to the church/temple/synogogue/mosque.) And NO ONE is saying that religious persons are not "entitled to equal rights because of THEIR "choice".

We need to point out these kinds of dichotomies every time that come up in order to have any hopes of getting our point across.

Posted by: Julie | Jan 15, 2010 11:52:10 AM

Outstanding job, Jeremy.

Another to add to the litany of examples of religion being used to confirm prejudice: the "explanation" given by Leon Bazile, the trial judge in the case that led to "Loving v. Virginia," on how anti-miscegenation laws were part of God's plan. He opened his opinion with the famous line:

"Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix."

At least this particular mixture of religion and law was handed down during a time when one could still occasionally declare "thank God for the Supreme Court."

Posted by: Diogenes | Jan 16, 2010 3:13:44 AM

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