Friday, August 21, 2009


I'm probably in the minority of those who advocate for marriage equality for same-sex couples when I say that I find the following advertisement for same-sex marriage in Maine to be depressing:

I find it depressing because it adapts itself to the idea that it is the right of the electorate to vote on minority group civil rights!

As I've written in a previous post:

We can't spend our time and tremendous amounts of monies trying to get the majority of the electorate to vote for equal rights. If integration of African Americans was put on the ballot in each state during the civil rights era, we would still have segregation and Jim Crow laws! There must be meaningful, coordinated, and aggressive grassroots, street, and organizational activism, coupled with the filing of civil suits at the federal level, to achieve equal rights. "Separate is not equal," and that fact must be, and undoubtedly will be, affirmed by the Judiciary in regard to Gay people, as it was for African Americans, and not left to the will and whim of the majority of the electorate, for to do so demeans Gay people, and puts each and every minority group's rights up for grabs. We would never think of putting one or more civil rights of Jews, of African Americans, of Asians, etc. on the ballot to be voted upon, and Gay people's civil rights must not be treated any differently.

We will not "win the hearts and minds" of people by merely saying the equivalent of "We are people and families too." The fight for full and equal civil rights, including the right of marriage, will not be ultimately won by going hat in hand to the electorate and trying to appeal to logic and to "the milk of human kindness" to win this struggle.

Indeed, even if this struggle were to be won state by state, it would take an inordinate amount of time to legalize same-sex marriage, and it would still leave other civil rights of LGBT people up for grabs, each to be dealt with incrementally. That's why the Dallas Principles are worthy of great consideration and implementation, particularly taking into account the excellent critique of Don Charles in his two part post, "Democratizing the Dallas Principles," Part One and Part Two, that are posted on his blog, Christ, The Gay Martyr.

Putting LGBT rights (or any other minority group's rights, for that matter) to a vote of the electorate is likely to lose, in large part due to the lies and distortions of the "religious" and secular homophobes, as well as to the free floating fears, frustrations, and anger of people, many of whom are living in economically uncertain, if not hard, times, and who consciously or unconsciously look for scapegoats upon whom to vent their fears, frustrations, and anger.

And reactionary clergy, talk show hosts, and organizations play upon those fears, frustrations, and anger by claiming to represent "traditional family values," "the sanctity of marriage," "the well-being of our children," and all sorts of other buzz words that grab people emotionally by playing upon the fear of change, a change that they say is designed to accommodate those whom they constantly vilify as, in one way or another, being "deviant" and even "dangerous."

Specious appeals to "tradition," "the Bible," and even "God," ring true to those who are ignorant and/or gullible and/or frustrated and/or fearful and/or angry enough to believe the one-dimensional mind-set of those who have a lot of money to bring to the propaganda table so as to further vilify LGBT people, and who also monopolize much of the media and most of the institutional Church, making the likelihood of an electoral win in California in 2010 or 2012, or in Maine, Washington, D.C., or any other state increasingly less likely to occur.

The more the lies are allowed to be spewed in the "religious" and secular market places, the more likely it is that those lies will be increasingly believed and, hence, the more likely subsequent ballot initiatives designed to reinforce second-class status on LGBT people will continue to be successful. As Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's propaganda minister said, "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it."

...[Brian S.] Brown [the Executive Director of the National Organization for Marriage] said that a solid majority of voters in every state or jurisdiction in which same-sex marriage has been placed on the ballot has voted down same-sex marriage — or similar legal rights for same-sex couples granted through domestic partnership benefits.

“Whenever we’ve been able to have a direct vote on the issue, we’ve won — in 30 out of 30 states,” Brown said.

He said his organization is poised to help local ministers fight plans by the D.C. City Council to pass legislation this fall that would allow same-sex marriages to be performed in the District.

He said NOM also will join local opponents of same-sex marriage to seek to overturn the law passed by the Council in May, and later cleared by Congress, that allows the city to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions.

Brown said NOM would “definitely” contribute funds to pay for a court challenge of D.C. Board of Elections & Ethics and D.C. Superior Court rulings that stopped a ballot measure on the issue from taking place.

Both the election board and a Superior Court judge ruled in June that a referendum calling for overturning the same-sex marriage recognition law could not be held because, if approved, it would violate the city’s Human Rights Act, which bans discrimination based on sexual orientation.

“The people of D.C. deserve the right to vote on this issue,” he said. “It really sort of boggles the mind that one of the key issues in the District is the idea of voting rights. There’s a lot of support for voting rights, especially coming from some of those who support same-sex marriage.

“And while there’s a push for voting rights and the idea that D.C. would have a right to vote in Congress, it’s a little incongruous that there’s this attempt to block the right of D.C. voters to have their say on an issue of this much import — the very definition of marriage.”

[For the full article, see here.]

Ironically, both Brown and many LGBT activists take for granted the acceptability of having one's civil rights voted upon, whereas constitutional questions must be decided by the judiciary. Hence, the need for federal civil rights cases brought before the judiciary, just as Ted Olson and David Boies are doing, in conjunction with coordinated grassroots (such as the National Equality March) and organizational activism is so important in making sure that LGBT people have every single civil right that heterosexuals have.
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I'm in the minority with you. I'll be damned if I beg Joe Sixpack to vote for my Constitutional rights! You're still on a roll, by the way . . . some of your finest essays have been written this summer.

Jerry Maneker said...

Thanks so much, Don Charles. You saying that means a lot to me. Best wishes, Jerry.