Jesurgislac’s Journal

July 9, 2009

We “love” you: we just don’t want you in the pool with us!

It’s been in the news recently: a private sports club in Philadelphia which accepted a fee of $1900 for the children of Creative Steps summer camp to swim in their pool one day a week for the summer – but after the first day the kids showed up, returned the fee and told Creative Steps they shouldn’t come back.

Why? Well, the sports club president John Duesler says: “There was concern that a lot of kids would change the complexion … and the atmosphere of the club.” The kids of Creative Steps were black. The Valley Swim Club was, covertly until this week, whites only. (They’re so disturbed by news of their very public racism, that their website www.thevalleyclub.com has now been replaced with a message denying everything.)

There’s a happy ending to this story: not only did the kids of Creative Steps get offered an alternative swimming venue by Girard College, a local ice-cream store, Gumdrops and Sprinkles, gave them a day of free candy and ice-cream making. So the kids may have learned that rich white people can be mean as knives, not wanting to share what they have in case it’s “polluted”, but they’ve also got the message that most people are not like that.

What does this kind of petty prejudice – we aren’t sharing our facilities with you – remind me of? Why, the changing the definition of marriage argument: the don’t let same-sex couples get married elsewhere and think they can be recognised as married at home argument; the don’t let corporations think they can buy advertising in gay magazines argument; the don’t let schools teach children to love and respect each other argument; the teach homophobia and promote self-hatred argument. It’s all much the same, but on a much wider scale: these bigots are splashing and screaming that they want the queers out of their pool.

Marriage in their view is not about pledging to love, to honour, and to cherish the one your love till death to you part; it’s not a civil right necessary to the orderly pursuit of happiness, as the Supreme Court decreed 42 years ago; marriage is a privilege, a strictly limited pool, and allowing lesbians and gays in the pool will “change the complexion of the club”.

Slacktivist wrote in May last year:

Imagine, for example, that California’s legislature had passed a law stating that the Irish were forbidden from getting driver’s licenses. Such a discriminatory law would have been quickly voided by the courts. Anti-Irish bigots would have decried that ruling as “judicial activism,” but that’s an epithet, not an argument. The state’s constitution simply will not tolerate new law that attempts to exclude particular classes of people from the same rights and protections available to everyone else. Voters might well respond to the court’s decision by passing a ballot measure redefining a “driver” as a “non-Irish person,” and thus excluding by semantics those whom the constitution did not previously allow them to exclude by statute, but I can’t imagine the courts finding this transparent ploy convincing. This hypothetical anti-Irish proposition wouldn’t be any more constitutional or legitimate than the shamefully non-hypothetical anti-gay Proposition 8 is.
…..
Supporters of Proposition 8 were forced to resort to Lying for Jesus — pastors will be jailed! your church will be forced to conduct gay weddings! your organist may become even more flamboyant! — because they weren’t able to articulate any honest basis for opposing this right as an equal right. The ‘vixen and I got our marriage license on the same day that George Takei and Brad Altman got theirs. The wedding of George and Brad neither picked my pocket nor broke my leg, so what possible cause would I have had to object to it? What reason would I have to deny George and Brad the same happiness that my wife and I were permitted to enjoy? Such exclusion makes no sense unless we appeal to some imagined grave consequences such as those dreamed up by the Liars for Christ.

And here again we see that basing policy on imaginary fears and imaginary grave consequences leads to different, but very real, grave consequences. When we choose to make laws based on imaginary fears, we see our own rights reduced to mere privileges. This is what always happens when we place fear on the throne.

This fear – that if the black kids are allowed to swim in the same pool with the white kids, the “atmosphere” will change: that where two men or two women are able to marry, this “changes the definition of marriage”, dovetails in my mind with a parable Fred retold earlier this year: the workers in the vineyard. These people are not content to enjoy their own orderly pursuit of happiness – you feel (I do) they are terrified that other people are somehow getting away with something. Rather than taking joy in their own marriage (if they can) and at least ignoring the people getting married in a way they don’t approve of, they grumble “These couples who were wed recently worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.”

“Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?”

Yes. Yes, they are.

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November 14, 2008

When you discover you never knew someone

Fred Clark at Slacktivist writes about the Liars for Christ:

Supporters of Proposition 8 were forced to resort to Lying for Jesus — pastors will be jailed! your church will be forced to conduct gay weddings! your organist may become even more flamboyant! — because they weren’t able to articulate any honest basis for opposing this right as an equal right. The ‘vixen and I got our marriage license on the same day that George Takei and Brad Altman got theirs. The wedding of George and Brad neither picked my pocket nor broke my leg, so what possible cause would I have had to object to it? What reason would I have to deny George and Brad the same happiness that my wife and I were permitted to enjoy? Such exclusion makes no sense unless we appeal to some imagined grave consequences such as those dreamed up by the Liars for Christ.

And here again we see that basing policy on imaginary fears and imaginary grave consequences leads to different, but very real, grave consequences. When we choose to make laws based on imaginary fears, we see our own rights reduced to mere privileges. This is what always happens when we place fear on the throne.

Orson Scott Card (homophobic terrorist), following his sustained campaign for Proposition 8 and whining about how that made some people not like him any more, writes a follow-up post after Proposition 8 passed with such a narrow and expensive margin, praising some of the younger bullies in the fight:

So when our Latter-day Saint singles heeded the call of the church’s leaders to take part in the defense of marriage, they, more than any other group of Saints, were swimming upstream.

They worked hard. They took risks. And many of them paid a price that is heavy indeed.

Many of them lost dear friends — sometimes with bitter, angry recriminations from people they had once been close to.

It seems ironic that these young Mormons were open-minded enough to be friends with people whose lives were so different from their own; but their friends, in the name of tolerance, could not remain friends with Mormons who merely stood up for their faith.

If the situation had been reversed, if Prop. 8 had failed, these LDS young people would not have rejected their friends who voted to repudiate the meaning of marriage. And if they had, would they not have been condemned as bigots, for being unable to tolerate someone else voting his conscience?

When people whom you thought were friends turn out to be bigots, this is a sad and painful moment indeed: I’ve experienced it myself on a personal level after I came out, discovering that people I thought liked/respected me only did so when they thought I was heterosexual, and on a broader level, with many people across science-fiction fandom who once thought of Card as a decent enough man, I share the disappointment and anger we feel to discover, not only is he a homophobic bigot wannabe terrorist, he doesn’t even recognise bad science when it suits his own prejudices.

But he’s also a whiner. It turns out that the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints doesn’t even have the courage of their own convictions. Their First Presidency, the man they claim has a direct line to God, told them to campaign for and donate to the Yeson8 campaign. They did. It passed.

If the LDS Church had the courage of their convictions, if they truly believed that this action to remove the right to marry from Californian citizens was the right thing to do, why whine and bemoan and complain that they have been “singled out” as a key pressure group in getting it passed? Their complaints that people are pointing at the LDS and blaming them for enshrining this act of bigotry in the Californian constitution, seem to show either some decent shame for this horrible thing – or cowardice, a fear of taking responsibility for their actions. If it’s decent shame, let’s hear a public apology and acknowledgement that they were wrong: without that, I think we have to assume it’s pure cowardice. (Update: other examples of the Yes-on-8 crew lacking the courage of their convictions here and here: further examples welcomed.)

If the situation had been reversed, if Prop. 8 had failed, would the organisations who worked for No on 8 have whined and worried that they were being “singled out”? No. Because people who fight for civil rights have to be braver than that. Bullies are cowards.

These young bullies who rejected their friends, who joined the bigoted campaign their church ran against equal rights in California, who wanted God to have a spaceship and proposition 8 and probably a pony too – they were, Card says, “standing up for their faith”. They preferred loyalty to their church over loyalty to their friends, loyalty to the First Presidency over upholding the principle of freedom of religion and separation of church and state – and they rejected their friends. That their friends reacted to this rejection by these “heroes” with anger and bitterness is evidence, if Card were awake to that, of the importance of friendship in some people’s lives.

Tolerating someone while working to take away their civil rights is not friendship.

June 18, 2008

Maggie Gallagher redefines marriage

Unsurprisingly, Maggie Gallagher (Redefinition Revolution, National Review Online) is spouting off about how awful it is that two men can now go to California and get married. (Though the first marriage in California was between two women who had been partners for 55 years, Maggie makes no reference to this: it doesn’t fit her paradigm of “gay marriage”, and as her meltdown on The Volokh Conspiracy three years ago demonstrated, she is simply not capable of fact-based arguments for or against same-sex marriage.)

Let’s be clear; opponents of same-sex marriage are homophobic. There’s no reason to oppose lesbian and gays having the legal right to marry, but the belief that it’s wrong for LGBT people to have the same civil rights as heterosexuals: and that is a homophobic belief.

The justifications for why it’s “wrong” are all illogical. Maggie begins her argument with “Gay men are promiscuous!” (Amanda Marcotte at Pandagon points out that if consensual promiscuity were a reason for banning marriage for all, straight marriage has to be banned too.) In part of course Maggie is just presenting a naively homophobic argument – it’s okay for straights to get married even though some of them will be openly polyamorous within marriage, but gays have all got to behave far better than straights if they want to be “permitted” the right. But mostly, I think Maggie begins her argument with this because she wants to summon the familiar prejudices against gay men, and “they’re all promiscuous!” is certainly one of them.

Moving on to Maggie’s next “point”, she mentions:

Same-sex marriages are tailing off rapidly, after what the New York Times describes as “an initial euphoric rush to the altar.” In Massachusetts, that rush included residents of other states — as indicated by the New York Times headline of May 18, 2004: “Despite Uncertainties, Out-of-Staters Line Up to Marry.” The latest data indicate that 867 gay weddings took place in Massachusetts in the first eight months of 2007, down from 6,121 gay weddings in the first six months of 2004.

This is the same pattern seen in other jurisdictions where same-sex marriage has been allowed.

Yes, Maggie, it is. And a little thought – or even a little examination of the marriages taking place in the first few months – would tell you why this pattern is common to all countries and states where same-sex marriage, or civil union equal to marriage. Because couples who have been together for decades, who have committed their lives to each other, who are given the chance to marry, will do so. Immediately.

Once all the couples who have been waiting for ten, twenty, forty years to be able to marry are married, of course there’s an apparent fall in the marriage rate. There is no more backlog, so the marriage rate steadies to a normal rate.

(more…)

May 20, 2008

A human marriage and a card marriage and a loving marriage

George Takei on human marriage:

The California Supreme Court has ruled that all Californians have a fundamental right to marry the person he or she loves. Brad and I have shared our lives together for over 21 years. We’ve worked in partnership; he manages the business side of my career and I do the performing. We’ve traveled the world together from Europe to Asia to Australia. We’ve shared the good times as well as struggled through the bad. He helped me care for my ailing mother who lived with us for the last years of her life. He is my love and I can’t imagine life without him. Now, we can have the dignity, as well as all the responsibilities, of marriage. We embrace it all heartily. (updated from Takei’s blog)

Orson Scott Card on card marriage:

In the first place, no law in any state in the United States now or ever has forbidden homosexuals to marry. The law has never asked that a man prove his heterosexuality in order to marry a woman, or a woman hers in order to marry a man.

Any homosexual man who can persuade a woman to take him as her husband can avail himself of all the rights of husbandhood under the law. And, in fact, many homosexual men have done precisely that, without any legal prejudice at all.

Ditto with lesbian women. Many have married men and borne children. And while a fair number of such marriages in recent years have ended in divorce, there are many that have not.

So it is a flat lie to say that homosexuals are deprived of any civil right pertaining to marriage. To get those civil rights, all homosexuals have to do is find someone of the opposite sex willing to join them in marriage.

In order to claim that they are deprived, you have to change the meaning of “marriage” to include a relationship that it has never included before this generation, anywhere on earth.

Mildred Loving on loving marriage:

My generation was bitterly divided over something that should have been so clear and right. The majority believed that what the judge said, that it was God’s plan to keep people apart, and that government should discriminate against people in love. But I have lived long enough now to see big changes. The older generation’s fears and prejudices have given way, and today’s young people realize that if someone loves someone they have a right to marry.

Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don’t think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the “wrong kind of person” for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people’s religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people civil rights.

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