The Gay Civil Rights Movement


photo: Seeingfaith.com

Okay America, here’s what I don’t get about the national gay marriage debate. (Apart from the fact that Obama could have said he was for it a few days earlier, to help the North Carolina LGTB community, that is.)

You’ve been here before.

Remember the Civil Rights Movement? Remember how adamant lots of white people were that segregation must stay, and that God was on their side?

photo: Corbis Images

The struggle for gay marriage is the civil rights movement of our generation. It can’t be stopped, because it is about people fighting for equal rights.

Those who are so adamantly against it, thumping their bibles, will be shown on TV fifty years from now, just like we see clips of women with butterfly glasses holding signs that say things like “Desegregation Over My Dead Body” on TV every now and then. And their grandchildren  cringe.

So here’s what I really don’t get. African Americans, the two thirds of you who are against gay marriage. Thumping your bibles right alongside the same kind of people who, fifty years ago, would have denied you your equal rights! What’s up with that? You got your rights and now you’ve locked the door behind you, is that it?

How about some solidarity? How about looking at the bigger historical picture? How many people who argued for slavery pointed to bible passages to justify themselves?

I suppose I’m asking bible thumpers of all backgrounds to stop thumping their bibles and realize they’re always on the wrong side of history in these matters.

But what are the odds of that?

9 responses to “The Gay Civil Rights Movement

  1. Right on, Barbara! Gays have been able to marry in Canada and in the Netherlands for some time now, and civilization as we know it has not collapsed in these two countries. In any case, nowadays the institution of marriage needs all the help it can get.

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  2. I completely support your train of thought here, Barbara! I just don’t ‘get’ the people who think this way, and at times I do not want to ‘get’ them because then I might be thinking the same way (Oh! Horror!), and I wonder if that is because I, like you, was brought up in a country that really has equal rights for all.
    Why put your nose where it doesn’t belong? Aren’t there bigger issues in this country that need attention?
    As to the Bible-thumpers, back in the Netherlands we had Jos Brink (remember him?) who was a pastor of a church in Amsterdam and God never smithed him with lightning for being gay. Isn’t Christianity supposed to be about loving thy neighbor? I don’t like it when people pull out their Bible for things they think it relates to, but when I ask them if I can kill my neighbor for working on Sunday they are appalled… That is in the Bible too.
    The plus side is though that the generation that is allowed to vote now (like my daughter) is a lot more open to these ‘issues’, so I am putting my faith in them.

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    • Jos Brink! I would never have remembered him if you hadn’t brought him up. Yes, let’s hope the next generation is more open-minded. I think they are. But it’s bitter for same-sex couples in America right now that it’s taking so long. Thanks for reading my blog.

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      • To be quite honest, I am in that predicament here. Got married (same-sex) in Amsterdam when my gf was living with me, no problem there. But then moving to the States (and the South in particular), with in-laws who are Jehovah’s Witness, is quite a challenge LOL Funny thing is though, the people who know us, like the in-laws, don’t have a problem at all anymore with the whole situation, because they see you now as a person and the whole issue has become more personal to them. Maybe I/we can change people one at a time 🙂

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      • So does your Dutch same-sex marriage count here?

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  3. This is such a great post. I’m also in Canada and we actually don’t have the broad anti-gay intensity that you’re coping with in the U.S. We certainly have it, though. Your point about the Civil Rights movement is bang on.

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  4. Kinda late in posting a reply here given the date of your post, but thought I’d foster a bit more discussion. First off, the American civil rights movement was nothing like the movement currently for recognizing gay marriage. Racial segregation encompassed social separation between blacks and whites, primarily in the South, which included ruthless enforcement, torture, destruction of property, and many times death. I hardly think the gay marriage debate is anywhere near that social and human toll of suffering. I can certainly understand the passion of those in favor of whatever “gay rights” means (seems to me it’s all about recognizing gays being married) but it’s not comparable to the struggle for racial equality by any measure. To presume that blacks should simply favor gay rights (in whatever form that means) simply because their own struggle for civil rights was similar… well, is just not comparing apples to apples. The Bible is open to interpretation by whatever religions decide to interpret it… and people believe in their own religion. That part has little to do with being black, white, or from Mars. There is one thing similar between the civil rights movement and gay rights movement… they both concern the application of states rights over that of the federal government. Regarding civil rights the federal government did in fact step in… the Supreme Court held up the new federal laws… and it became law of the land and not law determined by each state. The application of gay marriage is also a state issue.. until such time as Congress determines who will set the laws.. and the Supreme Court makes a determination of the Constitutionality of such laws… and from what I see we are likely years away from that. My own opinion, for what it’s worth, if gays want to be “married” as much as us heteros in the eyes of the law, then so be it. Honestly… there are far more important things in the world to worry about that need our focus and attention. And if anyone is thinking that their vote for a presidential candidate will be determined on this issue alone.. then you need to get a grip. But I do reserve the right to be repulsed when I see two guys being intimate in public or in the movies; to me that’s gross. Seeing two women doing that? I’m a guy. That’s not so bad. 

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    • Hi Doug,
      Thanks for the reaction. It’s never too late. I’ve posted stuff that I wrote ten years ago that I would think people still want to comment on. That’s why my comment box never closes. And I love a good debate.

      Anyway. I’m fully aware that the civil rights movement took a larger toll in human suffering. I wasn’t comparing it in that sense. I was comparing the two because both groups were fighting for rights that were completely taken for granted by most, but not given to some. The whole “all men are created equal” thing has evolved from including only white men to including black men 100%, then women got the right to vote, then the civil rights movement, and now one of the last steps is the right for all to marry whom they want. It’s a logical next step in the process, and it kind of shocks me when people who have fought for the previous steps sit back and do nothing once they’ve got what they wanted. (Again, a few days after I posted this, the NAACP came out for gay marriage, and I made a point of posting about that, too. I think it will help change a lot of folks’ minds.)

      As for people voting on one issue: I agree that most people don’t vote on one issue, but a lot of people, especially the Tea Party folks, vote socially conservative every time, and they pressure their representatives to vote against gay marriage, against health insurance companies covering contraceptives, against women’s right to chose, but for religious pharmacists’ right to deny women things their religion doesn’t approve of. All across the country, reasonably sensible republicans who focus on being financially conservative, are being voted out and replaced by people who are obsessed about denying people basic human rights, such as marriage and healthcare.

      Gay marriage is not important? I agree, if you mean, let’s just give them the rights everyone else has and move on already. If you mean, let’s not bother with that now because there are more important things, then I don’t agree. There will always be issues that affect more people, like the economy, and if we had to wait until there would be nothing that affects more people than gay marriage does, then gays and lesbians would never get to marry. Americans go on about having the best democracy in the world. Democracy is set up to protect minorities, and to ensure minorities’ rights. So Americans, put your vote where your mouth is, give gays the right to marry and move on already.

      As to being repulsed: yep, you have that right. Nice, aren’t they, rights? (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

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