Sunday, November 16, 2008

This Is Not A Rant, or, Why I Must Protest

IMG_7153This afternoon I'm going to stand up for my civil rights and join
millions of my LGBT brothers and sisters and their supporters who are protesting, across the country, the elimination of our right to marry in California, and aiming this protest at the organization which not only financed Proposition 8 but supplied much of the manpower on the ground that waged the battle against us. I'm referring to the Church of Latter Day Saints aka LDS or The Mormon Church. 

Let me be clear: I have no quarrel with individual Mormons, or with any race, creed, color, gender, orientation.  I'm just angry at the individuals among them, especially their leadership, who actively fought - successfully - against our right to marry. 

Why do we care so much? Well, first of all, we want our relationships to have legal and societal recognition for most of the thousand reasons that straight people do, straight people with and without children. But, also, this is definitely also a fight about full equality and acceptance of gay people in this country. Think about it - fifteen years ago I couldn't even be myself at work for fear of being fired. I grew up hearing the most hateful things about who I was from schoolmates, neighbors, and, in my 20s, on the job. 

Yes, we have won our acceptance person by person, as straight people in urban and suburban areas realize just how many of their relatives, friends, and neighbors are gay, and begin to see that we're just naturally that way and it's senseless and mean-spirited to reject us because we're wired differently. That's how we won over half the country - but the some of the other half won't be won over by patience and time. No group ever won their civil rights by waiting for absolutely everyone to be comfortable with it. 

Do you have the right to dislike gays? Of course, it's a free country, and, as hateful as bigotry is, nobody can or should tell you what to think. 'Freedom of speech is freedom of the speech that you hate,' it is widely said.  But there's a difference between 'not prohibited by law' and 'decent behavior'   It's a bad thing dislike or disapprove of someone based solely on their DNA or culture, I believe society and decent people everywhere should make this socially unacceptable.  That's the idea of diversity - and the poorly named 'political correctness' should actually be called the much clunkier 'mutual respect and thoughtfulness in a diverse, multi-racial, multi-cultural society.' Say that three times fast. : - )  If you're still not convinced, watch any episode of 'Mad Men' to see just how awful we often treated each other in pre-PC America. 

IMG_7148Of course, nobody, myself included, is absolutely free of prejudice, as Avenue Q sadly and wryly sang.  It is a small, decreasing (I hope) ingredient of that big soup, the human experience laden with bad and good - we all must fight our inner bigot. And we gays must be especially vigilant to avoid prejudice against entire groups because of specific individuals that we have not yet won over...

And what if your religion says that homosexuality is a sin?  Again, you're within your rights but MANY clergy, people of faiths and whole denominations have rejected this rigid interpretation realizing that humanity - including spiritual humanity - grows, evolves, and matures with time.   Much in the same way that most religious people rejected slavery and bigamy, and many reject the subservience of women, all of which were also baked into the diverse, profound, and sometimes self-contradicting and ambiguous pages of the Bible 5,000 years ago.  Many of the most deeply spiritual people I know are LGBT.   Nobody's going to take away your right to believe what you want, but again, society can and should reject all bigotry and prejudice, loudly.   You have religious rights, but the rights of your fist end exactly where my nose begins... 

I seldom use this blog to discuss heavy topics.  It's a blog about my life, photography and prose about experiencing the big, wide, diverse world around us.  It's a smile and a hug to family and friends I love.  But I felt it my duty - my civic responsibility, to put these thoughts out here, and to put my body out on the street at 260 Broadway this afternoon.  Godspeed, and love.

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