Tuesday, November 18, 2008

PostHeaderIcon Civility.

Certain elements in our society put together a plan and a coalition to deny basic civil rights to gays and lesbians -- to "lock in" their continued ability to discriminate with impunity.

"We are a democracy founded on Christian principles," they declared. "We must protect society against homosexuals for they threaten our marriages, our children and our beliefs."

They successfully engaged legislatures to block equal employment protections. They successfully engaged legislatures to block equal recognition of gay & lesbian families. They successfully engaged legislatures to block gays and lesbians from the ability to adopt or become foster parents.

But this nation is not just governed by the legislature (or an executive branch).

Our system of government provides redress from executive and legislative overreach through the courts.

So gays and lesbians (and other fair-minded straight people) availed themselves of their right to be heard in the court system. Equal protection, guaranteed by the Constitution (both the federal and of the many states), was being violated it was argued. And in many cases (not all), the courts agreed.

The cry went up from the Christianists.

"Foul! Foul! How dare the unelected judges ignore 'the will of the people' as expressed by elected representatives? This is a democracy!"

But a democracy tempered by a Constitution that seeks to provide a bulwark against minority oppression.

So, thwarted by reason and law, these elements declared that if he Constitution of the United States (and those of the many states) was the problem, then they must be changed.

And so through ballot initiative after ballot initiative, they worked tirelessly. They knew that with the right turn of phrase or outright lie they could count on ignorance and fear to "gin up" their base -- and with a little apathy from the rest of the electorate, were quite successful in passing amendments to state constitutions.

"The majority has spoken," they said. "The subject is closed. Go back in the closet. Go away and be quiet."

Except…

Those gays and lesbians (and fair-minded straight folks) hadn't finished. They were angry and upset. And they were protesting. (Sometimes quietly, sometimes loudly, sometimes with barely contained anger.)

They protested at City Halls and in town squares. They protested at Mormon Churches -- for the LDS church had bankrolled much of the effort. (The Catholic Church would have done more, but they were too busy paying off the victims of priestly child molesters.)

"Foul!", again the cry rose. "This is religious discrimination! The majority has spoken -- you're supposed to be quiet and civil and back in your place. It's your fault, you know. If you would just stop forcing your lifestyle down our throats and go back in the closet, everything would be fine. Why won't you just shut up? "

"No." said the gays and lesbians (and fair-minded straight people). "We will not be quiet. We will not step back. We will not be denied our rights. We will not be second-class citizens in our own country."

Civility does not require passivity nor does it require deference to false equivalencies or lies.

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