Thursday, December 03, 2009

After New York

I wasn’t at all surprised by the failure of the New York State Senate to enact marriage equality: The body is dominated by Republicans and conservative Democrats (the lower house, by comparison, has passed the measure three times). But that doesn’t make it any less disappointing, and I had hoped for a closer margin than 38 to 24.

So the question, at a time like this, is what now? Certainly the battle in New York isn’t over, and the measure will be back and will, eventually, be passed. But we face a well-organised and extremely well-funded opposition that can rely on the nationwide infrastructure (and members' money) from the Mormon, Roman Catholic and fundamentalist Protestant churches. One would think that politicians (and voters) wouldn’t be so easily swayed by such an obviously religious-based attack on human rights, but they often fall for it.

Part of the reason is that the extremists are expert at framing the issue in their terms alone. Consider the gloating message issued by the head of the leading anti-gay hate group focusing on this issue, the National Organization for Opposite-Only Marriage (or whatever):
"I hope this loss causes Democratic leaders to reconsider their fanatical commitment to an issue that is a priority for only a small number of wealthy donors and activists in their party.”
Did you notice the very sophisticated and subtle framing in their propaganda? She said the only Democrats supporting gay marriage are "wealthy donors and activists", which neatly frames all of us as "elites". She also talked about the "fanatical commitment" of Democratic leaders (if ONLY!!), which frames Democratic leaders as irrational. This is standard rhetoric for them, just as they always claim to be victims of some sort of hate whenever anyone dares to criticise them or points out their deliberate lies.

Like all the other far-right christianists, their propaganda tries to portray us as "the other"—weird, scary, icky people who it's okay to hate. Our job isn't to tell them to STFU—they expect that, and it only reinforces their meme—but to take the power out of their framing so that it's so obviously wrong that it no longer works.

The only way to do that is to make sure everyone is out everywhere—we MUST define OURSELVES and not let the bigots and their hatefest do it for us. These hate groups only succeed because America doesn't know us: If every gay person in the US came out to at least one person every single day within a few weeks it would be as obvious to Middle America as it is to us that these people are clowns in a circus of hate.

The choice is really that clear and obvious: If we want to stop ranting at the bigots, then we MUST take the initiative and introduce ourselves as the real face of GLBT America, and our straight allies MUST stand up and declare their support for us. If we don't, we'll be carrying on like this for years—perhaps decades—to come.

The bigot’s quote was found at Joe.My.God., where this post began as a comment.


Roger Owen Green said...

I'm embarrassed, I really am, by my home state. Not surprised, mind you.

Arthur Schenck said...

You shouldn't be embarrassed by the Republicans (ALL of whom voted against the bill). The Democrats who should've voted correctly and didn't are an embarrassment to all Democrats. Still, as you say, it wasn't a surprise.