Saturday, April 16, 2016

244.8 - Quick comment on LGBTQ rights: We are not willing to go back

Quick comment on LGBTQ rights: We are not willing to go back

We close the week with a relatively brief comment on something I haven't talked about in a while.

I said in the wake of the Supreme Court decision recognizing a right of same-sex marriage that the fight was by no means over. The dead-enders against recognition of the rights and even the reality of the existence of LGBTQ people were not about to give up their bigotry so easily.

The backlash has come, mostly from the expected quarters and the expect places, and always on the expected basis: religion. "I believe that my god, who is of course the only god that is real, said such-and-such, therefore I am freed from all civil, ethical, and legal obligations to do anything or deal with anyone I find icky."

The specific claims of First Amendment protections for bigotry are relatively new, arising only after other people were able to win recognition of their own rights, but the appeals to God, to religion, as justification for discrimination and oppression are not. Now it is being directly largely against LGBTQ people, most particularly transgender people, but before that the same sort of arguments were (and still are) used about abortion and even about birth control; before that, it was segregation; before that, it was slavery. The target shifts, the language changes some, the tactics get adjusted, but always, as bottom, it's the same: It's using religion as a weapon of bigotry.

In recent months, states such as Virginia and Tennessee and Oklahoma have considered bills to allow people to use religious claims to enable bigotry and the legislatures of states like Mississippi and Georgia and North Carolina have passed them.

But in the face of that backlash, there is light. The opposition to the Georgia bill was so intense, including opposition from corporations such as Intel, Coca-Cola, Dell, and Hilton, a threat from the NFL to block Georgia from getting a superbowl, and the prospect of an estimated $2 billion in economic losses, that Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed it.

Meanwhile, the reaction to North Carolina's law, including being roundly condemned and mocked by state newspapers, causing both the NCAA and the NBA to suggest they may have to re-think scheduled events in the state, the announcement by PayPal that it was cancelling a planned facility, and the declaration by the state attorney general that he won't defend the law in court, was harsh enough that within days, Gov. Patrick McCrory was issuing a "clarification" in an attempt to deflect the criticism.

As of this writing, Mississippi has not yet felt that kind of backlash to the backlash, but there is some heat starting to be generated.

The point of going through all this is just this: Recent events have made it obvious that we still have a long way to go on sexual and gender justice. But those same recent events have made it equally obvious that we as a society are not willing to go back.

I started the week with Good News; I appear to have ended the same way.

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