Getting Real with Our Enemies

13 11 2008

The aftermath of the failure of Prop 8 in California is beginning to look like New Orleans after Katrina – wreckage and criticism all over the landscape and a whole lot of very angry people. One good thing to come out of it is the fact that at least we now know who our enemies are. We have a list and it is a long one. “Californians Against Hate” publicized the donor list of everyone who gave money to “Yes On 8,” – our enemies. Already the fallout is costing these people jobs and money. Scott Eckern, director of the California Musical Theater in Sacramento , a post he had held for 25 years and in which he worked with countless gay colleagues including the composer of Hairspray, was revealed to have given $1000 to “Yes On 8.” The subsequent uproar by gay theater people forced his resignation. Fred Karger, founder of “Californians Against Hate,” commented “that’s not good news…” Karger’s comment illustrates the sort of “gloves on – nicey-nice – love our enemies” approach queer organizations took regarding the entire campaign – which is perhaps the main reason for our defeat. It was an approach that certainly did not cut any ice with the opposition. Ron Prentice, Chairman of “Yes On 8,” issued a statement criticizing same-sex marriage supporters who “cherish tolerance and civil rights (but) are unabashedly trampling on the rights of others,” referring to the protests that led to Eckern’s resignation and to the demonstrations that continue to be held at Mormon temples around the nation. Prentice’s comments illustrate perfectly the fallacy in the logic of our enemies, as does the statement of the spokesperson for the Mormon Church calling for mutual respect – a sort of “agree to disagree” philosophy.

    Agree to disagree is fine when one is arguing about academic issues. If we differ regarding, say. the causes of the War of 1812 or the meaning of agricultural statistics from the 18th Century, we can and should be polite, respectful of alternate views and willing to consider other interpretations. However, people like Eckern and the Mormons and a long list of others do not seem to comprehend that for us, this is NOT an academic matter. This materially affects our daily lives and our rights as citizens. We will not simply “agree to disagree” and politely go home. We will make this issue affect the daily lives of our enemies. Up to now, it has not so affected them. Their rights, their relationships, their marriages have never been in question. For them, this whole issue has been merely an abstract concept. Now that they must face us down and suffer embarrassment on their way into their “Temples” – now that personal challanges are being made in the workplace, as was the case with Eckern, now that businesses such as the Utah tourist industry may feel the consequences, all of a sudden these people who would deny us our rights as citizens are getting all sanctimonious about freedom of expression. Well, guess what? They are now finding out that we have freedom of expression too, and we can do our expressing on the sidewalk in front of their places of worship. we can express ourselves to the people and companies we do business with – we can bring the cost of what they have done to us right into their own lives in practical and very upsetting ways. We can do so legally and we have the moral right to do so. We all have to take responsibility for the results of our actions in this world and the “Yes On 8” crowd is now finding out that sending a check is an act that can indeed have very real consequences in their own lives as well as in ours.

   Respect? Ha! Why should we have any respect for those who wish to deny us our civil rights? Why should we be polite and restrained? Criticism is already mounting of those who led the “No On 8” campaign for being entirely too respectful and restrained  -too mealy-mouthed, frankly. Some 40 million dollars was spent by our side – money we could hardly afford in the present economic climate – and what did we get for it? We got a campaign strategy that wouldn’t even show same-sex couples in the TV ads for fear of offending people! No wonder we lost with leadership like that! We have been entirely too respectful and restrained already. It is high time we publicized a few “home truths” as my grandmother would have called them – such as the fact that opposition to non-traditional marriages comes VERY strangely indeed from an outfit such as the Mormons, given their history on the marriage issue. And let’s be very clear about this- the Mormons led the list of “Yes On 8” supporters. The Knights of Columbus were right up there, followed by various businesses and a whole lot of fundie, store-front churches of the holy roller variety, but the Mormons wrote the really big checks.

    It is difficult to have any respect for the Mormons anyway. A religion based on a failed Victorian novel, revelations by an angel named Moroni and written on gold tablets NO ONE ever gets to see and that teaches such concepts as good Mormons will each get their very own planet to be god over in the next life is so patently ridiculous that one is tempted to say “only in America, where any nut group can prosper…” Exactly the same can be said of Scientology (also on the donor list, by the way.) A person who would buy the teachings of the Mormons or the Scientologists will pretty much believe anything. You could probably convince them the moon is made of green cheese if you told them it had been revealed to you by an angel or, in the case of the Scientologists, a little green man from Alpha Centauri. One is tempted to speculate on the utter failure of public education to produce a population of informed, critical and logical thinkers but that would be another topic.

   So, we have these people who firmly believe these nonsensical abortions of theology and who, because of this nation’s iron clad guarantees of religious freedom , have greatly prospered and who would now turn around and deny a basic civil right to others who are not of their persuasion. And they want respect? Are they entirely crazy? It is time we took the gloves off. It is time we made them pay. The attack on the Mormon Church’s tax exemption is an excellent begining. Picketing their temples so they must actually SEE the people they are helping to suppress is another excellent move. Spending future campaign money on advertising that tells it like it really is – that shows the people who are personally affected by this issue and opens a window on their real lives is yet another. It also might do some good to point out just how absurd our enemy’s own beliefs actually are. The point is – if there is room in this country for people who believe the Mormon nonsense, there should certainly be room for us to live in full enjoyment of the same rights they have.

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