Civil disobedience for beginners

Filed under: Racial Equity |

Every week, citizens across the U.S. wait on baited breath as their state law makers’ grapple with the challenges and issues of same-sex marriage. A few months ago, in my home state, the NJ senate rejected a bill designed to legalize same sex marriage. Given the pseudo-liberal political climate in New Jersey, this most likely came as little surprise for many who live here. I describe the climate here as pseudo-liberal because there appears to be a propensity of its inhabitants to have a jarring knee-jerk reaction to nearly every hotly debated or controversial issue that comes across the plate.

This would be fine, I suppose if it were based upon informed and reasoned thought instead of the “fear and loathing”of the unknown that people typically ascribe to when they consciously select to behave one way (liberal), yet vote another (conservative, straight down the line). After all, who’s got time to actually sit down and do some research before forming an opinion?  On this particular issue, I’m specifically concerned with African-Americans and other traditionally disenfranchised people in the United States. A casual audit of these populations could easily reveal that the majority have absolutely no idea what approval of a bill on same sex marriage would even mean.

We have all been exposed to the polluted line of thinking that essentially has hordes of legally married gay couples seizing power and conquering the known world, beginning   with all the prime real estate from Maine to Baja, California. Oh, too drastic for you?  I’ll admit, these are the thoughts of the extreme right wing, and most well meaning liberal, blue-state dwellers would never concede to these points. But what about the other points, those that don’t seem so radically, well… radical?

The really compelling stuff like: same sex marriages promote the wrong message to kids, and speaking of them, how would they function in school with children from “normal” families? If your channel of thoughts on the matter run along these lines, it’s time to do a purge of your reasoning system. Couples comprised of same-sex unions already exist ~ replete with school aged children, who are functioning quite well with the children from “normal” families, thank you very much. In fact, other than the “who sleeps where & with whom” factor, same-sex, civil union households look a lot like opposite sex, married households on paper, and if stats are reviewed are doing better economically: The median income of same-sex couples nationally is $63,600 while the median for traditionally married couples is $57,500.

Moreover, beyond being quite economically solvent, same-sex households are racially and ethnically diverse, representing and consistent with the multiculturalism observed daily in the national public school system.  So, one may reason, with the availability of civil unions, why are same-sex couples pushing for legalized marriage? In a nutshell~ because they recognize that it is required to obtain equality under the law as full citizens for themselves, families and households. It is clear that in each instance where a state has ruled against same sex marriage, an unfortunate opportunity has been created for the promotion of a separate but equal mind set in the general populace.

And, let us be thorough here, as the States’ go…so goes the region, up and through to the federal government, which has seen fit to defer to States’ rights insofar as same sex marriages are concerned. It may, therefore be concluded that the federal government will not respect  civil unions for the purposes of  many federal benefits and protections that married spouses have such as Social Security payments, immigration protections, veterans’ benefits, and taxation merely to name a few. Ultimately, the message is that what same-sex couples have is not as legitimate or as significant as a real marriage, and that these lesser relationships are undeserving of the name~ marriage.

States are habitually sending a message that serves as a dangerous harbinger that gays and lesbians, their children and families are fair game for discrimination and abuse. These issues have a long reaching impact, especially on the children of same-sex couples.  So, opposition to legalized same-sex marriage carries with it an anti-family, anti-child stench. Is this who we…the people of color, really are in the United States? It is indeed, when we conduct ourselves as liberal and tolerant in public forums, yet vote conservatively on these issues at the polls.

Sadly, a spirit of complacency has taken over our short-term memory ~ so that we are ever looking, but not seeing that the rationale for the legalization of same-sex marriages has to do with civil rights… period. Too many of us are failing to see the de facto connection with this legacy. We need to re-remember how and when to practice free and independent thought.  As people who crafted the civil rights movement and are the instruments of it, we must come to recognize how vulgar it is to pay lip service to liberal ideas on a daily basis, then slink to the voting booths and give away the legacy. It is both practical and warranted to disagree loudly and often with what we really don’t agree with; time to reconcile our liberal views with our political power and voices.  Otherwise, we are almost certain to become what Thoreau warned about in On Civil Disobedience ~ the well-disposed fashioned into the agents of injustice.

Photo: Thousands in LA protest Prop 8. Pic via Lesbian Dad.


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Author: Kirwan Institute (431 Articles)

Kirwan Institute

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