Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The quiet revolution

Here is a good op-ed piece written by Thomas F. Schaller for the Baltimore Sun. He discusses the struggle of equality for gays and lesbians and how it is simply one among many civil rights struggles that is inevitable. He makes some excellent points.
"The movement for sexual orientation-based equality is part of a proud, progressive tradition that includes abolition, women's suffrage, the ending of child labor, racial integration of the armed forces, the civil rights movement and anti-miscegenation reforms."

Though we've certainly had some setbacks, I believe that we are making progress on the equality front. I believe that ours is a struggle that will be won. Just as so many minorities in the past who have been denigrated, stereotyped, and second-classed they eventually won equal recognition to the point that eventually most people look back and question how such bigotry could have ever existed against an entire group of people who didn't deserve any such stigmas. Some day we too will be seen as equals. But it's going to be long struggle. It will take decades. But it is inevitable nonetheless...
"Three patterns hallmark this long tradition: a defiant insistence by conservative doom-and-gloomers that the proposed reforms will undermine the fabric of American life; the inevitable rally by progressive and altruistic-minded Americans to the cause of expanding to others the protections they already enjoy; and, finally, widespread agreement a generation or so thereafter that conservative hysteria was not only misplaced, but America was stronger for having ignored their pinched, wrongheaded warnings."

Thomas Schaller points out how much coming out of the closet has been the real catalyst for winning more recognition for homosexuals.
"Previous generations were not blind, of course. But they were either more oblivious or chose to avoid the reality that some of their neighbors, co-workers, bowling team members and relatives were gay. By outing themselves, gays and lesbians forced the rest of us out of our closet of collective obliviousness."

And here is another article from a few weeks back by Michael Kinsley in Time magazine. While I didn't care for this article as much, Kinsley made some good points too:
"On no issue is history moving faster than on "gay rights" [...] The work is not finished, of course, but what took black Americans more than a century, gays have accomplished in two or three decades (thanks in no small part to blacks, who designed the template for this kind of social revolution)."
Quite right. Of course some criticize us for having the "audacity" to stand up to those who demonize us, and demanding that we be given equal status under the law with heterosexuals...

"We still argue about it, but the whole spectrum of debate has moved left. A right-wing thug like Tom DeLay or Newt Gingrich probably has more advanced views about homosexuals than dainty liberals of the past century like Adlai Stevenson or Hubert Humphrey."
Yes, a lot of conservative folks, at least publicly, aren't as fire breathing with their condemnation of homosexuals.

"The notion that gays must be segregated out of the military for the sake of our national security must strike Americans younger than, say, 40 as simply weird, just as we of the previous generation find the rules of racial segregation weird. (O.K., run that by me again: they needed separate drinking fountains because ... why?)"
Exactly! This is the sort of logic that some of us, myself included have been arguing for years. I've been bringing this sort of no-brainer to the people in rural Missouri where I live via letters to the editor and comments on the online forum provided by the newspaper online. The only thing that I disagree with here is that it must seem weird to everyone under 40. I'd put the number at those under 30 would find it rather absurd to expel homosexuals from the military, except for social conservatives of course {read: the flat Earthers and Creationists}.

"[the GOP] can 'affirm' anything they want, but homosexuality is obviously not incompatible with military service. There have always been gays in the military. The question is what conditions they serve under."
Like Barry Goldwater said, "You don't need to be straight to fight and die for your country. You just need to shoot straight. " It'd be nice if those who claim to care so much about supporting the troops lived up to that and included those soldiers who just happen to be homosexually oriented.

"When opponents of gay rights talk ominously about a "gay agenda," they are not completely wrong. There has been an agenda in the sense of a long-term strategy, not unlike the carefully plotted strategy of Thurgood Marshall and others in the civil rights movement that ended formal racial segregation."
Yep, and just like the struggle for racial equality, we too shall overcome...

The only thing I can say of the Time magazine article that I didn't care much for was the picture that was provided. It was a drawing which includes a soldier in pink camouflage. I think that kind of caricature just perpetuates the notion that homosexual men are marked by effeminacy. It's a bit like arguing for racial equality by using a black man in slave-like clothes eating watermelon surrounded by Klansmen. I think we've had enough of the stereotypes, even from those who support us.

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