Thursday, June 08, 2006

The New Sixty Percenters

I was at the grocery store earlier and overheard a black man complaining about gay people. Overheard might be too mild a word--- He seemed to be talking at a level that was clearly meant for others to hear. He was talking about how he was going to kick a guy's ass if it was true that he was gay. My words are much milder than his were.

And it got me thinking about two groups that should be able to find more common ground than they are--- African-Americans and homosexuals. It's not exactly a stretch to believe that the same people that want a constitutional ban on gay marriage also happen to be the ones that will build a new house in Eads rather than have a black family living a couple of blocks over.

I don't understand homophobia at all, but damnit, I understand it even less in the black community. I've heard black people speaking that were genuinely offended that their struggle fifty years ago could be compared to the struggle that homosexuals face today.

I doubt anyone would ever consciously choose to face the struggles that a homosexual faces. They can't marry the person they love, which closes them off from health plans, visiting rights in the ICU ward, adopting children in most states, and a nasty social stigma from a vocal minority of the population. So I think we can safely put to bed the notion that they somehow have more choice over being born the way they are than anyone except Michael Jackson has over their skin color.

"If he's a faggot, I'm gonna kick his ass". That's what the guy said. In this day and age, a white man wouldn't go out in public and say "I'm going to kick his ass because he's black". He certainly wouldn't have used the n-word the way this black man saw fit to drop the f-word. That's simply because white Americans have finally got the message: If you're ignorant enough to subscribe to such notions, at least have the common sense not to broadcast it.

We haven't reached that point with gay people yet. Too many people are too busy trying to gain political ground by making them the one group that you can legally discriminate against. And it's nearly impossible to get common citizens to quit discriminating when you have legislators trying to codify discrimination into law. Had it not been for Brown vs the Board of Education and a handful of civil rights laws, we would still have the "coloreds" bathrooms.

Maybe by connecting the ignorance of yesteryear to the ignorance of today, we can give our gay friends, family, and neighbors the long overdue gift of equality.

Next time some political hack tells you that you should support a gay marriage ban, tell him you'll do it--- On one condition. This phrase has to be slipped into the Constitutional Amendment:

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of heterosexual Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all homosexual Persons.

Recognize that? It's a slight paraphrase of Article I, Section 2, Clause 3 of the United States Constitution. It's better known as the Three Fifths Compromise. According to our Founding Fathers, black people were worth roughly 60% of what the rest of us were.

After all... Aren't the people that are trying to keep gays from having the same rights as the rest of us trying to send the same message? The message is "You may have some of the rights human beings have--- But not all."

The Three Fifths Compromise was disgusting back then, and it's disgusting now.

I'll never forget the first night that I really saw firsthand the impact that these gay marriage ballot initiatives have on the people involved. I've always hated them--- They're an attempt by right wingers to bring out the evangelical vote and cash in on the "angry white man" contingent that Republicans have had to find slyer ways to pander to since public racism finally went out of vogue.

I don't know that many gay people. I grew up around a gay couple that have been together over thirty years now, and I always thought it was a shame they couldn't marry. But I don't have that many gay people in my everyday life now.

So on Election Night 2004, I was at campaign HQ talking to a gay volunteer as the results came in. As we watched the results come in, we kept noticing the gay marriage ban passing in state after state after state...

He looked to me like he was on the verge of tears. I couldn't tell whether it was sorrow, anger, or both. He looked over at me and said "Eleven states just said I'm less than human."

As I write this, I wonder... How much of a human would they have said he was?

Three Fifths, maybe?

15 comments:

Jeff said...

I know gay people. We have a gay couple in our immediate family. Our immediate family is socially conservative. The gay couple is nevertheless an immediate part of the extended family and always will be.

I know black people. I work with black people, one on one every day. They are deeply opposed to gay as a civil right for the same reason white Republicans are - religion. They are as deeply fucked up by their churches as the white people are by their churches. There is nothing surprising or even incomprehensible about a black person hating gays if you consider that their religions teach them that being gay is an abomination and a sin.

They don't see the correlation between race and sexuality because to them being black is as natural as being born. But being gay is, according to their religious teachings, wrong before God. God made them black, but God didn't make you gay - the devil made you gay.

I'm not agreeing with it. I'm just saying, that's the way it is. Until you can get people, black and white, from letting charismatic sociopath preachers define for them right and wrong, you'll never get the black people I know to accept homosexuality as being as natural as being black.

PeskyFly said...

Well, in some circles being black was/is the mark of Cain, so the bible is also anti-black, I suppose. It was openly interpreted that way once to provide a theological reason for segregation, and oppression.

For fuck's sake-- and sorry Freed, I know this is a family blog, but I'm fed up.

Paul, a Roman and reformed Christian-killer with the tolerance of an ex-smoker was identifying male prostitutes in pagan temples. And nothing in the Old T. counts because because in Christ the old rules are washed away in favor of the golden rule.

The first point is too esoteric for most people to get in translation, and the latter is often used as an excuse for why we don't stone a wayward daughter. It's never used in the defense of gays.

What good is overcoming if you don't get to keep somebody down, eh?

PeskyFly said...

You know, according to Semetic traditions the "sin" of Sodom wasn't sodomy. God was angry with the Sodomites, and their neighbors the Gomorians because they refused charity to their poor, and treated outsiders cruelly. In other words, they were Republicans. So--and if you consider historical traditions, this is entirely true-- Sodomite=Republican.

Blinders Off said...

You are right about the hypnosis of the church when it comes to how people think. All of us are not hyptnotized.

One would think in 2006 people would be judged by their character instead of their race or sexual orientation.

We are not born with ignorance and intolerance...it is taught. The cycle break when an individual mature and understand the true meaning of being a child of God.

Freedonian said...

And nothing in the Old T. counts because because in Christ the old rules are washed away in favor of the golden rule.

See, this is the part I simply don't get--- The religious "justifications" are, at best, on scripturally shaky ground.

The very same book that says homosexuality is wrong, Leviticus, also would make football a moral abomination, as it declares touching the skin of a dead pig to be immoral (11:7).
You can't marry a woman divorced from her husband (21:7). The penalty for adultery is death (20:10). You can't wear two different kinds of textiles (19:19).

You're also quite right about Sodom.

Freedonian said...

Jeff,

Believe me--- I don't think you were trying to justify the attitude.

White conservative christians and black christians seem to suffer from the same malaise socially--- At some point, Christianity becomes more about who they can exclude than it is about acceptance.

The Catholic Church is certainly far from innocent when it comes to intolerance towards gays. But I have to take my hat off to Bishop Steib here in Memphis--- I've never seen any denomination except Episcopalian reach out to gays quite like Bishop Steib does, unless it's one of the traditional southern baptists "Let's pray the gay demons out of you" schemes.

Freedonian said...

Blinders,

Amen.

Jeff said...

As pesky points out, the Bible was used to justify slavery and keeping black people down as somehow subhuman or cursed by God (the mark of Cain).

That is, until the teaching was challenged, debunked and purged from the church teachings.

I don't have as much hope for homosexuality being accepted within Christian doctrine. Pesky and Freedonian pointed out the Old Testament references, but it's in the New Testament, too. First Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, he forbids them to associate with adulterers, sorcerers, homosexuals, etc.

True, there have been challenges to the way the greek was translated. But Jack and Jill Churchgoer aren't interested in the scholarly arguments as to whether Paul was refering to men and their boys or to something else entirely. The Bible they buy from the Baptist Bookstore says homosexuals in 1st Corinthians. When the preacher backs this up by condemning homosexuals, how are they going to react.

The change must come first from within the churches. No amount of science or reason is going to change people's opinion about something as straightfoward as Paul telling the Corinthians to stay away from gay people.

Freedonian said...

At the risk of sounding overly Clintonian, it depends on the meaning of "malakoi".

The word "malakoi' appears several times in the original texts, and only in that one example is it translated as "effeminate". In other instances, it translated as "soft", and in yet others, its root word, "malakos", is translated to mean someone with no restraint when it comes to sins of the flesh. So I'm not really sure what possessed the original translators to decide that the same word means all these different things.

"Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolators, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God."

In the interest of consistency, would "lechers" have not been a more accurate translation?

Regardless, I think that even that can be a bit of minutiae that could end up keeping us from seeing the forest.

You are absolutely right in that the change has to come from within the church--- As it is dependent upon accepting the word of a man (Paul) as though it was red letter law handed down by The Man himself.

The only true and lasting answer is for people who view themselves as children of God to realize that he made them too, and that restricting the rights of those less powerful than yourself is about as unchristian as you can get.

PeskyFly said...

exactly

Jeff said...

The malakoi argument is what I'm talking about. Joe Churchgoer doesn't know and doesn't care about the arguments over the correct translation.

You say 'effeminate' may not be the correct translation?

My Bible doesn't mention effeminate. It says homosexual. So do a lot of other people's Bibles. And so do a lot of preachers.

It's going to take a courageous church scholar with far-reaching influence to get that translation straightened out, and then it will take another generation for the churches and the Bible publishers to accept it, and even then you'll have major sects who will insist that only the old translation is valid.

Meanwhile, tell the God-fearing, gay-hating Christians that their righteous hatred of homosexuality may not have Bibilical justification after all. Those who know of the debate use the fact that it is being debated to say that it is debateable and they'll just have to wait and see. Meanwhile, they'll go on hating fags.

Jeff said...

Not to say that telling them is a waste of time. It isn't. It gets 'em all riled up. And then you can say things like, "You know, you're cute when you're angry."

Freedonian said...

I'm a Catholic. The New American Version actually uses the term "sodomites".

Do not be deceived; neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor nor boy prostitutes nor sodomites nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor robbers will inherit the Kingdom of God."

The phrasing is interesting; The phrase "catamites" was used to describe young boys that are enslaved and forced into prostitution. And the grown men that used their services were called... Sodomites.

I'm not sure whether this was meant to be a condemnation on pedophiles, people that used forced prostitutes, or both.

Who can really know 2000+ years later, but from context, I'm not sure the scripture was ever actually meant to condemn two people of the same sex that enter into a consentual relationship.

Jeff said...

In Greece back in them days they didn't have pedophiles. If you were a propertied man of Greece, you had your wife for procreation and your boy for love. The young male body was considered the ultimate ideal of beauty.

Freedonian said...

True, Jeff. But it seems to me that the scripture in its original form might have been designed to condemn that. At least according to the footnotes in my Bible.