Um, let’s not call Barack Obama “the first gay president,” but let’s credit him with being influential within the black community where equal human and civil rights for non-heterosexuals and non-gender-conforming individuals are concerned.
Newsweek’s May 21 cover pronouncement of Barack Obama being the nation’s “first gay president” is typically-for-Newsweek hyperbolic — Obama is no more the “first gay president” than Bill Clinton was the “first black president” — but Obama’s belated pronouncement of last week that he supports same-sex marriage (although he hasn’t changed his “states’ rights” “argument” and thus he has not argued that same-sex marriage should not be prohibited by any of the states) might have the benefit of easing some of the homophobia within the black community.
Seventy percent of the black voters who voted on California’s Proposition 8 in November 2008 voted “yes” and thus voted against same-sex marriage here in California — on the very same election day that brought us the nation’s first black president, mind you.
Seventy fucking percent. (Overall, 52 percent of the state’s voters passed Prop H8.)
The Washington Post at the time of Prop H8’s passage reported that “Similar [anti-same-sex-marriage] measures passed easily in Florida and Arizona. It was closer in California, but no ethnic group anywhere rejected the sanctioning of same-sex unions as emphatically as the state’s black voters, according to exit polls.”
This, I think, was for two primary reasons:
One, most black Americans have adopted the toxic, backasswards, ignorance-, hatred- and fear-based religion of those who once were their enslavers. They and their equally fucktarded and bigoted white counterparts call this patriarchal, misogynist and homophobic bullshit “Christianity,” but I’ve read the New Testament, and Christianity this ain’t.
It’s unfortunate that so many black churches are just like white churches. The only significant difference between the black Protestant churches and the white Protestant churches, it seems to me, is the race and the racial identity of the churchgoers. The ignorance, hatred, bigotry and the us-vs.-them, fear-based bullshit pretty much are the same.
Two, many if not most blacks refuse to share the victimization pie. These blacks don’t want to acknowledge that any other historically oppressed minority group also has been oppressed in the United States of America. Their victimization (real and/or fabricated) is their identity, after all.
Of course we cannot exactly compare gay rights and the historical oppression that non-heterosexuals and the non-gender-conforming have experienced to race-based rights and the historical oppression that blacks and other non-whites have experienced in the United States of America.
Slavery, and being discriminated against for your race, are a whole other ball of wax from being discriminated against for your sexual orientation and/or your gender expression. Obviously and of course.
However, it’s also true that gay males and lesbians and other non-heterosexual and non-gender-conforming individuals are the only minorities who routinely are rejected even by their own families. Racial minorities, on the other hand, almost universally are accepted by the members of their own families. (There are exceptions, of course, such as in the cases of biracial children; a white supremacist white family probably would to some degree reject a biracial child born into the family, for example.)
But getting into arguments over which historically oppressed minority group has had it worse probably isn’t very constructive, and fuck it, I will say it: Those blacks who make stewing over the injustices that were done even primarily to their forebears their second or even their first job probably are quite stuck in their development, and since they have a difficult time living in the present, but remain stuck in the past — even others’ past — their chance of making significant progress in the present is slim. They are sad cases who not only are miserable themselves, but who do their best to make those around them miserable.
I mean, shit. I can’t marry my same-sex partner of five years here in the supposedly liberal and progressive state of California, and I can think of no other minority group that isn’t allowed to get married. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1967, in Loving vs. Virginia, that no state can outlaw mixed-race heterosexual marriage, but here I am, decades later, and I don’t have marriage rights. Gay indeed apparently is the new black. (Maybe that is reason No. 3 for rampant black homophobia: Many if not most blacks want to ensure that there is at least one minority group that they still can shit and piss upon. In this dogpile that we call the U.S. of A. it’s still better to be next to the bottom than to be at the very bottom of the dogpile, isn’t it?) I could stew over this gross injustice a lot more than I do, but I would like my life to be about more than stewing over this injustice.
All of that said, same-sex marriage rights and other equal rights and human rights for non-heterosexuals and non-gender-conforming individuals are civil rights.
Civil rights is a large umbrella — an umbrella that doesn’t cover only blacks. Wikipedia notes in its entry “civil rights”:
Civil and political rights are a class of rights that protect individuals’ freedom from unwarranted infringement by governments and private organizations, and ensure one’s ability to participate in the civil and political life of the state without discrimination or repression.
Civil rights include the ensuring of peoples’ physical integrity and safety; protection from discrimination on grounds such as physical or mental disability, gender, religion, race, national origin, age, status as a member of the uniformed services, sexual orientation or gender identity; and individual rights such as privacy, the freedoms of thought and conscience, speech and expression, religion, the press, and movement.
Fuck it, I’ll say it: If you maintain that civil rights cover only your group, you’re a selfish fucking hypocrite who demands that your group be treated with fairness and with justice, but you don’t give a flying fuck about other groups. Therefore, you don’t fucking deserve the same respect that you demand that others show you.
Therefore, I was incensed when Jesse Jackson announced some time ago that gay rights (or at least same-sex marriage rights) aren’t civil rights. As recently as two years ago, Jackson reportedly declared, “Many African-Americans believe gays are discriminated against, but they don’t believe marriage is a civil-rights issue. [Really? Loving vs. Virginia, which allowed mixed-race heterosexual marriage, was not over a civil-rights issue?] There are issues of acceptance [of gays], but there is no back of the bus; there are no lynchings.” Um, Matthew Shepard and countless other non-heterosexuals who have been killed for their sexual orientation and/or non-gender-conformation have not, in effect, been lynched? Jackson at that time added that being non-heterosexual “is not immutable” and “is not an externally observable characteristic unless you want to flaunt it.”
Actually, for most non-heterosexuals it is not a choice, any more than heterosexuals have a choice as to who they are and are not sexually attracted to, and of course, that word choice — “flaunt it” — reeks of homophobic bigotry (the only way for effeminate males and masculine females not to “flaunt it” is to [try to] pretend to be who and what they are not, which is soul-crushing), and of course the “immutability” “argument” is bullshit where civil rights are concerned. Civil rights protect one’s religious beliefs, for example, and certainly one’s religious beliefs are not immutable. (And why, oh, why, must so many “Christians” flaunt their mutable, bullshit, backasswards beliefs that they wish to inflict on all of us? And why do the “Christians” want to convert our defenseless children to their perversion?)
However, Jesse Jackson seems to have evolved on the issue of same-sex marriage since his earlier effective public proclamations that blacks have the monopoly on civil rights.
The Los Angeles Times on Thursday surreally reported (emphases are mine):
The Rev. Jesse Jackson on Thursday praised President Obama’s decision to support same-sex marriage, comparing the battle for such unions to the fight against slavery and anti-miscegenation laws intended to keep blacks and other ethnicities from mingling and marrying with whites.
“This is a bold step in the right direction for equal protection under the law for all citizens,” Jackson told the Los Angeles Times on Thursday morning. But, he said, he wished the president had gone further, pushing for federal protection for all citizens instead of leaving the controversial issue of gay marriage up to the states to decide. [!!!]
If other hard-won civil rights battles had been left up to the states, Jackson said, African Americans would have been on the losing end of those battles.
“If the states had to vote on slavery, we would have lost the vote,” Jackson said. “If we had to vote on the right [for blacks] to vote, we would have lost that vote.” …
Wow. Here is Jesse Jackson now more or less comparing the fight for same-sex marriage in all 50 states to the fight to eliminate slavery in all 50 states, a comparison that I recently made myself and was expecting to get shit for (but miraculously did not).
Of course, not being allowed to marry the one you wish to marry absolutely is not just like being involuntarily owned and involuntarily worked like livestock instead of being treated as a free human being, but the idea of allowing any of the states to put the treatment of and the equal human and civil rights of any minority group up for a fucking vote is anti-American. And I do believe that while of course we cannot directly compare the prohibition of same-sex marriage to slavery, we can more or less directly compare laws that banned mixed-race marriage to laws that ban same-sex marriage. Yes, marriage rights are civil rights.
I have been critical of Barack Obama for still not having gone far enough on same-sex marriage — and, by and large, most Americans, even non-heterosexual Americans, seem to be letting him off of the hook for his willingness to go only so far thus far — so it is gratifying to see Jesse Jackson’s proclamation that Obama hasn’t gone far enough on same-sex marriage.
The L.A. Times reports further of Jackson’s recent pronouncement (emphases mine):
His statement comes as a growing number of African-American leaders and civil-rights activists are stepping forward to voice their support for same-sex marriage. Their positions are significant because there is a stronghold of opposition to same-sex marriage within African American communities. This week alone, African-Americans voters were instrumental to passing North Carolina’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. [Deja vu all over again…]
Acknowledging that gap, Jackson called on religious leaders nationwide to address the issue with their congregations.
Jackson said gays and lesbians are among the ranks of soldiers dying for their country, the teachers educating the nation’s children and even the pastors guiding parishioners through the Bible. It’s time to reward gays and lesbians with equal protection, he said.
He urged opponents to remember that same-sex marriage isn’t about taking rights away from anyone else, but rather extending those rights to all. He also recalled a painful time in America’s not-too-distant past when African American men in the South faced swift punishment or even death if they tried to date a white woman, even as white men boldly dated across racial lines.
With such history in the rear-view mirror, Jackson said, it’s time to stop dictating the actions of others.
“You may choose your mate, but you cannot deny someone else the right to choose their mate,” he said. “The law protects you from being abused. It doesn’t threaten your lifestyle for someone else to have the right to exhibit their lifestyle,” he later added. [“Exhibit” — I hope that that’s not just a euphemism for “flaunt”… And your sexual orientation, in the vast majority of cases, is not your “lifestyle.” Your lifestyle, by definition, is your choice. Your sexual orientation, in the vast majority of cases, is not your choice.]
Other African-American leaders were also vocal this week in their support for gay marriage, joining Jackson in reframing the issue as one of civil rights.
“I salute President Obama’s statement today supporting same-sex marriage,” the Rev. Al Sharpton said in a statement that went on to add: “This is not about mine or anyone’s personal or religious views. It is about equal rights for all. We cannot be selective with civil rights. We must support civil rights for everybody or we don’t support them for anyone.”
Newark Mayor Cory Booker, seen as a rising [black] star in the Democratic Party, appeared on “The Rachel Maddow Show” on MSNBC Wednesday to lend an impassioned voice in support of gay marriage rights. [I saw that interview, and I like fellow Gen X’er Cory Booker, and he is, I think, an example of the fact that one’s age largely determines his or her stance on same-sex marriage. Younger Americans, as a whole, are more accepting of same-sex marriage than are older Americans, such as Jesse Jackson, regardless of their race.]
And, earlier in the day, the social media savvy leader tweeted: “Historic day for justice and equality. Our United States President Obama endorses marriage equality. I rejoice in this announcement.”
I suspect that Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, et. al., wouldn’t be as on board with same-sex marriage as they are now if our “first gay president” weren’t black and if our “first gay president” hadn’t first made his (limited) support of same-sex marriage public, but I’ll take their (belated) support anyway.
Truth be told, their support of my equal human and civil rights makes it much easier for me to give them my support of theirs wholeheartedly.