I don’t think everyone who is against gay marriage is homophobic. I can think of several reasons against gay marriage (have even advocated some in the past), all of them quite valid, none of them based on homophobia. I currently reject many of those arguments, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist and they are not legitimate arguments free of hate and fear.
I don’t think the Republican party is a party of racists. Are there racists who vote Republican? Sure- just as there are plenty of people who vote Democratic who are racist to the bone. That doesn’t deny the fact that our recent electoral success (last 30 years) isn’t at least partially due to a migration of reformed segregationists from the Democratic party to the Republican party.
As far as perceptions go, ask yourself- is it predominantly Republican or Democratic voters who usually fight tooth and nail to preserve the Confederate flag, and don’t get caught up in the mixed symbology of the Confederate Flag, which is always confused. The answer- normally it is Republicans- but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are racist. There are a lot of reasons why people defend the flag- it stands for a southern way of life (meaning rural, NASCAR, whiskey and tobacco- not race related but profoundly southern), it stands for a sense of rebelliousness and independent spirit, and for some it stands for standing up to the people in urban northern and west coast cities who are always demeaning the south.
And, for A SELECT FEW, it does have racist connotations. But to Democrats and blacks (for good reason), it is primarily about race and an obvious source of tension. If you see the flag and all you think is racism and slavery and lynchings, it makes perfect sense to suspect the motivations of people trying to preserve it. Thus, southerners who love the flag but don’t have a racist bone in their body, and I know a bunch of them, are unfairly tarred as racist for just wanting to be left alone and to keep an important symbol to them. Go to the south sometime- there aren’t lynchings and cross burnings and separate fountains and the like- for the most part, the south is over it and racial harmony rules the day.
At any rate, the lineage and ancestry is there, but that doesn’t mean I think the Republicans are racist or have racist policies. I am one (a Republican, for the sake of clarity), and I wouldn’t hang out willingly with people I thought were closet klansmen.
Another point- I don’t think all religious people are bigots. I don’t think most religious people are unreconstructed racists. For goodness sakes, only a fool would deny that the civil rights movement found its energy, its passion, its strength, and, in large part, its justification, in the religious movement. But that was a broad-based, ecumenical religious movement. Not the narrow sectarian power-mad groups that seem to dominate the headlines as of late.
In the previous post, I wrote:
This is part of the reason I have had such a bee in my bonnet about the all-out demonization of homosexuals and the recreational and, for the most part, politically motivated gay-bashing that the far right of my party seems all to quick to engage in as of late. It disgusts me, and it is, in my eyes, nothing more than a throwback to the obscene old days of our embarassing segregationist past.
If this really were about the sanctity of marriage, it would be one thing. But, it is pretty clear to me at least that it isn’t, and all I see is the same old reliance on selected biblical passages, the mean-spiritedness, the anger and venom and unfounded hostility, the dire predictions of apocalypse and the absurd invocation of states right’s and the future of our children. It is the same old hate wrapped up and packaged for another demographic. And, as far as I can tell, it is coming from the same crowd of people who 40 years ago would have been fighting to keep my black students and my black next-door neighbor drinking in a different fountain. Quite frankly, I have had enough of it.
No one should take that and use it as a license to claim I think all Republicans are racist, all religious people are racist, etc. Hell, you shouldn’t even take it to mean that I think current members of the extreme religious right are racist. What it means is that I do see a parallel between the rhetoric and actions and attempts at marginalization that look a helluva lot like the same things that were going on in the 40’s and 50’s but with a new target group. The same rhetoric, the same narrow biblical interpretations and the same selective quoting of scripture and verse.
I am also aware that much of this may have been brought on by over-reach from the activists in the homosexual community. Gavin Newsome did homosexuals a grave disservice- he may have put the issue on the map, but it was done in such an in your face and supra-legal manner that there was bound to be blowback. But that doesn’t excuse the recent attempts to wage all out war against gays.
This war is lead, in my opinion, a very narrow group of the religious and Republican spectrum- a group that seems to have an entirely disproportionate share of the political power in my party at the current moment. When you have leaders of the ‘Christian Coalition’ running around expressing an interest in having the government pin warning labels on homosexuals and wrapping it up in religious prose, it isn’t that difficult to see the parallels between the racism of the past and the war on homosexuals.
Again, that doesn’t mean I think everyone who is against gay marriage is a bigot, or a racist, because I wouldn’t be in a party that housed those people, and if you see someone claiming I think everyone in my party or everyone in the religious right is the same as the nasty old racists of years gone by, you can correct them for me. It does mean that I see a connection between the rhetoric and the behavior of a few, and it does mean that I see a few individuals who have gotten over race but found a new group that it is more acceptable to attack.
Dobson and his followers may also entirely believe that homosexual marriage will be the end of America. Simliar things were said about integration, and, I bet if we looked into it, women’s suffrage.
I think you can chalk up part of the confusion to my rambling prose and my splenetic writing style (it has been said the written language here at Balloon Juice is ‘high dudgeon,’ and toss in the fact that I have written so many damn posts on these topics that it may seem like I think all those things. But it just ain’t the case.
And for the record, if I could have my way, I wouldn’t have government legalizing gay marriages- I wouldn’t have the government granting any marriages. I would like the government in the civil union business, and gays and straights would be treated just the same, with the same rights. Churches could then grant marriages, and be free to decide whether or not their sect wants to grant gay marriages.