Friday, January 16, 2004

Gay Tolerance, Gay Intolerance. Which one will it be?

Almost everyone in America knows someone who is gay.
It may be a relative, a coworker, a friend's son or daughter, or even a shop merchant, but almost everyone knows at least one gay person. We queers are becoming more a part of mainstream America every day. Gays play major characters on network television shows and in mainstream movies.
We have our own gay online communities.
Even my Blog nemesis Barcodeking, who is a little to the right of Ghengis Khan, seems to show no prejudice toward gays.
I have been Blogging more than two years now, and I have never once been persecuted by anyone in my comments box or by e-mail because I am gay. Gays have cruiselines and resorts and restaurants and shops that cater to us. Major newspapers publish news of our commitment ceremonies, mixed right in with the straight engagement and wedding announcements.
We even have our own gay VISA and Mastercard companies.
Violent crime against us based on gay prejudice is legally considered a hate crime. Assaults that fall under hate crime laws levy harsher penalties on the perpetrators.
The vice president's daughter Mary is gay.
Dick Gebhardt's daughter is gay.
Newt Gingrich's sister is gay.
Even George W. Bush has a good buddy back in Texas who's gay. His buddy's name is Charles Francis, and in his capacity as Director of the gay Republican Unity Coalition, he has visited Bush in the White House.
The leader of the gay political group Log Cabin Republicans also has been an invited guest in the Bush White House.
When Ellen DeGeneris, Melissa Etheridge, Elton John and Rosie O'Donnell came out of the closet, mainstream America didn't abandon them or try to ruin their careers.
Picture this:
In mainstream America, imagine an ordinary, straight cocktail party where one of the heterosexual guests started ranting about gays, using words like faggot and dyke and fudgepacker and rug muncher and cocksucker and goochie gobbler. Then he says AIDS is God's righteous punishment for being gay. He'd be considered by most of the other guests to be vulgar, politically incorrect and offensive. He'd probably even be asked to leave, don't you think? Gay people fight in wars, give to charity, go to church, finance homes and cars, raise kids, mow our lawns, wash our laundry, and all those other ordinary things that must be done, just like straight people.
We also pay 100 percent of the same taxes as straight people. As such, many believe we should be entitled to the same rights as heterosexuals, racial minorities, the disabled, naturalized citizens and all other adults in this nation.
We should have the right to enter legally recognized domestic partnerships, unions, marriage or whatever they are called.
Why?
Because married couples can file joint tax returns and get a break. Because a legal spouse can visit his or her spouse in a hospital, without the patient's parents being able to ban the visiting spouse from having contact with the patient.
Because a legal spouse can usually be insured under their spouse's company health insurance plan.
Because married couples can adopt children easier than single people. Because a legal spouse can inherit the estate of their deceased spouse without having to battle siblings, parents and other angry kinfolk of the deceased who think they have a moral right to the proceeds from the estate. It's not about religion, or envy or queer radicalism. It's simply about getting equal rights for equal taxation.
George Bush has been asked by the Religious Right to add an amendment to the United States Constitution that specifically prohibits a gay person's right to enter a legal marriage, union, partnership, or call it what you will. Many voters from his radical right-wing Christian constituents are depending on Bush to propose that amendment. They threaten to withdraw millions of their votes if he doesn't.
The Constitution was such a brilliantly crafted document, it hasn't had to be amended much since it was created. In fact, only 27 amendments have been added in its 228 year history, and 10 of them made up the Bill of Rights! As you probably know, the Bill of Rights were added to the constitution when it first came out. States who stood to ratify the Constitution looked it over and tweaked it a little before they'd sign off on it. Those 10 tweaks made up the Bill of Rights.
Those first 10 amendments, when added to the Constitution, created an almost flawless document that has inspired countless other countries whose founders sought wisdom and inspiration in creating their own constitutions. The first 10 amendments included freedom of the press, freedom of religion, freedom to bear arms, freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, the rights to fair and speedy trials.
As you can see, amendments to the Constitution generally have great significance in enhancing the well being and freedom of Americans. A few mistakes have been made. An amendment made it illegal to sell or consume alcohol in America. Another amendment repealed that silly one, but mostly amendments have been wise and have withstood the test of time.
An amendment ended slavery.
Another amendment gave everyone the right to vote, regardless of gender, age or race.
None have been added for the express purpose of denying rights to any segment of the American population. Just the thought seems directly opposed to the freedom loving spirit and wisdom of the original document and its amendments. The president has a dilemma on his hands. Does he pander to the intolerant, religious right-wing Christian voters who hate gays so much they want to create an amendment that legalizes the abridgment of a right all other Americans adults can take for granted? Or does he listen to his gay friend Charles and the gay children of our legislators and the millions of tolerant straight people and the enormous gay community who don't want him to abridge equality, they want him to embrace it? Seems to me, the decision is obvious. It's a free country. Bush has a historical opportunity to make it an even freer country for all American, tax paying citizens.
Or he can constitutionally abridge the rights of millions, whose only difference is in who they are able to love.
Even Barcodie knows it's okay for his political nemesis, a queer like me, to meet and marry the woman I love. If he can handle it, Bush can.

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