Friday, May 16, 2008

My rant for the day -- caution: long post

My friend David Adams, an ex-military man from Austin, and I only know each other through email. A while ago, a client of mine forwarded me an email with the subject "True American." I can't even remember the whole thing, but some of the stuff was inflammatory Republican talking point bullshit (sorry, Dave). So, me being the guy who likes to stir up trouble, scrolled down the whole email to the bottom and found who had originally sent it. Dave.

I wrote to him and commented on each and every item on the list of what defined a True American. That was more than a year ago. We have found much that we agree on, and much that we disagree on. Through it all, I have to honor Dave for being much more intelligent than I wanted to give him credit for. However, his religiosity and the time into which he was born have, I believe, gotten the better of him more times than I care to mention. Today is one of those days, I'm afraid.

When I posted yesterday about the California Supreme Court's overturning the ban on same-sex marriages, he wrote me an email in response, which became a pretty interesting exchange. I reserved my final words for this blog (many thanks to David for letting me share our "convo" with you all):

DAVE: We are friends with a gay couple across the street but the gay agenda being forced on us at work, schools, churches, and military is too similar to the in-your-face racial tyrants that force a negative reaction to their acusative [sic] and insulting manner.

ME: What exactly is the gay agenda? I'll tell you what it is: to be accepted as equal members of this society. That's it.

DAVE: It is to force belief that a choice of life is equal to inherited race in discrimination. It is to say that a few individuals preference is more important than others religious belief. It is to establish thought as a hate crime even with no harmful act against another person. It is to promote a frequently harmful lifestyle in school in defiance of parents rights to teach children moral principles. It is to violate the Democratic Principle of majority rules in our society by biased Judges overturning votes of citizens. It is to include displays of homosexual behavior in the media to influence children contrary to parents beliefs. My agenda is to judge each person based on [his] responsible, law-abiding behavior and courtesy toward others.

So, I may be overreacting here, and I leave it up to all of you to temper or correct my observations or to call "bullshit" if you see it here in my final response.

Dave, What you wrote undermines the intelligence I know you possess, and I want to reach that place in your brain that isn't clouded by such bigoted, Christianist dogma. Notice I wrote "Christianist and not "Christian." True Christians would have no problem with this law.

So to address your woefully misinformed comments:

1. Homosexuality is not a choice; it is an orientation of one's sexuality that is widely accepted in scientific circles (and many non-scientific ones) as a variation of normal human sexuality. I invite you to give a listen to a couple of NPR pieces on transgendered children to get a sense of how innate this state of being truly is. Homosexuals can no more choose to be straight than I can choose to be gay.
2. A few individuals' preferences are more important than others' religious beliefs, especially when those beliefs cause the believers to legislate away the rights of the few (whether or not they are successful). And those "few individuals" number in the millions in this country.
3. Gays do not seek to criminalize the thoughts of those who hate them. That's disingenuous, as well as impossible. They simply want their fundamental right as human beings to be able to marry a person of their choosing and create a family of their own.
4. Again, homosexuality is neither a lifestyle nor a choice; it's a way of being. And it isn't harmful to anyone who has enough awareness of self to be accepting of this reality of human sexuality. If parents don't want their kids to believe this, then, unfortunately, they are the ones harming their children, not the school systems trying to teach them.
5. I will concede that the California Supreme Court ruling did overturn the will of the people. But sometimes the will of the people is to be ignorant, pig-headed, and harmful/hateful to other human beings (e.g., laws banning interracial marriage, or segregation of schools based on race, or poll taxes that minority citizens could not afford which effectively stripped them of their constitutional right to vote). In the same-sex marriage case, the courts wrote: "In contrast to earlier times, our state now recognizes that an individual’s capacity to establish a loving and long-term committed relationship with another person and responsibly to care for and raise children does not depend upon the individual’s sexual orientation, and, more generally, that an individual’s sexual orientation — like a person’s race or gender — does not constitute a legitimate basis upon which to deny or withhold legal rights." It is simply that the next generation has grown up with a different definition of who gay people are. They see gay people as interchangeable with straight people. They don't think gays are inferior, because they know them. Your older generation has a harder time understanding that, but I hope to god you do one day.
6. Portrayals in the media of gays living their lives show that they are no different than straight except that they like to have sex with people of their own gender. Caricatures exist as much in gay life as in straight life, and if you don't see that in today's sitcoms, or even yesterday's sitcoms (see "Three's Company" or "All in the Family") or dramas, then you're not paying attention.

If your agenda is what you say it is, then you should have no problem with gay people enjoying civil marriage, because the law -- at least in California or Massachusetts -- is not broken by that civil union.

Eric Potruch

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