They usually square off, but TNH Executive Editor Constantinos Scaros and activist-historian-writer Dan Georgakas have a meeting of minds over gay rights, if not timing.
Dan, progress with the momentum of a charging bull is a wonderful thing, except when that bull charges full speed into a China shop.
I refer to the homosexual revolution, whose momentum began a few years ago when President Obama declared that he changed his thinking and no longer considered marriage to be limited to one man and one woman.
At that point, the same-sex marriage bandwagon picked up state after state, and the movement is fast becoming so commonplace that a call to ban it now seems as archaic as separate water fountains for black and white schoolchildren.
Bravo, I say. If the formal recognition of marriage improves the quality of gay couples’ lives, that’s a good thing. And in time, those who oppose same-sex marriages will see that the sky hasn’t fallen, and that heterosexual marriage will not deteriorate. Eventually, everyone will wonder what all the fuss was about in the first place.
The key word here, however, is “eventually.” I am not gay, and I say that not as a matter of pride, but simply as a matter of fact. And I am married, and therefore not part of the dating scene.
Accordingly, it matters nothing to me whether all the world’s eligible bachelors and bachelorettes choose to date members of their own gender or of the opposite one. Our little girl is far too young to be of dating age. I hope and pray she turns out to be many things, but her sexual orientation is not something that even crosses my mind.
Perhaps if these were the 1940s, I might say: “I hope she’s not gay,” simply because she would have a harder time being accepted by society.
But nowadays, in our overly politically-correct world, in which some employers obsess about creating forced diversity, being gay might actually land someone a job more quickly. And so, all I hope for is that whatever she is, she will be happy.
From a legal point of view, I don’t think the anti-gay crowd has a leg to stand on. The medical, scientific, and psychological communities do not consider homosexuality to be “abnormal.”
Granted, as is often the case, the American people are owed a more in-depth explanation based on substance, not tainted by politics. Nonetheless, in America everyone is innocent until proven guilty, and homosexuality is normal until proven otherwise.
Accordingly, the burden of proof is on those who oppose same-sex marriage to demonstrate why it should be denied, for reasons other than their own belief that it is contradictory to God’s will.
The latter point, unlike the legal argument, is a matter of opinion, of course. I, for one, do not purport – as others do – to know God’s will. And I object to those who cherrypick bits and pieces of the Bible that suit their own moral code.
For instance, those same folks who condemn homosexuality as a “sin” do not seem to have a problem with other Biblical no-nos, such as wearing a wool sweater with cotton pants, or touching the skin of a dead pig – which, of course, would render playing football contrary to God’s will.
What, then, is my opposition to the progress? The fact that its advocates are trying to bully their way into oppressing opposing voices.
The issue of same-sex marriage in 2015 is not the same as the issue of racially-segregated schools or water fountains. It is not the same as denying half the population the right to vote simply because they are women. Those wrongs were corrected decades ago. Whoever hasn’t gotten the memo yet, too bad.
But as the 2016 election approaches, there is an excellent chance that at least one major party Presidential nominee – the Republican – will proclaim that marriage should be only between one man and one woman.
In 2012, that is what the Republican candidate declared. And in 2008, both major party candidates – Democrat and Republican – clearly stated their opposition to same-sex marriage.
Although I haven’t taken a survey, Dan, I imagine that in our own Greek-American community, a large part (if not the vast majority) of the pappoudes and yiayiades – the older crowd – who fill the pews of our churches are opposed to same-sex marriage.
They think it is wrong and sinful. And if they learn that any of their own grandchildren are gay, they won’t stop loving them, but they will cry, and grieve, and pray to God every day to “change” them into being “normal.”
These well-meaning folks should not be shunned. They should not be looked upon by the intolerant left as being “haters,” as if they are no different than the guys with the white hoods and robes who lynched blacks in the South.
The same-sex marriage momentum is all well and good, but it should not insensitively condemn and censor the sincerely-held beliefs of a whole lot of good people who are not quite ready to embrace the change. What do you think?
Dino, I agree with your general orientation, but there are three areas in which I think you have erred in your analysis. These involve the speed of change, the nature of change, and the rhetoric of change.
You rightly note that changes in the law are now proceeding with great rapidity. I believe this illustrates how once mass consciousness is changed, reform can be relatively swift.
The modern gay movement began in the 1950s when two homosexual men were expelled from the Communist Party because of their sexual orientation. They started a gay men’s group and began to publish a journal. A female counterpart soon followed.
From these humble initiatives, a mass movement slowly took form. It used essays, demonstrations, parades, boycotts, visual media, and other means to fight for the principle of equality. Violence was minimal and usual a response to attacks.
By the first years of this century, a shift in American mass consciousness had occurred. The Republican Party, for example, had an activist gay caucus.
Republican VP Dick Cheney acknowledged that his daughter was gay, the reality of which had not affected his feelings for her or his behavior. Prominent people, including athletes, increasingly “came out of the closet.”
Poll-watching politicians either switched to being pro-gay or acknowledged publicly what they had thought privately. Obama’s belated declaration arguably was a product of this process, not an initiative.
Gay rights are civil rights issues. Until the laws changed in some states regarding same-sex marriage, gay couples were discriminated against in areas such as the tax code, health insurance claims, and death benefits.
Many federal statutes dealing with death and taxes still do not recognize gay rights, and most states have not legalized gay marriage.
Regarding what you term the “shunning” of those who do not accept gay marriage, I see no evidence of that as a movement attitude in its literature, activism, or rhetoric. The typical accounts are of gays being “shunned” by their families, not vice versa.
The movement’s response has not been characterized by hostility but by considerable understanding of why it is difficult for people to change. The goal is inclusion, not separation.
Some gays want to be accepted by faiths that consider active homosexual behavior as sinful and do not allow them full rites, other privileges, or in some cases, membership. The believers shun gays rather than gays shunning believers.
Obviously, such gays believe the denomination or creed they favor will change its beliefs as some denominations already have. This religious reform movement has involved Christian, Jewish, and even some Muslim activists.
The “bullying” I read about is invariably suffered by gays rather than perpetrated by them. This “bullying,” which can turn into outright violence, is usually not by older people, but by fraternity boy types, athletes, and men obsessed with being “macho.” Age does not seem to be much of factor.
The Voting Rights Act did not end racism in America. It simply signaled a major shift in mass consciousness that will probably take at least another century to become the “norm” in America.
Same sex marriage legislation is of a similar nature. It does not end homophobia in America. It simply signals an advance in mass consciousness that also will require considerable time to become an American “norm.”
What is very positive is that these shifts in mass consciousness have narrowed the gap between America’s glorious promise of equality for all citizens and a sometimes dreadful reality of inequality.