Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Scottish Marriage Equality Judgement Day

Today the Scottish Government shall discuss and, perhaps, decide upon the future of the marriage equality campaign in Scotland.

The choice, to my biased eyes anyway, seems clear. On the one hand there is a campaign for individual and religious freedom, fighting for the right of all couples to marry. On the other is a campaign hellbent on maintaining the current status quo, ignoring the wishes of smaller religions and determined to put individual citizens rights up to a majority vote.

Given the history of prejudice against Catholics, especially in certain parts of Scotland where such prejudice continues to this day, you'd think the Catholic Church would be wary of creating a precedent of putting minority rights up to a vote. But, alas, so single-minded are they in their loathing for individual freedom that they aren't thinking ahead to where that might lead. Shall we put the rights of Catholics up to a vote? Or Muslims? The concept is as ridiculous as it is disturbing.

Today, I hope, the Scottish Government embraces freedom of religion over the demands of the authoritarians and supports marriage equality. Fingers crossed!

As an aside, this blog is not dead! But my laptop is. I should have a new one by the middle of next month but until then posts shall be scarce!

If you feel benevolent and particularly generous, this writer always appreciates things bought for him from his wishlist

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Has The USA Reached A Tipping Point In The LGBT Culture Wars?

"You're on the wrong side of history!" is often the shout from well-meaning supportrs of LGBT rights at opponents to whatever "progressive" measure is on the cards at that moment in time. It is a phrase which doesn't sit so well with me, as if any of us have a secret insight into how our descendants will view this fight. For all we know technological advances and parental choice may well snuff out diverse sexualities and gender identities in the next couple of hundred years. Progress in LGBT rights isn't inevitable and the fight to secure it mustn't just rely on the belief that the majority will eventually, magically, come out in favour.

Now saying all that, I'm starting to notice a bit of a quiet change in the tide of right wing opinion on LGBT issues. I first began to see a change when GOProud appeared on the scene. Their are far more in tune with the conservative ideology of mainstream Republicans than the Log Cabin Republicans who have been around for much longer. This has allowed them to change quite a few minds on LGBT folk and, despite my political differences with them, that is something for which we should be thankful.

The last few months, however, have seen increasingly speedy moves towards acceptance of a new status quo whereby the right kind of gay and lesbian people (but probably not bisexuals, transgendered folk or anyone a little bit queer) are tolerated by those on the conservative right*.

Take, for example, the recent case of David Blankenhorn, founder the Institute for American Values. Whilst not suddenly becoming a marriage equality cheerleader, he has hung up his anti-equality boxing gloves and called it a day.

Mr Blankenhorn cited firstly the “equal dignity of homosexual love” and said that while gay and straight relationships were not the same, “the time for denigrating or stigmatizing same-sex relationships is over”.
“Whatever one’s definition of marriage, legally recognizing gay and lesbian couples and their children is a victory for basic fairness.” 
Secondly, he said “mutual acceptance” and “compromise” was a necessary part of living together in society, that “bending the knee a bit, in the name of comity, is not always the same as weakness” and that he wanted “conciliation”, not “further fighting”.
And then we have the beginnings of change at Exodus. Exodus International is one of the most well-known Christian Ex-Gay ministries in existence. And yet they appear to moving away from believing therapy can cure people of homosexuality (and instead focussing on a belief in Christ and other theological things). This isn't perfect, but it's an unexpectedly welcome move in a direction many of us have been arguing for for years.

And even the Republicans themselves are getting in on the act. Again the examples aren't perfect but reflect a general toning down of language that might lead to a more civil approach to this subject going forward. First up there is the Texan Republicans amending their platform so as not to want to criminalise many same-sex couples nor insulting same sex parents. Yes, these are baby steps but given their previous attitudes we shouldn't really be expecting more.

Then is an even more positive and affirmative Republican move among the Washington D.C. branch of the party.

“We, the Republicans of the District of Columbia support the belief that all individuals, without regard to sexual orientation, are entitled to full and equal protection under the laws and the Constitution and that everyone has the right to be treated with dignity and respect,” says the new language.
I suspect we will see more of this as the party attempts to reposition itself to gain the votes of younger, more accepting, folks as we move forward. Of course there will a fight back against this, screaming hissy fits from the conservative Christian right. But, ultimately, I'm feeling positive about the situation for American LGBT folks for the first time since Bill Clinton left office.

*Don't start me off on the word "tolerated" but I think it's the correct one to use here. Not embrace, not left to their own devices without intrusion but "tolerated".

If you feel benevolent and particularly generous, this writer always appreciates things bought for him from his wishlist