Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Melissa Etheridge is awesome

and I wish more people followed her example.



Stephanie said...

So here is the part I'm left wondering about (I read this yesterday on Ms. Kitty's blog, and I'm still wondering):

"He said he regretted his choice of words in his video message to his congregation about proposition 8 when he mentioned pedophiles and those who commit incest. He said that in no way, is that how he thought about gays."

So if that's not how he feels and he regrets saying this, did he apologize publically? I mean, it's not like he doesn't have a platform and the ears of millions....

PG said...

Good point by Ms. Theologian. He didn't just say that in his video message; he reaffirmed it in his Beliefnet interview after the election, and again with his "clarifications."

He also seems to be either dishonest or rather incredibly ignorant about the First Amendment for someone who makes his living on his words as a pastor and author.

1. Gays in California already have their rights. 2. What they desire is approval and validation from those who disagree with them, and they are willing to force it by law if necessary. 3. Any disapproval is quickly labeled "hate speech." 4. Imagine if we held that standard in every other disagreement Americans have? 5. There would be no free speech. 6. That's why, on the traditional marriage side, many saw Prop 8 as a free speech issue: 7. 'Don't force me to validate a lifestyle I disagree with. It is not the same as marriage.'

I numbered that because I'm going to have to take this apart one sentence at a time.

1. Same-sex couples do not have precisely the same rights with a domestic partnership that they would with a marriage. For example, New York State recognizes out-of-state same-sex marriages as marriages, but doesn't recognize out-of-state domestic partnerships as marriages (which makes sense, because in NY, AZ and other states, domestic partnerships are a different status and one that is chosen by elderly couples specifically because it is not marriage).

2. The idea of getting approval by force of law from someone who disagrees with you is inherently idiotic. Gay people know very well that a court decision that same-sex marriage is a constitutional right doesn't mean that all Californians now approve of SSM.

3. Disapproval that is couched in the language of hatred for homosexuality reasonably is deemed hate speech. What it gets labeled, however, is pretty much legally irrelevant.

4. See 3.

5. This is not Europe. The First Amendment protects hate speech along with all other speech. Remember the Nazis marching in Skokie with the backing of the ACLU? That was hate speech, and labeling it as such does nothing to decrease people's legal free speech rights.

I am genuinely disturbed by how easily conservatives muddle legally-protected hate speech with legally-penalized hate crimes, to the point that many conservative organizations claim that adding sexual orientation to the protected classifications under hate crimes statutes would make it illegal to preach against homosexuality. Only if you preach it and then beat up a gay couple does your speech factor into an illegal act -- the speech will be evidence that you committed the crime with a motive of hate toward the group that you believe the gay couple represents.

6. Yes, thanks to misinformation spread by Rev. Warren and his allies, many erroneously saw Prop. 8 as a free speech issue even though it has squat to do with free speech. If these people were genuinely concerned about their ability to use hate speech, they should have been protesting the Supreme Court's decision a few years ago in Virginia v. Black to allow cross-burning in itself to be a crime. (There are several crimes that may be committed in conjunction with cross-burning, such as trespassing on property and intimidation, but burning a cross is expressive activity, and when done to express one's solidarity with a cause -- e.g., on one's own property -- should be legal.)

7. I disagree with the "lifestyle" of being a prostitute. However, if I vote to decriminalize prostitution, I'm not "validating" that lifestyle; I'm saying the government shouldn't penalize it. Some people disagree with the "lifestyle" of raising children in mixed-faith households because they believe it confuses the children religiously, but they aren't "validating" that lifestyle by voting to allow interfaith marriages.

Voting on Prop. 8 was not merely a speech act, a way to say "I dis/approve of X." In the aggregate, the votes determined whether people's choice of spouse has to be limited by sex. If you want to voice your disapproval of homosexuality, get a blog or a soapbox on a street corner. If you want to deny same-sex couples equality with opposite-sex couples, vote for Prop. 8.