Of Overgrown Negroes and Gay Weddings

“These [Southern whites] are not bad people. All they are concerned about is to see that their sweet little girls are not required to sit in school alongside some big overgrown Negroes.”

The above quote is what President Eisenhower said to Chief Justice Earl Warren at a White House dinner in 1954 (copied here from Digital History).

In theory, Eisenhower wasn’t against equal rights. He just empathized with Whites who didn’t want to get too close to Blacks because they felt that Black people where inherently dirty.

Those who support a business owner’s rights to selectively refuse certain services to gay people while agreeing with his or her obligation to serve gays as long as they don’t have to get up close and personal are reflecting Eisenhower’s bigotry.

It’s not about religion. There is no biblical distinction between serving pizza to gay people and catering their wedding. If your not killing them, you’re not following Leviticus. That’s a good thing, by the way.

It’s about cooties. There are thousands of ways to disobey God’s law (here’s 10) and many of us do so on a regular basis without being discriminated against by local merchants. But like the good ole Southerners concerned about their daughters sitting next to Black people, some people find the idea of being too close to gayness revolting. That’s not faith. That’s bigotry.

Update 2015/04/07. I also posted this on DailyKos, and commenter Goosrock wrote

Eisenhower Federalized the National Guard to force public school integration in Arkansas.

Part of the theory of democracy is that we don’t need all of our leaders to be messiahs, we can accept flawed ones who think all kinds of great people are icky so long as they govern justly.

States are nullifying federal law in a number of types around the country and will be doing more of it this year and next, but there is very little chance that President Obama will take as bold a step for the peoples’ rights as the bigot Mr. Eisenhower did.

While I don’t share Gooserock’s view about Obama, by mentioning Eisenhower only in the negative, I gave the impression that I don’t respect who he was. But he was a bold leader who held the nation together during difficult times, and there is much to admire him for.

Romney Wins!

What a great day for Mitt Romney. His signature health care plan will be implemented nationwide as he had hoped. The nation took heed of his message that it’s “poppycock” to blame the president for an economic downturn which is caused by a “perfect storm” of unfortunate events, and gave the president credit for all the jobs created during the financial crisis. While his positions on women’s choice and gay rights were defeated, he should be pleased to know that is other positions on those same issues were victorious. And he learned that a candidate can win even when the other side appeals to fundamentalist bigots by questioning if he’s Christian enough. Indeed a wonderful day for Mitt Romney. Congratulations are in order.

So-Called Christians are Making me Mad

I was subjected to ‘The 700 Club’ because someone had it on at the rec center, and I saw a segment about church goers who might otherwise support the president but are now having reservations because of the gay marriage thing. You folks make me sick.

You want a be good Christian? Vote for the guy who wants to help the jobless make it through hard times. Vote for the party that didn’t present false information in order to justify a war. Vote for the guy who is concerned about the land, the water, the air, and the creatures over which God gave us dominion. Vote for the party that didn’t put the Catholic Worker on a terrorist watchlist because they’re against violence. Vote for the guy who didn’t earn millions putting others out of work, and didn’t hide his money in a foreign bank to avoid rendering taxes to his own nation. Vote for the guy who actually is ‘Concerned About The Very Poor’. Don’t vote against most of your believes just to support a man who is more interested in proving how Christian he is rather than doing the good deeds that Jesus asked us to do.

Of all of the Christian rules to put above the others, this is one of the stupidest. Jesus said nothing about homosexuality. And based on what he said about marriage, if we don’t allow gay marriage then we should outlaw adults living with their parents, and outlaw men remaining single. Homosexuality is only forbidden in the Old Testament, not the New, But enforcing Old Testament rules would mean no bacon, no lobster, no work on Saturday, and bringing two doves to temple every month to atone for menstruation.

Does God want us to enforce a two thousand year old set of rules or does God want us to understand the morality and responsibility that he was trying to teach us with those rules? When I was raising my children, I had rules about what we watched on TV, when we ate dinner, who was allowed in the house. I also taught my children to be compassionate and responsible. It was not specific rules that I was trying to teach them. I would be disappointed if my children adhered strictly to old rules; I want them to make their own rules, as long as they do so with compassion and responsibility in mind. Here’s another analogy; imagine a mother leaves with strict instructions not to get water on the new carpet. But then a fire breaks out, and the baby sitter grabs a bucket of water to douse it while the children yell, “No, Mom said ‘No Water’!” God hasn’t sent us a babysitter in a long long time. The circumstances have changed. Perhaps God expects us, by ourselves, to start acting like adults.

To push my idea further, Jesus came and said that the old laws are still in effect, but then he went and changed them, which is why Christians can eat pork and lobster. I’m not Christian, but I believe in the wisdom that Jesus taught. What is meant by not changing the laws while changing them? I say it’s that some laws must be changed for others to remain. God gave Man dominion over the earth and also told us to be fruitful and multiply. But today overpopulation, consumption of resources and pollution are our biggest threats. Perhaps in order to maintain God’s commandment of dominion we must change the rule about men taking wives and producing lots of children.

Whether you agree with my conclusions or not, you cannot legislate all of your beliefs. And you shouldn’t fool yourself into thinking that either Obama or Romney will let you do so. Pat Robinson said, “you don’t have Jesus running against someone else. You have Obama running against Romney.” In his perverse way, he’s spot on. We have a choice between two men, each of whom will satisfy some of your Christian desires. One will shout to the world what a Christian nation we are with high-profile displays of Christian rule enforcement. The other will help feed the hungry, care for the sick, and try to ensure we don’t destroy the planet over which we have dominion.

I know my choice, but I’m not Christian. You have to make yours. Make the right choice.

A Next of Kin Relationship

In “An Unfinished Life”, there are two wifeless but heterosexual men who are very close. They are so close that one of the other characters assumes that they are lovers. But they’re not. And that’s good, because if there’s one thing I don’t want to see it’s Morgan Freeman having sex with Clint Eastwood. The movie is worth seeing. Jennifer Lopez looks good as always, and if you do fly other way, you might like the cowboy hats.

With or without sex, two people can be closer to each other than they are to anyone else. They could be injured war buddies who are unable to have normal relations; They could be old friends, each of whom has lost their husbands; Or, possibly, they could be gay lovers. The point is, nobody has to ask. Why couldn’t two people who are closer to each other than any member of the opposite sex, and are committed to sharing their lives together, enjoy the benefits that come from a next-of-kin relationship?

The various domestic partnerships that have been proposed as a substitute for gay marriage received hostility from anti-equal-rights advocates because even though they weren’t called “marriage”, they were framed as a marriage with a different name to appease homosexuals. The hostility was hateful and wrong, but it was powerful. And the way the domestic partnerships were framed as vehicle exclusively designed for gay couples meant that they would not be used by others who could, and should, be allowed to take advantage of them.

I would call the relationship a “Next Of Kin Agreement” or something like that. I realize that there would be little more than a semantic difference between that and a “domestic partnership”, and I realize that most of the people who would take advantage of it would be gay lovers. But framing the debate differently would support gay couples while allowing other deserving people to take advantage of a legal acknowledgement of their relationship.

I also realize that my timing for this post is pretty lousy. It’s too late now to prevent the travesty that has occurred in Virginia, a wide sweeping law which not only prohibits gay marriage but anything “bestowing the privileges and obligations of marriage”, even if granted in a different state. But if the issue comes up again, maybe we come up with something even better and more inclusive than what marriage equality advocates were hoping to achieve in the past.