Saturday, October 25, 2008

Inequality via threats

In my August 10th Atheist Experience co-host gig (episode #565), I talked about the alleged "threat" of equality and why there was such a shrill opposition to it. California is a hot spot right now in that battle and there has been an interesting development there.

Some context: In May, the California Supreme Court ruled that the state must allow same-sex marriages under the state Constitution. Not surprisingly, conservatives (Christians mostly) have mounted an effort for a vote amending the California State Constitution known as Proposition 8. The main opposition to the proposition is Much of their literature refers to a popular vote they had on same sex marriage in the state (Proposition 22 in 2000, a DOMA-style initiative), which got 61% of the vote. That was about the majority inflicting its will on the minority. California Supreme Court overturned the old Proposition 22 with this ruling.

In their usual style, proponents of inequality have trotted out the usual lies and scare tactics. The incomes of conservative Christian demagogues hang in the balance. If gays have full rights and can marry, these people lose a feared enemy and their churches (income sources) become split over biblical interpretation over gay rights. Let's throw in polygamy, too, while we're at it and re-open that old slavery thing, just for good measure. [Addendum: I have recently been informed that the Mormons have funded 77% of the work on the initiative, most from out of state. They have also funded a number of similar efforts since the first Hawaii battle over same-sex marriage recognition.]

Apparently, with all the liberal voters coming out in droves this election (thanks, George!), the Proposition 8 proponents are getting a little desperate. Their latest gimmick is to figure out who supported the other side and write little threat letters extorting money from them. One such letter, sent from to a San Diego Realtor recently surfaced. In it, they make the jaw dropping extortion threat:
"Were you to elect not to donate comparably, it would be a clear indication that you are in opposition to traditional marriage. You would leave us no other reasonable assumption. The names of any companies...that choose not to be published.

...We will contact you shortly to discuss your contribution."
Apparently, the threat of equality is so scary to these people that they are willing to threaten others. I sincerely hope this Nazi-style coercion tactic backfires on these thugs and they all have to scramble to find honest jobs sometime soon.


  1. They actually think threatening to publish the names of companies that support equal rights for gays is something the companies would have a problem with? They must've migrated here from the Bizarro universe.

  2. I just don't get it. What are the gays going to do once they get equal rights, forcibly grab heterosexuals off the streets and force them to have sex with members of their own gender? Apart from that chilling prospect, how is this a threat to traditional marriage? And what is "traditional marriage" anyway?

  3. And what is "traditional marriage" anyway?

    I think it's when teenage girls are forced to marry men they don't even know in order to cement relations between tribal clans all the way up to houses of royalty.

  4. "If gays have full rights and can marry, these people lose a feared enemy and their churches (income sources) become split over biblical interpretation over gay rights."

    I think this is wishful thinking. If the amendment passes (and right now my understanding is that the haters are slightly ahead) it will just rally the wingnuts even more.

    Losing this battle is highly unlikely to make their lot suddenly reconsider their hatred/fear of gay people, or make them suddenly decide they need to re-interpret their holy book. They will always consider 'teh gheys' their enemies.

  5. I'd tend to agree with you, Robert.

    But to my view, the current generation of bigots isn't our target; it's the next couple of generations we want to influence.

    The big catchphrase is "traditional marriage". What does "traditional" mean? It means "The way that it has always been done." Or more accurately, it means "The way I remember it being done."

    How long since we've had God added to our money and Pledge? About 55 years? Less than one generation. And yet how many people even know that it wasn't always there?

    We've got a short cultural memory in America. It's high time we used that to our advantage. Get gay marriage protection laws on the books and gays will start getting married. Give it a generation or two and then equal marriage will be "traditional marriage."

  6. I hope someone is pressing charges for the blackmail attempts.

  7. 1: I'm with Steve. I 've just started a theater company, and I would _proudly_ declare that we support equal rights for gay people. The fundies are so out of touch it's scary.

    2: Where the fuck do these people get off? I don't force YOU to live in the enlightened rational-thinking world I live in, why do you feel you have to force ME to live in your endarkened dogmatic culture?

    3: WHERE THE FUCK DO THESE PEOPLE GET OFF? Is there nothing they will not stoop to to protect their own perceptions of right and wrong? Is no pop culture phenomenon safe from their ravage clutches? How fucking stupid can you get? Why hasn't religion been classed as a mental disease?

  8. I was lucky to catch the last half of "A Time for Burning" which documented a Lutheran congregation in Omaha after they brought in a civil rights activist preacher. It was extremely interesting.

    The people at the church had obviously not thought of equality for blacks as a church issue before. But when the issue was broached within their ranks, it was extremely divisive. The most vocal of the congregation were, of course, those opposed to equality. However, those who thought it wasn't such a big deal or who thought that equality was correct, were made to really consider their positions and whether or not their beliefs required them to speak up or act on behalf of those who were suffering injustice.

    The entire dialogue, I thought, was just incredible--watching it unfold in the way the different members expressed themselves or faced their own ideas and fears.

    Many of the people who believed in equality were very uneasy about saying anything. And, ultimately, the new preacher resigned because he was asked to. At that point, all the people who had said nothing, began to feel as though they should have been more vocal and done more in support of their new pastor and the message of equality. And a few discussed it openly and were only motivated into action once the preacher was gone.

    So, I do think this issue will be divisive in churches. The Christian community is already split with regard to gay rights. I'm often encouraged by young people in Christian forums who speak out against homophobia. Certainly they have to twist scripture into knots in order to justify their beliefs that god loves gays and is not anti-gay; but the fact that they're willing to do it encourages me. If they're going to keep their faith--better that they keep it with a sense of kind views toward others, in my mind.

    But I do think that when an issue like this becomes political and begins to be central to the public dialogue, it becomes hard, if not impossible, to ignore. Heterosexual couples who may have never even talked about this issue can find they are on polar opposite sides of the fence (and some did in the documentary I mentioned).

    I want to say that one man in that documentary was trying to talk to his wife about his need to take action, and his sense of shame about not doing what needed to be done when it would have had more impact. The issue obviously had motivated him and made him feel compelled to act; but his wife was not able to understand or support his decision. As he tried, kindly, to explain to her how he was feeling and how he needed to do what he was going to do. She could only cry and barely speak to say that she just couldn't talk about it and didn't want to be involved.

    This gets to the heart of what drives people--what they believe and whether or not they will support other people or oppress them. In the end Christians are simply people. And they have the same feelings and conflicts every other person has. Ultimately they will go with whatever they will go with--but just broaching a controversial topic like this not only can, but I think will, cause discussion and divide--not only in Christian but in non-Christian communities (with kids and their parents, for example).

  9. "MuseSusan said...
    I just don't get it. What are the gays going to do once they get equal rights, forcibly grab heterosexuals off the streets and force them to have sex with members of their own gender?"


    You discovered our secret plan! How? Just tell me how?!?!

  10. I'm a huge fan of personal liberty. If that makes me a button pusher, then maybe some people deserve their buttons pushed.

    These proposition 8 buggers are essentially attempting to legalize discrimination, forgo separation of church and state, brave ahead in vandalizing the values of the US Constitution and by golly gosh they're going to feel GOOD about doing so.

  11. Jason Jarred:
    You discovered our secret plan! How? Just tell me how?!?!

    It's the same as the secret atheist plan to forcibly convert everyone to atheism.

    You know, just like after the Civil Rights movement, everyone got turned black. And how in 1919, after the 19th amendment was passed, suffragettes went around turning men into women.

    OBTW, and I've heard that after you convert a certain number of people to homosexuality, you get a toaster oven. Does the Evil Atheist Conspiracy have anything similar?


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