Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Equality Foes Othering of Non-Whites

I've always noted with sarcasm that there's nothing more resonating than when privileged, conservative hetereosexual whites who oppose LGBT rights express their so very deep concern with the LGBT movement's misappropriation of black civil rights language.

I say that with sarcasm because these foks, of course, rarely support racial justice measures, consistently deny their own white privilege, and rarely discuss issues of race in contexts other than in using it to foster mistrust, anger, and division between the white-dominated LGBT community and heterosexually-dominated racial minority communities. Unfortunately, some African-American Christian communities band together with white anti-gay groups to accuse LGBT people of exacerbating "family breakdown" in African-American communities.

Yet, should anyone be surprised when the anti-gay movement, which is dominated by privileged white Christians who take it as a given that heterosexual is the default, unflawed, normal category of human being around which all other sexual identities pathologically deviate let a mask of racial civility slip, revealing a similar dedication to marginalization with respect to racial and ethnic minorities?

For instance, via Box Turtle Bulletin, anti-equality advocate Louis Marinelli, who is driving the bus for NOM's summer (anti-equality) marriage tour recently opined on his blog, about a photo of a gay family:

"Moving on. There was one [gay male] couple (one of those bolder couples who came into the rally itself) who were particularly disappointing. The two men decided not to just attend the rally but they brought a baby with them. Notice I said ‘a baby” because it isn’t 'their baby'. It was clearly adopted. They were white the baby was not."

This rhetoric, unfortunately, sounds familiar. Our reliable amateur anti-gay friend Playful Walrus also likes to inform the world that same-sex couples aren't really the real parents of their adopted children, when confronted with the reality of same-sex parents. Although such folks would hardly single out heterosexual couples who adopt children, their anti-gay goggles somehow make them think that singling out same-sex couples who adopt, taunting them and their children with the You're-Not-their-Real-Parents jeer, is acceptable.

If pressed, these people would likely claim that they make such a distinction for the sake of the poor child who has to endure being raised by a same-sex couple. Unfortunately, the anti-gay individual only succeeds in marginalizing and other-ing the child. For, studies consistently show that children of same-sex parents turn out fine (if not better than children raised by heterosexual parents). Yet, in Mr. Marinelli's quote, notice how he denies the parenthood of the same-sex couple, as though he has some sort of legal and moral power to strip them of their family status.

Yet, more than that, he makes much ado about noticing that the child has darker skin than her or his (presumed) fathers and on that basis goes on to assume that the child cannot be biologically related to either of the men. As though any child with one-drop of "black blood" couldn't possibly also have "white blood."

The bullying busybody then goes on to refer to the child, whom he noted was "not" white, as "it" multiple times.

As reliable ol' Wikipedia informed us the other day, generally, higher forms of animals, such as humans, are referred to by the gendered pronouns "he" and "she." "It," however, is generally used to refer to "lower" forms of animals. What an unfortunate choice of words NOM's bus driver Mr. Marinelli used. Disapproval of homosexuality does not justify the callous, cruel, and racist treatment of children.

As another disturbing example of this other-ing, we look to NOM. Last week, an author at the NOMblog predictably played the victim card in reference to NOM's summer marriage tour, calling counter-protestors "intolerant, inconsiderate bullies who shout down and insult anyone who disagrees with them, including women and children." Nearly everyday, the NOMblog posts breathless reports of homosexual advocates Reaching New Lows!

Apparently, free speech is a one-way street with room enough only for the NOM bus.

That's not to say I agree with people being bullies, but well, aside from glass houses and all (see also, above, regarding "it"), I don't think we can count on NOM to render the most objective report of an "encounter." NOMblog's one-sided account of the above-referenced Woe-Is-Them narrative is as follows:

"This was made crystal clear in their behavior to a Hispanic woman who had brought her family out to the rally with a picnic lunch. During the rally she moved to the back to nurse her baby. A bunch of male protestors followed her with their rainbow umbrellas and stood directly in front of her, blocking her view of the stage. She asked them to move, or at least turn around while she fed her baby, and they refused. Classy."

Maybe it happened like that, maybe it didn't. What detracts from NOM's portrayal is that even though NOM continually tries to paint equality counter-protestors as a violent mob, NOM supporters apparently find it safe enough to continually bring their children and nursing babies to this tour. Anyone involved enough in the marriage debate to actually attend a NOM event knows that same-sex marriage is a contentious topic and likewise knows full well that counter-protestors will be there.

If parents don't want their children exposed to rhetoric that might be considered "mean," then they probably shouldn't bring their kids to a rally about a contentious political topic. However, the presence of children at a NOM event doesn't make peaceful, counter-protesting off-limits.

It isn't surprising that a NOM supporter would find a group of (likely gay, bisexual, or transgender) "male protestors" incredibly frightening, given how NOM regularly tells its supporters how incredibly frightening such protestors are. I suspect that Mother Teresa herself would strike fear into the hearts of many a NOM supporter if she was framed as a homosexualist activist doing anything more than silently praying a block away at a candlelight vigil. Scratch that. If it were a candlelight vigil, the narrative would be all "OMG, the crazy, foam-mouth homosexuals tried to fire-bomb us! Got tolerance?"

But I digress.

Notice how the NOMblog includes the nursing mother's ethnicity. Of what relevance is anyone's ethnicity in this account? No other person's ethnicity is noted. No other NOM blog post contains the race or ethnicity of NOM supporters. (Although, photos reveal that they tend to be white, middle-aged and elderly folks). Noting that the mother was Hispanic implies that her ethnicity has some sort of bearing on the events that occurred. Yet, NOM has failed to argue or make the case that the counter-protestors treated the "Hispanic woman" differently than any other, non-Hispanic protestor, whose ethnic identities NOM of course did not mention. They also failed to argue or make the case that the protestors stood in front of her because she was Hispanic.

So why did they note it?

Is it a given that regular, default NOM supporters are white, non-Hispanics? Is it an attempt to foster animus between the LGBT community and people of Hispanic descent?

Golly, what a sad tour.

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