Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Parallels in Invisibility

"Homosexual acts remain illegal in Pakistan, based on laws constructed by the British during colonial rule. No civil rights legislation exists to protect gays and lesbians from discrimination.
But the reality is far more complex, more akin to 'don’t ask, don’t tell' than a state-sponsored witch hunt. For a long time, the state’s willful blindness has provided space enough for gays and lesbians. They socialize, organize, date and even live together as couples, though discreetly.
One journalist, in his early 40s, has been living as a gay man in Pakistan for almost two decades. 'It’s very easy being gay here, to be honest,' he said, though he and several others interviewed did not want their names used for fear of the social and legal repercussions. 'You can live without being hassled about it,' he said, 'as long as you are not wearing a pink tutu and running down the street carrying a rainbow flag.'”
As I read this article, I kept thinking that all of the anti-gay rhetoric I've encountered over the years suggests that many people in the US would like to see a society much like what's described herein. 

Some people want to see gay sex re-criminalized. Some are resentful of gay pride parades and can't stand it when the reality that homosexuality, and non-heterosexual people, exist in the real world is "shoved down their throats" by, say, two men or two women walking hand in hand or being represented in school textbooks like how Regular People are represented in textbooks.

Anti-SSM campaigns often trade on this resentment and desire to invisibilize lives.

For instance, the anti-SSM Maryland Marriage Alliance's "Consequences of Redefining Marriage" list warns:
"Whenever schools educate children about marriage, which happens throughout the curriculum, they will have no choice but to teach this new genderless institution. In Massachusetts, kids as young as second grade were taught about gay marriage in class."
Aside from the strange lingo "genderless institution," this dire warning, which was also used extensively in California's Prop 8 battle in 2008, suggests that merely learning about the existence of gay marriage is some sort of threat to children and to society.  And, well, I'm not sure what the appropriate compromise on this point would even be. Would these opponents be more willing to support SSM if they could be assured that its existence would never be referenced or acknowledged in public schools?
What I find to be rather remarkable is that it's often opponents of equality who lambast liberal so-called "political correctness" that purportedly prevents people from talking about the truth and reality, yet here is an actual political campaign seeking to prevent people from talking about the truth and reality.

With recent court trends showing a judicial willingness to acknowledge animus-based motivations for anti-equality laws, propositions, and amendments, a big post-Prop-8 anti-SSM talking point has been that opponents of SSM are not bigots and that they like gay people well enough. 
If that's the case, they might want to consider how denigrating to one's dignity it can be, and how bigoted it appears, to suggest that children and society are better off if homosexuality, same-sex marriage, and/or lesbian, gay, and bisexual people are discreet, invisible, and erased from reality.

[Cross-posted: Family Scholars Blog]

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