Marching backward to the beat of a despotic drum

Editor's Note

by Matt Comer  Editor  editor@goqnotes.com
Published: April 2, 2011 in Editor's Note

Back in December, Vice President Joe Biden said “there’s an inevitability for a national consensus on gay marriage.” It is a theme that has been repeated often enough in days of late. There’s plenty of evidence to support such a hypothesis.

Marriage equality bills and other pieces of legislation granting relationship rights to same-sex couples are advancing across the country. Both Hawaii and Illinois recently approved civil unions. A marriage equality bill passed the Maryland Senate. In Delaware, a bill to extend civil unions to same-sex couples was introduced to that state’s senate on March 22.

Currently, a total of six states recognize and allow the performance of same-sex marriages. Another 10 allow civil unions or other registered types of relationship recognition.

And, for the first time ever, new polling from ABC News and the Washington Post indicates that a majority of the American public supports equal marriage rights. Nearly a decade ago, only 32 percent of Americans favored such rights. Today, 53 percent are on our side.

All the while, some states continue to face the threat of draconian measures to strip such rights away from their citizens. At press time, a bill to add an anti-gay constitutional amendment to the Indiana Constitution had made its way through a senate committee there. Right here at home, Republican legislators in the North Carolina Senate hope to pass their own anti-gay constitutional amendment.

Such measures are, no doubt, a form of tyranny. They enforce a religiously-motivated despotism whose aim is singularly focused on stripping away, layer by layer, the humanity of LGBT people. First it’s marriage. Then it’s healthcare and visitation rights. Next on the list is LGBT-inclusive bullying policies and laws. Then adoption. Where would it stop? Would we eventually revert to those “good ol’ days” when queers were burned and stoned to death?

You might say I’m being facetious, but the reality couldn’t be any starker. Under the radar and mostly unreported by mainstream media, there’s a growing movement among the rightest of this country’s evangelical religious right. Known as “dominionists,” they seek to take political control across the country and shape the nation and its body of law under the influence of their religious doctrines and scriptural interpretations.

Again, you doubt me. “Conspiracy theorist!” you say accusatorially.

Yet, these same people who claim their mission is only to spread the Gospel here in America played key roles in pushing one of the most harsh anti-gay laws in the world in Uganda. There, anti-gay religious leaders from the U.S., including many involved in the “ex-gay” industry, spoke at conferences and to political and religious leaders. They laid out stereotypes, lies and twisted data painting gays as predators. How did Uganda, where homosexuality was already illegal, respond? They drafted legislation that would subject gays to harsh prison sentences and even capital punishment.

What’s good for the goose, is good for the gander. If U.S.-based Christianist hate groups can make it happen in foreign nations, what makes you think it couldn’t happen here.

I must stop and admit: I’ve painted a stark and scary picture here — one that’s pretty far from reality at the moment. But, it isn’t necessarily a false premonition of our future. The political, social and religious landscapes of civilization have sometimes been shaped by freak accidents of history. The only thing able to prevent such freak accidents is you. We’re lucky to live in a nation such as ours. In democracies, just about anyone or any group of people can gain power if they speak loudly enough. Whether those in power will be Christian dominionists or American patriots is a decision entirely of our own making.

As Tar Heels continue to face the threat of an anti-gay amendment, we must ensure that each and every one of us as vigilant, is as engaged and as informed as citizens ought to be. : :

Learn more: Get more information on the anti-gay constitutional amendment, learn how to get involved and speak out at equalitync.org.