Saturday, October 29, 2005

Come Out, Come Out…

The ever-alert Shakespeare’s Sister noted that the Federal Marriage Amendment is about to resurface again.

The Senate Sub-Committee on the Judiciary will meet about the FMA on Nov. 2 to hold a vote, and then send it on to the full committee, with the hope of its supporters that it will come to a full vote in both Houses of Congress just before the 2006 mid-terms. So once again, we face an election cycle where the GOP tries to hide its heinous agenda and resolute incompetence behind the exploitation of homobigotry. And they say the Democrats have no new ideas?

Boy, if I had a dime for every post I’ve written in the last couple of years about the Republicans once again trotting out gay-bashing and homophobia, I’d have…well, a shitload of dimes. But it needs to be said again.

What is it with these people? Why can’t they get it through their narrow, ignorant, and uptight little minds that they are attempting for the first time since 1919 to burden the United States Constitution with an amendment that restricts the freedom of American citizens? Enshrining bigotry into the foundation of our national government is a quantum leap backwards to a time before the 14th Amendment that guaranteed equal protection under the law to all citizens, not just those who, through no fault of their own, are heterosexual. Passing a Federal Marriage Amendment violates every principle of the “smaller government, more freedom” credo that these puritanical little busybodies so piously say they stand for, and proves once and for all that they have no business monitoring anything larger than a Grade 8 study hall.

Gay marriage won’t destroy this country; it will make it stronger. Anything this country can do to make our lives more livable is an act of citizenship, of patriotism, of fulfilling the goals set forth in the preamble of the Constitution — to form a more perfect union. One of those goals is allowing each of us to find someone to love and spend the rest of our lives with in a union that isn’t just between each two people; it’s also a union between us and our community that says we are as much a part of this country and that we have the same rights and responsibilities as everyone else.

The Federal Marriage Amendment would deny not just the right to gays and lesbians to be married. It would exclude them from being full participants in being citizens, and that cannot be allowed to happen. It’s bigotry, plain and simple, and anyone who tries to hide behind a veil of religion or moral decency is defiling both their religion — which, by the way, needs no help in that matter — and their faith in the American system by thinking that such a simple and harmless thing as love between two people can threaten our society.

In the last week two well-known people in American culture came out of the closet: WNBA star Sheryl Swoopes and actor George Takei, best known for his role as Lt. Sulu in Star Trek. Both of these people showed courage to open up to the public; professional sports is notably uncomfortable with openly gay athletes (although with all that butt-slapping in the NFL, you have to wonder), and even in the so-called liberal world of entertainment, being openly gay isn’t a great career move (but it does double your chance for a date on Saturday night). But I’m also willing to bet that this week a whole lot of people you’ve never heard of came out of the closet, too. Maybe they were inspired by Ms. Swoopes and Mr. Takei. Maybe they got tired of living a lie. Maybe they felt they had no choice but to acknowledge who they are; teenagers, twenty-somethings, middle-aged men and women who have hid their feelings for a long time, or those who just got tired of the ache in their gut from denying the truth. The football star or the guy who repairs your car. The assistant manager of the grocery store, the lady who answers the phone at the insurance company, or the man who’s been teaching English Lit at the high school for twenty years. Married men or women who have the whole NASCAR dad or soccer mom routine down right to the SUV with the extra seats. Something happened this week to hundreds, perhaps thousands of people who for whatever reason finally told the truth and spoke out honestly and seeking love and acceptance; two concepts that many of those of the Religious Reich know nothing about.

There are those who choose to remain in the closet. For whatever reason they find their lives are more comfortable by keeping their sexual orientation a secret from their friends and family. I have no problem with that; each person must come to grip with their sexuality — either gay or straight — on their own terms, and as long as it is doing no harm, I respect their right to privacy. However, there are those who are in the closet who have taken an active role in opposing progress in gay rights either by speaking out against them, working for politicians who support oppression, or as elected officials voting against them. Several of these people, including the mayor of Spokane, Washington and several Republican congressmen, have been exposed (pun intended) by investigative journalists. They have been branded as the hypocrites that they are; campaigning against gay rights in public during the day and cruising on the internet at night. I have no empathy for their humiliation; through their cowardice and mendacity they have reinforced the stereotype that being gay is something to be ashamed of and needs to be hidden. By hiding their true identity they have denied themselves the opportunity to advance the cause of a better society — which is why they are public servants in the first place — and they have made it that much harder for those who need encouragement to be true to themselves to come out. If forcing them out of the closet causes them pain, they have only themselves to blame. For whatever deep-seated psychological or politically expediant reason they chose to align themselves with people that hate them, and they deserve the shame and derision they will get when they are finally forced out, either by their own actions or that of someone who finally calls them on it. Frankly, I don’t care what happens to them then, and they can live their lives in the Hell they’ve built for themselves. Or, to quote Chris in The Ritz by Terrence McNally, “Screw you, honey. Boy, if there’s one thing I can’t stand it’s a queen without a sense of humor. You can die with your secret… miserable piss-elegant fairy.”

The Republicans are going to try to sneak the FMA through while they think no one’s looking; while we’re all distracted by the CIA leak, the next Supreme Court nominee, or the next episode of Lost. If they succeed in getting it to the House and Senate for a vote, there needs to be a massive campaign to educate the country and humiliate the proponents. As Edward R. Murrow noted in his campaign against Sen. Joseph McCarthy, this is no time for those who oppose the Religious Reich and their methods to remain silent. If we do, this country and what it stands for won’t be worth that shitload of dimes.