When I was in high school, we had a neighbor who was an architect. One day my brother and I were speaking with him and he asked us: Do you know the strongest material in the world? My brother and I began to shoot out answers: “Titanium, high tensile steel, diamonds,” etc. Each answer was met with an unequivocal “no.” Finally, we gave up and asked: “Ok, what is the strongest material in the world?” The architect smiled and said: “paper.” “Paper!?!?” We exclaimed, “how is paper the strongest material in the world?!?!?” He answered us: “because it holds ANYTHING you write on it.”
I remembered my neighbor, the architect, when I read an advertisement published in the Friday December 5th edition of the New York Times (www.nomobveto.org). It was an ad signed, and presumably paid for, by its thirteen signatories and their respective organizations. The ad essentially asks the LGBT community to “shut-up and behave” and “stop their demonstrations” and simply accept that they have been stripped of a fundamental civil right.
Before commenting on their cardinal points, it is important to realize that a full page advertisement in the New York Times is very expensive paper indeed. For these people to go to such trouble and expense to urge us to stop demonstrating, it reveals to us that the demonstrations have been effective. Obviously, we should continue to speak out, peacefully demonstrate and use our economic power to boycott businesses and organizations that have financed yes on prop 8.
I was listening to the BBC just yesterday and a journalist spoke of 1968 as a year that changed the world. She was, of course, referring to the public civil rights demonstrations and the concurrent demonstrations against the Vietnam war. Had Rosa Parks simply relinquished her seat on the bus to avoid confrontation or had black people in Birmingham not boycotted the bus companies over discriminatory and unjust policies, blacks would most probably still be required to relinquish their seats on buses today and the President Elect of the United States of America would not be a black man.
The thirteen signatories of this shameful advertisement are indirectly saying to us, and to our families and friends who support us, “your demonstrations and economic boycotts are having a real effect and threaten to undermine our bigoted legislation and we don’t like that.” We not only need to keep up the pressure, but we need to redouble our efforts to make it even more effective.
We have all experienced an election where the candidate we voted for lost or where an initiative, or a referendum issue we supported was defeated. What makes Proposition 8 different, is that this is about the elimination of our fundamental right, not just to marry, but to exist. If those who support Prop 8 were to remove the word “homosexual” from all of their documents and replace it with the word “heterosexual,” consider the impact it would have on their lives. Perhaps, the light of understanding would illuminate in their minds and hearts. Maybe then, they could understand why we simply don’t “calm down and accept this vote.”
Please note, that I said peaceful demonstrations and economic boycotts. Neither I, nor any public LGBT organization, advocate or condone violence or terrorist actions. Free speech and economic pressure are both ethical means of enacting just change and have numerous national and international historical precedents.
I find their advertisement contradictory. The authors state that, “The proper response to free speech you disagree with is your own free speech in reply, not attempting to coerce your opponents into silence.” They then close by saying, “Beginning today, we commit ourselves to exposing and publicly shaming anyone who resorts to the rhetoric of anti-religious bigotry--against any faith, on any side of any cause, for any reason.” It seems that the authors are quite self-serving in this regard. On one hand, they condemn the use of coercion by their opponents, and on the other hand, they advocate for “publicly shaming” any of their opponents who disagree with their positions. Public shaming constitutes a form of “coercion” which paradoxically they support when it is in their self-interest.
They call the free speech of their opponents the “rhetoric of anti-religious bigotry.” This presumes that they, and they alone, posses a monopoly on truth. It presumes that all faiths are monolithic and static and that all people of faith buy into these authors’ limited understandings. Their demand for unquestioning adherence to their own proclamations, which have caused untold suffering, divisions of families, and suicides, rivals the hubris and monstrosity of mid 20th century totalitarian dictators.
One need only raise the question of permissibility of divorce and remarriage, artificial birth control, euthanasia, et cetera to begin to see the cracks appear in this confederation of religious zealots on the fringe. It is no small wonder that they are so insecure. They realize that they have a very tentative hold at best on their congregants, who have just elected Barack Obama and the Democratic party. This resounding victory for social inclusion and progress does not bode well for their reactionary and self-entitled positions of power.
- Boycott the Knights of Columbus
- A wedding sermon.
- An open letter to my parish community.
- Why was a college student in the car of drunken Archbishop-elect Cordileone at 12:26 AM, when Cordileone was arrested for a DUI?
- When the Church married Same-Sex couples.
- How It All began
- The Supreme Court’s Decisions and the New Mason-Dixon Line
- What the Vatican & American bishops DO NOT want you (and Politicians) to know.
- The Morality of Sex, gay & straight.
- San Francisco in archbishop Cordileone’s sight