Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Tipping Point.

After President Obama signed the Repeal of DADT this last week, there have been a slew of comments from both ends of the political spectrum. Regardless of how a person “feels” about this, the conclusion that we have reached a significant “tipping point” in American society is evident. When President Harry S. Truman signed an executive order in 1948 desegregating the U.S. Armed Forces and Civil Service, it sounded the death toll for segregation in American society. The Courts took notice and in 1954, the landmark decision of Brown v. Board of Education took the President’s lead one step further. The signing of the Civil Rights Act in July of 1964 by President Lyndon Johnson drove a stake through legalized bigotry. Social racial bigotry has been slowly eroding ever since.

The U.S. Armed forces form American youth. Every year countless High School graduates leave their hometown and go to boot camp. Those young men and women acculturate to military standards. Years later I still find it disquieting to see a man wearing a hat indoors. I find myself writing the date/month/year and not the month/date/year. I still think of 4 PM as 1600 hour, the end of the workday at Edwards AFB. These are small things; however, acceptable and unacceptable attitudes about women and minorities are unmistakably articulated and enforced in boot camp. After years of living in this military culture, veterans return to civilian society along with these engrained attitudes.This is the real reason that social conservatives so rabidly oppose the repeal of DADT.

On Friday, the Los Angeles Times reported the following:

In a news conference Wednesday and in recent interviews, Obama signaled that his position favoring civil unions is not fixed and that he may one day conclude that, a committed gay couple should have the same right to marry as anyone else.

Obama's views seem to be tracking those of the broader American public. Polls show support for gay marriage is growing. A Gallup study showed that while in 1996 only 27% of the population believed gay marriage should be legalized, the figure had jumped to 44% in May of this year.

Many social conservatives, such as Eagle Forum president Phyllis Schlafly, refuse to believe that a majority of Americans would support gay marriage.

Gays, she said, are already free to live together. "Nobody's stopping them from shacking up," she said. "The problem is they are trying to make us respect them, and that's an interference with what we believe."

The last comment by Ms. Schlafly constitutes one of those rare moments of clarity when social conservatives reveal their true motives and intent. Judge Walker accurately perceived such motives when he ruled Prop 8 unconstitutional. The Judge cited an animus against gay people as the motive of the “Yes on [California’s] Proposition 8.”

Imagine the outrage if Schlafly’s comment had been made about any other minority group, or if interracial couples were stripped of their right to a civil marriage! Of course, 63 years ago social conservative made such comments about African Americans, Native Americans, Jews, Catholics or and women. Today Immigrants and LGBTQ people are the targets of “social conservatives.” Now as then, social conservatives wrap themselves in the flag and cite the Bible in a vain attempt to justify their bigotry. In a painfully slow process, their bigotry is exposed as such. One by one, their arguments are debunked by science and people of conscience.

It is an adage that “It is always darkest before the dawn” bigots will become more virulent and violent, as they correctly perceive they are losing control. Rather than being intimidated, this should embolden us to fight even harder for our rights and human dignity. Ms. Schafly your respect and beliefs are inconsequential to me, but my rights and dignity are not

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