The Equality Challenge

Just in time for the fifth anniversary of the death of Matthew Shepard, the US fundamentalist Christian Right presents Marriage Protection Week. The anti-GLBT event, created by a frightening assortment of right-wing lobby groups including the Southern Baptist Convention, Focus on the Family, the American Family Association and Real Women, along with fundamentalist ministers Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, is designed to stop the possibility of legal gay marriage under secular law.

The fundies want to make sure that gay couples can not marry under secular law, and they want to crush domestic partnerships, civil unions, and any proffering of marriage-like benefits to anyone who is not heterosexual. Their weapon of choice: the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment (H.J. Res. 56), which would make their antipathy for queers part of the US Constitution.

I am assuming that GLBT people are smart enough to see the horror in this. I pray that our non-queer allies are too. Truth is, though, many people — including some who call themselves “progressive” — don’t see gay marriage as being important. The issue just doesn’t affect them. They are wrong.

On Open Source Politics, I issue a challenge to everyone — but particularly to heterosexual progressives — to take up this fight openly, loudly, immediately, and for the long haul. If you really believe in justice and equality for all Americans, you must do this. You either stand visibly and publicly for equality or stand with the Christian Wrong — there is no middle ground here. To be silent is to be complicit. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. put it: “Cowardice asks the question, Is it safe? Expediency asks the question, Is it politic? Vanity asks the question, Is it popular? But conscience asks the question, Is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because his conscience tells him that it is right.”

An example of heterosexuals taking positive action against the fundie right: PFLAG — Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, which issued a pro-equality public statement on Oct. 7:

“PFLAG has no wish to tread on the religious beliefs of any faith; each must remain free to define its own requirements for marriage, as mandated by our Constitution’s separation of church and state,” said David Tseng, PFLAG executive director. “We ask only that the government and President Bush provide all people the same standing and extend to them their constitutional right to equality under the law.”

The group (along with many others, including the pro-GLBT Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches) is promoting Marriage Equality Week, the antidote to the fundies’ week of hatred. And it will do much more to counter the work of the right-wing anti-equality squad.

Frequent AF&O contributor and Virginia-based attorney Michael Hamar, like PFLAG, is up for the fight. Today he points his lens at Marriage Protection Week and at one of its organizers, and notes what you should be doing to help work against them:

Do you stand with this man?; 2002 photo by william coupon Once again, Pat Robertson has opened his mouth and helped reveal the true mindset and hate-filled nature of the “Christian” Right. In countering the “Christian” Right’s “Protection of Marriage Week,” it would seem that in addition to documenting and making public through press releases, etc., the deliberate lies and untruths put out virtually daily by these “Christians,” tying their campaign to Pat Robertson would be useful.

Counterpunch writer Harvey Wasserman pointed out Robertson’s anti-American and anti-Christian lunacy and hatred in a July 25 article excerpted here. The piece was published shortly after the fundamentalist televangelist and diamond magnate prayed that something bad would happen to remove liberal members from the US Supreme Court:

Robertson’s “prayer” for the “removal” of three Supreme Court Justices reeks of a “fatwah”—a call to murder. Islamic Ayatollahs issued a similar death threat against Salmon Rushdie, whose “Satanic Verses” they deemed blasphemous. In fact, he merely lampooned the Ayatollahs. Against all odds, Rushdie still lives.

Robertson has condemned the Court for supporting a woman’s right to choose and for guaranteeing the right of citizens to make love in ways Robertson doesn’t like. Appointed for life, the Supremes can retire or die. So if one of his followers kills them, who will Robertson thank first? God?

Robertson and his fellow Ayatollahs, Franklin Graham and Jerry Falwell, hate more than just gays: they hate America, specifically the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, diversity of opinion and ethnicity, freedom of worship, the idea that all people are created equal.

Their messiah, George W. Bush, is under fire for running the most secretive, dishonest and repressive administration in US history.

There are no two ways about it: If you don’t stand against legal marriage for all Americans, you stand with Robertson.

Hamar continues:

The reality is that Pat Robertson says what these demagogues all think, but most of the are press-savvy enough to not openly state their views and agenda as does Robertson. The public needs to be made aware that if they are duped by this “Protection of Marriage Week” they are unwittingly participating in Robertson’s “Christian Taliban” agenda. Do they really want Pat Robertson and the fanatics of the “Christian” Right policing what they can do in their bedrooms and what religious beliefs they must hold? I suspect the majority of the public would find these ideas abhorrent and downright frightening.

I hope and pray that Michael is correct. But according to a recent USA Today/Gallup poll, 32 percent of those surveyed simply “don’t care.” Do you care? Do you believe in justice for all? Prove it. Take the Equality Challenge. Help make America live up to its promises.

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