On Equality and Compromise

Either everyone is equal under law or equality does not exist. I have been involved in a number of contentious debates at Blogcritics over the issue of equality as it pertains to American gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender people. More times than I care to count, the discussion comes to a screeching halt when some person — usually, but not always antiqueer — insists I am unyielding on the issue of those who, for whatever reason, do not approve of GLBT people.

For the record, let me clarify my views on the matter:

I have been accused of having a closed mind on the issue of gay rights. Given who and what I am, that may be true to an extent. I know the negative effect a heterosexist society and government have and have had on me and on many other humans. But please understand this: What some are unbending on is not refusing to accept that others have differing views or religious beliefs. If someone holds an anti-gay view because of religion, it doesn’t mean necessarily that they are evil or bad; I certainly don’t want to leave that impression.

Religion is not the issue here — it’s the matter of equality under law, nothing more and nothing less. Yes, it is hard to swallow that — whatever someone’s view about queer people — there are those who can’t and won’t accept the notion of America living up to its promise of equality under law for all. But people have different opinions.

This is fact: The US claims that everyone should be equal under law yet doesn’t practice that. That is the beef. If everyone isn’t equal, then the US claim is a lie.

Merriam-Webster defines equality as “the state or quality of being equal.” Digging further, it defines equal as “having the same quantity, measure, or value as another; some subdefinitions include “having the same privileges, status, or rights: equal before the law,” “being the same for all members of a group: gave every player an equal chance to win,” “adequate in extent, amount, or degree;” “impartial; just; equitable.”

You can’t have some people in society — at least under law — considered more equal than others. Equality can not be compromised: Either everyone is equal *under law* or equality doesn’t exist. That’s it; that’s all. It is the mere statement of fact.

Now, if anyone wishes to find fault with me for making this statement, that is their right. If I must be considered closed-minded and unreasonable for saying that a country claiming to celebrate equality ought to live up to that claim, so be it. But I believe my view on this issue is totally reasonable. In fact, on this subject, this is the only reasonable view — not because it’s my view, not because I support the cause of gay rights, not because I have to be right. God knows I can be and am wrong about lots of things, at times wildly, laughably wrong — just like anyone else. But this view is based on cold, hard fact: Either everyone is equal under law or equality does not exist. If you disagree, OK. If you want to dismiss me as a person worthy of your consideration, fine. But if you oppose treating queers equally under law, admit that you are not in favor of legal equality for all if you expect to be taken seriously.


5 thoughts on “On Equality and Compromise

  1. Natalie,

    Having been involved in the exact same debates, I encourage you not to back down one iota.

    Being the only gay and minority contributor over at WatchBlog.com, it’s less an obligation, but more crucial that I facilitate discussions on the GLBT and race issues.

    Although I am a pragmatic supporter of civil unions, I had no problem defending Gay Marriage, recognizing the importance of explaining the Constitutional and judicial precedents these decisions were based on.

    Challenging the ‘activist judges’ arguments came down to pointing out their willful ignorance of history’s judgment, trumps current opinion polls every time.

  2. Thanks, all.

    Woodenshoe, I am about to check out that post.

    TCF, I love the your writings and your passion. Thanks for the encouragement, and you keep it up too!

    And Jess, indeed: Power to the peaceful.

  3. Isn’t it amazing how an issue such as equality can get so twisted and spun this way and that? You’ve distilled the argument down to it’s foundation and I agree completely with your position. Any hint of discrimination towards any group or individual obliterates any and all claims of equality. Thanks for making the point so clearly and strongly!

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