FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Politics of Bigotry

“It is never too late to give up our prejudices.”

— Henry David Thoreau, Walden

There are things to be grateful for. Our bigotry is much more civilized than bigotry found in other countries.  Just compare.

In Abuja, Nigeria in early February, a mob attacked young gay men, dragging some of them from their homes, beating them with clubs and whips and shouting that it was “cleansing the community.”  When the victims were turned over to the police, they were given further beatings.  The mob was inspired to attack by a new law that was signed by President Jonathan Goodluck, The law provides for a 14-year prison sentence if a person is convicted of being gay.

In Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni has promised to sign a new piece of legislation that prescribes life sentences in prison for acts of “aggravated homosexuality.”  Among the acts proscribed are repeated sexual acts among consenting adults of the same sex. The also law applies to Ugandans living abroad who may be extradited if they violate its terms.

Russia, too, has recently taken steps to protect itself from the scourge of what its gay (as in cheerful and of unfailing good humor) president, Vladimir Putin, objects to.  In 2012 in Moscow, city and district courts upheld a Moscow ban on gay pride parades.  The ban is to remain in place for 100 years.  The ban seems harsh until one realizes that it was imposed as a courtesy to the gay community.  It takes a long time to organize a gay pride parade and by letting the community know that the ban will be in effect for 100 years the gay community will not waste its time planning such an event.  On June 30, 2013 President Putin signed a bill banning  “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors” subjecting violators to arrest and fines.  Another permits police to arrest and hold for up to 14 days, tourists suspected of being gay or pro-gay. All of which brings us back to the United States which, as I said, is much more civilized in discriminating against gays.

Consider Kansas.  It just decided, at least for now, to tone down its anti-gay legislation.  On February 12, 2014 the Kansas House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed House Bill 2453 known as the Religious Liberty Bill.  Drafted by bigots whose intelligence is defined by their beliefs, it was a bit hard to understand. The bill provides that  “if it would be contrary to the sincerely held religious beliefs of [an] individual or religious entity regarding sex or gender” such a person or religious entity shall not be required by any governmental entity to, among other things:  “provide any services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges. . . related to (sic) or related to the celebration of, any marriage, domestic partnership, civil union or similar arrangement.”

The bill passed the Kansas House on February 12, 2013 by a 72 to 49 vote.   It looked like it was headed to similar success in the Kansas Senate until the president of the Senate raised concerns as to how it might impact public safety if firemen with religious beliefs went to a burning house occupied by a gay couple.  Although it is unclear how putting out a fire is “related to the celebration of, any marriage, etc” she felt that language could in fact impact public safety and firemen unwilling to provide services to married gay couples might decline to extinguish the blaze. As she explained:  “I believe that when you hire police officers or a fireman that they have no choice in who (sic) they serve.”  .  A close reading of the bill suggests that its impact on public safety is the least of its problems. Kansas is not, of course, alone.  Bills in Ohio, Mississippi, Arizona, Idaho and Oklahoma permit people to assert religious freedom defenses if sued by gays whom they refused to serve.

Bigotry is not restricted to legislatures.  U.S. News and World Report had a picture of E.W. Jackson, a former candidate for lieutenant governor of Virginia addressing a group of demonstrators in front of the federal courthouse in Norfolk, Virginia.  He was lamenting the fact that a federal judge had struck down Virginia’s law banning same sex marriage.  Mr. Jackson is black and an enthusiastic supporter of laws that discriminate against gays.  He probably is too young to remember when Virginia said it would have been a felony for Mr. Jackson to marry a white woman.  Had he done so he and his wife could have been sentenced to prison for up to five years.

Ted Cruz, the United States’ answer to Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni has introduced a bill in the United States Senate to permit states to define marriage any way they see fit.  As Mr. Cruz explained, the bill “respects the definition of marriage held by the people of each state and protects states from the federal government’s efforts to force any other definition upon them.”  Mr. Cruz does not think the U.S. Constitution should keep people from discriminating against their citizens if that’s what a majority of their citizens want.  Kind of the way Virginia did it before the U.S. Supreme Court said blacks could marry anyone they wanted to marry.  Mr. Cruz would probably have opposed ending the ban.  He’s for what he believes even if it tramples on a minority-kind of like Presidents Goodluck, Museveni and Putin.

Christopher Brauchli is a lawyer in Boulder, Colorado. He can be emailed at brauchli.56@post.harvard.edu

 

More articles by:

February 20, 2019
Anthony DiMaggio
Withdrawal Pains and Syrian Civil War: An Analysis of U.S. Media Discourse
Charles Pierson
When Saudi Arabia Gets the Bomb
Doug Johnson Hatlem
“Electability” is Real (Unless Married with the Junk Science of Ideological Spectrum Analysis)
Kenneth Surin
The Atlantic Coast Pipeline: Another Boondoggle in Virginia
John Feffer
The Psychology of the Wall
Dean Baker
Modern Monetary Theory and Taxing the Rich
Russell Mokhiber
Citizens Arrested Calling Out Manchin on Rockwool
George Ochenski
Unconstitutional Power Grabs
Michael T. Klare
War With China? It’s Already Under Way
Thomas Knapp
The Real Emergency Isn’t About the Wall, It’s About the Separation of Powers
Manuel García, Jr.
Two Worlds
Daniel Warner
The Martin Ennals and Victorian Prize Winners Contrast with Australia’s Policies against Human Dignity
Norman Solomon
What the Bernie Sanders 2020 Campaign Means for Progressives
Dan Corjescu
2020 Vision: A Strategy of Courage
Matthew Johnson
Why Protest Trump When We Can Impeach Him?
William A. Cohn
Something New and Something Old: a Story Still Being Told
Bill Martin
The Fourth Hypothesis: the Present Juncture of the Trump Clarification and the Watershed Moment on the Washington Mall
February 19, 2019
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Troublesome Possibilities: The Left and Tulsi Gabbard
Patrick Cockburn
She Didn’t Start the Fire: Why Attack the ISIS Bride?
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Literature and Theater During War: Why Euripides Still Matters
Maximilian Werner
The Night of Terror: Wyoming Game and Fish’s Latest Attempt to Close the Book on the Mark Uptain Tragedy
Conn Hallinan
Erdogan is Destined for Another Rebuke in Turkey
Nyla Ali Khan
Politics of Jammu and Kashmir: The Only Viable Way is Forward
Mark Ashwill
On the Outside Looking In: an American in Vietnam
Joyce Nelson
Sir Richard Branson’s Venezuelan-Border PR Stunt
Ron Jacobs
Day of Remembrance and the Music of Anthony Brown        
Cesar Chelala
Women’s Critical Role in Saving the Environment
February 18, 2019
Paul Street
31 Actual National Emergencies
Robert Fisk
What Happened to the Remains of Khashoggi’s Predecessor?
David Mattson
When Grizzly Bears Go Bad: Constructions of Victimhood and Blame
Julian Vigo
USMCA’s Outsourcing of Free Speech to Big Tech
George Wuerthner
How the BLM Serves the West’s Welfare Ranchers
Christopher Fons
The Crimes of Elliot Abrams
Thomas Knapp
The First Rule of AIPAC Is: You Do Not Talk about AIPAC
Mitchel Cohen
A Tale of Two Citations: Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” and Michael Harrington’s “The Other America”
Jake Johnston
Haiti and the Collapse of a Political and Economic System
Dave Lindorff
It’s Not Just Trump and the Republicans
Laura Flanders
An End to Amazon’s Two-Bit Romance. No Low-Rent Rendezvous.
Patrick Walker
Venezuelan Coup Democrats Vomit on Green New Deal
Natalie Dowzicky
The Millennial Generation Will Tear Down Trump’s Wall
Nick Licata
Of Stress and Inequality
Joseph G. Ramsey
Waking Up on President’s Day During the Reign of Donald Trump
Elliot Sperber
Greater Than Food
Weekend Edition
February 15, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Matthew Hoh
Time for Peace in Afghanistan and an End to the Lies
Chris Floyd
Pence and the Benjamins: An Eternity of Anti-Semitism
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail