Monday, August 14, 2006

Tennessee's Unequal Rights Amendment

So, I’m sitting on the couch at home minding my own business when my wife of 36 years complains that I’m not pulling my weight around the house. There’s no reason, she says, that I can’t be more help in cleaning up, washing the clothes, and vacuuming.

Wisely, I apologize but offer a defense. “It's not my fault," I sputter. 'It’s those damn gays. they’re undermining marriage, and it's hurting our relationship.”

Seriously, the campaign for same-sex marriage is a boon to husbands everywhere.

Not giving enough attention to your wife? You’re just too distracted about the devastation of the gay agenda.

Derelict in changing the kitty litter? It’s a too painful reminder of the crumbling state of American marriage.

Forgot to put the clothes in the washer? They were just too soiled, reminding you of what our moral fabric will become if gays marry.

Spending too much time with your friends? The perfidious gay influence in the movies and media had me unthinkingly wanting to spend more time with the guys.

I’m Know I'm Right. Far right.

I know I must be right.

After all, Tennessee ranks in the bottom third in the U.S. in per capita income, economic growth, state and local revenue, spending on police protection, and spending on parks and recreation.

It is dead last in K-12 education spending per capita, dead last in environmental spending, third from the bottom in higher education spending, fifth from the bottom in per pupil spending, and in the top ten in toxic releases and punitive sales tax rates.

If that’s not enough, to add insult to injury, we’re ranked # 3 in the ranking of states whose residents have the fewest number of teeth, beaten out by Kentucky and West Virginia.

And yet, all of these pale by comparison to the threat imposed by the notion of two gays saying wedding vows. I know that’s a fact, because in the face of all of these pressing, serious problems, Tennessee is gearing up to do something much more important - voting on a definition of marriage that would reserve it just for heteros like us.

Bizarro World

Thank God, because if gays can undermine marriage even more than we straights already have, they may truly deserve this omnipotent image as the force shaping the culture decisions in this country.

I just think the television commentator was right who said: “Why shouldn’t they get married? They deserve to be as unhappy as the rest of us.”

There are times when these issues do seem to exist in a kind of Bizarro world where everything is done contrary to logic and reason. But, apparently Superman wasn’t the only person exposed to the strange gravitational pull of this alternate world. After all, our president and the far right religious fringe put forth an argument that goes something like this: gays live in a culture of promiscuity, gays serving in the military would undermine morale, gay rights is different than civil rights, and gays can’t raise children because they’ll all be gay (strange, since straight parents aren't just raising straight children).

It’s almost too much for the mind to take in at times. Once, gays and lesbians were attacked as promiscuous and unable to form lasting relationships, and they confused things by asking for the right to marry. It was bad enough when they were just asking for the right to serve in the military, but now they want on all of our battlegrounds.

The Constitution as a Club

But on November 7, we Tennesseeans can take a stand for moral decency by voting for a state constitutional amendment to prohibit same-sex marriage in our special bastion of moral certitude. It’s always reassuring to the cynics among us when people are so anxious to appeal to the basest aspects of human nature – the urge to marginalize those who are different, to dehumanize other people’s basic humanity and to use the Tennessee Constitution as a club to beat up some of the state’s own citizens.

Hopefully, if the amendment passes, Republican State Senator David Fowler of Signal Mountain, who conveniently also heads the Family Action Council of Tennessee, can finally rid those tormenting dreams in the showers on Capitol Hill. It’s just all too confusing for us, because we thought he was against big government intrusion into the private lives of Tennessee, but apparently, the chance to expand Signal Mountain morals to the vast swampland that makes up the rest of Tennessee is just too tempting to him. We thought he was against activist judges, but he certainly relied on them to get his pet cause on the ballot.

In his pleas for the referendum, Sen. Fowler frequently echoed some of our president’s statements about marriage being the fundamental building block of civilization for 2,000 years. (Apparently, they aren’t so sure about Jewish civilization before Christ.) Of course, it’s not worth mentioning that women were essentially chattel during most of those 20 centuries, but no matter, we’re supposed to be listening to the red meat rhetoric, not choking on the lapses in logic.

The last refuge of the scoundrel is to argue that the majority of Americans oppose same-sex marriage. That is true, but the tide over time is definitely running in favor of equal rights for gays, and at least civil unions. Of course, if public opinion is the standard for deciding our rights, interracial marriage would be illegal. Even as the law was being changed back in the day, the majority of Americans opposed it.

Déjà vu All Over Again

In fact, some of the defenses against interracial marriage seem oddly familiar today. It was all about tradition, public opinion, morality, erosion of American life, and besides, it just made so many Americans just plain uncomfortable.

And as we learned in the days of the civil rights movement, laws that refuse to allow men and women to connect fully with their own identities in the end only rob all of us, not just members of the minority. In fact, it is in how we treat the minorities among us that we most define who we are and what we believe as the majority.

Unfortunately, November 7 is predicted to be one of those days when the 90 percent of us who are in the majority deny rights to the 10 percent of us in the minority. Hopefully, we can see this referendum for what it is – a serious civil rights issue that defines who we are as a people. For that reason alone, we should vote against the amendment, but most of all, we should send the message that we categorically reject the calculated, gay-bashing agenda that pushes one of these referenda to coincide with each Congressional election to get out the vote for the far right's candidates.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

What's bizarre is that you would use a blog nominally dedicated to "smart" growth in a pro-gay marriage rant.

Who cares ...

Anonymous said...

Perhaps what is more bizarre is the previous commenter who seems to want to promote smart growth and has no idea of its relationship to equality and justice.

First they came to get the gypsies, but I didn't care, I wasn't a gypsy. Then they came to get the Jews, but I didn't care because I wan't Jewish....

You should care.

Smart City Consulting said...

Anonymous: We agree with you. Who cares? And what business is it of the state any way? And the blog isn't dedicated to smart growth. It's dedicated to smart policies. This issue sure falls under that heading.

Anonymous said...

It's all about sex and the tendency of the real minority - the Far Right - to force their opinions on the rest of us.

Anonymous said...

Here's the good news: no one is forcing it on us. We have the chance to vote yes or no. If you agree or disagree with it, GO VOTE!

Smart City Consulting said...

No, actually the vote is being forced on us by the folks who usually don't like to lean on activist judges for their narrow (or narrow-minded) agenda. It's just a ridiculous waste of our tax money and our personal time.

Anonymous said...

Count me among the people who don't read this blog to see the writers' take on these sorts of issues.

And, count me among the people who don't see hypocrisy in forcing the people to vote and not wanting to "lean on activist judges for their narrow (or narrow-minded) agenda." It seems to me that the "forcing" of the vote is because they'd prefer the people (as opposed to judges) to decide.

Anonymous said...

Homosexual marriage is a "smart policy"???

Let's get back to discussing issues that have real impact. Memphis is not only loosing people but also jobs to the suburbs.

The CA reported today:

---

The consultants found that "DeSoto County is consistently the least expensive location in which to operate a business."

Companies that use industrial space have noticed.

The Memphis market -- which includes DeSoto County -- ended 2005 with 5.4 million square feet of absorption. For the first time, DeSoto County led the way with 2.7 million square feet of absorption. (emphasis mine)

---

Smart City Consulting said...

Well, we appreciate you reading, but our intent is to write about policies that have real impact on this city. That takes us into a lot of territory, including trying to change the perceptions of intolerance that hinder our ability to attract a diverse, professional workforce. See studies for what they are looking for, and a tolerant community comes up repeatedly. So, if you want to look at it from a business perspective, that's why it's important to quit demonizing gays. Apparently, the moral reasons aren't important enough for some people.

bob said...

Stand your ground. Don't let the demagogues get you down, Smart City. You are correct. Amendment 1 is bad public policy, yet another reason Tennesse lags the country and Memphis lags the State.

http://55-40.blogspot.com/2006/08/incitement-to-vote.html

Anonymous said...

Oh yea ... that "diverse, professional workforce" is flocking to MA ... NOT!

Oh yea, ... "diverse, professional workforce" is fleeing Washington where the state sumpreme court upheld that a law limiting marriage to one man and one woman did not violate the state constitution ... NOT!

Moral? --- Don't even go there. I'm not a biblical scholar but I'm sure it isn't moral.

Did any of those studies define tolerant as being pro-homosexual marriage???

I don't care what two (or more) consenting adults do behind closed doors. That doesn't mean that I want to change the definition of marriage from a union of a man and woman to union of any sex.

All of this will be a moot point after November. I predict the amendment will pass with at least a 75% approval ... probably more like 85%.

Try bringing up a worthwhile topic.

Smart City Consulting said...

Anonymous, to quote the words of former City Council member Fred Davis: I hesitate to go into mental combat with an unarmed man.

Apparently, being a member of a narrow-minded majority has importance to you, but as we point out, interracial marriage would also have lost at the polls. Is majority dominance enough to pass such an intrusive law?

All of this gay-bashing always come to a head with remarkable coincidence when it's time for the Far Right to get out its vote.

Why should the state be defining what marriage is any way? It's all about contracts and collecting marriage license fees. Other than enforcing contract rights, there really isn't much reason for the state to weigh in one such a personal question.

Rejecting such base, primitive forms of politics should be a worthwhile subject for all of us.

We suggest that the state issue civic unions to anyone who wants them, and marriage is a religious service and it's up to individual churches to decide who to marry, not the state.

Anonymous said...

Why are you guys getting so worked up over a bunch of fags?

Smart City Consulting said...

To the last anonymous, Thanks for your thoughtful comment. We recommend that you consider serious therapy to deal with your repressed homoerotic issues. But most of all, your comment points out what a great country this is. No matter how stupid, ignorant or hateful someone is, they still get to pull a lever and vote.

Mike Stevens said...

It's depressing to see that people who claim to value "smart growth" so highly fail to take into account that such growth means more than the bulk of their wallets. It means an equal playing field, giving due process where due process is due, and accepting the diverse perspectives that others have to bring to the table. Essential to this economic growth is a social growth, a growth in our understanding of our neighbor. And quite a few of these neighbors are being denied over 1000 federal and state rights due to their sexual orientation.

Shame on you for asking "Who cares," as if the individuals in question and their friends and families (people closer to you than you think) are of no consequence, simply because you have it better. Shame on you for saying this is an issue that has no "real impact." Tell that to the ones who have no legal right to see their loved one in a hospital at a time of need.

For those of you who care about something more than your own bottom line and who stop to think about the dignity and freedoms of others, please vote no.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Carol, for your post on the upcoming Tennessee "Marriage" Amendment vote (Nov 7th).

If you, or any of your readers, would like to get involved in Memphis to fight the discriminatory amendment, check out the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center's Public Policy Committee "Initiative: Fairness" (I:F).

The website is: http://www.mglcc.org/if

We have started going door-to-door throughout the city to raise awareness of this issue and to urge Memphians to "Vote NO!" this November. You may stop by MGLCC (892 So. Cooper) and pick up bumper stickers and yard signs, too!

The statewide campaign website is:

http://www.voteNOon1TN.com

In closing, I would like to thank you and your bloggers for voicing support for fairness for Memphis' LGBT citizens. For those that have posted comments on your blog voicing opposition to fairness, let me just say that often the most vocal, mean-spirited critics prove the point so well that there is, indeed, a need for legislation that supports fairness for all.

Tommy Simmons

varsityjim said...

This is indeed a relevant post for this blog. Equal rights is an important factor for economic growth.

To the particular person hiding behind "anonymous" posting about gay and lesbian workers migrating to or away from states based on the state's policies, I am going to go out on a limb and suggest that you don't have many in your circle of friends. While someone may not immediately jump on the next train out, they certainly take into account how they can expect to be treated when it comes time for a transfer opportunity, or their business relocates, or their significant other asks them to take that next step and move to the same city.

Why is that a big deal to Memphis and Tennessee? Look around. We need the biggest potential employee pool we can get, because we're at the shallow end of it now.

I'm a conservative, and I am of the conviction that government should stay out of the private lives of citizens. If you have a religious issue with gay and lesbian couples marrying, then don't allow it in your church, but don't force your beliefs on mine with a law, especially one that also outlaws civil unions - a non-religious contract.

I'm voting NO on Amendment 1, and I urge my true republican friends to do the same. I promise your marriage won't be worse off because of it. I can't promise that it will be any better.

Jim Lord
Cordova

Randy Tarkington Campaign Manager Vote NO on 1 said...

I want to thank you for a brilliant post. I think it is essential that we use humor to point out the hyprocrisy of the right on this issue.

Tennessee has one of the highest divorce rates in the country. However, instead of trying to deal with the causes of divorce, Mr. Fowler and company use gay marriage as a wedge issue. Funny how you never here them mention that the state with the lowest divorce rate is the only one which allows gay marriage. You don't hear them mention that the American Academy of Pediatrics (the Doctors who take care of children) just released a study which said that children are harmed when their gay and lesbian parents cannot marry.

They do not mention those because all they have are scare tactics and fear. Those only work so long. A recent poll of 1000 high school seniors found that 75% oppose amending the Constitution. That same number favor marriage rights for gays and lesbians. The far right knows there window to do these acts of discrimination is closing. These young people have many friends who are out and they see through these scare tactics.

Thank you for a fun and "smart" post. Those who respond just reinforce that the facts are with those who favor fairness and equality as opposed to the use of fear and name calling on the other side.

Join our campaign. Go to www.voteNOon1TN.com to find out more. Also watch for the debut on our web site of the song "Blame the Gays" - a fun look at these issues by Tammy Fowler.

Randy Tarkington said...

I want to thank you for a brilliant post. I think it is essential that we use humor to point out the hyprocrisy of the right on this issue.

Tennessee has one of the highest divorce rates in the country. However, instead of trying to deal with the causes of divorce, Mr. Fowler and company use gay marriage as a wedge issue. Funny how you never here them mention that the state with the lowest divorce rate is the only one which allows gay marriage. You don't hear them mention that the American Academy of Pediatrics (the Doctors who take care of children) just released a study which said that children are harmed when their gay and lesbian parents cannot marry.

They do not mention those because all they have are scare tactics and fear. Those only work so long. A recent poll of 1000 high school seniors found that 75% oppose amending the Constitution. That same number favor marriage rights for gays and lesbians. The far right knows there window to do these acts of discrimination is closing. These young people have many friends who are out and they see through these scare tactics.

Thank you for a fun and "smart" post. Those who respond just reinforce that the facts are with those who favor fairness and equality as opposed to the use of fear and name calling on the other side.

Join our campaign. Go to www.voteNOon1TN.com to find out more. Also watch for the debut on our web site of the song "Blame the Gays" - a fun look at these issues by Tammy Fowler.