The right to exercise your faith does not include the right to have that faith enjoy a privileged position. I am tackling nothing new here. What I am writing about today has been repeated, often, by bloggers, journalists, pundits, and politicians. It has also been ignored multiple times by those the message has been directed toward. This is in part to blame because we all live in our little echo chambers, listening, and often speaking, only to those with whom we agree. There is also the stubborn persistence on the part of the privileged to claim any attempt to lessen that privilege is an attack on their person.
I find myself writing this today because Rhode Island has become the tenth state to legalize gay marriage. In the comments of Anne Rice’s celebration of this on her Facebook page one fan said this is going to cause a civil war in our country. I want to say I cannot believe anyone would float such an idea, much less that it could be true, but the fact of the matter remains that while many have changed their minds about marriage equality in this country, many of those that have not maintain a feverish zeal with their opposition. Not one of them can come up with a legitimate excuse for their bigotry, they have to fall back on their devotion to scripture.
Which in and of itself is not the most problematic thing. If you want to dislike me, disassociate with me, and distance yourself from me based on your faith, more power to you, I really don’t want to spend time with you either. I will fight to my last breath your trying to get your dislike of me enshrined into law. I will fight to my last breath your attempting to make your faith’s view of the duties of women our state’s views. I will fight to my last breath your insistence that un-testable ideas of creationism or intelligent design be taught in classes meant to instruct young people on how to test ideas. In short, I will fight, until I can fight no more, all of your attempts to have your privilege shored up by the power of our state.
Throughout all this, what I find hardest to believe is that outside a few public speakers, a few bloggers, not many people call this behavior out. Oh many of our allies will post support on social media, but I have to ask you, how many of you actually call out your bigoted family members to their face? I have asked this question before, I know, but I apparently still have to. You let these folks off the hook when you don’t challenge them with these ideas. I love my family too, I would just as soon not make waves, but my rights, my dignity as a human being demand I speak up. My self-respect demands I speak up whenever they claim victim-hood over the teaching of evolution is science classes. Besides, have you ever noticed how these friends, neighbors, relatives, never have a problem sharing their narrow view of the world with you? Why should you be silent when they are not?
I don’t want to have to write about this anymore. It gives me a headache. Reading about civil war over my being treated like a human being gives me a bigger headache though. I want these simple facts to sink in. I want the people who already agree with me to stop just talking among themselves and start getting into the faces of the bigots. To use that oft-spoken quote by Bonhoeffer: “silence in the face of evil is itself evil.” Make no mistake, holding anyone as less human, even a little, is evil. Getting the government to back your religion’s views in that regard is incredibly evil, no two ways about it. You cannot shrug your shoulder’s and say “well, it’s just their belief” when people are denied housing, jobs, and the right to see the love of their life in the hospital. Facebook statuses and pins are sweet and supportive, but to really show you are an ally, you have to start challenging, personally, the privilege of those you know. Their minds aren’t going to be changed by a meme, their minds are going to be changed by conversation. So go ahead, start talking. It’s the only chance we have that they will let go, or even recognize, their privilege.
- Rhode Island to become 10th state allowing gay marriage (miamiherald.typepad.com)
- PERRY: Party pooper – Civil unions are just the bride of Frankenstein (aurorasentinel.com)
- Intersectionality, Privilege and Twitter Etiquette (notsobigsociety.wordpress.com)
- Controversial teacher conference focuses on ‘white privilege,’ crushing student resistance to radical ideas (eagnews.org)