Maybe It’s Not Just About Paying Attention

For the past several years I’ve been having an odd reaction to news about pending anti-gay civil rights legislation. Usually the situation goes something like this: Some piece of legislation is pending, for instance Arizona is currently debating a constitutional amendment to “ban gay marriage, civil unions and void domestic partner benefits for both gay and non-gay unmarried couples.”

A lot of people have come out against this proposal. The police and fire unions are worried about recruiting, as are universities. Apparently DP benefits are a big draw for potential employees. The Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans is strongly against the legislation as well. Many seniors in relationships choose not to marry in order to keep social security and deceased partners’ pension checks coming. They need the kind of protections this amendment would eliminate in order to maintain hospital visitation and medical decision-making rights. I doubt the AARA cares in the slightest about medical decision making or visitation rights for gay folk but this hits in their backyard. If the amendment could single out same sex couples only, I imagine many of AARA’s members would be all for it in fact.

The article where I read all this notes at the end that the state populace seems equally divided on the matter of the amendment.

My initial response? “good, I hope the fucking amendment passes.”

Now this has nothing to do with poly based anger at being excluded from gay marriage in the first place. Rather, it seems that people don’t care about taking rights away from others but get real protective when you start gunning for them. Frankly it tickles me pink to know that if/when Arizona passes this amendment (and no state has failed to yet once it had reached this legislative stage) a large number of seniors will be in the same boat as the queers. I feel the same way when I read stories of highly respected professors leaving their collegiate posts, as happened in Louisville Kentucky after the state eliminated DP benefits for state employees including those at state funded universities. You want you kid taught by the best? Don’t take away those folks’ health insurance by voting for bigoted legislation.

The same goes for liberal young ladies who couldn’t be bothered to vote but are now facing the prospect of loosing abortion access if the President’s choices for the Supreme Court have their way. Yet people don’t learn. There is a growing movement, to which it seems that the President and the people who got him into office are tied, which wants to cut down on access to traditional contraceptives. Witness that extensive scientific studies that show Abstinence Only education doesn’t cut down significantly on teen sex but may cut down on teen safe sex have had no impact whatsoever on the current political administration.

With every passing bill I am coming convinced that my outlook maybe isn’t going to work. Every time a new anti-gay or anti-civil liberties or pro-torture bill is passed I think that this one is going to be it. This time people will sit up and say “what the fuck are you doing?” Obviously plenty of people are already doing that, but it just doesn’t ever seem to reach a strong enough tipping point. It is like the government is an angry and hungry bear. Various groups seem to think that if they keep their heads down and don’t draw its attention it will be too occupied attacking someone else to notice them slip away. How many retired seniors in Arizona cared about protecting gay marriage or civil unions or DP benefits before? I don’t know the answer but I bet the number is less than those who do now it is their rights in jeopardy.

This is not how it is supposed to work. Being part of society shouldn’t be about hoping someone else gets fucked instead of you. Sure didn’t work for a lot of minorities in Nazi Germany. There was little or no outcry from the Jews when the Nazi started forced sterilization of the disabled for instance. Jewish doctors were quoted as among those who strongly believed in eugenics for gods’ sake.

Our society is simply too divided. My Lady and Var would both say that it has something to do with being a country whose population will be reaching 300million within the month. They probably are at least partially right. I have no idea what the solution might be. Some scholars say that the United States will fracture into four or five smaller countries before the end of the century. Maybe that would help things, maybe not.

I feel like I somehow need to put forth some sort of constructive idea before I can finish this essay but it just is not coming. The only thing I can think of is that we as individuals need to be more mindful of our views towards others. It would be healthier for me to hope that Arizonaand the seniors rather than hope that they do and it teaches some poor retirees some sort of object lesson about being a minority. The silver lining here is the idea that we are not so different, what effects one group can effect another that at first glance to be completely dissimilar. votes not to amend their constitution for the sake of the queers

I’m going to try hard to work from this perspective. Just so long as no old guy calls me “faggot.”

3 thoughts on “Maybe It’s Not Just About Paying Attention

  1. >The only thing I can think of is that we as individuals need to be more mindful of our views towards others.I think that’s exactly it. Having a “what’s in it for me” attitude is actually pretty detrimental in a democracy; people need to look at the larger picture and make choices not only based on personal interest, but on whether or not the proposed changes will be of real benefit to society in general.Having said that, though, my initial response to things like the AARA’s dilemma is usually also something like “Good…let them find out what it’s like to be discriminated against!” but that attitude isn’t very helpful, as you’ve said 😛

  2. >One of the problems is that we can only tell what is “shitty right now”, rather than see over the long term how it works out. Much as I bemoan the loss of Pagan traditions, I believe it would have become as corrupt as things are today in the mainstream… except that the new fresh view would have been monotheism, rather than polytheism and diversity. And I think we need diversity to be on the rise, rather than the decline, to deal with what’s coming. It’s hard to appreciate necessary evils when you’re in the middle of them… but I think time/fate has its own way of achieving things. I hope.

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