Fear will trump good policy every time
I am not surprised by the results of the debate on gay marriage. In fact, this is just the kind of wedge issue politics that we have come to expect from the fool-the-people, know-nothing politicians who play to the religious zealots and undereducated, vulnerable folks. They fall for this stuff every time. These are the same people who would, all too often, deny the people adequate economic and social relief. They take their homophobic, xenophobic, hateful invective to the people in order to cover up the way that they behave in the New York State Senate. This type of behavior leads to and is fed by the type of fiscal chaos that we have been experiencing. The worse it gets, the more they try to frighten the mob. The whole approach comes right out the Nazi propaganda play book. When things are bad, scare the people. I am not surprised that despite being told by their leader, Dean Skelos, they were free to vote their conscience, every single Republican voted to deny gays and lesbians the right to marry and secure the same rights the rest of us have. Just look at the way Newt Gingrich and his crowd ran their elections.
Look, I am not gay. I am not attracted to men. I love women and when an attractive woman walks down the street, I am inclined to look at her. I was born that way. It’s just a matter of how the genes were randomly distributed. There are others who got different genes and they came out gay or lesbian. They can’t help their orientation any more than I can help mine. If someone said to me, “You’ve got to stop being heterosexual and become homosexual or we will stone you, imprison you, or send you to a psychiatrist, it wouldn’t work. I would not become gay. I would almost certainly become depressed, I would certainly become angry and fearful of those who would deprive me of the same civil rights straight folks have.
Now we are in the middle of a great recession-depression. People are out of work. They are scared and have every right to be. We can deal with the problems of an inequitable society or we can let the fear mongers have their way. In the case of the clowns in the state Senate, it’s not even close. Fear trumps policy every time. The clique that is running the state Senate has managed this theater of the absurd from the very beginning.
First, in order to maintain their power they acceded to Sen. Ruben Diaz’s demand that the equality in marriage bill never reached the Senate floor. That type of unprincipled blackmail can only lead to more of the same. When the lust for power overcomes doing what is right, the acquisition of power becomes far more important.
Of course, if it is true that something like one out of every ten Americans is gay or lesbian, this is risky business for this unprincipled crew. I once worked at a TV station where they polled and decided that only 12 percent of the people wanted sports. They cancelled regular sports in favor of something else and soon learned that the “only 12 percent” were passionate about sports and switched the channel. If all of the gay people were willing to a.) turn out for the election and b.) vote out the scoundrels who had deprived them of their civil liberties, it could be “bye-bye” for the fear mongers.
To cut to the chase, why would any of us want to deprive anyone else the right to enter into a loving marriage with another person? Hey, you don’t want to marry someone of the same sex, don’t do it. But why take the civil rights of another away? We know that some of these very politicians who voted against the bill have gay relatives who will be terribly hurt by all of this. As always, there will be that moment when they have to look in a mirror and say, “What have I done?”
Originally Published in the Legislative Gazette, 12/07/09