Reality Rant

I’ve long thought Tony Perkins divorced from reality.  He cites non-scientists as if they’re scientists, belives gays can be “cured,” and in today’s LAChronicle article, doesn’t believe that gays are even discriminated against very much.  Not really. 

Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Family Research Council, contended that gay-rights groups exaggerated the extent of anti-gay bias as part of a broader push to achieve their political goals.

‘I’m sure there’s probably a case here and there,’ Perkins said. ‘But I’ve seen more discrimination of people of religious faith than I’ve seen of gay people in the work force.’

Probably because you don’t HAVE any gay people in your workforce.  Just “ex-gays.” 

Perkins’ response, of course, is to the potential for congress this year to finally pass ENDA–the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, bill meant to end employment discrimination practices based upon sexual orientation.  While the Chronicle article seems hopeful that ENDA will pass this time around, as well as a hate-crimes bill targeting gay-related crimes, it remains unsure whether President Bush will actually sign either of them.  Perkins is not the only one who is Concerned with the potential of these bills passing, namely Matt Barber or CWA, and a semi-regular concern of GoodAsYou

‘With liberals in control, there’s a good possibility they’ll both pass,’ said Matt Barber, a policy director with the conservative group Concerned Women for America. ‘They’re both dangerous to freedom of conscience, to religious liberties, to free speech.’

Personally, I think overzealous religious persecution of a group based solely on inherent traits is more dangerous to free speech, but I’m just a blogger.  What do I know?  I must be dreaming, right? 

And, tangentially, while we’re on the subject of “reality,” I’d like for these people to stop repeating their ridiculously disingenuous phrase, “love the sinner, hate the sin.” Most of them don’t believe it, and they should have the integrity to at least say what they truly believe.  If they truly believed it, then that attitude would be honestly conveyed by their children.  I’ll say one thing for Fred Phelps–he may be just a shade shy of the Antichrist himself, but at least his group is honestly saying what they believe. 

I was reading about a local boy this weekend who committed suicide in 2003 due to cyberbullying from fellow students at his school.  After having to deal with his son Ryan’s suicide, John Halligan set up a website to advocate against cyberbullying in his son’s memory.  While most comments are hopeful or positive, there are those who continue to berate a dead boy because they think he was gay:

Another visitor said, “The sadness of this incident is only surpassed by how gut wrenchingly hilarious it is. … He deserved to die because he was a whiny gay.”

The most vile? “So I hear your son is gay. Good thing he killed himself, we don’t need anymore fags in the world.”

Now, no one knows if Ryan was gay or not.  The issue here is the bullying.  Which is just an external manifestation of violence and hateWhy do I have a hard time believing that these people hate “the sin,” and not “the sinner?” Where did they most likely learn this attitude from? Parents.  Who sling various deragatory comments around about gay people in front of their children.  Parents who do, in fact, hate “the sinners” AND “the sin.”  So much, in fact, that they’ll visit a mourning website and hurl hateful statements at a dead person simply because he might’ve been gay. 

Yeah, that’s a bunch of Christ’s love right there, I’ll tell ya.  Tell me, “What Would Jesus Do?”  Who did Jesus actually condemn?

Still, it’s encouraging to see that there are some in the religious community who can see us as whole people not needing fixing, and standing up for us like Jesus would.  And while I’m hopeful it may spread to other denominations, I’m not holding my breath.

UPDATE: Pam has an excellent example of just why ENDA is so sorely needed

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9 thoughts on “Reality Rant

  1. Given the fact that Pam Spaulding herself allowed death threats against Christians to remain up on her blog for three weeks and only removed them after being publicly humiliated by the fact that they were there, I think that Tony Perkins’s point is well taken.

    Given that I can cite directly gays demanding that Christians who request reasonable accomodations based on their religious beliefs be publicly identified so that they can be urinated and vomited upon, his argument is strengthened.

    Finally, given that Bonnie Bleskachek has remained one of the best-kept secrets in the gay blogosphere, with not a single gay group being willing to condemn her actions and her abuse of antidiscrimination laws as a means of protecting her from the consequences of disreputable behavior, their opposition is, in my opinion, justifiable.

    I myself have pushed for antidiscrimination ordinances — but only with a clear understanding with the gay community that it was to rectify the worst abuses, not to punish or control businesses, and that misuse of it by gays would be swiftly punished.

    I see no such understanding in regard to ENDA.

    In the example Pam cited, what she glosses over is that Des Moines already HAS a law in place prohibiting businesses from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation. Emco itself is a division of Andersen, whose corporate policy already makes it clear that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is not tolerated.

    Laws and policies do not change behavior. People treating others with respect changes behavior. Pam and her ilk would be better served by turning off the rhetoric and demonstrating that homosexuality does not require or justify hate.

    But then they would have nothing to talk about.

  2. People treating others with respect changes behavior.

    I can agree with that, NDT, and I’m no apologist for anyone else’s behavior or rhetoric, including Pam, though I do agree with her about half of the time. In fact, you should’ve read how the commenters at JoeMyGod jumped ugly with me when I honestly posed the question: why is Abortion a “gay” issue? Oy vey, there sure are some venemous queers among us. Heaven forbid we have an honest and open discussion that questions predisposed notions!

    That’s why I purposely have people with diametrically opposing viewpoints in my links.

    But do you not think that Perkin’s statement of ‘I’m sure there’s probably a case here and there,’ Perkins said. ‘But I’ve seen more discrimination of people of religious faith than I’ve seen of gay people in the work force.’ is just completely divorced from reality?

    I think he’s got it completely backwards, and ENDA is far overdue. I’m sure we can all cite anecdotal examples of ridiculously out of touch gays we know. But by far and without reservation I can safely say that employment discrimination is something homosexuals suffer waaaay more than people of faith. (Which also includes many homos, I might add for Mr. Perkins’ edification.) While it’s not a competition, it’s far more insipid in our case. If you’re religious, you can most likely find a job even if you’re unfairly discriminated against in one interview. Gays are far more likely to be spurned by employer after employer after employer if we’re open and honest about who we are, especially in areas like the Deep South where the overtly religious have the least problem. It’s not even comparable.

    Because contrary to what you said:
    Laws and policies do not change behavior.

    Yes, actually, they do–within the workplace, at least. And that’s what we’re talking about.

  3. But do you not think that Perkin’s statement of ‘I’m sure there’s probably a case here and there,’ Perkins said. ‘But I’ve seen more discrimination of people of religious faith than I’ve seen of gay people in the work force.’ is just completely divorced from reality?

    Rule of thumb, Jamie; since there is no such thing as a precise statistic for “discrimination”, playing the “I’m more discriminated against than you are” is a zero-sum game based on theoreticals, not facts — which means, unless the other person is converted to your worldview suddenly, you’re hitting an impasse.

    Instead, a bit of judo is what’s warranted in this situation.

    Such as a response, “You know, that’s a big problem — since discrimination against someone on the basis of their religious belief is almost always against company policy, state laws, and Federal laws. Don’t you agree that the choices people make in their personal lives and behaviors, like their choice of religious faith is, should not be used as a reason to discriminate against them in the workplace?”

    While he’s struggling with that, let’s turn to this.

    Yes, actually, they do–within the workplace, at least. And that’s what we’re talking about.

    However, as we saw in the case of Emco, clearly neither a law or the company policy changed peoples’ behavior.

  4. “I’m more discriminated against than you are” is a zero-sum game based on theoreticals, not facts”

    No, I’m basing it on my own eyeballs. Having been fired from one job and watching three separate interviewers distinctly change their attitudes when I mentioned my partner, I’m certain enough that it’s not just “underreporting of religious discrimintation.” Compare news searches for religious workplace discrimination vs sexual orientation discrimination. Use all sorts of different phraseology and terms. You’ll find it’s not even close, and that’s the closest thing you’ll find to empirical evidence on the subject.

    And while I do like the idea of your civil response turning the argument around, “Don’t you agree that the choices people make in their personal lives and behaviors, like their choice of religious faith is, should not be used as a reason to discriminate against them in the workplace?”
    I can see Perkins and the like just POUNCING on the “choices” and “behaviors” terms and using that to say being gay is a choice. It’s not, while being religious is. I choose to believe in God, at least to a certain extent. I never chose to be gay. I don’t think they’re not comparable instances by any reasonable means.

    If it wasn’t so morally disingenuous I’d say we should call homosexuality a religion and henceforth be covered by the same laws as any other religious group just to obtain the same protections. Because that’s what ENDA is all about–equal protection. We should no more allow legal employment discrimination based on the inherent trait of homosexuality than we would the inherent trait of skin color. Or disability. etc.

  5. And Jamie, Perkins is basing it on HIS own eyeballs — and likely he has a preferred search protocol as well that will “prove” HIS point.

    It’s like when my managers ask me to give them market data to use to show an employee that their salary is correct. As I demonstrate to them, I can make the market data say whatever I want; an employee who is bound and determined to “prove” that they’re underpaid can do the same thing. You end up fighting over whose facts are right, versus dealing with WHY the employee feels underpaid and what can be done about it.

    I can see Perkins and the like just POUNCING on the “choices” and “behaviors” terms and using that to say being gay is a choice. It’s not, while being religious is. I choose to believe in God, at least to a certain extent. I never chose to be gay. I don’t think they’re not comparable instances by any reasonable means.

    Which was exactly why I used it, Jamie; it’s called “baiting the trap”.

    The point is to get them to make the argument that, since being gay is a “choice”, that it should not be protected from workplace discrimination. However, at that point, they usually blink and swallow their tongue — because they then realize that, if they applied that line of logic fairly, religion should not be protected against workplace discrimination, because it is definitively a choice. This is where you can turn their “special rights” argument against them by pointing out that they insist giving protections against discrimination based on choice is granting special rights — but that they support granting themselves a “special right” by that definition.

    At that point, you have them outmaneuvered. For example, if they try to argue that your personal relationships are grounds for workplace discrimination, you can simply point out that workplaces are not allowed to discriminate on the basis of whether one is single, married, or divorced and ask if they disagree with that.

    The point here, Jamie, is to avoid getting bogged down in zero-sum questions with no solid answer about who’s more discriminated against or whether or not being gay is a choice. Instead, what we want to point out is the fundamental flaw in their logic and relate why nondiscrimination stuff makes sense relative to existing law that is supported by the vast majority of people.

    In short, there are already laws giving protection to people against being discriminated against because of their choices and because of their personal relationships. You simply have to explain why sexual orientation nondiscrimination is merely a reworking of those.

  6. This is where you can turn their “special rights” argument against them by pointing out that they insist giving protections against discrimination based on choice is granting special rights — but that they support granting themselves a “special right” by that definition.

    But in order to do that you have to concede that being gay is indeed a choice. It’s not. I understand about pointing out the “fundamental flaw in their logic,” as you say, but I’ll not do it under a faulty premise. Whether or not gay is a choice is not a zero-sum question merely because Perkins and his flock don’t accept the answer. That’s just lucidrous.

  7. You need to attack that point head on, Jamie.

    Saying that gay is “not a choice” belies the fact that, if there weren’t some choice involved in sexual behaviors, we would have died out a long time ago — and there wouldn’t be gay men running around with children.

    Gays spend entirely too much time trying to equate sexual orientation with race/ethnicity or national origin, both of which are emphatically NOT by choice; you don’t get to choose who your parents are, and you don’t get to choose where you’re born. However, there are other things that society has added to the “do not discriminate on the basis of” pile that ARE emphatically by choice — such as religion, marital status, and whether or not one has children — and, oddly enough, have a great deal to do with one’s conduct outside the workplace.

    By insisting on the “gay is not a choice” absolutism, you paradoxically give Tony Perkins and his ilk an opening; they can, as I did above, cite numerous examples of how that is fundamentally flawed and disrupt the argument in that fashion. Instead, I simply ask them if they support discrimination on the basis of religious, organizational membership, marital, or childraising status — and, when they vociferously state they don’t, point out that the existence of laws banning those is based on the belief that one’s private conduct, associations, and personal relationships outside the workplace are not necessarily relevant to one’s job and should not be considered valid reasons for dismissal.

    Perkins and his ilk are not stupid, Jamie. As I’ve blogged before, they know full well what buttons to push and which cracks to exploit, and they do it quite successfully. They are very, VERY aware of the fact that gays have a mental block relative to “choice” — mainly because, on a very visceral level, gays still use the “it’s not my fault, I was born this way” as a rationalization for several less-than-intelligent behaviors — and will use that as a means of diverting argument onto a battleground which they can win.

  8. Saying that gay is “not a choice” belies the fact that, if there weren’t some choice involved in sexual behaviors, we would have died out a long time ago — and there wouldn’t be gay men running around with children.

    It seems to me that you’re mixing arguments with that statement. You’re equating “gay” with a sexual “behavior” and not an orientation–exactly as Perkins and company would do. Promiscuity is a behavior–one that many gays subscribe to, and a completely different discussion. Choosing to have children, or sleep with someone of the opposite sex even though you have no true attraction to them–those are also behaviors–ones which those who are “born gay” can still participate in–by choice. Which in no way negates their innate homosexuality, but instead reflects upon their willingness to accept it.

    Which I find somewhat paradoxically amusing, because the thrust of your other statement:

    I simply ask them if they support discrimination on the basis of religious, organizational membership, marital, or childraising status — and, when they vociferously state they don’t, point out that the existence of laws banning those is based on the belief that one’s private conduct, associations, and personal relationships outside the workplace are not necessarily relevant to one’s job and should not be considered valid reasons for dismissal.

    is indeed much clearer and a spot-on argument that neatly sidesteps the entire “born gay” issue.

    So while I can agree with that last statement, the reasoning you’re using for giving that statement doesn’t really hold up.

  9. is indeed much clearer and a spot-on argument that neatly sidesteps the entire “born gay” issue.

    So while I can agree with that last statement, the reasoning you’re using for giving that statement doesn’t really hold up.

    In your opinion, maybe.

    But then again, it doesn’t matter, because we’ve established that there is precedent for nondiscrimination regardless of whether or not being gay is a choice — and that is my entire point.

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