Enough with the "Don't offend anyone" baloney already!

Since Proposition 8 passed by a 52-48 margin in California, stripping gay and lesbian Californians of the right to marry and devastating the lives of countless people by delivering us to second class citizen status, there has been a flurry of spontaneous protests and demonstrations across the country in support of marriage equality. The LGBT and allies community has been responding strongly with just outrage. Grassroots people, on their own efforts, have identified the strongest financial supporters of Prop 8 (I'm looking at you, the Church of Latter Day Saints) from publicly available lists and put them on the Internet for boycotting. It is having at least some effect. Demonstrations and protests have targeted Mormon temples. I say this is exactly what we need. We need to be angry, we need to agitate, and we need to demand our full equality, not ask for it nicely.

But apparently, even some within our own community have a problem. I went to a protest last week at the San Jose City Hall, and a dear friend of mine got up on the steps and urged us not to "blame" anyone in the "faith community". To me, it sounded like she was speaking against singling out the Mormon Church. Whether she meant it that way or not, I know a fair number of people feel that way. I have a clear position on this.

No more Mr. Nice Gay. It is willfully negligent, in my opinion, to ignore the humongeous impact the Mormon Church (and to a lesser degree the Catholic Church and evangelical churches) as an institution had on this issue. Every non-violent protest rally held outside a Church, Temple or Mosque that materially contributed to the effort to pass Prop 8 - whether by contributing money or asking their members to do so, or by telling their members it was their religious duty to volunteer time to this cause, or by prosletizing about it on the sermon every Sunday - is valid, needed, and more than justified. These institutions drove their members into a religious ferver of hatred. It is time they were forced to see the lives they have devastated in the name of their God. It is time they were forced to face some inconvenience, some public outcry.

I suggest that everyone who is suggesting that we ought not get into non-violent confrontations, or agitate, or point the fingres in the eyes of the institutions that, in the name of faith, shattered the dreams of their fellow citizens, take a good look back. Take a look back at the history. If you think rights come as a result of asking for them nicely, all I have to ask you is, how'd that work out? The No on 8 campaign was entirely about not offending anyone, about telling people things like "please don't take anyone's rights away, regardless of how you feel about marriage." Bullshit. The freedom to form a family by marrying the person we love is the birthright of all of us, and it is time we demanded it with a loud voice. It is time that we stood up and said that those who voted to pass Prop 8 were voting for mob rule, not democracy. They were voting for religious tyranny, not religious freedom. Yes, even if they happened to have been a majority of the voting public. Democracy is the protection of minority rights in the face of contemporary majorities who may not be so comfortable with it, and thus no fundamental freedom - least of all the freedom of family - should ever belong on the ballot box for a majority to strip away from a minority. That it would be and that people would believe that it is their right to impose their religious views on others by the means of a vote is astounding, outragious, and antithetical to the idea of a society founded upon the basic rights of life, liberty, and the persuit of happiness.

In the non-violent expression of this just outrage, it will not be convenient for everyone. It will not preserve the privilege of bigoted Church leaders to look outside on Sundays and not see any countervailing viewpoints. Yes, it will offend some people - people who already do not believe fundamentally in equality. Yes, people and businesses who gave material support to making their fellow Californians second class citizens will be exposed to give the rest of us a chance to decide for ourselves which individuals and businesses we associate with and do business with. Yes, it will change the usual flow of business and life. In the history of the world, never has a movement for equal rights ever succeeded without agitating, without protesting, without marching, and without getting in some people's faces. This isn't a debate class. This is a fight for the lives of people. The only question: how badly do you want to win it?


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