The Latest

Once Again: By Any Means Necessary

Is it just me, or do you also sense that when it comes to the same-sex marriage front, we’re in deep shit? I have always advocated killing the marriage amendment through procedural maneuvers, and have argued that we should make no apologies about doing so. But the strategy of the same-sex marriage movement seems to have shifted squarely towards defeating the amendment on its “merits.” In a Boston Globe article, Arlene Issacson of the Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus is quoted as saying that “our goal is to win on the merits of the issue.”

Why this shift in direction when all indications are that we clearly do not have the votes to defeat the amendment on its merits? Why are we pursuing this strategy when it seems as though getting the right amount of votes is highly unlikely? What happens if we don’t get the votes by June 14? Do we just resign ourselves to defeat?

What we do have is an overwhelming majority of legislators who see the fundamental unfairness of subjecting queer rights to a vote. If the legislators agree with that position, I cannot understand why the idea of killing this amendment through procedural maneuvers is so far-fetched. If they agree with same-sex marriage, we have a basis by which to tell them if they really care about queer people, they will do whatever it takes to squash the amendment.

I think that the strategy of lobbying to defeat the amendment on its merits would be a good one so long as there is also a strategy to kill the amendment procedurally as well. I have no access to what is going on behind closed doors at the State House, nor do I have inside information about the lobby effort. I can only hope that MassEquality and the Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus are trying to do both. In an ideal situation, they would be getting the votes to defeat the amendment on its merits, but also getting legislators ready to kill the amendment if necessary. This may be a secret strategy that they’re not public about because of perceived repercussions (which, if so, is in and of itself a sign of the weakness of our side), but I doubt it.

Regardless of what strategy the lobbyists use, it is clear that our ideological strategy is broken. I know I’ve been saying this so much that I sound like a broken record, but it’s true. That Senate President Therese Murray says that she will have an up-or-down vote on the amendment—a rightward shift of her position, by the way—is a very ominous sign. If our political hand were stronger, the State Legislature would have no qualms about killing this amendment (as they did the health care amendment).

Therefore, I think we need to be clearer with legislators: A position that is not committed to defeating this amendment by (and I will say it again) any means necessary is unacceptable. Everyone who claims to care about queer people’s rights needs to be on board with this argument.

Allowing this amendment to go through will be devastating to the psyche of the queer community in this state (which is why the bigots want to see it passed). Any legislator not committed to destroying this amendment by any means at their disposal is necessarily and unequivocally putting the queer community of Massachusetts in the crosshairs of a homophobic campaign. And when the hate crimes go up because of the heightened climate of homophobia (which they will), the blood will be on their hands. I hate to be so blunt about it, but these are the stakes.

Massachusetts state legislators, it is time to make a choice. You can side with bigotry or with the community you claim to support. Sometimes, there is no mushy-middle and there is no compromise—only right and wrong.

And we need to present the argument to the people of Massachusetts in this light as well, though not as harshly. Nonetheless we also need to say to the people that for them too it is time to make a choice. It is not a choice between “democracy” and “judicial activism.” That ruse collapsed in front of God and everybody when the State Legislature killed the health care amendment and VoteonMarriage.org did not even bother to feign crocodile tears! In fact, they proclaimed that “democracy” had won, thereby showing their true priorities and selective concern for “democracy.” I wonder what the people of Massachusetts will think if they found out VoteonMarriage people whined and cried like spoiled brats this week when the State Legislature dared to put things like budgets before their vendetta against queer people?

No, this is a choice between bigotry and justice. We need to plaster the despicable, homophobic comments of the leaders of VoteonMarriage.org all around this state. Each comment should implicitly ask the question: Whose side are you on? Are you on the side of someone who compares gays to September 11 terrorists, as Roberto Miranda, VoteonMarriage.org’s chairperson did?

Do you want to be an accomplice of someone who calls queer people “demonic forces” as Black Ministerial Alliance President Gilbert Thompson did?

The motivation for this amendment is clearly homophobia; the “democracy” rhetoric is a rather transparent farce. I sincerely believe that the most effective ideological strategy over the next month will be one that shifts from the sing-songy rallies and instead works to expose this reality. As Mel White, director of Soulforce put it, “what they say in private, we have to shout from the rooftops.


In addition, pro-marriage equality lobbyist groups need to give queers a free hand to operate on the ideological front, if we so choose. I have heard too many stories of people who have been silenced by MassEquality activists and others because their statements or signs were too "radical." This has got to stop now. We cannot wage an effective campaign with our hands tied behind our back due to fear of looking too "negative" or "radical."

4 comments:

Tom said...

Brian,

There are so many things wrong with this picture.

I recently looked up the Black Ministerial Alliances "Thank You to Donors" page and those who supported the Roast for Reverend Ray Hammond (he si the one who supports the Federal Same Sex Marriage Ban Amendment, because, "same-sex marriage will increase the number of fatherless families in the African American community"--so he says).

Check out the link http://www.bmaboston.org/CC_Content_Page/0,,PTID328806|CHID777534,00.html

Of course, Caleb and Bronwyn Loring are at the top of the list--they are VOM's biggest supporters and have gone on record saying multiple times that "gays should not marry because they are too promiscuous and even lesbian relationships cause a greater amount of 'bacterial vaginosis'"

But look at the other donors, Robert Beal (Beal Companies)...Robert is gay, his boyfriend was Eric Georgi of MyAge... The Museum of Fine Arts??? The New England Patriots?? Which is Robert Kraft--Chad and Ann Gifford's best friend--another MassEquality spokesperson.

I understand that the BMA does alot of good with inner city kids, but why do I think that these supposedly pro-LGBT people who gave the BMA all this money really don't give a shit about us--and would NEVER say anything about LGBT issues and the BMA's stance against us.

Sandouri Dean Bey said...

bravo

Mark D. Snyder said...

Brian,

This message must be heard!
Transform this into a public letter to MassEquality? Publish?

Mark

Brian Rainey said...

Hey Tom:

About the BMA, I cited Rev. Thompson to call him out about his homophobia. I would, however, be very careful in how I deal with the BMA. While their homophobia is unacceptable and sends the wrong message to the black community (it is OBVIOUSLY scapegoating rhetoric), we cannot in my view launch a broad attack on the BMA (i.e. "stop donating to them because they oppose same-sex marriage!"). They simply do too much good in the black community. An engagement with them on the issue of homophobia should be tough, but very careful.

The inner-city black community in Boston is facing its own crisis vis-a-vis crime, poverty and despair (I know someone at Harvard Divinity who works with the BMA and according to him, it's REALLY BAD).

Also, according to the sociological literature I've consulted, marriage for the urban poor is often considered a luxury. To even give the appearance that we are sabotageing the good work that happens through the BMA's other programs, would further alienate the movement from blacks and people of color.

Queers (and queer people of color need to take the lead) need to challenge the BMA out of a clear, consistent anti-racist framework. We should communicate that we are concerned about all of the issues the BMA is concerned about (poverty, crime, despair) except banning same-sex marriage.

But scapegoating gay people for the problems of the black community is a radical lurch in the wrong direction. It distracts people from the REAL enemy (racism) and gives credence to the idea that the main problems in the black community are "moral" not structural. Right-wingers have been arguing this for years to delegitimize demands for anti-racist restructuring of society.

It's a shame that black ministers are so quick to reinforce this argument.