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The Equality Challenge

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Just in time for the fifth anniversary of the death of Matthew Shepard, the US fundamentalist Christian Right presents Marriage Protection Week. The anti-GLBT event, created by a frightening assortment of right-wing lobby groups including the Southern Baptist Convention, Focus on the Family, the American Family Association and Real Women, along with fundamentalist ministers Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, is designed to stop the possibility of legal gay marriage under secular law.

The fundies want to make sure that gay couples can not marry under secular law, and they want to crush domestic partnerships, civil unions, and any proffering of marriage-like benefits to anyone who is not heterosexual. Their weapon of choice: the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment (H.J. Res. 56), which would make their antipathy for queers part of the US Constitution.

I am assuming that GLBT people are smart enough to see the horror in this. I pray that our non-queer allies are too. Truth is, though, many people — including some who call themselves “progressive” — don’t see gay marriage as being important. The issue just doesn’t affect them. They are wrong.

On Open Source Politics, I issue a challenge to everyone — but particularly to heterosexual progressives — to take up this fight openly, loudly, immediately, and for the long haul. If you really believe in justice and equality for all Americans, you must do this. You either stand visibly and publicly for equality or stand with the Christian Wrong — there is no middle ground here. To be silent is to be complicit. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. put it: “Cowardice asks the question, Is it safe? Expediency asks the question, Is it politic? Vanity asks the question, Is it popular? But conscience asks the question, Is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because his conscience tells him that it is right.”

An example of heterosexuals taking positive action against the fundie right: PFLAG — Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, which issued a pro-equality public statement on Oct. 7:

“PFLAG has no wish to tread on the religious beliefs of any faith; each must remain free to define its own requirements for marriage, as mandated by our Constitution’s separation of church and state,” said David Tseng, PFLAG executive director. “We ask only that the government and President Bush provide all people the same standing and extend to them their constitutional right to equality under the law.”

The group (along with many others, including the pro-GLBT Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches) is promoting Marriage Equality Week, the antidote to the fundies’ week of hatred. And it will do much more to counter the work of the right-wing anti-equality squad.

Frequent AF&O contributor and Virginia-based attorney Michael Hamar, like PFLAG, is up for the fight. Today he points his lens at Marriage Protection Week and at one of its organizers, and notes what you should be doing to help work against them:

Do you stand with this man?; 2002 photo by william coupon Once again, Pat Robertson has opened his mouth and helped reveal the true mindset and hate-filled nature of the “Christian” Right. In countering the “Christian” Right’s “Protection of Marriage Week,” it would seem that in addition to documenting and making public through press releases, etc., the deliberate lies and untruths put out virtually daily by these “Christians,” tying their campaign to Pat Robertson would be useful.

Counterpunch writer Harvey Wasserman pointed out Robertson’s anti-American and anti-Christian lunacy and hatred in a July 25 article excerpted here. The piece was published shortly after the fundamentalist televangelist and diamond magnate prayed that something bad would happen to remove liberal members from the US Supreme Court:

Robertson’s “prayer” for the “removal” of three Supreme Court Justices reeks of a “fatwah”—a call to murder. Islamic Ayatollahs issued a similar death threat against Salmon Rushdie, whose “Satanic Verses” they deemed blasphemous. In fact, he merely lampooned the Ayatollahs. Against all odds, Rushdie still lives.

Robertson has condemned the Court for supporting a woman’s right to choose and for guaranteeing the right of citizens to make love in ways Robertson doesn’t like. Appointed for life, the Supremes can retire or die. So if one of his followers kills them, who will Robertson thank first? God?

Robertson and his fellow Ayatollahs, Franklin Graham and Jerry Falwell, hate more than just gays: they hate America, specifically the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, diversity of opinion and ethnicity, freedom of worship, the idea that all people are created equal.

Their messiah, George W. Bush, is under fire for running the most secretive, dishonest and repressive administration in US history.

There are no two ways about it: If you don’t stand up to fight visible opposition to legal marriage for all Americans, you stand with Robertson.

Hamar continues:

The reality is that Pat Robertson says what these demagogues all think, but most of the are press-savvy enough to not openly state their views and agenda as does Robertson. The public needs to be made aware that if they are duped by this “Protection of Marriage Week” they are unwittingly participating in Robertson’s “Christian Taliban” agenda. Do they really want Pat Robertson and the fanatics of the “Christian” Right policing what they can do in their bedrooms and what religious beliefs they must hold? I suspect the majority of the public would find these ideas abhorrent and downright frightening.

I hope and pray that Michael is correct. But according to a recent USA Today/Gallup poll, 32 percent of those surveyed simply “don’t care.” Do you care? Do you believe in justice for all? Prove it. Take the Equality Challenge. Help make America live up to its promises.

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  • Taloran

    Natalie, I tried to find your email to send this to you rather than commenting here, but couldn’t find it.
    Unless I’m misreading, you have a misstatement in your post that throws the whole thing off-kilter. You might want to change “If you don’t stand against legal marriage for all Americans, you stand with Robertson” to the opposite – “If you stand against legal marriage for all Americans, you stand with Robertson.”

    Good piece, BTW, except for that one line.

  • Whoops! Thanks, Tal.

  • Actually, I took a look at it, and it says exactly what I mean, though I did refine the statement a tad to make the indictment more clear:

    “If you don’t take a visible stand against the Christian Right’s opposition to legal marriage for all Americans, then you stand with Robertson.”

  • Taloran


  • Taloran

    Too bad this post got lost. It has a lot of great things to say.

  • Thanks, Taloran. I am not in the least surprised that few people cared about it.

  • Taloran

    But even Eric didn’t comment

  • Eric Olsen

    Tal, I don’t get to everything right away, and with the volume of output on the site (which is super, great, terrific) some things I don’t get to at all – it’s fairly random and certainly not a comment on the post. The only thing I try to get to for sure is to respond to a new member’s first post.

    I hope and believe that Natalie is aware by now how much I value her input.

  • She certainly is.

    And it isn’t Eric’s responsibility — or anyone else’s for that matter — to post responses to every article.

  • Taloran

    No, but Eric is usually so good at sharing his enlightened opinion with us! (And I mean that sincerely Eric – it’s not a dig) Whether I agree with him or not, he always has something to bring to the conversation. It just surprised me a bit, is all.

  • Eric Olsen

    Nat and Tal, Thanks to you both, on many levels. One of the changes I have made over the last several months has been to post somewhat less myself and pay more attention to what was going on on the site. I will continue that and try to improve upon it.

  • Dan

    Natalie, I thought I was progressive on this issue but maybe I’m not. You can decide. I wouldn’t be opposed to a State sanctioned union that would give certain rights and benefits to life partners.

    There was a local couple I heard about a while back. A woman who was dying of cancer or something was disallowed having her partner of 20 some years in her hospital room. I guess her immediate family members disapproved of the relationship and made the hospital enforce the rules. I didn’t know them first hand so it could have been a propaganda thing, but it would be a miserable thing to have happen.

    There is a practical reason that hasn’t been well articulated; it might be in society’s interest to have civil unions as a way to curb AID’s. Maybe men would be less promiscuous in a sanctioned relationship. It really hasn’t worked all that well for hetero’s though.

    The one non-progressive side I take is in the area of child adoption. I don’t fear that a child could be “turned” gay or suffer from an “immoral” environment. I know that gays can be just as good at parenting as heteros. What scares me is the abuse a kid would take from their peers. Kids are the most fundamentally non-progressive people in the world. Once the word got out, they would be relentless. A kids social interaction with these cretins is a huge part of their developement. I smpathize with the desire for parental fulfillment, but until society adjusts I think it would be selfish to subject a child to that. I’m sorry if you like me less for thinking this way, but I think it’s important. And no small thing. People forget what being a kid was like. Then again, the logic doesn’t hold up in a situation where a biological child from a previous union comes to stay with dad and step-dad. It would seem unfair to deny custody. Maybe I’ll need to think about it some more.

    Another can of worms: A logical progression would be to grant state sanctioned unions to other relationships. A partnership between siblings for example. (non-sexual of course). It wouldn’t seem fair to withold the priviledge on the basis of who’s havin’ sex.

    Other than the previous reservations, I’m with ya! Truthfully though, I’m not looking forward to it, but if my conscience is my guide…

  • “I didn’t know them first hand so it could have been a propaganda thing, but it would be a miserable thing to have happen.”

    It has happened. It does happen.

    You say you would approve of a “State sanctioned union that would give certain rights and benefits to life partners.” Do you mean civil union? Domestic partnership? Or marriage?

    And “certain rights”: Do you mean particular rights, and if so, which ones? Or do you mean you would be OK with gay couples haveing the exact same rights and responsibilities as heterosexual married couples?

    As far as your reservations about gay adoption, what are your views of adoption (or procreation, for that matter) by couples whose partners are of differing hues? Lord knows, those kids are often abused on playgrounds and such by kids who tease or hurt them for being “different.” (I know this firsthand from the experience of parent and child. I will NEVER forget.) Or about procreation by anyone, for that matter? Certainly there are kids of all hues beaten or verbally abused by kids of other hues. And in all those cases, the abuse could be avoided if the parents had not adopted or procreated. Let’s push it further — a couple has or adopts a baby with some sort of disability, and when the infant grows into childhood, he or she is beaten or taunted by so-called “normally abled” children. Should those parents not adopt the child or abort the child if they get some sort of prenatal test that warns them of the pending child’s handicap so that the boy or girl won’t have to endure abuse?

    So, you’re not looking forward to it. The question begs to be asked: Why? Just uncomfortable with the notion of queers marrying?

  • Dan

    Natalie, I chose my words poorly. I can’t think of any right or priviledge I have in my hetero union, that I wouldn’t extend to a homo union…with the one exception. Even there I am in principle OK with it. In practice though, I think of an adoptee as a third party. It’s standard practice to place adopted children in homes where they have the best chance for happiness and developement. In the evolution of society, I don’t see them having that best chance at this time. Maybe in 25 years, (when the Supreme Court says white males can have equal protection under the law}, society and the playground will have evolved.

    What I think is fair and just, and what I’m uncomfortable with do not need to be compatible. I can be a fair and just uncomfortable person. And you should respect me. But you don’t have to. But to answer your queery…(horrible pun), I’m fine with the notion of queers marrying. I’m rooting for it.

    You raise a lot of good points Natalie. I admit I haven’t thought much about the whole subject. I guess the reason I say I’m not looking forward to it is a conservative waryness of unintended consequenses. Maybe there won’t be any.

  • Why would they be? Marriage is marriage. If two people love and are committed to each other and to the relationship, qualitatively, what is the difference?

    I respect your right to feel however you want even if I don’t approve of it. And it is to your credit that you can (on some issues) put fairness above your own discomfort.

    Respect aside, being a queer multiethnic mother with two multiethnic kids, I probably wouldn’t hang around someone who considers me selfish for having children.

    But I thank you for your thoughtful answers.

  • This isn’t in direct response to anything said here, but the other day I was pleased to notice that in the New York Times engagement/weddings section, there were announcements for commitment vows for two gay couples. I wouldn’t have been surprised to see something that in a San Francisco paper, but in the NYT I thought it was an extremely good sign.

  • Dan

    Look at the unintended consequences of the Civil Rights Act. Racial preferences. “Equal” now means ” more”. Another example might be legislative changes to immigration policy in the 60’s. Whether you agree or disagree with the result, we’re certainly living with a lot of negative unintended consequences. Prohibition caused a lot of things to happen that no one anticipated. Some or all of these examples might not be comparable, but unexpected consequences are the norm.

    I am a little saddened to learn that you wouldn’t think me worthy to hang around. I think I put fairness above my discomfort on all issues. I actually have gay friends and I’m not uncomfortable at all around them. Queerness doesn’t make me uncomfortable.

    I didn’t say I thought you were selfish for having children. I said that same sex couples, in my opinion, would be selfish to adopt children. There is a difference.

    I think our only disagreement is a matter of degree. Usually that is the only thing reasonable people differ on. You seem to think that the damage done by society to the developement of an adopted child by a same sex couple would be about the same as a bi-racial child. I think it would be much more.

    A couple of days ago, you anticipated Rush Limbaugh would get a “pass” from any legal consequences regarding his illegal drug activity. You opined that medical marijuana users aren’t as fortunate. When I said I thought most prosecutors do in fact give them a pass, you disagreed. I still think 98% of the time, those people get off with just a hassle. Either one of us could be right. It’s just a matter of degree.

    I originally jumped at the chance to respond to your post because I like to be agreeable more than I like to be disagreeable. I think I’m fair on homosexual issues. A certain Diva might label me a neo-confederate homosexual sympathizer…heh heh. I think you’re a tad overly defensive to my comments. But that’s OK.

  • Eric Olsen

    I don’t think it is reasonable, rational or moral to deny any appropriate rights and privileges to same-sex marriage: if people are willing to make the commitment. If sexual preference is largely genetic – and yet another study just indicated that it is – then who is being served by denying people the “pursuit of happiness” and full legal and economic recognition? It’s family values after all.

    As far as the child difficulty angle: childhood is always difficult, children will tease however they can, and it’s always better to have loving parents in an intact family unit than to not.

    Yes, I have heard the horror stories of unfit gay parents, but they are no different than the horror stories about unfit un-gay parents – there are sucky people of every persuasion, hue and sexual preference.

    This is all another form of discrimination that will look foolish in retrospect, as does racial, gender, religious, etc.

    it is perhaps the cruelist cut of all to live in relatively enlightened times, but to have the final goal still out of reach.

  • As far as our differences being only a matter of degree, we will have to disagree. Either people are equal or they are not. Equality can not be compromised and there can not be degrees of it. Phillip Winn appears to think less of me or be disappointed in me because there are things I see as uncompromisable, what he calls seeing things in “black” and “white” rather than in shades of “gray.” In truth, I see shades of gray in many areas; there are few issues on which I can not compromise when necessary. It just so happens that the notions of equality and nonviolence are two areas in which there *is* no room for compromise. If one is a pacifist through and through, as I am, violence is always wrong. Period. And on equality, well, the very definition of the word makes clear that there is no room for compromise. Either everyone is equal or there is no equality. Finis.

    In terms of hanging out, would you want to hang with someone who does not believe that you should be equal under law? This isn’t about you being unworthy. This is about me being in what I consider “safe space.”

    As far as my being overly defensive, I suppose so, in your reckoning. Well, my friend, inequality will do that for ya. But I believe my contempt for the shitstem is justified and the only sane, self-respecting response to it. And it’s interesting that those who label me “defensive” always do so when I don’t fall all over myself in happiness and gratitude for their moderately enlightened viewpoints. It reminds me of an old, re-worked adage: “Cheer up” is something happy people tell sad people because they don’t want their good mood ruined. Amusing, in a way, but mostly not.

    “‘Equal’ = ‘more'”? In what galaxy? So-called “racial” preferences and protections do work in reverse. Ask my less-melanin-enhanced friends who use affirmative action to attend historically “black” colleges. (I disagree with affirmative action on principle, btw. And I don’t believe in or promote the stupid and fallacious concept of “race.”) If you are discriminated against for being less-melanin-enhanced and can prove it, civil-rights protections cover you. Check it out and you will see that this is correct.

    “[S]ame sex couples, in my opinion, would be selfish to adopt children.”

    Hmmm. Selfish for wanting to give a home, love, education, stability, warmth, family, etc. to a child who lacks these things. Wow. Let me get this, um, straight: It is better for a child to have no family at all or go from foster home to foster home than to live with queer parents? Wow. Punish the kid and prospective adoptive parents in order to avoid pissing off bigots and religionistas. Jesus — and no, I am not taking his name in vain here — what a fucked-up world this is.

    As one who has been beaten up and verbally abused for all kinds of perceived differences, let me tell you: It’s all the same — the psychological scars, the physical bruises, lacerations, broken bones. I tend to get hit in the eye a lot — whether the shiner is caused by someone who is appalled because I refuse to recite your country’s pledge to the flag, who is jazzed by the notion of beating up a pacifist who can not respond in kind, who doesn’t like brown-colored people, or who fears or hates dykes, my eye looks and feels the same. And it’s all hate to me, so the emotional damage — my feelings of sorrow, self-esteem loss, confusion, heartbreak, hopelessness, etc. — is all the same. Of course, I can only speak for my experience. Others’ mileage may differ, of course. But from what I’ve experienced, having someone tell me that being queerbashed necessarily is worse than being darkybashed or pinkobashed hits me like a kick in the gut — and like a punch in the eye.

    I don’t mean to hurt your feelings, Dan, and I sincerely thank you for responding to the article. Please understand that I am not trying to insult or belittle you in any way. I am just calling things as I see them and responding honestly to you. There seems to be so much pressure for those like me to present our thoughts gently, to censor ourselves so as not to offend despite the fact that others’ views toward us are manifested most offensively. Sorry, that’s BS. I am too old and too tired to pussyfoot around any longer. As I said earlier, on many issues, I can be more freewheeling. Not on equality, and that is what is at stake here. With every day, I am one day closer to dying without ever experiencing it. So when I speak on this subject, I will be direct and honest and clear. The stakes are too damned high to coddle people any longer. Lord knows, no one coddles us or worries about what might offend us, not even those ostensibly on our side.

  • Eric: “I don’t think it is reasonable, rational or moral to deny any appropriate rights and privileges to same-sex marriage: if people are willing to make the commitment.”

    Indeed. Even reality-show idiots can get married and have their “committed relationships” recognized under civil law.

  • Oh, Dan, one more thought on civil-rights protections. Laws to protect people from sexual-orientation-based discrimination protect heterosexuals too. There is a case under way right now (saw a report about it on TV last night) about a gay baseball league that treats het players differently. That rule is being challenged — by queer league members who insist on having all players, including hets, treated equally.

  • Eric Olsen

    I actually messed up – I meant to say “If people are willing to make the commitment, they should be allowed, even encouraged, to make the commitment.” Married people live longer, make more money, commit fewer crimes, are more content, are more involved with the community, etc. Everyone wins – how rare is that?

  • There are people out there who don’t want queers to live longer, make more money, be content, or be involved in the community. And as for crime, given some people’s continuing support for anti-gay sodomy laws (thankfully stricken down by the SCOTUS last summer), apparently they are quite happy with us being criminals under law.

  • I am a bit surprised to see you use the word “queer”, Natalie, as you tend to be more PC than that — I think people in the homosexual community prefer words like gay or homosexual rather than words like queer, fag, etc. Just as I’m sure people who are not white do not like reading or hearing the N word so much.

    I’m heterosexual, btw, but I know many gay people and believe that this would be an offensive tag for them.

    Must have been a Freudian slip in the comments because this article is actually pretty good.

  • Which proves you know very little about me, TDavid. I am so anti-PC it’s funny. I am completely opposed to censorship of any kind. Don’t get me wrong: If someone says something that offends me, I will say so, as is my right. There are times when I will censor myself when I think certain language is inappropriate (in church, if kids or grandparents are around, and sometimes — though only sometimes — at work or in my published writings). But you won’t hear me say that people don’t have the right to say something I might find offensive. PC is a form of linguistic control, and I loathe it every bit as much as I despise societal categorizations and the terminology mainstreamers use.

    Oh — and that’s SOME people in the so-called “homosexual community.” We do not march in lockstep, no matter how much the Human Rights Campaign may say we do. There are some queers, gays, bis, lesbians, drag queens, sissies, str8-actors, butches, twinks, women-loving-women, nelly boys, bulldaggers, homosexuals, femmes, trannies, dykes, faggots, maricones, tomboys, etc. who are quite comfortable with Jim Crow. There are some who even oppose marriage equality (talk about internalized homophobia). And speaking of the dreaded IH, there are some non-hets who hate GLBT (etc.) people too.

    And yes, I am we-e-e-ell acquainted with the fact that some GLBT people are offended by the word “queer” and by my use of it. Keep in mind that I have been at this for decades, so I’ve had all kinds of bitching thrown at me from every direction. Too bad; I find using GLBT and “gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, Two-Spirit, intersexed, questioning, and allied” over and over again most limiting and quite dull sometimes, even though I love and respect each and every one of those subsets of the “rainbow family.”

    Personally, I think the word “queer” describes anti-mainstream me and many other people accurately (some of them heterosexual), especially when the issue of “difference,” perceived and actual, is germane.

    Personally, I am offended by the word “straight” being used to signify “heterosexual.” Reason: I am offended thoroughly by what it implies about those who are not heterosexual. But you won’t hear me tell someone not to use it. (You’ll note that I use the H word or abbreviate it as “het.” On the rare occasions in which I do employ “straight” to signify “het,” there are specific reasons for doing so, and they almost always involve irony.)

    That said, I’m glad you like the article. Thanks. Be sure and check out the one on OSP — there is where the Equality Challenge in full is explained.

  • DP

    OK Natalie, you said you’re opposed to affirmative action policies in principle. I said before that I am FOR adoption by same sex couples in principle. You don’t need to give me the orphanage/happy home comparison. You tell me of an example or two where civil rights policies work for the benefit of whites. I’m telling you that, in practice, white guys are being screwed hard and repeatedly. I could ask you which galaxy you refer to. This is the “matter of degree” thing. I could also give you my own personal anecdotes. Apparantly the Supreme Court shares your principle. But they decided to put it off another 25 years. I’m tired of waiting too. But I decided to be happy. So I’m doing alright. I’m worried for my son a little. You would trivialize my concern for adopted children and claim they would be better off. It’s the degree thing again.

    In principle, I’m a pacifist as well.

  • Natalie – thanks for the link, I’ll check that out.

    Just for the record: I never claimed in my post that I knew all that much about you, only that your use of that one word surprised me from what I’ve read from your postings. It seemed a little careless on your part, but after your explanation it is clear that it was used intentionally. Ok.

    I’m interpreting from your response that you do not feel that you have to be PC except in front of grandparents and kids. Well, guess we were brought up differently. I try to be respectful of others feelings and not say anything that would offend them on a personal level (on a business/debating level, I am not concerned if I invoke emotion from them, because that is usually when you learn more about someone). I will debate folks very passionately on issues but I try very, very hard to stay away from personal flames.

    And as I’ve also said before, I don’t pretend to “know” anybody here in this group on this website any more than I know the vast majority of writers or people for that matter in the world.

    I know writers only by the words they use and the work they produce. I base 99.9% of my comments here totally off what I’ve read (book), listened to (music), seen (video) or used (software/hardware), not anything I know about anybody directly.

    You’ve written some comments expressing your feelings on things like renouncing your US citizenship that I do not fully understand, but that’s probably because I don’t “know” you better.

    Perhaps Blogcritics should have some sort of get together once in awhile (quarterly maybe?) which would enable some of us to get know each other a little better?

    I don’t mean this in a dating sense, btw, I’m happily married as I believe you have written that you are as well (yes/no?), I mean this in a friendly online social group basis.

    We are planning on having a Halloween party inside there.com and I would be happy to organize something so fellow blogcritics can get to know each other a little better at some point in the future. That is assuming, anybody here really wants to do this kind of thing. LMK 🙂

    But then again you said elsewhere that I was not a nice person (I believe that was the quote), Natalie, so you probably have no interest in getting to know me in particular any better 🙂 There are plenty of others here, though, that maybe you might be interested in getting to know better perhaps.

    Or maybe that would ruin the mystique of this website if people actually got to know the people behind all these words. I don’t know.

    Whatever the case, anybody here reading this is welcome to look me up in there.com for the virtual 3D Halloween party next Friday. My name in there is the same as it is here.

    Not a spam, just a friendly invite to have a little fun and relax a little 🙂

  • Oops, I mean the Friday after next, lol. Next Friday is the 24th. Doh!

  • I’ve already pointed out that people you would call “white,” thanks to the government, do get preferential treatment in admissions to so-called “black” colleges. I’ve already pointed out the baseball-league case. There have been cases where het employees at gay bars or establishments have sued and won over employment sexual-orientation discrimination and wrongful termination. And US courts, of course, have allowed people you would describe as “white” to sue for “race” discrimination. Your civil-rights complaint, I suspect, is about affirmative action. I would agree with you on that one; I oppose AA in principle *and* in fact and have been vocal about that position and the reasons behind it for years — even turned down a so-called “minority” scholarship offered to me in college more than 20 years ago. My antipathy for the practice of pigmentationism toward anyone is quite tangible.

    But you want case-law examples, I guess, so here we go:

    • Lucas v. Dole, 835 F.2d 532 (4th cir. 1987). White plaintiff satisfied her burden in this case where she showed that she was more qualified than the selected minority applicant, that the interviewing process was too subjective, that the minority applicant had received irregular acts of favoritism, and that other employees believed that race was a factor.
    • Schafer v. Board of Public Education, 903 F.2d 243 (3d Cir. 1990). Reverse sexual discrimination case. The court held that male teacher stated a claim for discrimination where he was not allowed to take a year of paternity leave, while female teachers were allowed to take similar amount of maternity leave. Distinctions between men and women can be made with respect to physical disabilities related to pregnancy or the delivery of a child, but not with respect to child rearing.
    • Police Association of New Orleans v. City of New Orleans, 100 F.3d 1159 (5th Cir. 1996). City’s race conscious promotions violated Equal Protection Clause because they were not narrowly tailored.
    • Middletown v. City of Flint, 92 F.3d 396. (6th Cir. 1996), cert. denied 117 S.Ct. 1552 (1997). Challenge by White police officers passed over for promotions because of voluntary affirmative action plan involving a 50% set aside of promotions to Sergeant for racial minorities. Court found plan to be an “unnecessarily drastic remedy.”
    • McDonald v. Santa Fe Trail Transportation Co., 427 U.S. 273, 96 S.Ct. 2574 (1976). Two White employees and one Black employee were charged with stealing property from their employer. The two White employees were fired while the Black employee was retained. In the first big reverse discrimination case, the Court decided that Title VII is not limited to discrimination against minority persons, but includes discriminatory actions against majority persons as well.

    There are five examples. Yes, the problem still persists, and people are working to better things. But yes, you, as a person who describes himself as “white,” are protected under civil-rights law and you absolutely have the right to take legal action if your rights are violated due to “race”-based discrimination — as you should.

    Being unequal under law, I certainly share your pain when the wheels of justice immorally and inhumanely work against you. Difference is, I’m working and speaking out for your equality. And I’m not the least bit uncomfortable about it. At least you can comfort yourself, if you want, in the arms of a loving, legal spouse of your own choosing. Some of us can not be that lucky.

  • TDavid wrote: “I’m interpreting from your response that you do not feel that you have to be PC except in front of grandparents and kids. Well, guess we were brought up differently. I try to be respectful of others feelings and not say anything that would offend them on a personal level”

    Actually, in front of grandparents and kids, my goal is not to be PC; it is not to offend or embarrass them. And in other conversations, I never want to insult or offend anyone. In the rare (I hope) instances where that happens, it is unintentional and I try to always to apologize. At the same time, it is not always my job to avoid someone’s discomfort zone — often, that serves no purpose other than to keep me closeted and silent and make me complicit in majority-coddling. And that ain’t happenin’, even if grandma is around.

    As far as your being a nice person, the overall feeling I have gotten is that you are not. I very well may be wrong about that opinion. That past comment was provoked by something you had written that I perceived as being not only unkind but just plain mean. Doesn’t excuse it; if I think someone isn’t nice (as I often do), I should keep that particular feeling to myself (as I often do). In that instance, I typed and pushed “send” without stopping to think. My mistake, and I humbly apologize for it.

    I think it is apparent that that sort of episode doesn’t happen often. (If I am wrong about that, folks, please let me know. As a pacifist, I work hard to avoid violence of thought as well as of fist, and being damnably human, I sometimes fail, but I do try.) There are particular people to whom I never respond so that ugliness is avoided.

    Personally, I hate hate HATE debating. And, because I am debilitatingly shy — though I be witty and charming and can work a room like nobody’s business when the need arises [while hating every minute of it] — and because of persistent health challenges, I am only a social animal when I have to be.

    As for parties, I try to avoid them when possible in the real world and never do them (just as I never do chat rooms and IMs and that sort of nonsense) online. I see no point in it, and I tend to be a loner (concerts, movies, plays, dining out, traveling — I do them all alone, and right now, every penny is being saved to move out of the US, so I don’t get out much for anything other than work, family obligations, and activism).

    What time I do spend with people, IRL and online, is spent in the pursuit of making the world better, cleaner, fairer, safer, more peace-minded and loving, etc. — which includes writing and speaking out on important issues. And that explains the primary reason why I am here and why I bother with blogging.

    Along the way, I find a precious few people who become particularly meaningful to me (the Olsens, for example, and other cyberfriends I would love to meet f2f) and occasionally get to talk about my passions, music and arts, with knowledgeable people — that is the payoff for involving myself in something I most often find a difficult, frightening, and hellishly painful chore. But bottom line, I have to write: I’m a journalist. Writing is what I do.

  • Dang:

    to make me complicit”

    “though I can be witty and charming and can work a room”

    I wish I could edit my comments again. 🙁

  • Since this is your article I believe you “have the power” that you can edit your comments, though I might be wrong, Natalie. You might even be able to edit mine, though I’m not sure if Phillip locked that down also because I remember Brian being able to edit some comments a short while ago.

    I do agree that comment editing should be a feature available to all, but to protect the context of the discussion I think all edited comments should be logged and linked so that the reader can read what was edited.

    This way if people try to retract those times that they should have not hit submit, then they cannot fully do so.

    Also I posted elsewhere here earlier about enabling dynamic updating of pages for trackbacks. There are very probably blogcritics who have written articles and never seen the trackback replies/commentary because nobody added a comment to bump them and they didn’t look inside the MT interface to see the trackback there. That to me is unfortunate for the writers of the article who mostly enjoy comment or feedback on their work.

    I have nothing really more to add on the me not being nice comment. If you want to take shots like that at me, go ahead, but it is not only refreshing but accurate to see you retract that later. Thank you 🙂

    As with all communication online where senses are missing like facial expressions, voice inflection, etc, clarification is very important before damnation, I think.

  • Taloran

    I just love reading Natalie’s stuff. She is extremely eloquent and well spoken*. I wish I could find words like the ones that seem to flow effortlessly out of her. I’m truly impressed. Not that I necessarily agree or disagree with what she has to say, I’m simply dazzled by the way she says it.

    * – The term “well spoken” doesn’t work when one is writing, but “well written” means something entirely different. What phrase corresponds to well spoken, when one is talking about a writer?

  • “Well communicated,” maybe?

    Your meaning eludes me. Why wouldn’t “well-written” work? I mean, it was written. The sentences were crafted, and in a fashion not too different from the process I use in writing, say, a newspaper op-ed piece. I do tend to write for the ear — years of broadcast work will do that — but if the tone of the writing sounds conversational, it is because that is the intent.

    At any rate, thanks, you’re very sweet.

    Oh, Tal, it appears you got your wish re: comments. 🙂

  • Taloran

    Well written, to me, means having a large volume of published work, as opposed to writing well and eloquently. James Michener was well-written, but not particularly well-spoken.

    I’m wondering what the literary equivalent of the term well-spoken is. “Dr. King was very well spoken” means the man could really put the power of language into what he verbalized – I can’t think of as neat and tidy an expression that means “he/she can really use the power of language in his/her writing.”

    One doesn’t say “Victor Hugo was well-written” to mean that he wrote well, but to mean that he wrote voluminously. I’m trying to determine what the “written” equivalent of well-spoken is.

  • Oh, OK, that makes sense. If it helps, I have 32 years’ worth of published writings. 😉

    My poor brain presently is unable to come up with a tidy, economical word or hyphenate to cover that. Exhaustion is beginning to set in — or is it pre-Monday dread?

  • RE comment #6: I am not in the least surprised that few people cared about it.

    Just because people don’t always take the time to comment doesn’t mean they don’t care about a particular piece. I do think that at least in some people’s case it is a matter of time and energy.

    I, too, wish that more folks left comments. I have left a far greater number of comments proportionally than have been left for my contributions here to date. I’m not asking for cheese to go with my whine, btw, just putting this out there for discussion.

    I imagine that it will always be that way because I like to read just as much, probably more, than write and I do not post reviews/articles expressly for generating or sparking commentary. I’m just sharing thoughts and hoping others take the time to read them and if so inclined, drop a comment or two.

    It’s a nice side effect of a thought-provoking or controversial piece, but intentional comment-baiting isn’t at least my strategy when I sit down to write something and I don’t think it is Natalie’s either.

    IMHO, good writing will stand on its own without gimmicks (and I’m not propping myself up and saying that all my writing or even most of my writing is “good”, btw, I’m just throwing this out there for general discussion).

    As with anything I post, of course, please feel free to correct me, if I’m wrong.

    However, I can’t say the same for some blogcritics here on the comment-baiting aspect lol. That’s cool if that’s their deal, but I don’t think it is terribly difficult to write an article that will generate commentary. Just make it controversial, full of factual errors or way opposite of public opinion or hit the hot button topics like: race, religion and politics. Even to do it out of sport as some seem to do (Al with his Sabbath diatribe, for example) will work. It is a transparent technique, though, that doesn’t need to be employed.

    There are some really good articles and reviews here that have zero or only one comment on them.

    So as I’ve posted before here, if one wants to get comments, then give comments. Just like linking up other bloggers and hoping to be linked back. Comment on my work and I’ll look for more of your work to comment on back. That’s how it goes. Or at least one way how it should go maybe.

    One of these days maybe I’ll intentionally contribute a piece garnered to generate commentary and see if I can put my theory to practice (I’d say money where mouth is, but that doesn’t apply).

    I remember when I used to work for AOL (keyword: novel) that it was a requirement that every writer received at least one comment within 24 hours. I’ll admit that some writers made it very difficult to provide something encouraging and yet constructive (like when they used impossible to read font sizes and color schemes and very little puncuation), but it was a good lesson to understanding the psyche of newer, unpublished writers.

    I also remember getting hand written rejection slips from editors and thinking how great that was over the standard form rejection replies. I thought: wow, somebody took the time to write comments in their own handwriting. I must have been close.

    Writers are an odd breed, aren’t we?

  • Taloran

    I guess I was “comment baiting”, as TDavid describes it, because I believe discussion is needed on this particular issue, and I thought Natalie did an excellent job of wordsmithing her original post. I’m enjoying reading the “baited” comments, even though the eloquence has thus far eluded me to voice my opinion about the events noted in the article.

  • Actually, no, Taloran, since you didn’t pen this article, you couldn’t be comment-baiting, as I was describing. Well, trying to describe, I guess, since I failed in your case lol.

    I was talking about people who post articles/reviews/etc — the creator of the piece and I didn’t think Natalie was doing that here with this particular piece or ever has for that matter (that I have read anyway).

    Natalie does good research, has a diverse vocabulary, isn’t given to excessive hyperbole, writes well and generally doesn’t fall into cliche` or content predictability traps that plague lesser-skilled writers.

  • TDavid wrote: “Just because people don’t always take the time to comment doesn’t mean they don’t care about a particular piece. I do think that at least in some people’s case it is a matter of time and energy.”

    Indeed true. I don’t comment on every article I read, and it doesn’t mean necessarily that the item isn’t interesting. When my postings don’t get comments, I don’t think it’s personal or anything like that. With this particular piece, however, I simply didn’t expect to receive many comments, which is perfectly OK. And you’re right: Comment-baiting is not my style either.

    And yes, we writers are odd. I’d take handwritten rejection over a form letter any day.

    Tal: “Wordsmithing.” Cool. Thanks.

  • Check’s in the mail, TDavid.

  • Taloran

    Ya know, I like the people here, even the ones with whom I vehemently disagree about everything. Good place. Thanks, Eric and Philip.

    And TDavid, if you read my comment 5, I was trying to get this post on the “Recent Comments” list to draw some attention to it, and get folks discussing it. As Natalie said in 35, it seems to have worked, and I have no apologies.

  • DP

    I agree Taloran, I envy Natalie’s writing skills.

    Natalie, I applaud you for opposing affirmative action in principle and DEED. I take back the implication you were in principle only.

    You guessed wrong that I wanted case law examples. It illustrates to me that you don’t really get it. I understand though. A person is more sensitive to the goring of their own ox. It would be as if I pulled up 5 cases where gays sued and won, then say see, it’s not so bad. I appreciate you for acknowledging the tuff time us people I would call white guys have at all. Most people would laugh at the suggestion.

    I support your activism, though not actively. I don’t consider it to be practical considering the short time I have and my goal to be as happy and fulfilled as I can. When a door is slammed shut, I just look for another one, and look at the experience as good karma to be collected later. I think it’s a hard road you’ve chosen, but I would’nt presume to advise you. Only wish you good luck.

    I do wish you would knock it off about my “discomfort”, I know you are implying that I would be one who would weasel out of doing what’s right if it made me uncomfortable. As I said earlier, I was only refering to my wariness of new legislation and the unintended consequences that usually result. So you needn’t mock me.

    When I do seek comfort in my spouses loving arms, I never consider the fact we are married or that we have societal approval. It doesn’t matter to me. I respect that it matters to you though.

  • Dan

    sorry, I accidentally posted the above comment as DP.

  • ‘S ok. I know you are Dan and DP.

    Re: this — “I do wish you would knock it off about my discomfort’, I know you are implying that I would be one who would weasel out of doing what’s right if it made me uncomfortable.”

    You’re wrong about that. You stated publicly that you would support legal gay marriage even though it made you unconfortable. That takes cojones; believe me, I recognize that. There is no reason for me to believe you would weasel out of it.

    And no, I didn’t post the cases to minimize your complaint in any way — only to show hard evidence (rather than anecdotes) that there is some progress being made in that area and that you do have an avenue for redress. Is the progress too slow? Absolutely. I wish that everything could be fixed immediately at least as much as you do. I’m partly a person you would describe as “white” too, and even if I wasn’t, equality means everything to me. Unless everyone is treated equally under law, there is no equality. And without equality for all, America, IMO, is a cruel lie.

    And, Dan, I am not mocking you. Your admitted discomfort causes me great pain; I poke the wound so as not to lose sight of what caused it. Consider it nothing more than a defense mechanism I employ to remind me that I am in dangerous territory.