I tried not to say this because it’s the interweb and peeps get offended on the interweb, but let’s just say that Obama made me do it.
So here I go
When anyone mentions human rights these days everyone jumps up in arms either for or against gay marriage. It’s…
Oh, trust me, I am angry about all those things. The fact that the government is reneging on their promised increases to foreign aid is partly what got me thinking about it. I completely understand the suffering of LGBT people, especially for non-religous people who are having to conform to a religous viewpoint that they don’t hold. What I’m frustrated about is that I’m having a hard time finding people who care enough about abolition to do anything about it, yet the streets are lined with rainbow posters. I don’t think it’s the media that’s the problem. I live in the middle of Sydney and the struggle for gay marriage is ingrained more in the social agenda than in the media agenda.
Belittling the fact the fact that the gay community feels ostracised or alienated is definitely not my intention. I do believe the Christian message is one of love and tolerance to a point (but that’s a conversation we should have in real life). But I still don’t think that the issue of feeling ostracised should be spoken about louder than the issue of freedom.
As for the fight for gay marriage helping us to understand people who are different from us, are they that different? I thought this was about seeing us all as the same. If we want to fight for social justice, why should we go along the path that edges closer to abolition instead of just directly targeting abolition.
In a perfect world, society would have the attention span for more than a few issues at a time. In my fight for social justice I’ve heard some horrific things; like stories about sex slaves who died when their building caught fire because they were chained to the wall, one of my friends was trafficked as a domestic slave in Turkey and escaped after an ordeal that she still can’t talk about. I’ve seen seven year old girls offering grown men blow jobs so they wouldn’t have to have sex with them. 70 percent of the sex workers at Kings Cross, in Sydney are slaves, often brought here with the promise of paid work.
I hear what you’re saying, but I can’t change my standpoint, even if I’m standing alone. I think freedom is more important than acceptance. That’s not to say acceptance isn’t important, but we need to prioritise.
The reason you can find people who are passionate about same-sex marriage but nobody seems to care about abolition is because either,
- People assume slavery is something we’ve already solved
- They don’t know any slaves, or they assume slavery/sex trafficking is only a problem in places like Thailand
but you know some of these women; they’ve told you their stories and you’ve taken on their pain. You are compelled to do something about it because it’s an injustice that has made itself apparent to you and you want to see it come to an end.
The same holds true for LGBT activists, they either know people who are LGBT or they are part of the LGBT community. They know about the injustices suffered by LGBT people and they want to see them stop. Same-sex marriage isn’t about seeing everyone as the same, it’s about being inclusive towards difference. Support for same-sex marriage in Australia is somewhere around 60% of the population, but LGBT people only make up 4%-10% (depending on who you ask) - that’s a lot of people that have come to empathise with a group experiencing something completely alien to the mainstream.
This is helpful to you because that’s a lot of people who have already been through the difficult process of putting themselves in someone else’s shoes. I’m not pretending that the gay rights movement is going to usher in a golden age of justice and prosperity, but in many ways gay rights are only possible because of civil rights movements that have gone before it: for labourers, women, people of colour, etc. Justice builds on itself. It’s unwise to try and tear down one civil rights movement supposedly to benefit another group you think are more important or deserving.
Slavery has been part of the human story for more than 8000 years - an absolute eradication of it could take hundreds more. If LGBT people and their allies aren’t supposed to campaign for equal rights until this time what are we expected to do? Telling LGBT activists to wait reminds me of what Martin Luther King Jr wrote on the topic of black/white segregation in his ‘Letter from a Birmingham Jail’:
We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”
Usually I think equating the LGBT experience to that of segregated ethnic minorities is missing the mark a bit but in this case I think the comparison is fair. The time for equality for same-sex attracted and transexual people is not later, it’s now. We can do something about this now. You should never be content to see an injustice and let it remain.
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