Saturday, May 12, 2007

Our Town

by Ryan Anderson
I don't have much to add to Kyle's post on " State Agency Bans Discussion About Gay Parenting", but this comment at the Nebraska Democratic Party's blog is a real eye-opener:
At first my emotions were on the sensationalist level (“BE AN ACTIVIST AND GO TELL EVERYONE ABOUT THIS….”). Now that I [had] time to be collective about this, I am just saddened by the level of bigotry exuding in Nebraska. Maybe my peers are correct to tell me that there is no hope for me here?! I always scoffed at that notion because Nebraska is my home and I have such a huge affection for my home. However the bigots in this state truly do make me second guess that I am worthy of being an ordinary tax-paying citizen of America. And that is why I am distraught about this situation. Why must I be demonized in the place I call “home?”
-Luke Peterson (college student and Member of the Nebraska LGBT Democratic Caucus, with permission)
At their most logical, these assaults on gay rights and the "gay lifestyle" are meant to make members of the LGBT community rethink their own identity... to second guess themselves. And in this sense they have succeeded: they have convinced many bright young men and women to question their identity as Nebraskans.

And who can blame them? If the wingnuts leading this anti-homosexual crusade really believed their rhetoric (that gay marriage is a threat to civilization itself, that gay adoption is a pox upon the children) there would be no need to silence this discussion. Those confident of their positions don't shy away from debate, they embrace the opportunity to respond and persuade.

But the anti-gay rights movement isn't about discussion; isn't about debate. It isn't really about anything. It's a senseless and classless attempt to use the law to bully a population that makes some people uncomfortable.

And it's worked. Discrimination is enshrined in our state constitution. It is a cornerstone of our campaign rhetoric. It is the undeniable, unquestionable, fundamental truth of Cornhusker politics.

But it is not Nebraska. Not the Nebraska I know. And not the place I call home.

Look, America is not an ethnic nation or a tribal nation. It is a creedal nation, and we belong to that community because we subscribe to that creed: that "all men are created equal" and, in Nebraska, "Equality Before the Law". That is our creed, and hence this is our home.

It is not the bigots that must go, it is their bigotry. And it is not us progressives that don't belong; it is our fears and our doubts. We can't afford them, and we cannot allow the bullies that final victory: to elbow us out, to disappear us into another community, another state, another country. To surrender to them a state and a creed that they don't deserve.

I understand the feelings of hopelessness, of feeling lost in a place called "home". But we need to stick together, and we need to celebrate each small success. The Congressional candidate who boldly challenges the Federal Marriage Amendment. The Mayor who advocates a "live and let live" community. The state party that cares enough to cover these issues, prominently, on the front page of their website.

Someday soon these triumphs (small as they are) will have to translate into victory at the ballot box. And for that, we will need every person who loves this state to fight for it. But let's try to remember: this isn't about taking over, and it's not about 'taking it back'. Because you don't have to take what is already yours.

You need only to remember, and to remind.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great piece, well said. Thank you!

Blogger JohnnyB said...

Interesting post. You know, there is evidence for a genetic basis for a belief in a higher power and religiosity, as it were. Would you feel comfortable if a speaker were to discuss sharia law, and the discrimination muslims feel in America. Actually, I guess you wouldn't mind that, as long as he/she wasn't Christian, then it's separation of church and state all over the place. Are Christians, then, not equal under the law to discuss the unique challenges they face in parenthood?

I guess my take is these diversity panels are useless bureaucratic exercises. The only way we would get equal treatment under the law would be if the governnment (federal and state) cut these diversity programs entirely. As well as faith-based initiatives, etc. That way we all have an level playing field. These discussions could then be held at the local universalist church or YMCA/YWCA. Why should we look to the state to solve all our problems?

Blogger Ryan Anderson said...

"Actually, I guess you wouldn't mind that, as long as he/she wasn't Christian, then it's separation of church and state all over the place. Are Christians, then, not equal under the law to discuss the unique challenges they face in parenthood?"

You seem to be assuming a lot about me here, Johnnyb. I'm sorry to disappoint you, but I don't have an irrational bias against Christianity.

The real issue here is that inclusion/exclusion from this panel should be based on relevance, not the political whims and wishes of our administration. Would a discussion of Christian parenting be relevant to this conversation? I don't know, maybe. But that's the only question we need to ask... not: is this issue palatable? Do I agree with these people?

You question the usefulness of the panel itself. It doesn't matter. The panel exists, we should let it do its job. Or, I guess, disband it altogether. But the state isn't doing either. It's paying lip service to diversity without really confronting the issues. It's cowardly and it's wrong.

Blogger Marcel said...

I'm a gay man in Massachusetts thinking about moving to Nebraska at the end of the year, and I find this post incredibly hopeful. Thanks, Ryan.


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