Home » Uncategorized » “Don’t compare gay rights, civil rights.”

“Don’t compare gay rights, civil rights.”

My topic for this week’s blog is culture and ethnicity in relation to globalization in political unrest. What I had originally planned on discussing when I signed up for this week of blogging was the Civil Rights Movement, but when I started researching I realized that there was another movement going on right now that I think is more timely that is also leading to political unrest in the United States; the Gay Rights Movement. One of the biggest issues within the movement is gay marriage. The issue of gay marriage has been in the news a lot this past week with Washington state becoming the seventh state to allow gay marriage. Gay marriage is currently legal in Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Washington D.C. Also on Tuesday in California Proposition 8, a law that had previously banned gay marriage in the state, was named unconstitutional.

“Gay marriage and everything having to do with the gay rights movement (is) my generation’s civil rights issue,” said Meghan McCain, daughter of Senator John McCain. I pulled this quote from a USA Today column “Don’t compare gay rights, civil rights.” Please take a few minutes to read the column.

The author makes a good point that being black or being gay are characteristics about a person that cannot be changed, but he argues that being gay is a characteristic that someone could “hide.” For example a black man cannot hide his skin color, but a gay man could hypothetically “stay in the closet” and not let anyone know about his sexual preference. I think that asking someone to “hide” who they really are however is one of the worst offenses because it is denying that person his/her basic human right to choice.

I also disagree with the authors statement “But because that prejudice is not linked to a system of economic oppression that will leave gay communities permanently incapacitated, the lack of social acceptance faced by gays — and even the violence visited upon those identified as gay — will not necessarily haunt their descendants generations after attitudes begin to change.” I think that if even one person is incapacitated by the lack of social acceptant that gay men and women face then it is a problem that needs to be resolved. The size of the group of people being oppressed should not make their cause any less important. Currently many gay men and women do not have the opportunity to have descendants because the laws prohibit them from getting married, adopting children, etc.

Questions:

  1. Do you think that the Civil Rights Movement can be compared to the Gay Rights Movement? Why or why not?
  2. Even though a gay person may be able to “hide” the fact that they are gay do you think that they should have too so that they are treated with the same rights and respect as a straight person? Why or why not?
  3. The author ends the column by stating that the two movements should work together towards their different goals, do you see this as a feasible idea? How would it work?
  4. If you are comfortable sharing what are your thoughts on gay marriage? Should it be legal? Should gay marriage be decided on a state by state basis or should it be evaluated at the federal level?
  5. Any thoughts on the comic below?

Image

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30 Comments

  1. Boon Han says:

    I know I’m probably going to be saying some rather controversial stuff below but I would just like to qualify that I am not homophobic and I have good friends who are openly gay… I come from a rather conservative country which still has a law which we inherited from English common law that makes gay sex illegal (although it has never really been enforced to date and we do have a sizable gay community in Singapore with gay pubs and all).

    Let me have a go at Qn 1.

    Do you think that the Civil Rights Movement can be compared to the Gay Rights Movement? Why or why not?

    I don’t think that they can actually be compared to each other as they are really more different than they are similar.

    To me, race is a biological difference that can be scientifically and clinically proven, but sexual orientation is something that has simply not been proven authoritatively to date. While I personally don’t believe that people should be discriminated against based purely on their orientation, society has a responsibility to put in place policies to promote “complete” family units for the sake posterity. The fact that gay couples are not able to have children “naturally” sidelines them and some people say that thats exactly how nature meant it to be: ONLY heterosexual couples can produce offsprings naturally…..

    The question for society then, is, where to draw the line?

    The following is purely for the sake of argument so please don’t be upset or offended…..

    If gay marriages are legalized based on the argument that sexual orientation is something which people are born with, what if pedophiles claim that their fetish towards children is something which they are born with as well? If these deviants (pedophiles) balloon in numbers by so much and start to demand that society stops discriminating against them and they should be allowed to marry 5 yr olds, where do we stop and draw the line? What about bestiality? If sufficient number of people want to marry their horses, should society grant them the the same legal status too?

    I guess, there are no real right or wrong answers to these things and it is really up to individual societies to decide for themselves which is the right way forward most suited to them… My personal mantra is simply to keep an open mind and treat every person as a decent human being…

    • Laura Chechette says:

      @Boon While you are correct that there are still debates around if people are born gay or choose to be gay, I believe that it doesn’t matter if someone is born that way or if they choose it. If a person identifies as gay they shouldn’t have to change even if someone hypothetically could hide it.

      Your argument that only heterosexual couples can technically promote a “complete family” is true, but I don’t think that a “complete family” is necessarily the norm or necessary in today’s world. People get divorced and choose to raise children as a single parent, single people adopt children, a married heterosexual couple who can’t conceive a child naturally may use a surrogate or artificial insemination to have a child. All of these methods are used to create a family. Also since such a small proportion of the population is gay I don’t think that we need to worry about the posterity.

      Someone’s sexual orientation is only going to effect that person and that person’s chosen romantic partner. Pedophiles hurt children which is why their actions are illegal. Bestiality is damaging to animals that can not protect themselves, which is why it is illegal. Being gay doesn’t effect anyone else except that individual.

      Thanks for your thoughts and keeping an open mind! 🙂

  2. sonigreca says:

    Well, I come from a conservative country as well. Homosexual is not allowed in our culture, let along fighting for gay rights or gay marriage. However, I also have many gay friends. And in our society today, younger generation can accept homosexual better than traditional Chinese people. Our culture is so different from the American culture. So, I don’t really know, even after I read the article, if I have any opinion about civil right and gay right. But as a outsider from another culture, I sometimes feel that even in this country people talk about RIGHT all the time, there are more Americans than Chinese, Italian, or French, etc. that are racists or treating anyone who are not like them so unfairly. I don’t think civil right or gay right should be such a big deal, because we are all humans, and many gays are better human beings than those “normal” people. We all deserve equal rights. If there are people who are gays, I’m not saying that everyone should accept them or like them. But those gay people deserve happiness as all of us. To answer Q4, gay marriage should be legal to neither state level nor federal level, but to a global level….

  3. KSA ROCKS! says:

    Hello Friends,
    I do not think that the Civil Rights Movement can be compared to the Gay Rights Movement. As the article pointed out, both movements have some similarities and a lot of differences. Both movements seek to abolish discrimination against a certain group of people. On the other hand, being gay is not an attribute immutable attribute like race. Being gay is a matter of choice unlike race which cannot be changed. Also, being gay is not an attribute that is passed down from generation to generation, unlike a person’s race.

    As of today, the gay still constitute a minority group in the population. The majority of the population still finds it hard to accept them. The reason is not farfetched, for a long time, the fabric of the society has been woven around a straight population. Because of this fact, I don’t think the gay would be treated with the same rights and respect as a straight person. As the author pointed out, the two organizations have different goals. Their only common ground is that they are fighting against discrimination. Aside from that, both organizations have different objectives.

    The comic is trying to equate both the Civil Right Movement to the Gay Rights movement. The comic tends to argue that the same reason adduced for opposing interracial marriages in the past is the same being advocated for gay marriages. According to my earlier argument, this is not appropriate since both movements have different aims and objectives.

    • Laura Chechette says:

      The only part of your comment I can argue with Maha is whether or not being gay is a matter of choice. It has yet to be proven scientifically whether or not identifying as a gay person is because of a person’s genetic make up or a choice. Even if for arguments sake it was something that could be changed that still doesn’t mean that someone should have to change to receive the same rights as someone else.

      Say there was a law that mandated that only people with blond hair could get married. If a person is born with blond hair there is nothing for them to worry about they can get married. Now what if a person is born with brown hair, they under this law can not get married. Should someone with naturally brown hair be forced to dye it blonde and live a lie to have the same rights to marry as someone else?

      I know it is not a perfect example, but I am just asserting that whether or not being gay is a choice or a biological thing it shouldn’t have to be changed either way.

      • KSA ROCKS! says:

        Laura I understand where you are coming from with your argument, but I also understand how heterosexual people feel toward this matter cause change is not and easy process, especially if this change is against their beliefs and what they believe is the norm. For that, yes rights will not be granted easily and if it might be granted by some others will still believe it is not possibly questionable. One of the comments that I heard about this matter on a TV program was coming from an African American male who said ” We came from Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve”.

        Thanks.

  4. drcookejackson says:

    Whew Laura… this is a politically charged and long time debated topic… kudos to you for taking on the challenge! Of course there are many sides to this debate and I instinctively think about the concept of sidling up to differences to glean a true understand from different perspectives. I have had a number of conversations with my gay friends and I don’t know if I’ve come to any conclusive perspectives.

    I am a heterosexual, African American female raised in a protestant church structure who struggled with the concept of homosexuality growing up… Until… a dear friend came out, and then another Christian college buddy came out, and finally a long-time college girlfriend came out. Each time each episodes pushed against my moral, religious, social, mental, overall epistemological (ways of knowing) fibers.

    So Laura, there are aspects of what you say that I would wholeheartedly agree with namely, “the size of the group of people being oppressed should not make their cause any less important.” yes …the marginalization of one person is enough to demand attention.

    Here’s the rub –

    There is a large population- the mainstream population- that still struggles with the LGBTQ community. Among them are a population of African Americans. Many feel the debate is dichotomous meaning what happened to Blacks can in no way compare to what has transpired with gay people. First and foremost – blacks cannot disguise themselves – you cannot be closeted! Other points of disagreement — The flagrant overt oppression, the extensive journey of hatred towards blacks, the subjugation that transpired for a few decades towards blacks. Even the construct of race which negates black from being perceived as human all make the issue of race one that many don’t and won’t attach to gay rights.

    There is another school of thought which proposes that the struggles are not the same but both groups blacks & gays deserve merit for the oppression of a group of people. Moreover, they note the reality that there are many blacks who are LGBTQ (often they carry a double burden)… So how can you ask a LGBTQ person of color to not agree with the concept of race, gender & being minimized?

    The public is divided. For instance, Former GOP chairman Michael Steele Steele said that the gay-rights movement should never be compared to the struggles of the civil rights movement. He states:

    “First off, let’s just be very clear about a couple of things. There are a significant number of African Americans — myself included — who do not appreciate that particular equation. OK? Because, when you walk into a room, I don’t know if you’re gay or not. But when I walk into a room, you know I’m black. And whatever racial feelings you have about African Americans, about black people, that is something that, it viscerally comes out. I don’t know until later on, maybe you tell me or some other way, so don’t sit there and make that comparison. It’s not the same.”

    A academic scholar – Michael Eric Dyson who is a Sociology Professor at Georgetown University says that we are all united and we should embrace a more open-minded perspective in this dialogue. You can watch his commentary titled “Is Gay the New Black?” on a radio interview on NPR. He is controversial but I found his work to be somewhat informative.

    So do we sidle up and agree that the mistreatment of any group is problematic or do we say they are very different issues and must be treated as so?
    I believe it’s complicated and that I have to talk to all sides to truly come to some level of understanding!
    …but guess what… even after all these conversations my religious beliefs, my values, my social status, even where I am in my life journey — each of these dynamics will heavily influences my perspectives.

    The below quote from the AAPA though lengthy reminds us that race was established as a mechanism to divide groups and subject non-white populations to dominate group – yet another debated conversations:
    “The AAPA (American Association of Physical Anthropology) Statement on Biological Aspects of Race (1994) describes the popular concept of race as “being derived from 19th and early 20th century scientific formulations.” The popular American folklore of the three great racial groups has its roots in a system developed in Europe and North America in the 18th century. It was for some time common to divide people into three main races. Caucasian or the so-called white race, for example, native residents of Britain, France Germany. Natives of Uganda, Somalia, and Nigeria in Africa are considered Negroid or part of the black race. Koreans, Chinese, American Indians are all Mongoloid or members of the yellow race. The distinguishing characteristics of these races are based on their visibly observable traits such as skin color, hair form, bone structure and body shape. We must keep in mind that the American system of categorizing groups of people on the basis of race, was developed by what was then a dominant white, European-descended population, and serves as a means to distinguish and control other “non-white” populations in various ways.”
    http://www.culturediversity.org/what%20is%20race.htm

    Thanks Laura for the brain strain! Whew…

    • tjglover23 says:

      Thank you Dr. C-J. Whenever I hear or see that question of Civil Rights Movement and Gay Rights, I must say I am insulted and hurt. Being from the south, Virginia more specifically, experiencing racism is something that is never fully understood until you have been a victim of it. So let’s think about, a tall black man with a wide build and strong features walks into a room. At the same time a white man who is built the same way walks in, who are you scared of? Who is followed around a store? Who will be pulled over by the police? Now let’s say these same two men are gay. Do you think they are experiences as gay men are equal? The black man is black and gay. The white man is privileged until discovered gay. I am not saying the fight for gay rights isn’t important and that homosexuals should not get married. Honestly I don’t care. I don’t see how what someone does sexually affects me. However I do have to worry that my nephew as he gets older will be seen as a threat or dumb because he is a black man.

      To your question: Should gay marriage be decided on a state by state basis or should it be evaluated at the federal level? I think it should be decided on all levels. If racism and homosexuality are going to be “made similar” then treat them that way. Did fighting racial discrimination work, when fighting on a state-by-state case? No. Did the Emancipation Proclamation free all slaves immediately? No. Did Rosa Parks and Dr. Kings’ work with the Montgomery Bus Boycott change every? No. I think that homosexuals need to continue what they are doing and take the Civil Rights Movement as a floor plan for their fight.

      • Laura Chechette says:

        @drcookejackson
        Thanks for the encouragement Dr. CJ! I knew it was going to be a risky topic when I posted it, but I’m happy that everyone is contributing. 🙂

        When I was researching for my initial blog post I actually came across that quote from Michael Steele and almost included it with my original post, but it was getting to long. He does offer a valid argument with his statement that a person’s race is not something can be hidden and people will have an initial reaction to it one way or another.

        I thought what was interesting in Michael Eric Dyson’s video was how he also talked about the “code.” He said, “Heterosexism is like, is like whiteness. It’s dominant therefore it’s rendered invisible. So we don’t even pay attention to the codes that are inculturated in us, that are deeply inscribed in our subconscious that we take for granted as the myth of the given.”

        I think even though the general population is slowly becoming more open minded about the gay culture, it will be a long process. We were talking in class the other day about how hard it is to change an older person’s beliefs and how those beliefs may never change. I want to believe that my future children’s generation will be more accepting of the gay culture, and any other culture that is not considered the “norm” because their parents (aka my generation) is so open minded and willing to accept differences in others.

        @tjglover23
        Thanks for your comment and offering a different point of view. I agree with you that gay marriage should be decided on all levels. I know that you said the gay rights movement should use the civil rights movement as a floor plan for their fight, but I am curious as to what that would look like. I feel like the civil rights movement had a leader in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We were talking the other day about how the Occupy Wall Street movement wasn’t very successful because of it’s lack of organization and leadership. I’m wonder if the gay rights movement had a leader like the civil rights movement if it would speed up the process?

      • lisamedina says:

        @Taja – I agree with you that I just don’t think you can compare Civil Rights to Gay Rights. Equating the current same-sex marriage effort being waged by gays and lesbians and their supporters is, quite frankly, is insulting to most African-Americans and in some ways trivializes their long and painful struggle. While African-American sympathize with the harsh treatment of gay and lesbians by those who have hatred and anger in their hearts, the histories of our struggles are not comparable. And so if we are to have a conversation, a comparison of struggles is not the way to do it.

  5. zhoulinjolin says:

    Since China has no racial problem, there has been no racial movenment in history. There are homosexual people in China, but I think this issue for gay rights has not been escalated to a social movement. Therefore, I do not have too much ideas about the comparision of the two movements. But I think civil rights movement is to fight for basic human rights and equality. No matter what kind of a person s/he was born or choose to be, s/he should be respected by others as a basic right to live. I think the comic presents the development of social tolerance. 40 years ago, the society could not accept inter-racial marriage. As the social civil develops, inter-racial marriage can be accpeted. I think the same thing will be happened to the issue of gay rights.

    • Laura Chechette says:

      @zhoulinjolin
      Thanks for the comment! After I read your post I was curious what the legal rights were for homosexuals in China. According to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexuality_in_China), which I realize may not be the most reliable source, gay marriage is illegal in the People’s Republic, Hong Kong, and Macau. To be honest that is what I expected to see. What surprised me however was that only 11 years ago homosexuality considered a mental illness in the PRC. While I am happy to see that homosexuality is no longer considered a mental illness in China it reminds me how large the gap is between different countries and their acceptance of gay culture.

  6. As a gay woman, who was raised in an extremely conservative home, this is still a highly energized and controversial topic in my family. Its hard to compare the civil rights of blacks to the civil rights of gays. Considering gays havent been made into “property” and slaves, I initially thought the 2 movements cant really be compared. But it comes down to thinking of someone as less of a person than yourself. Whether you think you have the right to “own” someone because you are white and they are black, or you think its more “normal” to be straight than gay. As zhoulinjolin said, its all about a “basic human rights and equality”. The details of the 2 movements are very different, but the premise is the same: human equality. I should have the same right to marry my partner of 15 years. Love is a basic human need. Its not a race, its not a color. Its between 2 human beings. Period. Telling me I cant marry because we are 2 women is taking away a human basic right as a human. You may have a different opinion due to religious beliefs, but its a simple human concept. No one should have the right to take that right away from me.
    There is alot more I could say, but I will stop there for now. 🙂

    • Laura Chechette says:

      @ Stacey Davis (@smdbigdog)
      Thanks for commenting and sharing your personal story, I appreciate it. I agree with you that love is a basic human right and you should be allowed to marry any human you would like.

      To play devil’s advocate for a second and tie in the current book we are reading I’m curious if in some cultures polygamy is considered a basic human right. I wonder what would have happened to the girl in our book if she was just fleeing a polygamous marriage because she believed in love, but there was no threat of FGM. She would probably not have been granted asylum in the US without the threat of FGM.

      • Boon Han says:

        @Laura,

        I was thinking the exact same thing when I finished reading the book. In fact, from the way Fauziya expressed her feelings in the book, I had the impression that she was actually more traumatized by being taken out of school and forced to marry an old man with 3 wives than by the prospect of FGM. Even if FGM had been taken out of the equation totally, we would probably still be as sympathetic to her life story as well as her ordeal in prison… However, as you said, from the legal standpoint, she would probably not have been granted asylum and deported back to her country. The book that we are reading would probably never have made it to the bookshelves as well…

        Would advocates against polygamy one day be comparing their struggles with the civil rights movement and gay rights movement?

        Polygamy is still being practiced in many muslim societies today and it will probably still be practiced in years to come as it is explicitly allowed in the Quran. I have even read about people in Malaysia and Indonesia who had more than 10 wives by exploiting some loophole which permits “temporary wives”. When the social welfare department came to get him, his many wives even defended him and blamed the government for interfering in their lives.

        So if someone wants to have 10 wives(assuming there are 10 willing women), should the government then be interfering in their personal lives? What they do in their own house strictly speaking does not hurt anyone else too. Is society not discriminating against them by breaking them up? Don’t they have a right to decide what kind of a marriage they want too?

  7. grabernieto says:

    I want to redirect this conversation to be more focused on our globe and not the current situation in this country. The issue of civil rights is one that is present in every community around the world, either by race, religion and orientation. We have seen around the world how, what can be said as “status quo”, struggle with concepts strange to them. The fear for the unknown is something that people struggle all over the world. We have seen it with issues of race and religion and at the end through a tough process, much like Layli said in her discussion, a labor process many of these issue get resolved. What we see around the world, the struggle the arguments is part of our world reacting to change. Us as human beings need to follow the universal feeling of respect, regardless of our opinion. Through respect and understanding, us as a society well be able to progress, the only way we can obtain change regardless of issue that our society face is through respect.

    • Laura Chechette says:

      @grabernieto
      Thanks for your comment. I like that you are looking at the “bigger picture” and not focusing on just one issue, but the overarching concept of respect. I agree with you that people need to respect each other even if they may not necessarily agree with a person’s views or lifestyle.

  8. Alex says:

    What a topic…I cannot promise to be brief about such an expansive subject. I respect everyone’s opinions and I commend you for sharing them. I think that there are several issues part of this topic, and I will do my best to express my thoughts on each.

    I am not sure if how I feel about gay marriage is relevant in the grand scheme of what I want to say. I think that how a person feels about homosexuality or gay marriage should be irrelevant when it comes down to gay equality.

    Whether or not the gay rights movement can be compared to the Civil Rights movement – I do not feel qualified or comfortable answering this. I am not gay, and I am not black. I have friends who are gay, black, and gay and black. I can understand the serious tension in comparing the two equality movements because civil rights was so highly charged for such a long time, people were severely oppressed, and the race is still reaping the remnants of that oppression. That being said, my history knowledge about the Civil Rights movement is lacking, so I cannot speak to significant similarities and differences between the two movements. If you want to decide if the gay rights movement is comparable to the Civil Rights movement, I think you could look at it from a social justice perspective, a sociological perspective, a psychological perspective, an anthropological perspective, a communication dynamic perspective, and so on and so forth. In order to answer some question as to whether the movements are “similar” or “comparable,” I think you would have to speak to people who experienced one or the other, or analyze written memoirs from those time periods – in order to understand what people actually experienced.

    In regards to the difference in being black during the Civil Rights and being gay now, I also do not feel qualified to judge how difficult it is or is not in society for these people. I do imagine that although gay people may not be obviously gay by appearance, they may also experience a form of incapacitation in society, which may be internal more so than external.

    In regards to whether people of these different groups would support each others’ movements, I want to share that I work at a university in a cultural center which serves students from a particular racial background. There are several of these cultural centers on campus – each focused either on race, ethnicity, gender, etc. I do not know how one group would feel about having their battle compared to that of another group’s. But what I have observed in my role there is this – each of these groups of people, who have been traditionally marginalized in society, support each other’s battles. Coming from different backgrounds – whether it is being of Latin American descent, being transgendered, or being a woman, all of these groups and individuals from these groups have been oppressed in some way and have been marginalized. In a higher education setting, where all students are seeking to advance themselves and expand their minds, each of the cultural groups support each other in their efforts and programming. That is more important to be than whether the two movements systematically correlate with each other.

    In regards to gay marriage specifically, I think in the U.S., there has been a lot of transition in recent years and change of thought as to what the function of marriage is or should be. It was originally a religious ceremony, and now is also performed solely as a legal ceremony. Some couples live together for several years without ever getting married, or some couples live together before getting married. I think we are in a unique time period because during a time when there is such unrest about whether gay people should be allowed to get married, there is also a lack of clarity about what the function of marriage is, or if it is as special as it once was.

    I do want to say that I find it illogical to hear a church or religious leader say “We are protecting the sanctity of marriage” as their defense for opposing gay marriage. I do not understand this train of thought and the cause and effect relationship. Many couples get married in legal weddings which are nonreligious in nature. If particular churches do not want to perform weddings in particular circumstances, they can choose not to. For instance, some churches do not perform weddings outside – they are required to be held inside a church under a roof, for complex reasons. Just as people have a right to choose whether to get married in a church or outside of it, I think that churches should understand that they can choose not to marry a couple in their church, were gay marriage to be allowed nationally. “Sanctity of marriage” – the word “sanctity” means “holiness.” If a wedding is being performed strictly as a legal ceremony by a government official, it is not a holy event and religious readers have no right to interject into those legal matters since the U.S. has separation of church and state.

    • Laura Chechette says:

      @Alex

      Thanks for leaving such a thoughtful and details response! I think your comment may be longer than my original blog post. 🙂

      I like that you are honest and admit that you do not feel qualified to talk about the Civil Rights Movement. I feel the same way. It seems like no matter how much research I may do on the Civil Rights movement, because I didn’t live through it I will never full understand it. I think that it is important to recognize our limitations as students and have it be okay to share our opinions but also admit that we may not be qualified to discuss them.

      I’m curious to find out what you think about the idea of “civil unions.” I agree with your statements about the differences between what marriage may have meant to our culture in the past as opposed to what it may mean in today’s society where the divorce rate is hovering around 50%. I also agree with your statements about gay marriage being a religious event as opposed to a legal event, but my question is what if a state offers civil unions for gay couples where they have the same legal rights as a heterosexual couple, but it is not technically called a marriage? The idea of separate but equal comes to mind which again reminds me of the Civil Rights Movement… I think that although the two movements are different in so many ways there are still many similarities and ways in which the two are connected that may not be apparent on the surface level.

  9. andreslmc says:

    In thinking about global communication, I think that as communication practitioners we have to try to understand the way different cultures and countries perceive their history or identity. Only when we discover this cultural ‘code’, as Rapaille Clotiare says in his book, can we begin to advance global cooperation.

    In light of this, I think that Meghan McCain’s quote aptly captures how Americans think about social injustice. In other words I think that Meghan is holding true to the American narrative that began when the American Constitution was written and adopted. Americans are deeply concerned about voicing their opinions in a public forum and exercising their sense of “We the people.”

    Indeed Meghan McCain’s argument that the gay rights movement is like the Civil Rights movement is spot on about how Americans typically think about their social issues. I think that Americans participate in public debates about the ‘public good’ because Americans constantly feel the need to improve or advance their idea of a perfect union or perfect society.

    Clearly the U.S. is not the only country that cares about the public good and justice. However, I think that each culture expresses this concern differently. A few of you mentioned that you are not familiar with the Civil Rights movement. However, I’m curious about how public conversations about the public good, whether it is ‘civil rights’, ‘human rights’, or ‘gay rights,’ are carried out in your home countries.

    • drcookejackson says:

      I agree completely Andres! Megan cannot move away from her American narrative – her culture code! …hence seeing the civil rights in the light that she does makes so much sense – it offers insight into why she may frame her commentary the way she does.

    • Laura Chechette says:

      @ andreslmc

      Thanks for commenting Andres and thank you for tying in the Culture Code! I think that what is so interesting about Meghan’s comment is that although it is on code for her American narrative it is also in opposition to her father’s opinion and the way in which she was probably raised. For example, John McCain was in favor of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy was recently repealed and his daughter was against it. (http://www.politico.com/click/stories/1012/mccain_knocks_palins_shooting_skills_.html) I’m happy to see that Meghan was able to keep an open mind and form her own opinions.

      Like you I am also curious about how public conversations regarding the public good are carried out in other countries. Maybe we’ll get to talk about it in class. 🙂

  10. I very much agree with Enrique that the current “Gay Rights Movement” in the United States can be compared to many rights movements throughout history and across the globe. There are specifically some distinct parallels that can be drawn with religion, as both are typically not a visible trait.

    I also agree with Dr. CJ that so much of the misunderstanding in any minority group has to do with people who are not “sidling up to differences.” Any group of people who are marginalized has the right to fight for equality. People who are gay in the United States are not asking for anything that “regular” people do not have. It cannot be equated to petifiles or beastiality. They are just asking for what the rest of America has already, fairness. Fairness is something that people all over the globe seek and rightly deserve.

    • Laura Chechette says:

      @ jackischroder

      Thanks for commenting Jackie. I agree that it is important to point out as you did that the gay rights movement is not asking for “special treatment” or anything more than what others already receive. You are correct in stating that everyone deserves the right to be treated fairly no matter who they are.

      I asked someone else this in my response as well and I might just be stirring the pot, but I’m curious about your opinion on civil unions. Some people think that civil unions are okay because they grant gay couples the same legal rights as heterosexual couples, but it is not called a “marriage” and therefore may not upset the religious organizations. Others disagree because although a civil union is closer to equality, it is not the same as a marriage and everyone should have the same rights.

  11. Ji Li says:

    As what Sonya mentioned, in our country, we have experienced neither civil rights movement nor gay rights movement, so it is really hard for us to compare these two movements.

    I have some gay friends as well. Recently, more and more of them begin to “walk out of the closet” and be open to tell the world that they are gay. When I was 16 years old, got to know for the first time that my best girl friend was gay, I could hardly accept the fact. However, after a long time talk and I gradually found that there were more friends in my life were actually gay, I began to understand their situation, their thoughts, their spirit, and appreciated their courage.

    Some of my gay friends are planning to move to US to get married because that they can hardly see any possibility that Chinese law will someday permit gay marriage. When facing the pressure from the family and society, they don’t give up and are still fighting for their true love. For me, it’s really hard to say I support gay marriage or not. On one hand, it’s appropriate and necessary for everyone to chase for true love, and I will definitely support that; on the other hand, if the cost of chasing true love is to lose the love from the family and the beloved ones, it seems that chasing for true love is a little bit cruel. I don’t know, it’s still a huge contradiction to me.

    • Laura Chechette says:

      @Ji Li

      Thanks for commenting Ji and sharing your experiences with your friends. I agree that it is definitely not an easy subject to tackle and it does take time to form an opinion on it. It’s sad that for some people to find there true love they may lose the love of their family. I like to think that families would love each other no matter what happens, but I understand that is not the case in every family.

      I think that it may be harder to go against the “norm” in China than it is in the US. People in the US celebrate the individual and I have been told that in China the culture is more family based and if someone goes against the norm or what is expected of them, then he/she may bring shame to not only themselves, but to their family as well. I can’t imagine that the pressure of being different may cause for a person.

  12. meredithmckenna says:

    This is a difficult topic to tackle.
    I think that when comparing the civil rights movement with the gay rights movement it is important to remember that they are similar, but they are not the same. Before the civil rights movement, blacks were denied almost every right that white people had, and had been subjected to slavery for hundreds of years. This being said, I do not think they compare to each other, but I also do not think it is fair to say one movement is more important than the other. Any movement that grants human beings natural rights should be recognized and not pushed into the corner.

    One quote that I would like to address from the article, “For example a black man cannot hide his skin color, but a gay man could hypothetically “stay in the closet”
    While this is true, a black man cannot hide his skin color, it is important to recognize that a gay man is often forced to hide his identity and is refrained from fully expressing himself in fear. I can imagine that living in this type of fear can make someone feel like they are chained up inside.

    • Laura Chechette says:

      @meredithmckenna

      Thanks for commenting Meredith. I agree with your statement about a gay person being forced to “stay in the closet.” I’m sure that there are internal and external effects of having to hide who you really are. If there haven’t already been studies done on this idea, then there should be. I found another op-ed piece from the NY Times that had a good quote. with this quote:

      “I know that being in a same-sex relationship feels as central and natural to me as my loyalty to my father, my pride in my siblings’ accomplishments and my protectiveness of their children — all emotions that I didn’t exit the womb with but will not soon shake.

      And I know that I’m a saner, kinder person this way than trapped in a contrivance or a lie. Surely that’s not just to my advantage but to society’s, too.” http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/29/opinion/sunday/bruni-gay-wont-go-away-genetic-or-not.html?_r=2&hp

      I am also aware of many organizations like The Trevor Project that are available to members of the LGBT community to help them navigate their feelings and provide support for them when they may not be able to find it from their family or friends.

  13. Kristina Coppola says:

    Wow, this is a tough topic. From a personal and religious perspective, I have to say that I struggle with the idea that being gay is an immutable part of who a person is. However, my personal religious beliefs also dictate that everyone should be treated with respect, regardless of whether or not I agree with their choices. And, an aspect of the political system we have here in the States that I appreciate is that it isn’t up to one person whether or not a law is implemented or amended. For this particular issue, I understand the logistical reasons why some people argue that making this a federal issue makes the most sense, though from a State’s Rights perspective, I think that we need to de-centralize more and more decisions like this.

    And no, I don’t think this can be compared to the Civil Rights movement. All social justice are unique and seek to overcome different hurdles and gain different rights…which I think will likely require different tactics.

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