Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Restraining order

According to Between the Lines and other sources an electronic billboard is displaying an anti-gay message just a few miles from my house. Its basic message is "Homosexuality is a behavior. Not a civil right." It claims the authority of Genesis 2:24: "That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh." and Matthew 19:5, which is Jesus quoting the first passage in a question about divorce. I won't go into the logical fallacies of the claim based on these verses.

College student Ferman Smith saw the ad and started a GoFundMe campaign to pay for gay positive messages to appear in rotation with the anti-gay displays on the same electronic billboards, both the one nearby and others planned for Flint, Grand Rapids, and Lansing. He is asking for suggestions on what the billboards should say.

The billboard is paid for by the organization, (no link from me) a coalition of all the big anti-gay groups (and a few small ones). From their website name it is easy to see the reason for the billboard being displayed now is in anticipation of a favorable (to us) ruling from the Supremes on marriage equality. This coalition is asking its members (for a "donation") to send a "Restraining Order" to the Supremes. It reads in part:
We the people of the United States affirm our right to self-governance and hereby issue a restraining order to the United States Supreme Court and all Federal Courts who attempt to usurp the following: 1. The sovereign vote of the American people 2. Our State Constitutions 3. The sacred institution of marriage between a man and a woman and 4. Our Constitutionally protected First Amendment Rights."
Of course, I noticed what is missing and wrong from this list of reasons. 1. A primary purpose of the judicial system in America is to prevent tyranny of the majority, which is exactly what that first point is. 2. It is a long established principle that when a state constitution conflicts with the federal constitution, the federal one wins. 3. By sacred they must mean mentioned in the Bible, which also mentions kings with lots of wives and concubines.

And for the fourth point I turn to a recent article in the Washington Spectator by Rev. William Barbour, who is president of the North Carolina NAACP and leads the Moral Monday Movement, with coauthor Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, director of the School for Conversion. They wrote:
Many have pointed out the problem of laws purporting to protect the First Amendment right to religious freedom by creating an opportunity to violate another’s 14th Amendment right to equal protection under the law.
In previous cases pitting the 1st Amendment against 14th, the 14th has won.

The article goes on to show that there have been three times in history – Reconstruction, the Civil Rights Era, and now – when religious language was used to justify discrimination. In all three cases the threat to those in power was sexualized. Black men were portrayed as "ravishing beasts" eager to rape white women. Civil rights workers were accused of wanting interracial sex. Gay men are portrayed as sexual predators aiming to recruit children. Extreme leaders back then "sought to distract and divide the country by using moral and religious language to stir up old sexual fears." And they're doing it now.

One more note about Michigan: There are 38 towns, cities, and townships that have LGBT civil rights ordinances. The Michigan House has a bill before it to make it easier for business by having uniform laws across the state – not by adding LGBT people to the state civil rights act, but by overturning all the local acts. If the recent mess in Indiana is a guide, these Michigan lawmakers didn't ask business which option they would prefer. I can hear these business owners saying, please don't put words in our mouths.

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