Conservative reactionaries have expressed their dislike for the “homosexual agenda” and their tentacles have penetrated the American political system. Strong evangelical efficacy has ensured political compliance from weak politicians.
Yet human consideration must supersede short-term political gain. An individual’s humanity should not be sacrificed to votes. Public relations experts and high priced political consultants make this nearly impossible. To take their advice is to win political office; to go against the tide is to accomplish a structural social adjustment (and a personal disservice). The former is characteristic of the majority; the latter requires a higher level of social awareness and political courage.
Unpopular positions are sacrificed to the convenience of branding. Society defines appropriate behavior and condemns so-called deviant lifestyles. Branding along sexual preference serves calculated ends. Promoting sexual orientation to the pinnacle of personal characterization dehumanizes the characterized and divides the citizenry.
Shows like “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” (or Girl) mask uncomfortable realities to amuse the public. But not all gay men are interior decorators and not all lesbians are mechanics. Most resemble the cultural norm. Meanwhile media conglomerates continue to profit from avoiding this truth and pandering to America’s comfortable generalizations of homosexuality.
The same extends to politics. The homosexual media presence has failed to win popular support for gay marriage. Yet its importance transcends linguistic debate. Recognition of gay partnerships within a traditional heterosexual framework allows for societal acceptance and basic human rights. To use a different word is to extend inferiority. Society must recognize the similarity of its people. Different labels assign different values and are thus inappropriate.
Moreover, by denying gays their basic human rights and de-humanizing their proponents, the government tacitly validates homophobic behavior. When approval leads to homicide (such as in the Matthew Shepard case) media coverage culminates in public commemoration. But cyclic empathy does little to ameliorate a tradition of inequality and leaves little hope for a broad public discussion of gay issues.
The backlash against gay culture -- most notably conservative animosity toward gay pride parades and the like -- provides powerful, seemingly democratic talking points for the opposition. And while the will of the majority has shelf space in a democracy, the individual freedoms of a minority must remain intact. Marriage has no effect on majority rights and most Americans laud its benefits. Opponents that praise the institution and arbitrarily reject gay applicants take on a sadistic light.
Extremists aside, the acceptance of gay rights is inevitable. Mainstream society tends to err on the side of caution and recognition rests upon the passage of time. Societal progress -- started with the women’s suffrage movement and the African American struggle for civil rights -- is ongoing.
The pace is a crawl and often a standstill. Acceptance of the aforementioned stereotypes, the extension of partnership benefits, civil unions and independent judiciary decisions serve as important checkpoints in the road towards equality. Incremental movement, a characteristic of most civil rights struggles, is unavoidable. Staunch activists will feel frustration -- let this be the price of progress.
Igor Volsky is the host of the Luske-Volsky Show (with Dr. Bruce Luske) and Political Thought, two public affairs programs airing every Monday and Friday from 4-6 p.m. e-mail: Igor.Volsky@marist.edu. Amanda Waas is a co-host of “Scott and Amanda Easy Like Sunday Mornings” airing every Sunday from 10-12pm. She is the incoming editor of The Generator Magazine. All shows air on WMAR 1630 AM and can be streamed at: www.politicalthought.net.
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