Divide and conquer

Two stores in the New York Times today on Gay marriage.

The first is a new article about how Bush won’t reference the Marriage Amendment again, because, according to the article, he was really pressured into this by the conservative groups. In actuality, he’s really a good friend to gays all over.

This after a State of the Union speech denouncing gay marriage. This after weeks of being disturbed by the events in San Francisco. Bush not only wants to have his cake and eat it, he wants yours and my slice, too, sent to him in appreciation because he’s really a nice guy who has gay friends.

As breathlessly duplicitous as this is (though politically shrewd) it’s not as disturbing as an earlier story about the attempt to divide the black community about gays and gay marriage by courting black churches.

The family values folk hope by doing this, and then by putting Bush firmly on the side against gay marriage with the Marriage Amendment, the’ll be able to split the black vote by distracting them from Bush’s active fight against affirmative action, as well as his cuts in health care, education, and a dismal employment picture.

More than that, they’re working to pit one minority, the blacks, against another minority, the gays. As one radical black minister even went so far as to say, if the K.K.K. opposes gay marriage, I would ride with them.

The other side supporting full gay rights is playing a catch up game, because they weren’t expecting to have to fight this battle until the first marriages starting taking place in Massachusetts. San Francisco caught them by surprise.

Neither side is having an easy time of it. According to the article:

The fact that many black Christians are both politically liberal and socially conservative makes them frustratingly difficult to pigeonhole in a political environment in which, many pundits contend, voters are cleanly split along ideological lines. Many blacks opposed to gay marriage, for example, support equal benefits for gays as a matter of economic justice.

What we’re seeing is that the term civil rights has more problematical connotations than even gay marriage, and this is a disturbing trend:

At the heart of the conflict, for many, is not merely theology, but the mantle of civil rights.

“There has always been this undercurrent, from the women’s movement through other movements, that the history of black people and their struggle was being opportunistically appropriated by an assortment of groups when it was convenient,” said the Rev. Gene Rivers, president of the National Ten-Point Leadership Foundation, a church-based violence-prevention program. “This movement is particularly offensive because it hits at the Book, the Bible, and the painful history of black people all at once.”

It’s sad and ironic that to defend the actions of Mayor Newsom, we’ve referenced acts of civil disobedience in the past to establish a precedence for this type of activity when it comes to civil rights. However, in doing so, we’re now seen as being opportunistic, literally riding on the coat tails of those who have battled for rights for the blacks in the past.

I am aware of the pain blacks have suffered. I am aware every time I go into the back country of Missouri to hike, how much more dangerous this could be if I were black. This is never far from my mind. I should take a lesson, and do as those in the article suggest, reframe the discussion to one of discrimination, not civil rights.

But I can’t. The fight for equality for all people regardless of color, sex, race, religion, and yes even sexual orientation is a fight for civil rights. I am not going to following in Bush’s deceptive footsteps, mouthing a hypocrisy for the sake of the vote.

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