Equal Rights

All posts tagged Equal Rights

On Being Open-Minded, and the Freedom of Belief

Published July 17, 2015 by April Fox

If you’ve been here before, you probably know that I have some pretty strong feelings about equal rights, and people attempting to hide their hate behind their religion, and people using their beliefs as some kind of free pass to treat people as horribly as they want to without repercussion. Any time I try to make a valid, logical point about those things, I get hit with the intolerance spiel: “I thought you were supposed to be open-minded. What happened to not judging other people? You need to respect everyone’s beliefs.”

We are tangled up in here: confusing the idea of being open-minded with the act of being complacent, which sounds a bit like an oxymoron in itself.

Fact: action and belief are two very different things, and being open-minded doesn’t preclude you from finding fault in things that are harmful.

Your right to believe in something does not negate others’ right to exist with the same rights and standard of living that you have. If you act in a negative manner based on your beliefs, there is nothing closed-minded about those who tell you to stop it.

It doesn’t matter what you believe; if you are doing something that hurts someone, you need to be told to stop.

When a person who identifies as Christian is molesting children, and people say that it’s wrong, when we are horrified and angry at his actions, we are not attacking his beliefs. We are not persecuting him for being Christian. We are not even vilifying him for believing that his victims look more like sex toys than human beings. We are observing his actions and we are judging him for them. That’s okay. That’s how society works, in theory. We protect those among us who can’t protect themselves. We don’t protect those who are doing the hurting because of the internal dialogue that drives their motivation, whether that be the voice of God or Jesus or the son of Sam. We judge: we make the determination about whether what someone is doing is right or wrong.

When your beliefs tell you that someone is less than you are because of their color or race or sexuality, their gender or their eye color or their socioeconomic status or anything else that they cannot control, you are allowed to hold that belief. Belief is an internal thing. You can believe anything you want. You can believe that the world is flat, or that the moon is made of dank goat cheese, or that the ghost of Bea Arthur* wants you to paint your cat’s toenails chartreuse every other Thursday after giving him a bubble bath in the sink. But see, if you put your cat in the bath and then try to get anywhere near him with that nail polish, chances are–unless you have a really strange cat, which is totally cool–that you are going to come out of that situation with quite a bit less blood inside your body than you had before you started, and your cat will be quite traumatized. That’s a consequence of your action. If you just believe that your cat would look fine in chartreuse but realize that your taste is probably not the same as his, and that he likely doesn’t share your affinity for bubble baths no matter how fresh and clean he might smell afterwards, and you realize that washing and painting your cat would be a total dick move, you are likely to stay intact and your cat will continue to do his cat things happily and at peace.

That is what tolerance is about. That is what defines the difference between action and belief. Being open-minded isn’t going “Hell yes, let’s bathe the cat and paint his toes!” just because someone else believes it’s a good idea. Being open-minded is going, “Hey, let’s see how this belief might play out… yeah, you keep on believing that, but let’s not actually act on that, okay?” Being open-minded is accepting that other people believe that cats should be bathed and polished. It’s not going along with feline spa day just because it corresponds with someone’s belief.

And when you have two conflicting beliefs that have led to two conflicting paths of action, it is up to us as civilized human beings to look at those two paths with open minds, and to judge each one based on a very simple criterion: Is this action harmful to someone else? And if the answer to that is yes, then that is the wrong path. Not based on belief, or religion, but on compassion for our fellow human beings, and what should be a collective desire to do less harm than good. When you are causing damage to someone’s person, their ability to feel happiness, their ability to enjoy life, or their ability to embrace the same civil privileges you have, and you are doing so based on your personal belief, you are harming them, and that is wrong.

*Bea Arthur would never really do that, I don’t think.

Gay Marriage Ruined My Life: A Right Wing Fairy Tale

Published June 26, 2015 by April Fox

I don’t know where to begin with this.

One year, six months, and five days ago, I got straight married. This morning, that marriage is over, the sanctity of it ripped apart by the selfish ruling of the Supreme Court of the United States of America.

The Court has ruled that states no longer have the right to deny same-sex couples the right to marry.

I now have to find someone to gay marry. My husband does, as well. All across America, straight marriages are falling apart in the same way, as men and women wake up side by side and find out that they can no longer be represented by those great historical figures, Adam and Eve. They now must be Adam and Steve, or Eve and… I don’t know, what female name rhymes with Adam? I’m sure some good right wing fundamentalist will figure that out soon enough. It’s not important now.

The children born of these same-sex unions will grow up to be gay as well, and they’ll make little gay babies who will make little gay babies when they grow up, and that will no doubt lead to countless abortions and an increase in welfare and food stamp fraud.

Ministers will be forced to perform gay marriages in their now-gay churches, because everyone knows that when the gays get married, they’re all about forcing a disagreeable old bigot to perform the ceremony, rather than enlisting the services of a more supportive officiant.

Standardized test scores will plummet. I don’t know why, but as long as we’re blaming gay marriage for the downfall of society, I think that fits, don’t you?

The reality, of course, is that none of that happened. None of that will happen.

The reality is that I woke up to the news, ran down the stairs, told my child, danced around the house a little, ran up the stairs again, woke my husband to tell him, and instead of declaring his intentions for divorce, he smiled, hugged me, and went back to sleep. He’s still here, lying in bed behind me, awake now. I just checked-he confirms that we are still straight married, and are going to stay straight married. Our sanctity is intact, thank you very much.

There are still states where it is illegal for gay couples to adopt. This ruling could potentially open the door to positive changes there, providing more loving homes for children whose parents are unable to care for them. (By the way, if you see this as a bad thing and still label yourself pro-life, you’re a rotten little hypocrite, you know.)

Marriage equality can only change things for the better. There is truly no possible detriment to society as a result.

Really. There isn’t.

You can give me your biblical grounds, and I can shoot right back with my own verses that show your hypocrisy, and I can throw some logic on top of it, and you won’t listen anyway, if that’s your argument. Your religion fits you; it is not one size fits all. You have the absolute right not to gay marry, if it’s against your religion. Really, try it. Go find a gay person. Ask if they want to get gay married to you. If they say yes, then you say “Ha ha, just kidding, social experiment!” and watch what happens. (Nothing happens.) They’ll probably just think you’re kind of an asshole, and kind of crazy, but that’s really just confirming what we already knew. You won’t be dragged kicking and screaming to some tacky Vegas chapel where you’ll be forced to get gay married by a guy in Liberace drag, against a backdrop of glitter, show tunes, and a life-sized RuPaul cutout. Promise.

I’ve heard the argument that gay marriage is bad for children.

Let me tell you what’s bad for children. BAD MARRIAGES. When kids witness unhealthy relationships between adults, no matter their sex, that’s bad. When kids witness healthy relationships between adults, no matter their sex, that’s good.

I’ve heard the argument that gay marriage means exposing kids to gay sex. “Shoving it in their faces,” the fundies like to say.

I don’t know about you guys, but my kids aren’t anywhere around when I’m having sex. I would bet that’s the same in most families, whether the parents are gay or straight. So I guess the question now is, what are you perverts doing in front of your kids that makes you think that kids in families with gay parents are sitting around watching them have sex all the time?

Someone should look into that.

The sun is shining, this morning. I can hear birds singing. I can hear a bee buzzing outside my window, and the occasional cow saying hello. It’s the same as any other day, except that now, my friends who happen to be gay are finally recognized as human beings by the Supreme Court of the United States.

Nothing else has changed.

If you think that this ruling is going to damage your own straight marriage, you need to look into the real issues there. Good luck to you.

aclu love wins

Two Babies are Rescued After Being Lost at Sea Because of Parents’ Prejudice

Published August 13, 2013 by April Fox

I just covered this story for the web site Liberal America.

Sean and Hannah Gastonguay have “moral” objections to abortion and homosexuality, but see nothing wrong with tossing their two babies into a small boat and heading out across the Pacific Ocean, with no apparent navigational skills and scant provisions. Why? They were trying to get to an island where people can go to prison for nearly a decade and a half for falling in love with another consenting adult. Here’s the whole story:

http://www.liberalamerica.org/2013/08/12/extremist-family-lost-at-sea-in-attempt-to-escape-evils-of-equal-rights-in-america/

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