Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Update on Arkansas Anti-Gay Adoption Signatory Database: Threats from Family Council of Arkansas

An update to my posting yesterday (here) about the database that Know Thy Neighbor has placed online--names of those who signed a petition to place an anti-gay adoption act on the ballot in Arkansas during our last statewide election.

Our statewide free paper Arkansas Times is now reporting (here) that the Family Council of Arkansas, which sponsored this bill that has made it much harder for adoptive children in Arkansas to find homes, is protesting. Family Council wants to block the public's access to this database of names, and is (dishonestly) suggesting that Know Thy Neighbor may have broken unspecified laws in placing the database online.

These names are, of course, a matter of public record. No laws have been broken in placing them online. Family Council is well aware of that, and its talk of laws that may possibly have been broken is disingenuous. Family Council also threatens to have the legislature pass a law that prohibits the public from access to the names of signatories to any petitions to place acts on the ballot.

A reminder, by the way, that Family Council of Arkansas is an umbrella of Focus on the Family. This group and its activities in Arkansas are part of a well-orchestrated nationwide campaign of the political and religious right to use gay human beings as cannon fodder in political battles designed to garner Republican votes. This is a cynical game that counts on ill-informed and prejudiced people in states like Arkansas to vote "right" when the rainbow flag is waved in front of them.

Interestingly enough, one of the threads of discussion that has emerged at Arkansas Times about this petition centers on the claim of some signatories that they didn't really intend to sign the act, or didn't sign it, though their name is right there on the list for the world to see. One reason that laws protect public disclosure of the names of signatories to such petitions public is precisely to permit the public to verify that people actually did sign the petitions, and that no hanky-panky has gone on in getting a petition onto the ballot. It is strangely inconsistent to argue both that many names on such a petition are incorrect signatures, and that the public should not have access to the names.

The discussion of this matter on the Arkansas Times blog is fascinating and full of such ludicrous inconsistencies and lapses in logic. A strong contingent of folks posting want to depict those who signed the anti-gay adoption petition as victims.

Though their intent was to victimize gay citizens (and though they've ended up victimizing children in need of foster and adoptive homes), they're the victims all of a sudden. They didn't know what they were signing. Some mean person made them do it. Their church told them to do it. They just wanted to see democracy in action, to give everyone a chance to vote on this petition.

Please. It is absurd and not morally admirable to try to disclaim responsibility for our ugly acts only when they've come to light. A huge percentage of those supporting this gay-bashing bill are bible-believing Christians. Have they never read the gospel passage in which Jesus tells his followers that what they whisper in the dark will one day be shouted from the rooftops?

Why the shame, the disclaimers, and the dissembling? I had thought that the point of the moral crusade against gay brothers and sisters was precisely to be defiantly proud of one's fidelity to the scriptures, and of one's countercultural stance. And I had thought that those who take these defiant countercultural but oh-so-moral stands were also defiantly happy to pay a price for taking the moral high road.

The argument that I've done something ugly because my church told me to do so, and I now regret the ugliness because it's been made public: that argument is just pitiful. People who victimize others seek to claim victim status for themselves, when they've been exposed, with very ill grace.