Monday, February 9, 2015

Marriage Equality Comes to Alabama, as Grandstanding of "Faith-Based" Southern Leaders Continues

As with each new state that finally accords equal rights to LGBT citizens (well, at least in the area of marriage, and often under court duress), the photos now coming from the deep-South, deep-red, state of Alabama are very moving. The tweet above is by Clare Huddleston of Fox 6 in Alabama, and shows the first same-sex couple to marry in the state — Olanda Cmith and Dinah McCaryer. More photos are at this article by David Badash at New Civil Rights Movement.

And, of course, as a prelude to these photos, there's the dark, ugly background of prejudice represented by Alabama chief justice Roy S. Moore, who issued an order last night — in direct contradiction to the order of a federal court knocking down Alabama's ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional — instructing the state's probate judges to refuse marriage licenses to same-sex couples today. Alan Blinder reports this morning in New York Times about Moore's Wallace-on-the-university-steps grandstanding. (The Supreme Court stepped in this morning and put an end to Moore's nonsense, by the way.)

Having lived through George Wallace's grandstanding at the University of Alabama in 1963 or the similar grandstanding of my state's governor Orval Faubus when he called out the Arkansas National Guard in 1957 to prevent the integration of Little Rock's Central High School, how can I not think of Wallace and Faubus and Lester Maddox brandishing his ax at the Pickrick in Atlanta in 1964, when I read about what Roy Moore is now doing in Alabama?

Or when I read the smelly, hate-mongering recent comments of my state's former governor Reverend Mike Huckabee as he calls on states to resist the Supreme Court by nullifying its decision, if the Supremes knock down bans on same-sex marriage throughout the U.S.? And about the right of faith-based American citizens to refuse to provide services to LGBT citizens, because bacon and shrimp?

Just today, Reverend Huckabee delivered himself of a spectacular bit of pandering when he declared that the nation's current president, Mr. Obama, stands against everything Christianity stands for. As I wrote on my Facebook feed after reading Colin Campbell's report about this that I've just linked,

George Wallace, Orval Faubus, and Lester Maddox didn't die. They've just morphed into Roy Moore, Mike Huckabee, and the Arkansas Supreme Court.

As I say, when the parallels are so clear, so deep, between the behavior of the bible-spouting diehard segregationist leaders of the South in the period of integration, and the behavior of the bible-spouting diehard anti-gay leaders of the South today, how can I possibly not think of Messrs. Wallace, Faubus, and Maddox and many others of their ilk? The big surprise to me for a long time now has been that political centrists, including Catholic ones, who want to straddle the fence on gay rights issues, have sought to deny that connection and pretend that the struggle for civil rights for people of color in mid-20th-century America and the struggle for LGBT rights at this point in American history have nothing in common.

Those centrist types surely don't have much grasp of their nation's history, do they? Or much discernible commitment to the human rights of oppressed groups here and now, as opposed to those in the past whom it's now easy for us to defend, when we pay no price for doing so.

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