Monday, March 9, 2015

Frank Bua on How Movement for LGBT Rights Must Not Leave Southern LGBT People Behind

Another quote for today, this one directly related to my first posting this morning, which speaks of my decision in 1965 to leave my family's Southern Baptist church and join the Catholic church: Frank Bua maintains that the movement for LGBT rights in the U.S. is not yet over the rainbow and cannot yet claim victory in this struggle, noting,

We must not leave our southern brothers and sister behind. It's easy for cynical Northerners to dismiss the South as an anachronistic appendage to the United States based on its historically slow adoption of civil rights. However, as evidenced by the rash of recent state-commissioned discriminatory action, the Southern LGBT population is at particular risk in the event of a marriage victory. Southern states have the highest proportion of LGBT couples raising children, but they offer the fewest protections for LGBT families. According to the LGBT Divide, a data portrait conducted by UCLA's The Williams Institute, 34 percent of all LGBT individuals, and 36 percent of all LGBT families, live in the South. And the number of Southern states that have passed legislation protecting LGBT employees from discrimination in the workplace? Zero.

There is a particular tendency, I think, in the Catholic community in the U.S., particularly among liberal Catholics who exert such influence in the media and academy, to justify Catholic callousness towards the victims of right-wing political and religious movements in the South, because what do those victims have to do with the Catholic church, given its lack of significant representation in almost all of the Southern states?  

Why do those people remain there? Why don't they better themselves, move away, seek more enlightened places to live?

These are versions of an argument that is premised, I'd maintain, on the assumptions of ruthless capitalism, which justifies our indifference towards the vicitims of that economic system by claiming that they have gotten what they deserve. They're ignorant, immoral, lazy, fill in the blank: they've fallen to the bottom of the economic ladder of society because they haven't tried to do better and be better.

I'm very grateful to Frank Bua for challenging these kinds of assumptions in the LGBT community, which can be very strong in the aflluent sectors of the American LGBT community in progressive parts of the country. We stand and fall together, and we gay citizens of the backwards, reactionrary parts of the country need the support of those of you who live elsewhere — not your scorn.

The graphic: a map of percentages of married same-sex couples across the U.S. compiled by Williams Institute on the basis of the 2013 U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey. Note the surprising representation of married same-sex couples in the Southern states (darker blue areas), where same-sex marriage has not been legal in most cases until very recently, and where cultural, religious, and political resistance to same-sex marriage remains very intense in many quarters.

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