posted on November 30, 2007 11:08
The Democrats in Congress have gotten themselves into a bit of a tangle over gay rights. The House passed a bill to make discrimination against gays in the workplace illegal – but there’s a twist that left some of their allies unhappy.
Legendary Democratic Congressman John Lewis, a leader in the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960’s, explained his vote this way: He said he’d “fought too long and too hard to end discrimination based on race and color not to stand up against discrimination against our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.”
To some people stopping ‘discrimination’ is an end in itself. Waving discrimination in front of them is like waving a red flag in front of a bull. Discrimination is the fundamental evil. It’s bad. Period. It is never ever right. Discrimination is wrong whether it’s practiced against blacks, browns, gays, cats, dogs, rocks or fossils. So it was only natural for Congressman Lewis to wrap his arms around his persecuted gay brothers and sisters.
And waving the discrimination flag doesn’t hurt a bit politically either. It helps Congressmen Lewis sidestep debating whether homosexuality is right or wrong – in effect, he can say, ‘That doesn’t matter, we shouldn’t discriminate against gays either way.’ So, he’s avoided an even – potentially – more contentious issue.
Here’s the twist: Congressman Lewis and the Democrats left ‘transgenders’ out of their bill – which left the transgenders scratching their heads, incredulously, asking, You’re saying it’s wrong to discriminate against gays – but not us? (For anyone who’s not clear: ‘Transgender’ means a man who thinks he’s a woman or was meant to be a woman and somehow got trapped in the wrong body and who acts accordingly, as best he can.)
So, maybe, Congressman Lewis picked the wrong justification when he started waving the discrimination banner. After all, how can he – with a straight face – tell transgenders discrimination is wrong against gays but not them? But while his sentiments may a bit muddied, his politics are rock solid. He and his Democratic brethren have figured out they don’t take much risk being pro-gay rights, but being pro-transgender – politically – might be something else.
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