JK and I had a quick email exchange regarding comments made by Mike Huckabee last week. Watch it HERE. Essentially, Huckabee feels that its not appropriate to compare gay rights with the civil rights struggle of black Americans, because black Americans have suffered much more.
My initial response is that he is entirely right but also entirely wrong. Unquestionably the struggle of black Americans to break free of slavery, secure equal rights on all fronts, and barrell through the cultural insecurities held by many Americans has lasted much longer, been more violent, and affected many more people than the gay rights struggle. No rational person would say otherwise.
But all of that is irrelevant. The comparison between the two have nothing to do with figuring out which minority group has suffered more. It has everything to do with the political logic, reasoning, and rationale behind denying each of those minority groups equal treatment under the law. In that regard they are very much similar. He glosses over the fact that the institution of marriage denying interracial couples the right to marry for hundreds of years. Allowing interracial marriage changed an institution. Huckabee’s comments (echoed by many others) are red herrings that distract from wrong-headed policy. He is smarter than this.
Some of JK’s thoughts on Huckabee are below…
I agree he means well and seems likable. I guess I have an issue with the way he discusses marriage. He points out that marriage is an institution and going about redefining that is different than racism, and he has a valid point. But to counter, there needs to be a difference between the institution of marriage and the sacrament of marriage, and right now the two are too deeply intertwined and that’s why so many religious activists are up in arms about redefining the institution. For them I don’t think they see a difference and that’s the problem- that difference is key and needs to be clear to them. No one is saying that the way their religion defines marriage needs to change or that the way their religion defines it is wrong. But it’s wrong for the government to endorse a religious definition when it discriminates against and eliminates the rights of the citizens it promises to protect.
If I learned anything from my psych and soc classes changing an institution is a bitch, but not impossible (think Pintar’s class…). I know I wandered off topic about the suffering, but I agree with your comments. Keeping with my “institution” theme, I think that was part of Huckabee’s point- since racism and discrimination was (and still is) so deeply ingrained in many of our institutions, the fact that our country elected an AA President is overwhelming and inspiring. But that’s the difference- racism was a factor in the institution, not the institution itself. Does it make this fight harder or easier? I don’t know…but I think it makes them harder to compare.