Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Such a waste

I just listened to a recorded interview Cheryl Haskins did with a frighteningly anti-gay radio show, and I have to say, she's good. She's an incredibly articulate and persuasive speaker, and while passionate about her beliefs, she refrains from degrading those opposed to her. Her civility doesn't make the true intentions of her statements any less disparaging, however.

Here are the basic points she made in the interview (not exact quotes, but synopses), along with my rebuttals:
  • The presence of poverty within a community is the best way to determine whether a class of people suffers from discrimination. Gay people are rich (they travel internationally!), so they clearly don't experience discrimination. OK, so does that mean that Jewish people don't suffer from discrimination? Haven't they been called "disproportionately more affluent" than other groups? In fact, I believe that notion has been a staple of anti-semitism for centuries. Regardless, what you're saying is that it's OK for a company to fire someone for being gay, because that person can just go out and find another high-paying job. I don't know anyone – gay or straight – who wouldn't suffer severe financial and emotional repercussions if they were summarily fired from their job. By the way, the "studies" indicating that gay people are more affluent than others are based on marketing surveys, not census numbers or sociological studies. There is absolutely no empirical evidence to support the claim, and the one true sociological study on the topic showed exactly the opposite. Gay people are just as racially, religiously, and socio-economically diverse as the general population. Yes, some gay couples have more disposable income than families with children, but no more so than any couples without children. There's no doubt that successful white gay men get more attention in the media, but they are merely one segment of the GLBT community. Cheryl's obviously been watching too much Will & Grace or hanging out with some very successful A-List gays.
  • Gay people can hide their gayness, unlike race. Now that's odd, don't we protect against discrimination based on religion in this country? Isn't that something someone could hide, too? "Just take off that turban and you'll get the job!" or "If you want to stay in this apartment, I'm afraid you'll need to remove that crucifix from the wall."
  • Gay couples are adopting many of the unwanted African-American children in our state. Not only are those children being ripped away from their culture, but they're being deprived of two parents of the opposite sex. So, I guess you're saying that those children would be better off in orphanages or in dumpsters? There's a reason why such children are being adopted by gay people – no one else wants them, and gay couples can offer them loving, stable homes. If you put your money where your mouth is, Cheryl, you'd be operating a foster home for orphans, using donations from your rich church friends for something truly useful.
  • The other side will not give up until gay marriage is legalized. They spent thirty years waiting for the anti-discrimination bill to be passed. Doesn't that mean you might as well just give up the fight, Cheryl? Do you really think that equal protection under the law for gay couples won't be realized at some point in this country? Within a decade, nearly every Western nation (and others, like South Africa, Taiwan, Uruguay, and maybe even Mexico) will have some sort of marriage-like protections for gay people. And it's not just gay people who are pushing for such protections – it's everyone who understands that it's in society's best interest to encourage and protect committed relationships between adults. The "example" that anti-gay marriage advocates like to claim is that gay marriage in Scandinavia has resulted in the weakening of heterosexual marriage. That supposition is entirely debunked in this Slate article.
  • There are serious problems with divorce and single-parent families in our society, and legalizing gay marriage (or domestic partnerships) will only make the situation worse. I have an idea, Cheryl: how about if you just fight to outlaw divorce and single parenting! Oh, wait... that would probably lead to the imprisonment of many of your supporters. By the way, have you ever been divorced?
I'm thankful that Cheryl didn't use any of the most outrageous and hateful lies used against gay people in the interview, unlike other nutcases who were interviewed for the same show. I think that says a lot about Cheryl Haskins, and it gives me hope that she hasn't completely lost her humanity. As best I can tell, she's not out to incite violence against anyone, and she comes across as a reasonable person who's just incredibly passionate about preserving the institution of traditional marriage between a man and a woman. What's the problem with that?

Here are the problems:
  • She has made a new career out of being against a group of people, whether she sees it or not.
  • The groups she has forged alliances with inspire hatred against gay people, plain and simple.
  • She's using her success and intelligence to address a nonexistent "problem," when there are far more pressing (and real) issues in our society.
  • Deep down, all of her arguments are based on fear and an extremely narrow view of religious doctrine, not on truth or compassion.
I hope someday she recognizes what a complete waste her work "protecting marriage" from gay people has been, when she could have been doing so much good with her many talents, money, and education. Shame on you, Cheryl.

21 comments:

JimW said...

Thanks for posting this information. Her comments are outrageous. I am appalled (and frightened) that an intelligent person could think this way. Regardless of her good intentions, thank goodness she is being exposed for what she is and for what she wants to do. I hope other voters are taking notice and taking action.

Renton Citizen said...

This may have been my last gay-centric entry. This whole experience has been emotionally exhausting to me, and I think I've said what I need to say about Cheryl's anti-gay work. I didn't set out to change any minds -- I just wanted to let people know about her divisive politics. Fortunately, she created another controversy all on her own with her campaign finances.

Don't worry, though -- this isn't over by a long shot. Stay tuned.

Ginger said...

Finally, someone willing to expose the radical gay agenda!

Renton Citizen said...

Too bad you don't live in Oklahoma, Ginger. Here in Western Washington, the "radical gay agenda" isn't a phrase that provokes much of a reaction. It's soooo '90s.

JimW said...

Ginger, are you serious? Do you really think the "gay agenda" is "radical" just by seeking the same identical civil rights granted to each and every heterosexual person? Nothing more and nothing less.

My guess is that you think gay people are not like you. Well guess what. You might be right. But your straight neighbor next door might not be like you, either. In fact, I will bet your parents, siblings, children and friends are not like you - - but they all have the same rights as you, despite these differnces.

I am not trying to be like you, but I insist on all the same rights and I am willing to work to defeat people like Cheryl Haskins.

Ginger said...

You are naive if you think there is not a radical gay agenda! Sleep with whoever, but do not expect others to to concede on things like gay marriage! The will of the people in Washington has made that very clear.

ginber said...

And how dare you disparage OK. Just the same type of liberal bias, stereotyping western Washington is known for. You claim you are open minded, yet you slur an entire state. shame!

Renton Citizen said...

Umm, no, Ginger, there is no radical gay agenda. Unlike the Religious Right, we don't have the benefit of having a network of well-funded fundamentalist churches and "non-profit" groups working in concert with one another. What, you think there's some sort of secret gay leadership council that controls an agenda? The only well-funded national gay organization is the Human Rights Campaign, whose budget is less than 10% than of Pat Robertson's media empire's income or the James Dobson's Focus on the Family group. And those are just two of the big Dominionist Christian groups.

As far as disparaging Oklahoma, I was referring to its anti-gay politicians and the fact that it's home to Oral Roberts University, as well as other famous centers of tolerance and justice.

ginger said...

Are you fricking kidding me!!! You ignore the hate mongers over at moveon.org

The liberal gay agenda is all over the mainstream media (talk about unlimited resources). Anyone who mutters a word that does not agree with gay marriage and family values is described by your ilk as "hate mongers" I too am tired of this debate, and the pitful efforts of you trying to draw city council candidates into this.

Renton Citizen said...

Ginger, society is going to progress, and you can either adapt to it or continue to fight it. That doesn't mean your religious freedoms are going to be taken away, though. Yes, your values may not be reflected in the mainstream media, but you are still free to live your life as you choose. There's no powerful group trying to shutter your church, take Christian radio off the air, rewrite your Bible, break up your family, or prevent your children from attending a Christian school.

Cheryl sowed the seeds of this debate when she chose to politicize her personal views and publicly fight for a particular cause. It was her right to do so, but did she really think that her public activism wouldn't be an issue in this election? I suppose she counted on people not recognizing her (or at least not make a stink about her candidacy), and that strategy almost worked.

If you'll notice, I haven't tried to get any other candidates or city council members involved in this debate -- Randy Corman joined in on his own. That's because none of them have politicized their view of morality. I haven't asked Greg Taylor or Marcie Palmer what they think about gay issues, because even if they have conservative views, it's clear that they aim to keep them private, as it should be.

Cheryl is not running for the state legislature as a Republican (yet!), she's running for a non-partisan city council seat. It's not a position designed for someone who's been so publicly involved in a controversial social issue. It requires working directly with citizens of all backgrounds, and when someone's already alienated a segment of the population, it will lead to nothing but trouble, and that's exactly what we don't need right now. That's not to say people can't make mistakes and are forgiven for them, but Cheryl hasn't made any genuine effort to heal the distrust her past actions have created. Even if she renounced her anti-gay work (unlikely, I know), I doubt she'd be able to regain the trust of the community here. Not only that, but her lack of involvement in the Renton community and her massive outside funding are really concerning people.

I sense that Cheryl is someone very dear to you, and I'm really sorry that we have to communicate on these terms. I'm not comfortable being against *anyone*, but I simply cannot allow Cheryl's political activism to remain hidden to Renton voters. There are still a lot of voters out there who assume she's a progressive Democrat, simply because she's an African-American woman. It's my job to inform them otherwise... not by lying about her past, but by presenting clear evidence and facts in a ethical, albeit aggressive, manner.

mike said...

Yeah, Renton Citizen! Stop harrassing Cheryl Haskins by pointing out her anti-gay agenda!

Renton Citizen said...

Heehee, Mike. :)

ginger said...

ok for everything except the fire & brimstone. Instead, strategize how to prevent the radical gay agenda from circumventing the will of the citizens in this state to accept gay marriage. Oh, and taking over the city council--- not an issue because that has nothing to do with this.

Renton Citizen said...

Ginger, if we'd waited for "the will of the people" to address social issues like women's suffrage, slavery, and voting rights, we would have waited a very long time indeed to see any change in the status quo. There's a reason why we have something called "Representative Democracy" in our country, rather than having every citizen vote on every issue (despite what Tim Eyman may tell you). The Founding Fathers understood that the tyranny of the majority will never favor the interests of a less empowered group. It's the role of the elected representatives and the courts to look out for their interests.

That said, the Defense of Marriage Act of 1998 was not voted on by citizens; it was passed by the Legislature during a period of intense pressure on elected officials by the Religious Right to support anti-gay legislation. If it came up for vote now -- either in the Legislature or as a ballot measure -- it's far from certain that it would pass. In fact, the failure of Tim Eyman and his anti-gay rights allies to gather enough signatures to get R65 on the ballot last year suggests that there have been significant changes in the public's views on gay issues, even on gay marriage.

As I've mentioned before, I don't advocate that the word "marriage" be applied to legally-sanctioned same-sex unions. I'd personally be fine with calling them civil unions, because the word "marriage" is just going to further inflame people such as you, and I think it's important for both sides to demonstrate some degree of compromise. However, it doesn't really matter what we call it, because the Religious Right will continue to oppose any efforts to "approximate marriage," as Cheryl has made clear.

Ultimately, you are going to be on the losing side of this issue. Like Cheryl, it's too bad that you can't focus your passions on something more positive, rather than on fighting against something that doesn't actually affect you directly. I recommend you take a long, hard look within yourself to try to discover why this particular issue has consumed you. Is it based on a revulsion to homosexuality? If so, that's OK, but isn't that a personal issue? Is it based on what you've been taught or told about gay people, rather than what you've actually experienced in your relationships with them? Or, more likely, is it based on a fundamentalist view of the Bible, and if so, why is homosexuality singled out by conservative Christians, while the Bible unequivocally prohibits divorce under any circumstances and the consumption of shellfish, while it condones slavery?

If you would, please read the above paragraph again.

ginger said...

You are just wrong, I guarantee that both the legistlature and a poplular vote would not allow homosexuals to dicatate a change in marriage laws. Oh, maybe some onclaves in King County would vote otherwise, but not the state.

mike said...

I love this. "... wouldn't let the homosexuals dictate a change in marriage laws."

It's like gay people are bogeymen to ginger and her fellow gay-dislikers.

I have news for ginger: I am not gay and would gladly vote for a law that allowed gay people to be legally married (or civilly unioned, or whatever we would call it) and have the same rights and responsibilities as heterosexual married people.

Renton Citizen said...

Ginger, I've spent a lot of time and effort responding to your comments, and I'd appreciate it you could do the same when responding to mine.

I'm not sure how you could "guarantee" that the Legislature or the citizenry would vote a certain way. I believe the most recent polls show the entire country to be pretty much split on the issue of gay unions, and based on the current makeup of the elected officials in our state -- overwhelmingly progressive or centrists Democrats -- it's clear that the political climate has changed quite a bit since 1998. Here are some facts:

Washington State elected officials (Democrats to Republicans):

State House: 63-35
State Senate: 32-17
Democratic 63-35
U.S. House: 6-3
U.S. Senate: 2-0

In addition, the electoral votes of Washington State have not gone to Republican presidential candidate since Ronald Reagan in 1984.

While party affiliation is not always the best indicator of voters' attitudes towards gay issues (especially in more conservative Democratic-leaning areas, like the Upper Midwest), it's usually pretty accurate in determining the strength of a state's socially conservative voting bloc. In that context, Washington State has become far less conservative. So again, I really don't know how you'd "guarantee" that people would vote to outlaw gay marriage.

Enough of the numbers, though... did you read my last post and really consider all the points I made?

Renton Citizen said...

Mike, I believe the new term for straight people like you is "homosexualist." At least that's what Ken Hutcherson and his Eastern European thugs are calling you.

You're in good company here in Washington State, though!

ginger said...

Response to your points
Equating changing marriage definition with woman suffrage, slavery, voting rights is over the top at best, but more likely ludicrous. Especially in the case of the civil rights movement, those folks find it ridiculous that the “change marriage” crowd tries to use that analogy. It is also ridiculous to paint those who oppose redefining marriage, with supporting harassment, discrimination, etc. Those who take away rights or do harm to others, no matter what their sex preferences is, are wrong.
Defense of Marriage act, defeated by religious right movement? What?? In 1998, we were in the decadent era of the Clinton administration. Did the legislatures and the people who voted for them back then lose their free will back then, but now they suddenly have it? With regard to Tim Eyman, my take is that most people are experiencing Eyman fatigue. My gut still tells me, if you poll the entire state of Washington, redefining marriage would not succeed (maybe in Seattle and King County).
Marriage versus civil unions- no quibble from me on your statement, but there are folks who legitimately believe those who are fighting for redefinition are simply using civil union descriptions and language to circumvent the redefinition of marriage efforts, which ultimately would grease the skids to change that definition in the courts.
City Council Race- I believe Cheryl Haskins is within her right lead efforts to oppose redefinition of marriage, and I adamantly disagree with your broad brush that she is hostile to gays. More importantly, her efforts and vision as a city council member have very little connection to redefining marriage , and the campaigns should be judged that way. You have issues with the $ raised, fine, let the voters decide how relevant that is.

Renton Citizen said...

Ginger, you're sounding an awful lot like Cheryl Haskins. Are you related to her? :-)

Here are my responses to the points you made:

"Equating changing marriage definition with woman suffrage, slavery, voting rights is over the top at best, but more likely ludicrous."

Please go back and read my paragraph -- I was making a case against the tyranny of the majority and a case for representative democracy, not comparing apples for apples. Nonetheless, there are many, many people who would disagree with you and say that the struggle for gay rights is very similar to the other struggles I mentioned. I'm not going to get into it -- I'll let others, especially people of color and women, make that case. I believe an African American woman already did so in a previous reply to one of my postings, in fact.

"Defense of Marriage act, defeated [you meant to say "promoted," I think] by religious right movement? What?? In 1998, we were in the decadent era of the Clinton administration. Did the legislatures and the people who voted for them back then lose their free will back then, but now they suddenly have it? With regard to Tim Eyman, my take is that most people are experiencing Eyman fatigue. My gut still tells me, if you poll the entire state of Washington, redefining marriage would not succeed (maybe in Seattle and King County)."

First of all, your "gut" feeling is a little different than "guaranteeing" that the Defense of Marriage Act would pass today, which you said in your earlier post. Are you sure this is still Ginger I'm talking to?

The Religious Right, as well as the Republican Party, did indeed use the issue of gay marriage to galvanize its base (and rake in money) starting in the late '90s, and continues to do so. Conservative Christian organizations have been behind every piece of anti-gay marriage legislation, from state constitutional amendments, to the Federal DOMA, to the attempt to amend the U.S. Constitution. The whole campaign started after a court ruling in Hawaii that forced the state legislature there to address the issue of marriage equality. Since then, enormous, unrelenting pressure has been put on politicians of all stripes by religious conservatives to support such legislation, or face targeted elimination in their next bids for reelection. Cheryl's ability to raise over $50,000 from her church friends is demonstrative of the immense organizational and financial resources available to the conservative Christians. There is simply no other group in this country that has more political clout, money, or resources (especially willing volunteers) than conservative Christians. The budgets of conservatives organizations -- not to mention the deep pockets of the churches that support them -- completely dwarf the resources of any other interest group. I challenge you to prove otherwise.

As far as 1998 being within the "decadent" period of the Clinton administration, I beg to differ. Both houses of Congress were controlled by Republicans, many of whom had been swept into office during the 1994 election, with massive assistance from religious conservatives. Regardless of what was going on at the White House at the time, religious conservatives had a very clear and powerful political agenda, much of which relied on shifting their focus from abortion to gay marriage. The Christian Coalition, in particular, was in its glory days -- funding and supporting candidates from local school boards to the U.S. Senate.

Regardless of what happened in 1998, this is almost 2008, and people's attitudes have changed about gay rights and gay marriage, especially since gay marriage has existed just across the border in Canada for several years now, as well as in Massachusetts, without having a negative impact on heterosexual marriage or traditional families (and I imagine there will be some significant studies on that issue in the coming years to support that position).

Not many people knew that Tim Eyman was behind R65 (his name wasn't on the measure, for one thing), so the claim that they were just suffering from "Tim Eyman fatigue" is weak. The fact is, most of the people who were solicited to sign onto the ballot measure were religious conservatives, and even they chose not to sign. And by the way, R65 wasn't about gay marriage, it was about repealing the addition of sexual orientation to the jurisdiction of the state human rights commission (so as to protect gay people from discrimination in employment in housing). Cheryl's organization testified against that measure, by the way.

"Marriage versus civil unions- no quibble from me on your statement, but there are folks who legitimately believe those who are fighting for redefinition are simply using civil union descriptions and language to circumvent the redefinition of marriage efforts, which ultimately would grease the skids to change that definition in the courts."

I don't think so... I think using the term "civil unions" comes out of compromise, not a secret agenda. Cheryl's perceptions of what the "other side" is asking for is most likely based on her experience helping defend the WA State DOMA in front of the state Supreme Court, where, yes, there were a lot of gay activists who made a case for complete equality for committed gay relationships under the law, including use of the term marriage. That doesn't mean every gay person agrees with that strategy. But again, religious conservatives really don't care what legally-sanctioned protections for gay couples are called... they're against any form of government protections or recognition for gay relationships -- or even anti-discrimination protections for gay people. Cheryl's Allies for Marriage and Children organization has made that abundantly clear.

"City Council Race- I believe Cheryl Haskins is within her right lead efforts to oppose redefinition of marriage, and I adamantly disagree with your broad brush that she is hostile to gays. More importantly, her efforts and vision as a city council member have very little connection to redefining marriage , and the campaigns should be judged that way. You have issues with the $ raised, fine, let the voters decide how relevant that is."

Absolutely she is within her rights to advocate against gay marriage (and domestic partnership, and anti-discrimination laws), and it's within my rights to make sure the voting public knows about her work in that arena, so they can judge for themselves whether they want someone like her on the city council. I think any reasonable person will look at Cheryl's massive outside funding with great suspicion, but like you said, they can decide how relevant it is. They key for me is getting the word out in a factual manner so that people can make up their own minds, but going up against a war chest of over $50,000 is pretty daunting.

I don't wish any ill-will on Cheryl, and I respect her right to run for office and hold views that are counter to my own. But people need to know what those views are, and where her money is coming from.

Finally, you didn't address the following questions:
Like Cheryl, it's too bad that you can't focus your passions on something more positive, rather than on fighting against something that doesn't actually affect you directly. I recommend you take a long, hard look within yourself to try to discover why this particular issue has consumed you. Is it based on a revulsion to homosexuality? If so, that's OK, but isn't that a personal issue? Is it based on what you've been taught or told about gay people, rather than what you've actually experienced in your relationships with them? Or, more likely, is it based on a fundamentalist view of the Bible, and if so, why is homosexuality singled out by conservative Christians, while the Bible unequivocally prohibits divorce under any circumstances and the consumption of shellfish, while it condones slavery?

I'm very interested in knowing how you feel about the above issues.

Thank you for participating in this discussion.

ginger said...

Just to be clear, I (like yourself) chooses to us a pseudo name, and rest assured, I do not have any connection to Cheryl. I realize it is easy to hide identities in forum like this, but you will just need to trust me.
On the power of the “Religious Right”, I refute those claims of massive influence, by pointing out the power and massive influence of the main stream media. Studies have been done to prove this out that the vast majority of publishers, reporters, and newspapers are heavily democratic and sympathetic to the liberal mind set. There may not be a central organization that coordinates responses, but the influence is very abundant. These are organizations that are not democratic, or beholden to anyone, yet are able to exhort a disproportionate of influence on how issues are presented. It is this massive effort that some organizations put together efforts to put forth opposing views (and losing the battle, in my opinion).
With regard to your last points on focus & passions, I would submit just the opposite, it is your efforts that are against something, that has little to do with you, and mine are to refute questionable arguments for someone I hope, wins a seat on the city council.

With regard to religion, I will refer to the ongoing emails you are engaged with (I think they express my sentiment )