If you had to distill the concept of contemporary politics down to a single sentence, it would be this: As long as there’s a ‘Them’, it justifies the ‘Us.’
This philosophy has been around for as long as mankind, but since the advent of the information super highway and mass media, it defies logic. But the bottom line is, it works.
It was easy for the people who colonized this nation to hate the Indians. Most Europeans didn’t live next door to the Native American. It was easy for them (“us”) to define this country’s indigenous population as simple-minded Godless savages (“them”).
It was easy for our Founding Fathers to condone slavery. The black man (“them”) didn’t look like the white man (“us”) and initially didn’t even speak the same language. And more importantly, they were in the minority. In both cases, the issue was defined by the people who controlled the communication of the era. After all history isn’t written by the vanquished or the damned.
Right now, Florida’s Third District Court of Appeals is deciding whether or not to overturn this state’s ban on gay adoptions. And whatever they decide, it’s only a pit stop on the way to the state’s Supreme Court.
The ban is a vestige of the bad old days when Anita Bryant slapped the “them” label on gays and lesbians, defining the aforementioned as predators that targeted children. After all, the gay media was in its infancy so it was stunningly easy to use such gravity defying logic as ‘gays can’t reproduce so by necessity they have to recruit.’
Back in the mid-seventies, the argument was framed by the mainstream media. After all, there were virtually no out gay people on television. The only time most heterosexuals came across gays and lesbians was when the story was about drag queens, public sex, pederasts or the occasional riot.
AIDS changed all that by forcing a generation out of the closet and into the spotlight. Suddenly we were everywhere—even though we always were. The difference was that we were now visible, whether or not we wanted to be. After all, we lived in a state where people can—and did—lose their jobs over their private lives.
Despite numerous challenges, the ban which runs against common sense still stands. It’s done under the rubric of family values—a real misnomer if ever there was one. Most gays and lesbians I know come from heterosexual parents. We are their families. Do these people think there’s a lab somewhere that clones us?
In this state, a convicted child molester is not automatically disqualified from adopting. In this state a child was removed from his her lesbian birth mother and custody granted to her convicted murderer father. It makes you wonder when this state will become tired of being a punch line.
The law doesn’t address the issue of gays and lesbians in the foster care system. Apparently we are good enough for that.
Both sides acknowledge the odds of the ban being repealed via legislation are virtually non-existent. After all, the gay and lesbian population is at best only ten percent and more likely significantly less. We’re the perfect ‘them.’ Why risk political suicide on an unpopular issue? This law gives its supporters the opportunity to say they are upholding Biblical principles and being righteous without inconveniencing themselves. Not like that annoying ‘Love thy neighbor’ thing.
The local author of ‘Living and Dying in 4/4 Time,’ Paul is a journalist and social worker who has been working as an AIDS activist since his days with the Gay Men’s Health Crisis Center in NYC in the 1980’s.
I will concede one point. In a perfect world children should be raised by a loving mother and father. Of course in a perfect world politicians should be concerned with doing the right thing and not getting re-elected at all costs. In this world, if it was perfect, they’d also have to wear clown outfits while they’re on duty.
It isn’t that I think a traditional heterosexual couple is better than a same gender couple. But we live in a world where people are still delineated into us and them. Despite what we know people are still judged by the color of their skin, the length of their hair, their ethnic heritage, etc. and not as a wise man once said by the content of their character.
That in mind, why would a loving parent want to provide an excuse for other people to treat their children as if they were an aberration?
So let’s make it easy on the majority by making the issue go away. If everyone who feels gays and lesbians shouldn’t adopt and clean up the mess that heterosexuals make went out and adopted all of the eligible children, the issue would be moot.
And if they refuse, then at least they’ll have to establish that they actually hate us more than they love children.