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Same-Sex Marriage and Your Right to Discriminate

May 30, 2012

A picture is worth a thousand words, particularly the photo to the Baltimore Sun article reporting opponents to Maryland’s same-sex marriage law have collected more than twice the signatures needed for a referendum on the November ballot. Everyone pictured is overcome with joy, including state delegate Emmett Burns. When I look at the photo I ask myself, What are they so happy about?

Rev. Derek McCoy, executive director of the group leading opposition to the law, believes “Marylanders have a right to vote on this issue.” But Rev. McCoy is wrong. Marylanders have no right to discriminate through popular vote. I have no right to vote on civil rights, but I’m compelled to because of the machinations of far too many religious leaders and “traditional” marriage supporters.

Rev. McCoy invokes the “right to vote” to advance his right to discriminate, marginalize and subjugate. Looking at the Sun photo, I see a group of people–sadly, majority African American–basking in the glory of oppression. And I’m disgusted.

Obviously, opponents of same-sex marriage don’t see themselves as oppressors–they are defenders of traditional marriage between one man and one woman. Of course, men and women will continue to marry despite same-sex marriage legislation and if you defend a tradition that excludes and discriminates, you support subjugation.

Many opponents of same-sex marriage see marriage equality as an attack on religion. Again, what a silly argument. An attack on religion would be a popular vote to determine how citizens could worship. An attack on religion would be a referendum that questions the charitable status of religious institutions. As it is, citizens are free to practice religions of all sorts, from Judaism to Paganism, and everything in between.

Marriage equality has nothing to do with attacking; it’s about uplifting and extending civil rights. And I’ve no right to impede nor interfere. (And nor do you.)

  1. Tamar Cloyd permalink

    Peace, Rodney. I totally disagree. I find it ironic that we are encouraged to cast our ballot on a variety of issues (often with the reminder that people died for us to do so), but then when folks have a different opinion and want to cast their votes, they are demonized as supporting subjugation. Why can’t a person vote against (or not at all) same-sex marriage? If the majority thinks it’s okay, then the majority will ultimately win anyway. We should be able to vote how we choose (either for or against) and we should all respect that. This isn’t a popularity contest or an exercise in following the crowd. People should do what they want and vote how they feel, no matter what. Otherwise, the whole idea of voting just sounds like a waste of time…

  2. Peace, Rodney. I totally disagree. I find it ironic that we as black people are encouraged to participate in the electoral process (often by reminding us of all the people that died for us to have the right to do so), but then when we want to vote contrary to the majority then we are demonized as subjugators. Why can’t someone vote the way they feel? If the majority of people believe in same-sex marriage, it will ultimately be allowed. It’s inappropriate to tell someone how they should vote, whether for or against an issue. And using words like “oppressor” is just as ridiculous of an analogy as you feel about this being an attack on religion…

    • Hey Tamar, thanks for the comment.

      I’m not telling anyone to vote one way or another: I was speaking specifically to McCoy’s comment that “Marylanders have a right to vote on this issue.” I don’t believe marriage equality should be up to a vote; it puts a minority at a disadvantage to a majority. To me, that qualifies as subjugation. Were the Voting Rights Act of 1965 put to a popular vote, our fate would have been left up to the White majority– and I don’t feel too confident of our chances with that.

      I’m also not putting same-sex marriage opposition at the feet of African Americans–white Protestants nationally are actually much more in opposition according to polls I’ve seen. And Maryland’s coalition against same-sex marriage included more than just African Americans, despite the media’s coverage of the issue. But you’re probably right, using the term “oppressor” might be a bit much, but I contend that it is oppressive to dictate to a minority group the interests of a majority group.

      • Totally understood. I actually put this blog up on facebook to see what other folks thought and my friend pointed out the ballot process. I agree that the issue should be with the ballot initiative process.
        That’s where the real issue ultimately lies. And I’ve seen a lot of reports asking black folks what they think about same sex marriage so I was unaware of that whites were largely against it. Good stuff though brother. This post helped me to learn a lot about the political process. Oh, and I posted twice earlier, lol. Sorry about that 🙂

  3. What interesting is that opposing same sex marriage is a place in which many races come to together to find agreement. I find it sad but ironic that opposition to one groups life choices is what brings other groups together.

    But I have to agree with Rodney. People’s right’s should not be subjected to the popular opinion of the people – that is why we have a constitution. And I will never understand how legally recognizing the relationship between two people someone infringes on the rights of a third party.

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