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Friday, January 24, 2014

Straight Privilege & HJR-3

Posted By on Fri, Jan 24, 2014 at 3:36 PM

     
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       I fell in true, deep love last year. I would snatch my  boyfriend's hand up in mine any time  I  could. I'd  wrap my arms around him at restaurants when we sat next to each other. I would kiss him in the park, at the ISO, the Sinking Ship patio. I had no  filter on my love. It was gross, and an apology is in order to all my friends. 

       I never thought  about any of it. My heart was pumping love-red blood from my head to my toes and that irrepressible urge to show my love to the world (who did not ask me to do this) would not be easily put asunder.

     We walked down a lot  of public streets holding hands and kissing, and no one ever called us names or threatened us. No one rolled past us and screamed, "FUCKING BREEDERS!" No one stopped us on the street and told us that it was rude to do that with so many kids around. No one ever told us they were going to pray for the redemption of our souls (well, not because of the PDA). No one told us that, while they loved us as individuals, they simply couldn't support our heterosexual lifestyle. No one asked us why we have to act on our heterosexual urges instead of just enjoying each other's platonic company. When we fought, none of my friends rolled their eyes and brushed it off as "straight drama." If we had lived together, my parents wouldn't refer to him as my "roommate." No one ever asked us to tell them, specifically, what we did together in bed or what positions we preferred, or guessed aloud at a group dinner which one of us was the dominant sexual partner. When we broke up, no one suggested that our heterosexual attraction to each other might be just a phase. When I soaked my pillows and comforters with tears, no one accused me of being "a typical melodramatic straight." My straight love and my straight heartbreak were never anything but legitimate and real to the world. 

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      I don't worry that expressions of my heterosexual love might get me beat up behind a bar. I don't worry that the last thing I'll ever see is a pair of hateful eyes, and the last thing I'll ever hear is "Die, breeder," just because of my sexuality. I don't worry about walking around in rural towns where people can tell that I'm straight. No one tells me I need to get raped repeatedly to make me straight. No one has called me a shameful abomination. When I go visit my conservative Christian family with another love in the future, I will do so without anxiety and fear of judgement.
       
      That's what straight privilege is: the myriad of denigrations that gay Hoosiers have to endure as a matter of living their daily lives, regardless of their marital aspirations, that straight people never experience. Eric Turner and Brian Bosma want to cement their underclass status and ensure that no gay Hoosier ever feels entitled to the equality they deserve.

      If we pass a constitutional ban on gay marriage, we are legitimizing the hate that LGBT Americans experience in small and large doses on a daily basis, and on the highest-possible level. Legislators have a profound influence on the society they are the architects of, but guys like David Long and Brian Bosma and Eric Turner do not have to live in that society the way gay Americans do. Indiana's Republican party wants to legislate the gay away, as if only feeding the child you like will make the others just take the hint and go live with another family. And let's not make any mistake about that: Turner's goal is simply to strip rights and use the Indiana constitution to pronounce, once and for all, that yes, gay Americans deserve less than straight ones and Indiana would be better off if they just went to one of those other states.
       
       He can dress up the argument that it's "about the children" with the elementary logic that all childhoods are better off when they are like his: straight, Biblical and conservative, where wives put on their aprons and cook a nice breakfast lunch and dinner for men they haven't fucked or spoken to in years. Turner & Co wants to give Hoosiers a legal ledge on which to elevate and galvanize a moral superiority complex that provides a neat loophole for Conservative Christians to put conditions on the love and compassion for all mankind that their Savior died for. He's not only legalizing discrimination, but codifying the hypocritical, cherry-picked "Biblical" values that are the first stones thrown when conservatives try to shoehorn their discriminatory policies into a faith-based moral imperative. He's not just stripping same-sex couples of insurance benefits, he is dehumanizing gay Hoosiers based solely on his personal interpretation of the word of God. Aside from the obvious fact that Eric Turner's copy of the Bible apparently was dropped into a paper shredder New Testament-first, he's proving a rather audacious disciple by using the Indiana constitution to force this narrow gospel on millions of Hoosiers - while giving Conservatives yet another platform on which to spew bigotry disguised as pseudoscience.

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        Eric Turner probably isn't the kind of guy who would drive by Talbot Street on a Saturday night and scream something about the "fucking faggots" before attending church services the next day. He's probably not the kind of guy who would toss a "girly-lookin' queer" onto the pavement and break his jaw, cheekbone and nose with his fists. He's probably not the kind of guy who would bend down to a little girl holding both her parents hands and tell her that "her mommies are going to burn in hell." But those people exist. I know that because my gay friends have met them, have been harassed and beaten up and spit on and bullied by those people in person and online - a kind of near-constant harassment based in a moral objection to the closed-door sex lives on which lawmakers have no business commenting in the first place, let alone enshrining that invasion in Indiana's constitution. They are the reason some of my gay friends don't reach out and hold the hand of the partner they're deeply in love with, just like I did whenever I felt like it without a second thought. The Hate Crimes division of ignorant homophobia is brash and violent and criminal, but it nonetheless derives its monstrous boldness from the same conviction in which HJR-3 is rooted: that gay Hoosiers are undeserving of a basic sense of humanity and privacy, let alone legal protection and equality. The state's Republican legislators have perverted marriage into a reward for being born straight - though Turner would probably prefer the term "normal" - or at least for diligently maintaining a convincing exterior.
         
      HJR-3 is signing up Hoosiers for another subscription to a tiresome and tragic narrative: If you want to be respected by society as whole person deserving of all the same rights as everyone else, you should just be straight and Christian. If you want to go on insisting on your gayness and living in the open and not being ashamed of your love, demanding the same legal rights afforded to the Brian Bosmas and Eric Turners of the world, you shouldn't expect anything but constant harassment and anxiety, as if the sex you have with a consenting adult partner is somehow your business alone. Ridiculous! (By the way, Turner's last major news splash was for this suggesting that if abortion is restricted to rape and incest, women would just start lying about rapes and incest to get to get admittance to the laugh riot that all abortions are.)
No, you should deny your sexuality and your identity, go to a good school like Purdue or Wabash, get a good job as a lawyer, marry a woman and have a couple of kids and vote straight ticket Republican without thinking too much about the consequences of the platform. After a few years of mindlessness you'll be all ready to run for office, write bills and form the blueprint for society, and decide which of your neighbors, friends and fellow Hoosiers you'd like to become second-class citizens. You know, just like Jesus would do. 

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