Thursday, November 06, 2008

WTF Is Wrong with Us?

I am a sad mix of heartsick and angry about Prop 8 in California and the Florida and Arizona constitutional amendments banning gay marriage and the Arkansas ban on "unmarried couples" adopting.

What the fuck is wrong with us? Have Americans learned nothing about how hateful and wrong it is to deprive people of rights because we label them as "different" or "inferior" or a "threat to our way of life?"

Three things that make me want to alternately scream and laugh at the hypocrisy?

1) A southern state pretending that it is "concerned" about the well-being of children who are in foster care--children who are disproportionately poor and of color. These same children's right to exist is routinely attacked in the South via criticisms of poor mothers of color and their child bearing and rearing, stingy systems of social provision, and subpar educational institutions.

Look at this gem from the Arkansas Adoption Resource website that says a lot about perceptions of children waiting to be adopted:
Over the past few decades, the number of healthy, Caucasian infants, who are relinquished to DHS/DCFS for adoption has decreased sharply. DHS/DCFS is not taking applications for normal, healthy newborns. DHS/DCFS continues to accept applications to adopt a healthy, African American child from birth to two years.
Emphasis mine. Here's my translation, "We know black kids aren't the most desirable--but, hey, since we're out of NORMAL newborns, take one of 'em." And, Lord, I'm sure "normal" is also posited as the opposite of "children with disabilities"

And now, suddenly, Arkansas is claiming its all concerned about the children!* (A tactic used in California, as well)

2) The Arkansas Adoption Resource website also says
For a child, there is nothing more important than having a parent to protect, love, and care for them.
Unless that parent is gay and/or living with a partner to whom s/he is not married, apparently.

Also, how do social conservatives rank "the evils?" Can't imagine how they keep it straight--in all my years of Sunday School, I never got the list that ranked and ordered offenses. I see on the website that you can be a (presumably straight?) single parent and foster/adopt a child (maybe the ban affects that too?). Apparently, being a gay, partnered parent trumps being a single parent in the race to "who will be first to be doomed to hell's fires" or something.

Seriously, I don't understand this. Can you adopt if you're single and gay? What happens if you're single (gay or straight), adopt, then move in with someone--does your child become unadopted?

3) The assertion that gay marriage opponents are protecting traditional marriage. Can someone define traditional marriage? Because I think a lot of people mean that glorified, 1950s creation that was relatively new in that it weakened the traditional role of the extended family, placed the burden of meeting all the members' needs on the nuclear family--and particularly on women who were expected to subordinate their own needs and ambitions to that of their families in a way that men NEVER were.

You know, the good old days when women didn't define themselves but were instead defined by their relations to the people who were more important than they--husbands and children? Those were good times, when Miltown and Valium and alcohol and shock therapy allowed women to float through the wonder of it all!

How will gays marrying damage marriage? If you're a marriage proponent, isn't it a good thing when two people decide that they love each other enough to want to commit to spending their lives together?

Bigots, in making the case for why some people don't deserve the same rights as them, routinely attack and interrupt family units. The history I've taught this semester is full of examples. Enslaved parents who had their children sold away from them. The Chinese Exclusion Act which made it impossible for many Chinese men who came here to work to bring over their families. Indigeneous people whose nomadic family life and communal living were affected by the Dawes Act. Mexican and Mexican Americans who were "repatriated" to Mexico despite the ties and communities they'd built across the Southwest. Interracial couples who were denied the right to marry for so long.

The fact that we are still doing this shit leads me back to the title of this post.
*Of course, that assumption is based on our beliefs that our children start out as the same little narrow-minded, fragile, I'm-clinging-to-this-point-of-view-or-I'll-die pieces of work that we are. I talk to my kid about a lot of things, try to teach him that the world is an interesting place composed of diverse peoples and he hasn't exploded or melted into a corrupt pool of confusion. Go figure.


Jennifer said...

It really is amazing to me that the very same day that we elect the first African-American president, we discriminate against another group of Americans.

In Nebraska on Tuesday, affirmative action was repealed. Someone wrote in to our local (Omaha) newspaper to say that Obama's election proves that racism is over. Well, I'd say that both racism and bigotry are alive and well in the good old U. S. of A. And it just makes me sick.

Keri said...

Wow, I just stumbled upon your blog accidentally, but glad I did. That was a GREAT post. I'm with you on all of it. THings can only get better with this new administration, so have hope. I have to believe that SOME day the world will embrace the truth...that we ARE all equal, regardless of ALL labels...

Mystical Cosmic Sea Turtle said...

Great post! I posted a link to it at

Do they even attempt to explain why children in foster care are disproportionately poor and of color, or how taking black mother's babies away is different now than it was 150 years ago?

Some things really need to change.

Revelations and ruminations from one southern sistorian...