Cards on the Table

Here I am in Mississippi. I’ve been trying to get out for well and good all my life. Mississippi is like a cage for the soul, but that’s not to say it’s a bad place.

We have nice weather, except during hurricane season. People mostly leave you alone and let you do your thing – as long as you’re a white, straight, MSEqualChristian, well-spoken man. If you’re black, gay, don’t believe in Jesus, stutter, or happen to be a woman, well. Mississippi might give you a bit of trouble.

Earlier this year, we had a nasty fight over a bill in the Legislature that was basically an argument over whether businesses could turn paying customers away because of their sexual orientation. Mississippi said no to that. I know because I watched the debate on the floor of the state house of representatives, and the house couldn’t pass it as it was originally written.

Instead, there was some fast talking, the bill went to a conference committee, some language was changed, it was passed while no one was looking, and the governor signed it.

So, what’s the point of even having representatives if they’re going to pass things while no one is looking, is my first question. Where’s the democracy in that? It’s more a mockery, really. The way Tolkien’s orcs are a mockery of elves. This was a perversion of the legislative process.

But something good came out of it. Now we have these little stickers, and t-shirts to go along with them.

IfUrBuying

These stickers are courtesy of ifyourebuying.com. You can find them on Facebook here and on twitter @IfURBuyingMS. In the short time since they started, they’ve shipped these stickers all over the country.  They have t-shirts (I bought one), and they’re trying to help the ACLU of Montana (of all places) with a similar campaign.

The American Family Association attacked this campaign and leveled charges of religious discrimination. Which, if you read that press release, you must agree, is frankly stupid. No one’s trying to pressure businesses who aren’t on board to join the program. This is just a lot of hard-working, property-owning Americans deciding to do business with everyone and communicate that message in a visible way. That’s all it is. A few of them have threatened legal action against the AFA over the attacks.

Here’s an editorial that rebuts that AFA message from a Christian perspective.

There’s so much more I could write about here, but I’m already running long. So let me answer the question you surely must be asking. Why? Why does a privileged dude like me care about this? And why write about it on a blog that just wants to be about comics and music and good photos? I’ll tell you why. This is intensely personal. Not just because I know a lot of people who are denied full legal rights on account of their orientation (although that alone would be enough to do it).

I remember the 80s and the Reagan administration. I was a little kid in the schoolyard back then, hearing the jokes the older kids were telling about AIDS.

I know, and no one will ever convince me otherwise, that there are people missing from the table on holidays because of Reagan’s AIDS policy. Which was no policy whatsoever, when you come right down to it. Those people have been gone for almost 30 years now. These are people I only caught glimpses of as a child, and people I never met. I wonder what they were really like. That policy was a direct result of a cultural attitude that made it okay to view differently-oriented people as less worthy of dignity and respect than the rest of us. And that’s what this is really about – treating everyone as human beings.

I am not a little kid in the schoolyard now. So I write about inequality. Not regularly, but often. And when it comes to this one thing, I don’t give a damn about sensibilities. What I’m talking about is bigger than all of us. Even if things can never change, we’re still obligated to try and change them. So I support “If You’re Buying, We’re Selling,” and I’m encouraging other people to do the same. They’re good people, and every little bit counts.

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31 thoughts on “Cards on the Table

  1. “…as long as you’re a white, straight, christian, well-spoken man…” yes, therein lies the problem. This is sadly all too true in too many places and in too many minds. It is appalling and shocking that this happened. It kind of died down in the national media for the most part. It’s disgusting. Thank you for the update on this. I think I’m gonna go buy a tshirt…

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks! I was a little iffy about those last three paragraphs, but two people read the post and told me to publish it. I had to buy the shirt when I saw them. Last time I talked to them, they were talking about adding an online shopping function to their site, but I’m not sure whether they ever did or not.

      They’ve shipped these stickers to Anchorage, Phoenix, and I don’t know where else.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Okay, don’t ever question yourself again when it comes to writing this stuff. Your last three paragraphs were powerful. I got completely angry and fired up when I read them.

        What would be really cool is if they also offered t-shirts that said “If You Don’t Discriminate, I’m Buying”. I would LOVE one of those! Maybe you could pass that along…

        Liked by 3 people

        • LOL, perhaps I will. I just saw a status update on Facebook and they’re overwhelmed by the demand for the stickers. They’re apologizing for the delay and sending out a massive mailout tomorrow.

          This is five people in Mississippi who came up with this idea a little more than a month ago. They’re already having growing pains. How cool is that?

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for bringing this to my attention. Whenever you start writing about things other than art and music and comic books, I sit up and pay attention, because it’s usually relevant and we should all care just because we’re in this together.

    Liked by 3 people

    • You’re welcome. We try to stick to the pop culture, but some things we just have to talk about – otherwise why even have these blogs?

      I agonized for a week over whether or not to publish the first political post here, but I think I made the right decision giving things like this a little editorial space.

      Like

  3. My question is how does a bussiness know whether or not a customer is gay? Are they going to question every customer? Maybe make gay people where an arm band? I long for the day when who a person chooses to love is given no more time and attention by the general public then the kind of toaster they buy (and filed under “mind your fucking business”) and we can get on with solving real problems.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Well, it started out as a law to allow business owners with religious objections to homosexuality a way to refuse service to same-sex couple planning ceremonies, is my understanding. I didn’t do a very good job providing context here – sometimes I forget that, on a blog, anyone can join the conversation at any time.

      It was framed as a defense of religious freedom.

      And I agree, fighting over this comes at the expense of working on other issues. Mississippi has a real poverty problem, for example. But there’s a long list of rights same sex couples do not have, and they should. I don’t see anything to do but keep pressing until something’s done about it.

      Thanks so much for your comments over the last couple of days, and welcome! The Sourcerer account is mine; you can find my gravatar on the sidebar of my writing blog, if you haven’t found that one yet. http://gno112.wordpress.com

      Liked by 1 person

      • Really enjoying the blogs. Thank you for responding to my query. I also forget, living in Canada, how polarizing some of these issues can be in America. I mean, we have our nutty holy rollers, but they are the ones we try to keep in the closet. Mostly.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Hehe. Indeed. What it boils down to is that we’re having a serious disagreement about where the private sphere ends and the public begins. I think our states have too much power to decide that question within their own jurisdictions. The marriage equality, in particular, is thorny. We have states issuing legal marriage licenses and others refusing to recognize them. That’s a big deal, from a constitutional standpoint. Legal reciprocity is important.

          I’m glad you like the blogs. This one hasn’t quite found it’s identity yet, but we’re getting there. We usually only blog once a day, but my work schedule follows the academic calendar, so we have three weeks out of the year when we’re able to crank it up a notch, and you just happened to catch us during one of those weeks.

          Liked by 2 people

          • Between 2003 and 2009 all the provinces in Canada made gay marraige legal. It was done with little fuss or fanfair. I think everyone just shrugged their shoulders and said “Huh? Gay marraige? Sure. Why not?” And then we all had Tim Horton’s and got some free health care at our local hospital. Ha ha ha. That last part might not be entirely accurate. But Canada is not entirely Xanadu. We have ball freezing Winters and some of our Mayors smoke a shitload of crack.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Dude. I think I like you. I hate winters, and heard about the crack thing. I’m about to settle in for a couple of hours of editing, but we should totally keep talking.

              I’m really interested in the differences between Canada and the U.S. – what you’re saying about the way Canada handled same sex marriage makes me very curious.

              Like

  4. On behalf of some very beloved, very well respected folks who are no longer sitting around holiday tables, that I frequent I thank you. Thank you for giving them a voice. Your belief that we all, no matter what we do or who we love have value, that we all deserve respect is one of many reasons that I love you. Thank you.

    Like

  5. Wow. A cage for the soul? Sorry to hear you feel that way. I’ve never felt caged here, and I personally haven’t felt discriminated against as a woman, although I recognize that mileage may vary on that. Of course, that can happen anywhere, as can the other forms of discrimination that you mentioned.

    It’s true that Mississippi is a conservative state, with a very rural, religious population, and our laws generally reflect that. But it has changed drastically for the better since my childhood here in the sixties, and it continues to change slowly as new ways of thinking are gradually accepted.

    Like

    • I don’t have much of a frame of reference for the 60s, so maybe I don’t appreciate the progress as much as I should.

      Part of it’s the fact that I grew up in a very small, rural, conservative area. That colors everything. I’m sure my perspective would be different if I’d grown up on the coast or in a major city.

      Like

  6. Did you hear about the United Church of Christ in North Carolina using religious freedom to fight the same-sex marriage ban in NC? They were saying that because a clergyman can be punished for officiating a same-sex marriage (they’re apparently required to check for a state-issued license first, and if they don’t they can be fined/jailed), their ability to practice their religion in performing ceremonies is being violated. Pretty clever, I thought 🙂

    I dunno, with Pennsylvania and Oregon getting their bans overturned this week, appeals underway and possibly headed for the Supreme Court, DOMA already being struck down, I can’t see how these backward laws can last. At least, I can’t see how this kind of state-sanctioned bigotry will exist when my kids are grown.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good points, all. I did hear about that NC thing. I follow The Campaign for Southern Equality very closely, and they keep me apprised. I also try to help them with my social media when they’re doing actions.

      I agree, it can’t last. Generational changes will take care of it if nothing else does, I think. But I’m not inclined to wait that long, or to just trust it to happen on its own. The Penn. and Oregon developments are a good sign. A groundswell seems to be building out West.

      thanks so much for your comment!

      Like

  7. Awesome post. I admit I had to read it a couple of times because I lack the context to understand the issues (NZ news agencies don’t report Mississippi news all that much). Then I had to stop myself just sitting slack-jawed and going WTF?

    New Zealand is far from perfect, but we are still a reasonably equitable society. We finally managed, about a year ago, to abolish the law that prevented same-sex marriage. It was overdue, but passed with very little real opposition and made a You Tube hero of one of our more politically conservative MPs http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AfSGOK5jC9I – who spoke passionately in favour of equality. And he was right; equal rights matters greatly to those who have been denied them, but for the rest of us, life goes on. The sky doesn’t fall and the plagues don’t arrive because we have chosen equality and compassion over dogma and fear.

    I’m not religious, so I struggle to find a frame of reference that can make sense of religious bigotry. I have read the New Testament and actually thought it was kinda socialist – in the best possible way.

    I’m glad you’re talking about, and writing about, and taking action on this. I abhor inequality and discrimination in all things and believe passionately in the paraphrased version of Edmund Burke’s quote about change: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

    Let’s never be part of “doing nothing.”

    PS: Sorry this became a bit of a rant!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey, I enjoy a good rant now and then. Thanks for sharing about N.Z. with us – we don’t get much news about you folks, either. I was actually shocked at the difficulty or legilslature had passing the bill, and the strength of support making same sex marriage legal is receiving in the state. We’re not not there yet, but I have no doubt that if we keep pressing, we’ll get there.

      I’m with you on inequality and discrimination. If not for that, and my strong feelings about it, I wouldn’t allow one word about politics to be posted on this blog.

      Like

  8. Oh, and I totally hear you about the South being a cage for the soul, which is weird because it’s super nice. Really even some little old ladies I’ve met have been super accepting. But then when a law comes up or something like that, people (en masse and faceless) are just so cruel. I guess it’s a combination of me going to a liberal arts college and having liberal friends, combined with people either just being nice in person or completely missing how cruel they’re being when it’s not actually to another person’s face.

    I’ve been trying to come up with a post idea since I feel like I should have some personal experience here, but I don’t really have a particular experience that would actually illustrate what it’s just like here sometimes.

    Like

    • Yes. It’s hard to put a finger on, and it’s difficult to talk about without seeming like you’re just bashing the whole region and everyone who lives here. I’ve never been able to really communicate it, but I know what you mean.

      Like

    • Hannah! Someone remembered this and shared it as a rebuttal to a Family Research Council thing tonight. I seriously followed a referral, and there it was. We gotta put our heads together and figure out where to talk about this stuff on the internet. Sourcerer just can’t do it. But Gene’O can do it for someone else. 😀 Sourcerer has a lot of constraints at this point. But Gene’O? Haha. Gene’O does whatever he wants. And what he wants right now is to talk more about this stuff as soon as he can find space in his crazy editorial life to add one new thing.

      Like

      • Aw yes! You are the shadow ninja overlord of the internet. And I’m totally in for whatever we come up with. TM can take a certain amount of that sort of thing, but I’m still figuring out what that amount is, since I’m somewhere between “personal blog” and “historicopolitical blog” and more often recently “fandom blog.” The Hunter Murphy guest post about gay southern characters is getting crazy Facebook views and shares right now, at least by my standards.

        Like

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