Sheila S. Kennedy

Special Rights

Filed By Sheila S. Kennedy | January 30, 2007 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics, The Movement
Tags: Animal Farm, civil rights, George Orwell, LGBT community, SJR-7

One of my favorite blogs, Dispatches from the Culture Wars, has really hit the nail on the head in a discussion of that perennial favorite, "special rights." (You know--the rights everyone else has that gays have the nerve to want too.) In a post about the "family values" crowd in Ohio being appalled, just appalled, by new anti-job-discrimination policies covering state workers, he says:

"I think this is really where the disguise gets ripped off. The religious right continually tells us that they don't hate gays they just don't like the sin, yet they scream bloody murder when they're prevented from firing people from their jobs just for being gay. Sorry but "we don't hate you, we just think you should be fired so your family goes hungry" is neither loving nor "pro-family", nor is it moral in any sense of the word.

Even more ridiculous, as I said, is the notion that this is a "special right." You can't fire a person for their religion, of course, so Christians already have the very right that they claim is "special" when gays have it. The only thing "special" about it is that they apparently think it's their own special right and no one else should get it. There simply is no reason to oppose a rule against employment discrimination against gays when you demand such protection yourself, and it's idiotic to call it "special rights" when you demand that same right yourself and already have it."

Whenever I hear arguments about "special rights," I always think about a lesbian friend who said, rather wistfully, that she did consider them special, since she didn't have them. And then I think about Orwell's classic "Animal Farm," where everyone was equal, but some were "more equal than others."

Here in Indiana, SJR 7--like the shark in Jaws--is back. Once again, the GLBT community and its friends will have to march and argue and lobby and scheme to avert an effort to make inequality and second-class citizenship a permanent part of Indiana's law. Once more, a marginalized group of people will have to fight just to have the rights that others take for granted. Once more, the fight will be between people who want equality and those who see the equal rights of others as a threat to their own status as "more equal," more entitled, more acceptable than their neighbors.

If history is any guide, this bigotry too will be discarded, or at least it will lose legal sanction. But Thomas Jefferson sure knew what he was talking about when he warned that "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty."

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