Tuesday, May 21, 2013

With Liberty and Equality for Dan

In a move that is sure to please at least a few Norwegian bachelor farmers in the Lake Wobegon area, Minnesota has become the 12th State in the Union to legalize unions of the gay variety.

Ahh, young love--the above L.A. Times photo shows Rep. Karen Clark, right, and Sen. Scott Dibble celebrating the passage of a bill legalizing gay marriage in Minnesota. Not only are they both gay Minnesota lawmakers, but it appears they are a man and a woman who are gay for each other. That may be a first for any state!

While things look all happy and, uh, gay in the wake of the legislation, adoption of the bill was not smooth sailing. While not a single governor of the state opposed it (he was unanimous!), there were a number of folks in the House and Senate of the good state of MN who did not care for this piece of legislation. Chief among the naysayers was Republican State Senator Dan Hall. When the Mini-soda State Senate was giving the bill the once over earlier in the week, Mr. Hall gave a 12 minute speech to precisely express his feelings of "nay" for the gay.

(You can also read a transcript by visiting this linky-dink.)

Mr. Hall explained that legalizing gay nuptials will do all kinds of harm in all kinds of ways. For example, because people of faith will have to put up with things in which they do not believe, "it'll threaten religious liberty." Mind you, gay marriage won't cause any actual harm to religion, but many people of deep religious conviction will certainly feel threatened. Rule number one: in this country, you're not allowed to do anything that might make Christians feel uncomfortable.

I think the real issue here is this: separation of church and state sounds real nice, but this country was founded on religion. The Puritans came here so they could have the freedom to believe what they believed without persecution--not to have to tolerate what a bunch of queers, Islams or Injuns  might believe (just to name a few). In keeping with that grand tradition, Mr. Hall purports that not only should religious Christian liberty not be threatened, inconvenienced or generally unsettled, it also should not have to give a crap about the rights of anyone else—here's Danny Hall on why legislation is simply the wrong avenue for pursuing this kind of change in society:

"Forcing others to give you your rights will never end well. It won’t give you the recognition you desire. That which is right can easily be seen by all. Let me say that again: That which is right can easily be seen by all."

Right on, brother. You can't force people to recognize other people's rights.

What a mistake that stupid thing was, am I right? Up high, Dan!

I don't know who these gays (and founding fathers) think they are, trying to legislate morality like that. And who's bright idea was it to force Emancipation down slave-owners' throats? It would've been much more meaningful if we'd waited for them to come around on their own. (Though we'd probably still be waiting--progress has an uphill battle in many parts of this land. I mean, the Civil Rights Act was passed back in 1964, and in 2013 Georgia is still telling Segregation, "I wish I knew how to quit you!" The reality is, like many of the loosely affiliated states that make up our Union, Georgia is so hung up on the 2nd Amendment that it just ain't have the time to keep up with all the new-fangled civil rights laws that we keep putting on the books.)

Anyway, so Dan Hall made clear in his speech his opposition to legislation "forcing others to give you your rights." I wonder if Dan appreciates the irony of giving that speech in a building located on Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

My guess is, no, he does not appreciate that irony.

Mr. Hall borrows a lot of Brian Brown's anti-gay marriage talking points. Like Brian Brown, he warns that gay marriage will ruin straight marriage, but he never actually says exactly how. Mainly he just assumes his audience will read into his warnings based on a set of shared traditional values towards homosexuality. And by "values," of course, I mean "fear."

Still, Hall had the good sense to realize that some would disagree with his position and even go so far as to call him a "hater" or a "bigot," so to fend off his detractors he had prepared some words to establish his street cred:

Many have said to me, ‘Sen. Hall, you don’t understand. You’re married, live in a nice suburb, you’ve got kids, live in a nice house, two-car garage, you’re well educated.’

Most of you don’t know I grew up in the southeast projects, 71 Saint Marys [Avenue] by the U of M. Many of my relatives were addicts, criminals, two sent to prison, more than one child molester. Those that my mother tried to keep us away from were relatives. My mother raised four children in the projects but had an alcoholic husband that she divorced when I was six years old.

Two years later, she married another,  my stepfather who also was a drunk. When he was home, we tried not to be. When I was 12 my mother told him, “You either get on your knees and accept Jesus and have him take over your life and stop drinking or there’s the door, don’t ever come back.’ He did that that day, our life changed, that was a turning point in my history. My father this day, 48 years ago today. He’s now in a nursing home, my mother still lives on Lake Nokomis.

I'm not sure what having a shitty childhood has to do with being an expert on gay legal issues, but he really does paint a wonderful picture of traditional marriage.

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