Measured Against Reality

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Gay Rights, History, and a Wyoming Republican

From Ed Brayton I learned of this speech by a Wyoming State Representative named Dan Zwonitzer, a republican. He defends gay rights very well, while speaking of how the cultural momentum will eventually grant gays equal rights, despite the wishes of those who, inexplicably, want to deny them. This truly is the civil rights crisis of our time, and I'm glad that some politicians are willing to put their offices on the line to be on the side of justice and compassion.

Here's the speech:

Thank you Mr. Speaker and Members of the Committee.

I am not going to speak of specifics regarding this bill, but rather talk about history and philosophy in regards to this issue.

It is an exciting time to be in the legislature while this issue is being debated. I believe this is the Civil Rights struggle of my generation.

Being a student of history, as many of you are, and going back through history, most of history has been driven by the struggle of man against government to endow him with more rights, privileges and liberties to be bestowed upon him.

In all of my high school courses, we only made it through history to World War 2. It wasn't until college that I really learned of the civil rights movement in the 60's. My American History professor was black, and we spent a week discussing civil rights. I watched video after video where people stood on the sidelines and yelled and threw things at black students walking into schools, I've read editorials and reports by both sides of the issue, and I would think, how could society feel this way, only 40 years ago.

Under a democracy the civil rights struggle continues today, where we have one segment of our society trying to restrict rights and privelges from another segment of our society. My parents raised me to know that this is wrong.

It is wrong for one segment of society to restrict rights and freedoms from another segment of society. I believe many of you have had this conversation with your children.

And children have listened, my generation, the twenty-somethings, and those younger than I understand this message of tolerance. And in 20 years, when they take the reigns of this government and all governments, society will see this issue overturned, and people will wonder why it took so long.

My kids and grandkids will ask me, why did it take so long? And I can say, hey, I was there, I discussed these issues, and I stood up for basic rights for all people.

I echo Representative Childers concerns, that testifying against this bill may cost me my seat. I have two of my precinct committee persons behind me today who are in favor of this bill, as I stand here opposed, and I understand that I may very well lose my election. It cost 4 moderate Republican Senators in Kansas their election last year for standing up on this same issue. But I tell myself that there are some issues that are greater than me, and I believe this is one of them. And if standing up for equal rights costs me my seat so be it. I will let history be my judge, and I can go back to my constituents and say I stood up for basic rights. I will tell my children that when this debate went on, I stood up for basic rights for people.

I can debate the specifics of this bill back and forth as everyone in this room can, but I won't because the overall theme is fairness, and you know it. I hope you will all let history be your judge with this vote. You all know in your hearts where this issue is going, that it will come to pass in the next 30 years. For that, I ask you to vote no today on the bill. Thank you.


The sentiment that our grandchildren will wonder how our current situation could have ever happened (as most of us wonder how anyone could have supported segregation or slavery) is one I've mentioned before. As that post says, how will you want your grandchildren to think about you? As a bigot and an embarrassment, the way you'd view your very racist family member, or as someone to be proud of, someone to learn from, someone who stood up for the rights of a minority when it counted? Act accordingly.

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14 Comments:

  • Stu,

    I completely agree. I think it was you who said somewhere in your comments that as long as something isn't hurting others, it's alright by you. Again, I completely agree. I've seen the discrimination first hand and it's certainly high time we stand up for equal rights.

    By Blogger Terra, at 1:52 PM, February 28, 2007  

  • Don't be facile. People aren't "inexplicably" anti-gay marriage--they are anti-gay marriage because they think that it is better for society if children are raised in heterosexual homes. Some believe that homosexuality is a sin and they believe that government shouldn't promote sin. These are all arguable propositions, but they are what people believe and they aren't bigoted beliefs--they are what some people think is best for society. Reasonable people can differ.

    The real bigots in this debate is the people who don't accept that different people have different beliefs.

    Personally, I don't believe that government should be in the business of trying to "improve society," whether its through the promotion of heterosexual sexual marriage or the promotion of homosexual marriage. Live and let live. But at very least we should accept just because another person has has different beliefs doesn't make them a bigot. We you ask people to be accepting of your beliefs, then you should be accepting of theirs.

    By Anonymous Stan Lee, at 7:25 PM, February 28, 2007  

  • Stan, I call it bigoted because I have found that every single person who espouses the position is actually bigoted against gays, and use the arguments you enumerated to hide that fact. Perhaps there exist people who genuinely believe that society will be better without gay marriage and don't hate gay people, but I have yet to meet one.

    By Blogger Stupac2, at 9:02 PM, February 28, 2007  

  • Reasonable people can differ. But I've never met one "reasonable" religious freak (leaders of the charge against gays). Their whole system of so-called beliefs is based on just the opposite of reason - it's based on blind faith. How can you debate with a person who justifies everything they belief on falacious logic (the bible says it, so i know it's true. i know the bible is true, because it says so.)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:27 PM, February 28, 2007  

  • The point is that *all* people are entitled to fair and equal treatment under the law. Permitting homosexuals the same rights as heterosexuals is in no way a "promotion" of homosexuality. Forty years ago, commenter stan lee might have argued that people aren't "inexplicably" racist because they think it is better for society if children are raised in single race homes; that desegregation was a "promotion" of black interests; that the government shouldn't be in the business of trying to "improve society". Live and let live. Separate but equal. Be tolerant of my religious beliefs (e.g. fear and hatred of blacks). Somehow I doubt Jesus would have seen things quite the same way, buddy.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:54 AM, March 01, 2007  

  • I had to post something on this. I will take your challenge on the "hate" and bigotry comment. I work with gays, had gays work for me, have current friends who are gay, had friends that turned gay and have known and associated with many gays from both sexes over the years. I hardly think that I count as "hating" gays and I definitely don't condone any kind of violence, occupational segregation or other personal discrimination against gays.
    I do think that being gay is a sex related choice that an individual has the right to make for themselves as much as it is a choice for me to choose to be faithful to my wife. I do think that there is a distinct difference between a person being born into a race and a person making a sexual choice in their life.
    It is my personal experience that most who embrace the lifestyle tend to be narcissistic and prone to "you are a slave to your emotions" philosophy. I do have children and I think that gay lifestyle does not give children a balanced view of the world in terms of relationships. I have known a number of children from gay relationships, one of them being the child of a prior neighbor of many years with a background in psychology/counseling. The young man struggled with relationships with both sexes. He couldn't appropriately relate with females and his own sexuality and he couldn't come to terms with friendships within his own sex either. He may not even be typical but the issues were definitely related to the lifestyle of his "mothers". I don't believe in taking children away from their parents, gay or not, unless there is a real danger to the children. I do believe that a gay couple can successfully raise a child as much as a single mother, grandparent, foster care or orphanage can. I definitely believe that the BEST environment for a child is in the safe home of a loving male and female parent. I call that a marriage.

    "Under a democracy the civil rights struggle continues today, where we have one segment of our society trying to restrict rights and privelges from another segment of our society." - garbage!
    Our society has always restricted the rights of others based on their choices. If you choose a lifestyle, regardless of the biological or other influences to do so, you also choose your rights and privileges associated with that lifestyle. Criminals pick prison, obsessive businessmen pick wealth over family, couples who live together without marrying choose to forgo the tax break. Even religious choices can bring restrictions in an otherwise undiscriminatory environment if the choices affect society. People have a right to the consequences of their decisions and society as a whole has a right to determine what choices it will consider best for it's benefit and growth.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:01 AM, March 01, 2007  

  • Let's take this discussion off the third rail of religion for a moment. I believe this should be framed as a 'state's-interest' argument, removed from religious rhetoric. It's actually in the state's interest for as many people as possible to form mutually beneficial unions and support structures, because that lessens the potential burden on the state for things like healthcare, elder care, etc. Prevention of people from entering into marriage is not in the state's interest, and therefore all arguments against it are irrational.

    By Anonymous popjack, at 7:26 AM, March 01, 2007  

  • Don't be facile. People aren't "inexplicably" anti-interracial marriage--they are anti-interracial marriage because they think that it is better for society if children are raised in one-race homes. Some believe that miscegenation is a sin and they believe that government shouldn't promote sin. These are all arguable propositions, but they are what people believe and they aren't bigoted beliefs--they are what some people think is best for society. Reasonable people can differ.

    The real bigots in this debate is the people who don't accept that different people have different beliefs.

    Personally, I don't believe that government should be in the business of trying to "improve society," whether its through the promotion of interracial marriage or the racially-separate marriage. Live and let live. But at very least we should accept just because another person has has different beliefs doesn't make them a bigot. We you ask people to be accepting of your beliefs, then you should be accepting of theirs.

    Let's be "reasonable" here, people.

    By Anonymous Lan Stee, at 7:59 AM, March 01, 2007  

  • The "Won't someone please think of the children?" argument just doesn't hold water in this case, and frankly, I roll my eyes so hard every time I hear it that I'm surprised I haven't suffered cramps of some sort in my eye sockets. It's best for children to be raised in homes with responsible adults - period. People in general are not without faults, regardless of whether they happen to be heterosexual. It's not in anyone's best interest for a child to be raised in a home where one parent is, for example, an alcoholic, but this argument seems to imply that by virtue of being a heterosexual household the child in question somehow is in a better environment than if he or she were in a home with two parents of the same gender. That's asinine and ignorant. Even removing the attribute of alcoholism from the scenario, is it truly better for a child to be in a home with a male and female parent if, say, one parent is aloof or inattentive? That is better than being with two same-sex parents? Is an abusive or neglectful situation any more or less likely to occur in a heterosexual home than in a homosexual home?

    The other argument in this same vein that is tossed around with alarming regularity is that children need both a mother and a father. Ok, great. That seems to work out perfectly well for the millions of kids whose mothers or fathers leave the relationship or who suffer the death of one parent. So it then becomes an argument not just against same-sex child-rearing, but single-sex parenthood as well. The importance of a 'mother and father' for each child isn't as crucial as having positive role models of both genders. I doubt anyone would bat an eyelash at a widowed mother raising a child with the help of Grandpa. Likewise, a child with two moms could benefit from the relationship afforded with a male grandparent or any positive male influence. Even in heterosexual households, however, this isn't always an option - especially if a father is absent or abusive.

    Finally, it's a ridiculous argument for someone to make when trying to justify their position against gay marriage if for no other reason than that the sole purpose for marriage - any marriage - is not procreation. Not all married couples have children, and not all heterosexual couples who have children choose to marry. Marriage is an institution independant of the choice to reproduce and what's truly baffling to me (as well as to others, I'm sure), is that if one removes the religious slant from the equation - which one should do with respect to the decision to separate church and government - that leaves only the issue of whether it harms anyone's health, infringes upon anyone's rights, or adversely affects society as a whole. In this whole ridiculous conflict, not one person has been able to show any way in which affording the same rights to same-sex couples that heterosexual couples enjoy would affect anyone else whatsoever. Aside from the occasional monacle dropped in shock and horror at witnessing Owen and Elliott arriving at their new home with a "Just Married" banner in the back window. ;)

    By Anonymous bitchinmona, at 10:10 AM, March 01, 2007  

  • if i don't want a black person to use the same bathroom as me, am i bigoted or merely a "reasonable person" with "different beliefs" about what "is best for society?"

    By Blogger adam, at 10:31 AM, March 01, 2007  

  • I believe that Stan is a retard. He would probably disagree with that; making him bigoted against my belief that he is a retard...eo ipso, Stan proves that he is a retard.

    By Blogger Alex, at 11:43 AM, March 01, 2007  

  • In a previous post, by an Anonymous writer, he mentions that he has had numerous contact with gay people and yet he doesn't believe that they should be allowed to marry the same sex. He says that he chooses to be faithful to his wife, so therefore, gay people are choosing a lifestyle that denies them that ability. I'm sorry, but when I was going through sex-ed in middle and high school, I don't remember there being a choice. I remember being taught that man has sex with woman woman gets pregnant, *bam* procreation. If I am choosing to be gay, you chose to be straight. You made a conscious decision to love the opposite sex. Did you? Did you struggle with the question throughout your adolescence or did you just do it because that was what was fed to you? Also, one child is not indicative of what happens to all children raised by same-sex couples. Heterosexual parents can raise children that struggle with all relationships and get confused. I personally feel that two parents of the same sex would help a child to realize and accept diversity. It's not like the child won't go to a park and play with children with opposite sex parents. If the child in your experience was confused it was due to the teachings (or lack thereof) of his or her parents, not the parents gender.

    By Anonymous Heather Ellis, at 1:40 PM, March 21, 2007  

  • Heather, that's exactly right. The anonymous commenter is an idiot, I just generally don't respond to idiots.

    By Blogger Stupac2, at 3:06 PM, March 21, 2007  

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