People like to think that it's just simple ignorance. And that the problem can be solved intellectually and emotionally. Show the people discriminating that the people they are oppressing are just like them and/or have feelings that can be hurt, and the discriminators will see the error of their ways. Their eyes opened by enlightenment, they will stop being discriminatory.
The problem with this is it creates false expectations. Such people believe discrimination is only perpetrated by the dominant segments of society. Minorities of any kind, be they racial, gender, sexual, religious, whatever, would never discriminate, because they already know how terrible it is, and this awareness means they will never subject anyone to such hurtful behavior like they have lived.
It is only relatively recently we have seen empirical evidence how misguided this is. As gay rights and gay marriage have picked up steam, gays have found themselves facing an unusual opposition -- the black community. When gay rights advocates were organizing sit-ins and other forms of peaceful protest, several spokespeople for the black community bitched long and hard about how the gay rights movement was stealing "their" protest methods, like anyone has a monopoly on affecting positive social change.
The black community in general seems opposed to the concept of homosexuality. As recently as a couple of months ago, I read an op-ed piece by a black man on the subject of gay marriage, basically saying that gay marriage was not a equal rights issue because of the nature of identification. Gays can pass for straight and not be discriminated against, but a black man can't pass for white and will always be discriminated against, and that logic was good enough for him to dismiss calls to legalize gay marriage.
I'm not sure where the resistance comes from, and frankly I don't care where it comes from. All I care about is that a group of people not only see nothing wrong with discriminating based on socially defined criteria, but they are more than happy to be exploited by the very Establishment they organized to fight.
Here in Illinois, the question of gay marriage has been gaining steam. Lots of people among the voting populous are cool with it. Enough so that a bill was introduced and approved in the state Senate this past February that would recognize gay marriage in Illinois and all the rights that go with it. Momentum was on our side, and it looked like it had an excellent chance of passing and being signed into law.
And then, the African-American Clergy Coalition got involved.
The black clergy has long been used as a political prop here in Illinois. ComEd used them to lobby for a bill enabling them to raise their rates. AT&T used them to lobby for a bill. The mortgage industry used them to lobby against a bill to toughen up on lenient home loans. And the black clergy can't wait to show they have political power, even if it means putting themselves on a leash to do it.
The AACC is the latest iteration of selling out a political base. They are the new kids on the block in politics, but they have money. And money equals power in politics. The group has gotten $72,000 so far. All the money came from the National Organization For Marriage. You will recognize them as the same group of Mormon-backed, white-bred bigots who got Proposition 8 passed in California. The group decided to reach out to the black community to reinforce their social segregation. Churches are the safest bet because they can lobby and not worry about losing their tax-exempt status. They also don't really need to spend much on ads and such because so many parishioners listen to the pastors. Of the $72,000 received by the AACC so far, only $11,250 has been spent on radio attack ads opposing the gay marriage bill. The obvious question is, what is the rest of the money buying besides loyalty?
By the way, for those of you bristling at my wondering if the money is being funneled elsewhere, it's a reasonable question to ask. The AACC's political action committee paid Bishop Larry Trotter of the New Century Fellowship International and Bishop Lance Davis of the New Zion Christian Fellowship Covenant Church $1,000 each for "clergy consulting."
As a result, this group of black people who have become a wholly owned subsidiary of the white Establishment they fought for decades has cooled the momentum of gay marriage here in Illinois significantly, to the point where, as the bill gets ready for the next debate to clear the next hurdle, it's no longer looking like such a sure thing that it will pass.
Screeching Weasel famously sang that, sooner or later, we become what we hate. It's sad to think that discrimination is wrong unless you agree with it, then you will funnel money and effort into supporting something you never should.
I quote Pogo -- "We have met the enemy, and they is us."