Friday, May 29, 2009

Wyatt "Archie" Bunker and the Politics of Ignorance

Posted By on Fri, May 29, 2009 at 10:47 AM

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County commissioner Steve Mulroy's proposed antidiscrimination ordinance got lots of attention this week. The Flyer reported on the protest led by county commissioner Wyatt Bunker and several ministers, and later on the subsequent County Commission meeting where the issue was debated.

Bunker and his cohorts generated a lot of heat and not much light on the subject. They trotted out the usual fear-mongering — that, if the law passed, gays couldn't be fired for cross-dressing or using the opposite gender's restrooms. They said that homosexuality is a sin, and that gays are trying to force their "agenda" on god-fearing Christians. And they reiterated the threadbare argument that being gay is a "choice," not an inherent trait, such as black skin or blue eyes.

These folks are on the wrong side of history — and of science and common decency. Even if you grant them the absurd notion that being gay is a choice, the argument against job protection still falls flat. You "choose" to be Presbyterian or Muslim or a Republican, but those choices are protected by law. You can't be legally fired for your choice of religion or your chosen political affiliation. So why shouldn't your "choice" to be gay be protected? It's legal to be gay, after all.

What's really going on, of course, is the insertion of fundamentalist religion into government affairs. These folks will tell you, ad nauseum, that they "love the sinner but hate the sin." But "sin" is a religious concept which has no place in civic legal matters. Laws regulate criminal actions, not sin. And there's a very good reason for that: One man's sin is another man's recreation. You may think it's a sin to dance. I may not. Why should your sin be law? If you want a religious state, move to, say, a Muslim country where sin and law are interchangeable. Our forefathers saw the fallacy of such a government. That's why one of the precepts on which the United States was founded is the separation of church and state.

Protecting someone from being fired because they are gay is a simple extension of workers' rights. I don't care what interpretation of the Bible you cite. It's immaterial.

Here's what really puzzles me: Is it possible Wyatt Bunker and these ministers don't know any gay people? Is it possible none of their family members are gay? I can't imagine so, but equally difficult to imagine is how, if they knew real, actual gay people, they would see this proposed law as a threat. Most of the people I know work, play, are related to, and interact with gay people every day. Protecting them from being fired for their orientation seems an obvious good thing.

Ironically, the actions of Bunker and his crowd of Bible-thumping fear-mongers make it even more obvious why such a law is necessary in the first place.

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