The nice thing about being a Republican state legislator in Georgia is that there is no shortage of straw men to beat up on next month when Eric Johnson and his gang of thugs meet up in Atlanta. The upstanding citizens that gather ‘neath the Gold Dome need easy targets to grant the appearance that they’re doing something, while allowing them to do absolutely nothing of importance.
Fortunately, as our local paper points out, the Republican majority won’t just have to limit their silly legislative attacks to the poor and the elderly (for instance, last year’s Voter ID law), or the illegal immigrants who showed up in Georgia looking for a better life (witness, oh gosh, we don’t know, virtually every piece of legislation the GOP majority has bandied about for 2006.) Thank heavens they’ve still got the gays to pick on too.
Picking on the gays is the subject of a piece in today’s ABH, courtesy of their corporate owner’s Atlanta bureau. Among the proposals on the table are the infamous parental consent bill for school organizations, which would require a permission slip for your kid to join the Chess Club (or perhaps the A/V Club, a hotbed of scholastic hijinks if there ever was one), and a potential bill to ban homosexual couples from adopting children.
We’d put our money on both of these proposals making it to the floor. Hey, it beats making laws that actually help people. Consider this: We’ve got over 2 million Georgians without health insurance, and before some of our conservative friends hop up on their high horses about this, it should be noted that over 75% of them are in the workforce. Now, how many homosexual couples in Georgia are out there champing at the bit to adopt a child? We’re not sure, but we’re guessing that it’s far less than 2 million.
How many kids in Georgia are living in poverty right now? The number, as of the 2000 Census, is a little over 350,000, which includes 25% of all the Hispanic children in the state, and 30% of all the black kids in Georgia. Call us crazy, but we’re betting that the parents of those kids are just a hair more concerned with putting food on the table than they are with whether their child wants to join Model U.N.
With respect to the bill concerning parental notification, we’d point out the obvious truth behind the thread of snarkiness running through this post. Of course this bill wasn’t written with the Chess Club or the A/V Club or the Model U.N. in mind. This bill had one type of club in mind and one type only – organizations that provide a support network for GLBT students. It’s discrimination disguised with smoke and mirrors. It’s hatred and tolerance dressed up as responsible parenting. With over 25% of minority children going to bed hungry every night, with 2 million Georgians living without health insurance, it’s a disservice to the people who put our legislators in office.
It’s nice to be idealistic. It’s healthy to want, more than anything, to have a legislature who isn’t scared to take on the tough issues and to champion the rights of everyone in our society. It is righteous and moral to strive to make sure that those 350,000 children have the food and the clothing and the education they need to thrive. But, it’s important to be honest with ourselves as well. Will the legislature use the burgeoning budget surplus to address these problems?
Instead, we’re going to have weeks upon weeks of picking on every convenient straw man that doesn’t jibe 100% with the worldview foisted upon us by Eric Johnson or Nancy Schaefer or, heaven help us, Sue Burmeister.
But hey, no one in the state legislature is poor, and they all have good insurance. And it beats making real laws that actually help people. So enjoy the open season on gays and Mexicans.
Your tax dollars at “work.”