Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Gays and latinos and the poor, oh my!

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.”


gap said...

I must be a slow session in the legislature if passing anti-gay bills is all they have to worry about. I also don't see the benefit for lawmakers that would sponsor such legislation unless there is a considerable amount of fear and hatred of gays in their particular districts. Lawmakers usually propose things like mandatory seat belt laws and then they trumpet their concern for the welfare of Georgians. I dont see how a lawmaker can drum up support by telling the voters that they protected them from "havin' them gays adopt children."

gap said...

also the term "gay rights lobbyists" is somewhat of a misnomer. If the "gay rights lobbyists were pushing for tax breaks for homosexuals that would be one thing, but trying to maintain the ability to participate in things that most americans can do, such as having a club in high school is not exactly asking for special treatment.

Dawg Corleone said...

I've never understood the whole gay thing.

I mean, if you tell me you're gay, all you're really telling me is how you have sex. Or--worse--how you would like to have sex. It seems presumptious of you to think I would care, let alone feel obliged to set policy based on your predelictions.

I mean, I don't stage protests or parades based on how I choose to have sex. But gay people do, and seem to think I should be interested. I'm not.

DoubleDawgDareYa said...

Well, see, I think their thing is that for most of human history we most definitely HAVE cared, and it's been a basis of very bad treatment. If everyone felt like you, you'd be right; but that doesn't seem to be the case even today.

Anonymous said...

I bet we'll see a concerted effort to sweeten up the agenda with all sorts of supposed win wins, sprinkled with a smattering of Dr. Philisms (You can't drive a donkey thru the eye of a needle, it just won't happen).
They are going to be the warmest, fuzziest Republicans we're likely to see until next campaign cycle.
Predictable, isn't it?
But there will be some issues we won't let them forget, like that pesky photo id bill. There's an article in the ABH today about that being a priority of the Black Legislative Caucus this next cycle, and we have got to keep the heat ON about that.
I think we should use that cut-rate insurance scam they voted thru (without mammagrams included!) against them. We need to pull out all those secrecy bills, and jump their co-sponsors repeatedly over them. And on and on and on. I hope we are aggressive with whatever issues we make the agenda this cycle.

And as the underdogs, the very LEAST we can do is set the agenda. That would be a huge win.

oh well, dreaming, aren't we?


Dawg Corleone said...

Dreaming? Pretty much. Republicans WANT those black Democrats to oppose the voter ID bill. The louder, the better.

Ned said...

You hit the nail right on the head there, Dawg Corleone - being Gay is all about, and more importantly - only about having sex. It isn't about forming healthy relationships and wanting the same civil rights and liberties as non gay couples. It isn't about being unable to visit your partner in the hospital when they are dying, and then all the drama that you have to put up with regarding the transfer of property after their death.

Being gay isn't about the struggle of getting your company to pay for the insurance of your spouse, even though they are more than happy to provide it to you if you are a straight couple. It isn't about being unable to adopt a child and provide a loving home for them when our state has orphanages full of unloved children, and even more in shitty foster homes.

Nope, being gay is all about wanting to have sex with members of your own gender. There is nothing more to it.

I mean, what do the gays really think they are trying to do here. It isn't like the constitution of the United States talked about life, liberty and the pursuit happiness. What it really talked about was life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for White Heterosexual Christian Males and everyone else can go fuck themselves.

As a society it bothers me that large portions of our population would rather spend their time pushing people down because of their sexual orientation, all the while claiming to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. It is like you justify your hate with a book that basically says: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. You conveniently ignore all the parts of the bible that talk about loving your neighbor and what not, and instead focus on the parts of the bible that allow you to hate.

For someone who doesn't like the gays, you sure do spend a lot of time with your head up your ass.

DoubleDawgDareYa said...

In fairness to Dawgcorleone, I don't think he "doesn't like gays"; I think he just doesn't give a damn one way or the other.

But corleone also said that the fact of being gay shouldn't matter in relation to policy. I think that's right, but the fact is on many policy issues it DOES matter when it shouldn't. So members of the gay community who don't want to get screwed (poor choice of words) out of their rights are forced to speak up.

The things mentioned by my co-crack-editor currently in the legislature are evidence of what I'm talking about. So while the way that they prefer to have sex may not matter to YOU, it apparently matters to those making policy in Atlanta.

I'm a Realist said...

Um, Ned...what is the difference between a homosexual and a heterosexual?

The answer is how (or actually with whom) you would like to have sex. I think dawg corleone was pretty accurate in his take.

Being homosexual is a preference. Whether it is genetic, caused by hormonal differences, or pure choice, homosexuality is a preference, just like heterosexuality is a preference.

Anonymous said...

If you are married and/or in any kind of serious relationship then, please answer the following question as truthfully as your heart will allow (and you can ask/answer this silently just to yourself):

Is sex the only thing that matters in your relationship?

Take it a step further:

Is sex the most important thing in your relationship?

I like sex as much as anybody but, if sex were the only thing I cared about then I damn sure would not have stayed married to the same woman for more than 20 years!

You think being gay is only about sex? You have absolutely no clue about the "L" word, do you? Grow up!

I'm a Realist said...

No one said that being gay was only about sex. What we (the royal "we") are saying is that the difference between gays and straights is a sexual preference.

Gay pride parades are just celebrating this difference.

There is no difference between the way we develop relationships or what is important in said relationships. Corleone simply wondered aloud why gays differentiate themselves in an effort to be "included." Seems contradictory to me, but what do I know?

DoubleDawgDareYa said...

Because "we" have a tendency of differentiating them in order to exclude them.

But what I do know either.

ahs13 said...

Althought I am not His official spokesperson, I do understand that Jesus does not want us to hate any person. However, one can love a person and even enjoy being a friend of the person, but not approve of that persons actions. Not agreeing with homosexuality does not mean "hating" the person. That said, legislation that does not promote the homosexual lifestyle is not "picking on" the person. We all currently have the same rights.

BTW, my family, and most families came into this country in a legal fashion. I think it is great that people want to come to this land of ours. Just do it legally. And never in my wildest dreams would I go live/work in another country and not expect to learn the language. Take the tough short road and enter legally and learn english. Then success will come sooner.

I'm a Realist said...

The issues that the gay community trumpets as discriminatory are not discriminatory. They are just bad policies. They equally affect straight un-married people, so they cannot be discriminatory based on their sexual preference.

For example, I have a friend. We were college roommates for three years, and we are as close as brothers. I may be closer to him than his own family. If you were to ask him who he would rather have by his side in his dying moments, he would first say Jessica Simpson, but he would choose my wife and I second. Since we are not brothers, I would have the same trouble visiting him in the hospital. If he wished to bequeath property to me, he would have the same obstacles as a gay man would to his partner. Adoption clearly is not an issue, because I've seen many gay couples with children. Beyond this example, un-married, straight couples face these same obstacles.

So it's not that the policies are anti-gay, they are just bad policies. If we amend the idea of marriage or allow civil unions, these bad policies will still be in place affecting others.

We so often look for the grandiose answer when the little things would suffice.

Dawg Corleone said...

The property bequeathment is simple. It's called a will.

I'm a Realist said...

That's what I thought, too, but evidently the family of the deceased can trump the will or something to that effect. That's what I've been told, anyway.

DoubleDawgDareYa said...

They can't "trump" the will; they can challenge it on the basis that there may have been some undue influence on the testator or that the testator was too senile or something to make the will. But so long as you are of sound mind and understand what you are doing, generally speaking you can bequeath your stuff to anybody you want.

I'm a Realist said...

Well, there is one less issue, right?

monticello_pres said...

That's why I love this blog. We are solving problems.

Oh wait, this wasn't a problem to begin with. It's a marketing campaign for a national lobbyist group. They must have read the "how to" manual written by Rainbow/PUSH.

I'm a Realist stole my thunder. Most - if not all - of the issues facing gay couples are the same issues facing unwed straight couples. Visitation, health care, etc. And since marraige is not a government union rather a religious union, the wrong dog is put in the fight on that.

Publius said...

Due respect to everyone commenting, but I think the point I was trying to get across (and upon which I'd like to see some good discussion) is that Eric Johnson, et al are going after gays, Latinos, etc because that's good red meat for the voters.
Regardless of how you feel about gay rights, isn't it pissing anyone else that our elected officials are choosing to fight the crises that don't exist (for instance, is there a rash of gay people trying to adopt children that I haven't heard about lately?) and leaving the real crises, such as the sorry state of healthcare in this state, not to mention poverty, to fester?
When did it become ok for elected officials in this country to live in mushy middle? Where are the men and women of character who aren't afraid to express an opinion?
Obviously they all comment on AthPo, and heaven knows, very few of us want to run for office.

DoubleDawgDareYa said...

One big point you both seem to be missing is this:
If the unwed straight couple sees all of these issues as a big enough of a problem, the answer is easy: get married.
However, most jurisdictions, and churches for that matter, won't let the gay couple do that.

So, assuming you're right and the issues faced are the same for both couples, government in most cases takes away the most comprehensive solution for gay couples.

It's easy to say "marriage is not a government union, rather a religious union". However, under the current legal regime, that's simply not true. Thousands of rights are twisted and tied up in the legal concept of marriage. Perhaps that should not be so, but it is. And changing it would require a major overhaul of the legal system (which I'm not necessarily opposed too; I need to think about it some more; but I guarantee you that plenty of others would be).

I'm a Realist said...

RE: Publius

Much like the federal legislative branch, the state legislature is a farce. Their problem-solving technique, no matter the issue, is to throw money at the problem. Some issues are too far-reaching for local problem-solving. However, I think we need more awareness at the local level to what solutions are viable and have plans in place for when the legislature throws some money our way. We have problems with affordable housing, education, job-training, etc. etc. that is all tied into the problem of poverty. We need to take steps in the right direction locally because the guys at the capitol don't have a clue.

RE: doubledawgdareya

There is no comprehensive solution for the example I mentioned in the earlier post. He (my friend) is not married, nor is he really likely to be married. There is no "Oh, let's just get married to solve these problems" because 1) I love him like a brother, not like a wife and 2) I'm already spoken for.

Also, certain people just don't want to get married, whether it be religious reasons (like divorcees not wanting to re-marry) or just anti-marriage sentiment. Whatever the case, the laws should be changed to allow these individuals the same personal freedoms without the yoke and legality of marriage...in my opinion.

Publius said...

Trying desperately not to be dragooned into a discussion of gay rights, I'll respond instead to the comment in RE the legislature being a farce. There's really two things I wanted to say about that.

First of all, if the federal and state (and heck, let's go ahead and throw the locals in there too) governments are a farce, then who do you blame? Just look in the mirror. We put 'em there, and we've got exactly the democracy we deserve.

Democracy is like piecework. You earn what you put in to it. Most voters don't pay attention until it's too late, which means that they go for the candidate with the flashiest ads or the most direct mail pieces. Sound bites over substance is the name of the game.

As to the other point, I agree. All politics is local. (Mostly) And the local communities are the ones who ostensibly should know how to put federal and state money to the best use. But, just for grins, let me bring up a few counterpoints on that argument. Hypothetically, let's say the federal government just delivered a fat check to the ACC government. And, just to simplify matter, let's say that the choices for that money came down either funding our troubled homeless shelter or three-laning and bike-laning Prince Avenue. Which would benefit Athens the most? Without a doubt, the homeless shelter, if for no other reason than it would help keep the bums off Dawg Corleone's Range Rover. Which would the ACC Commission choose? Probably the bike-lane/three-lane use. Why? Because the people who need the homeless shelter, by and large, don't make as big a political stink as the folks who don't like seeing Chevy Suburbans from Jackson County tooling down Prince while they're trying to enjoy their breakfast at the Grit.

Second example to counteract the "local control" argument, just for argument's sake. Regular readers know that we've been pretty critical of the Clarke County School District. Would you honestly trust those guys to spend a few million of your federal tax dollars effectively? I wouldn't. Don't trust the state either, though.

Like I said, I'm all about local control and local input, this is more food for thought to spark some conversation. It also provides the impetus for a new open discussion similar to the War on Poverty thread some weeks ago, which I'll be putting up soon.

monticello_pres said...

Getting back to your original intent, yes the legislature is ridiculous. And as someone who has voted R as much or more as I've voted D (keep in mind that I vote for the candidate), these folks in the ATL aren't giving me any new-found confidence in the bi-cameral process.

I don't have much confidence in the R's now - and I didn't have much in the D's then either. Tom Murphy was a mean-ol'-bully. And he was as old school and red neck as anyone. Not much happened that was progressive, that is for sure. Then you add in many of his cronies... including Jimmy Lord (D-Sandersville), Tyrone Brooks (D-who cares), Bobby Parham (D-Millegeville), Nathan Dean (D-Rockmart), et al ... and we had issues.

There was also that D from the Warner Robins area... what was his name... oh, yeah.

Just sayin that a D by your name doesn't make you immune from ridiculous and close minded attempts at legislature. And the problems that you mention - regarding health care, etc didn't spawn after the R movement.

Fishplate said...

That's why I vote L whenever I can...it may be throwing my vote away, but in most cases, the result is preordained anyway (my word, what an oddly-shaped district!), and I can make something of a point with my vote.

First, when the percentages go up to a certain level, third-party candidates are relieved of the signature-gathering requirement. Second, the D/R crowd may at some point sit up and take notice that they are no longer the only game in town.

The solution to the farcical nature of the Legislature is to have less of it. And I have seen neither major party advocate themselves out of their powerful positions.

Publius said...

Less how? Less people in the legislature, meaning each elected official represents more people?

As far as the other point, like it or not, the D/R crowd is the only game in town. I say this as a Democrat who has had plenty of disagreements with my party on certain issues, but consider:

Only twice during the 20th Century has a third party candidate gotten enough popular votes to earn even one electoral vote. (1912 with Theodore Roosevelt and the Bull Moose (Progressive) Party; 1992 with Ross Perot and his collection of yahoos.) Third parties control no seats in Congress, although if you insist, I'll give the Libertarians Ron Paul, even if he was elected as a Republican.

Sure, it's easy to blame the two parties for being the 2-ton elephants of the political process who sit anywhere they wish, and they do bear some of the blame. But third parties aren't going to be taken seriously in America until they start taking themselves seriously. The Libertarian Party has a good base, financially speaking. Most Libertarians I know tend to be fairly self-made who are elitist enough not to understand why everyone else can't be. They're also pretty well-heeled, or at least politically pissed off enough to pony up a modest contribution. Yet, I've never seen a single Libertarian TV ad or direct mail piece come election season. Why? Well, either I'm not one their targeted voters (entirely likely, but none of my conservative friends have gotten mail from the LP either), or they flat don't have the money to run a legitimate campaign.

As for the Greens, I'm not one of those Democrats who blame Ralph Nader for "losing the 2000 for Gore," or whatever that nonsense is. In America, any person who meets the fairly basic Constituional criteria to run for President has a right to do so. Nader did his work, got on the ballot, and had every bit as much right to be on that ballot as Bush or Gore. Besides, the Democrats should've f-ing worked harder. In the grand scheme of mistakes and hard knocks in the 2000 election, Ralph Nader doesn't even crack the top 5.

All I see from the Greens is some happy, Kumbaya crap that has no relation to actual policy. Say what you will about the LP, they have policy, sometimes pretty good policy at that. Show me the Green Party position on ag subsidies or card check neutrality, or any damn thing besides the environment, and maybe I'll start to take them seriously. But you can't win a national mandate without national policy.

So, don't just blame the two parties. If you want a seat at the table, you've got to work for it.

Fishplate said...

Less, not as in fewer, but less as in less intrusion, i.e. less telling me how to live, eat, sleep, smoke, drink, contribute, ad nauseum.

And yes, the Dems and Reps are the only game in town. Why? Well, how much does it cost to collect and verify the signatures of ten percent of the voting public? How much is left over after that to actually run a campaign?

Furthermore, in this day and age of Equality For All and a Level Playing Field, why do some candidates need to jump through hoops to get on the ballot, and others just coast? I guess it's assumed that the Party represents ten percent, more or less, but is that really fair? What harm to the State comes from having ten, twenty, even fifty names on a ballot for any given office? Sure, there's recounts, but if we all voted first, seciond, third choice, there's a way around any significant additional cost.

Personally, I'm in favor of non-partisan elections across the board. Maybe then the people who are too apathetic to learn what an individual candidate stands for will stay home, and leave the voting to those who care enough to educate themselves about the issues and the candidates. For instance, John Barrow is a Democrat. But you imply he will have to become less of one in order to compete in his new district. Thus, there need to be various degrees of Democrat - so how finely do we subdivide the label?

And for the record, I an neither well-heeled or an elitist. Though I do favor personal responsibility. (I mean really, suing WalMart after you've been riding the bike for eight months?)