I received a voice mail the other day that ended with, “Thank you for being a champion for human rights.” I didn’t know that anything had been won. It doesn’t even appear that we are in the first division or even in the playoffs. I don’t see the championship.
For a brief half century, we enjoyed a period in our country’s history where, even against a cultural backdrop of resistance, we thought of the constitution as something to affirm, expand and ensure civil rights and liberties. Today, that respect for rights, through constitutional measures, the law, or cultural attitudes seems to show up for corporations more often than for most of us.
I am not surprised that there is enough steam to put a statement in our state’s constitution that says we are against men marrying men and women marrying women. The constitution is supposed to be a document that makes statements about who we are as a people and what rights we have as citizens. With all the ungodly things that happen today in the context of legal marriages, we somehow have decided to bring up measures related to legal marriage against the population that has not even had the chance to screw it up like the straight population.
I am not surprised that, even though our country has a four-and-a-half century history of terror legislators feel the need to enact laws that will protect the “rights” of George Zimmerman and anyone who wants to enforce the lingering and pervasive terror against which we have little other protection: certainly not from police culture.
I am not surprised that men who do not even have or acknowledge sexual partners and do not have anything to do with a woman’s reproductive health are trying to decide what women should do or have access to with regard to their bodies. I am not surprised that more men, especially conservative men, are not standing up to say that they do not want the government in the private, sexual parts of their wives–places that they believed were to be exclusively known by them as a right of marriage–and not equally uncomfortable with the government doing the same things with their daughters.
I am also not surprised that there is an effort afoot to prevent hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans from legitimately exercising their basic voting rights, and will quite pointedly hurt voting access to the populations elderly, students, and people who move with greater frequency than other populations (eg. the poor, racial minorities, women fleeing abusers, and anyone else who regularly flees oppression or the difficult situations imposed on them by the social and economic dysfunction protected by current "rights" campaigns), in order to prevent a mostly non-existent fraud that is less effective, more costly and less efficient than most legal, legitimate means to influence elections and get votes for the candidate you want. I guess this right TO vote, a right for which many have died and were tortured and for which many still fight needs to be curbed by the arbitrary possession of a state ID. It seems we don’t need to poll tax or poll “test” or land-ownership requirement to pre-determine the outcome of elections.
I expect that I will have a valid ID with me this upcoming election, as I expect that I will in several upcoming elections. I did run out the door without my ID one election day, several years ago. That was just once.
I expect that I will not start wearing hoodies. Not my style. No need to mess up my hair even more than the ill-quaffed doo that I have been urged to groom with more attention. It is also a nice spring, so I guess I will not need it.
I do not expect that I will ever want to marry a man. Even though it might help me get better health coverage, make it easier on my mom if something happens to me and someone has to make decisions about my care, maybe make it easier to inherit something in my later years, and I know that, if we made enough money, we would qualify for one of the Bush tax breaks.
I do not expect that I will grow a uterus any time soon, nor to I expect to gain the perspective to be given the primary responsibility that gives me the right to make ultimate decisions about one.
So, why am I writing about these other people? It is obvious: I look enough like them to know that I am them. I know enough about history, mine and those who came before me, to make me afraid of all the things that, as a boy, I thought I would not have to suffer because those things that were so awful were exposed and could not possibly continue–because they were so awful.
So, I stood in the Marriage Equity subcaucus at my Senate District convention two Sundays ago. I comment on the fate of all our Trayvon Martins. I remember the people who died, mostly in the south, and where tortured just because they wanted to vote. But I don’t feel like a champion standing up for rights. I don’t even feel like I am in the game, hiding from the men with guns who have historically wanted and still today want the excuse to shoot me or take away my “reproductive” capacity. I breath a sigh when I see those men and realize I do have my “documentation” with me. I am no where near a place where I will be married. Just sitting in the stands.
And in the mean time, I don’t care if the Major League pitcher had an affair with a guy when he was a teenager–much less what anyone did or did not do in high school. It is none of my business what is happening with the insides of a woman I do not love. Whether you look nice in the photo on your ID will not make you a better citizen or vote right, in my opinion. And I still know with that of all the things the Bible says about marriage, none of them are part of the (im)moral right’s assertions of how the institution should be defined.
But some people have taken it upon themselves to “care.” I don’t feel like a champion because they are winning. One day, maybe it won’t be that way.
(Please comments at: http://theclarencewhiteblog.wordpress.com/2012/03/30/not-a-woman-with-hoodie-wandering-without-id/)