Civil rights are not special rights

As I said in an earlier post:

Is our advocacy really just about us, or do we want human rights and freedom from dehumanization for everyone? When the forces targeting us are at the same time targeting another group of people using the same rhetoric, that seems like a big red flag, with flashing lights. And a siren. It says that we are one human family.

And that we need to stick up for each other.

Thank you to Vivian Paige for pointing out this fantastic op-ed by NAACP Chairman Julian Bond that appears in today’s Virginia Pilot.

Gay and lesbian rights are not “special rights” in any way. It isn’t “special” to be free from discrimination. It is an ordinary, universal entitlement of citizenship.

The right not to be discriminated against is a commonplace claim we all expect to enjoy under our laws and our founding document, the Constitution. That many struggled and even died to gain these rights makes them even more precious.

When others gain a civil right, my rights are not reduced in any way. “Civil rights” are a win/win game “” the more won by others, the stronger the army defending my rights becomes.

Attempts by Christian Nationalists and other elements of the anti-gay industry to enlist conservative black churches in their cause serve two purposes. One is to achieve specific objectives, such as passing the Marshall/Newman amendment and measures like it. The other is simply classic divide and conquer strategy.

We saw it at work from the other direction in a recent editorial by Jasmyne Cannick of the National Black Justice Coalition, in which she suggests that we need to make sure that GLBT people have full equality and citizenship before worrying about the rights of non-citizens.

This kind of thinking plays into the hands of those who want to maintain inequality, no matter who does it. If we are going to defend civil rights, we can’t pick and choose whose civil rights we are going to defend, and whose we will ignore. The excluded group next time may be us. Current KKK rhetoric is very clear about which categories of people have a target on their backs.

That’s why we need to make it clear that a hate crime is a hate crime, as the editor of the Easterner did last week. The ability to feel safe in one’s home and one’s person is a civil right, and if any one of us is deemed to be an exception to that rule, none of us will be safe.

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