Thursday, September 11, 2014

Gay equality is now pursued deep within the Bible Belt


The Washington Post reports on 9/11 that gay rights advocates have turned attention to the Bible Belt  -- the South – as most gay marriage lawsuits against states so far wind up as wins.  Sandhya Somashekhar has a front page story in the paper today here . The focus is on Mississippi, and the emphasis is on countering anti-gay bullying and on countering discrimination, particularly in rural areas or in businesses heavily influenced by fundamentalism.  There is still a belief in “the gay agenda” in the area, and the gay community continues to rely on The Immutability Argument, to keep it simple. 
   
I lived in Dallas, TX from 1979-1988 and found the climate to be improving.  But in 1980, there were a few police raids on gay bars and false charges for public lewdness, which stopped when one defendant, a computer operator, was acquitted by a judge who saw what was going on, after pressure from the Dallas Gay Alliance.  (I sat in another trial by a judge who did convict him;  I would later serve as a jury foreman on a case before the same judge, who actually seemed to respect me; maybe he learned. Judges are elected in Texas.)  It was in Dallas that the first anti-sodomy lawsuit was won (Baker v. Wade, 1982).  But Texas had to deal with the Dallas Doctors Against AIDS and fend off an attempt to strengthen the sodomy law in 1983, in response to AIDS, with military-style bans in most occupations.  It would be Lawrence v. Texas that would finally end sodomy laws in 2003.
   

I visited Alabama and Mississippi (and Georgia, Tennessee, and Kentucky) in May of this year.  I stayed in Tupelo and looked at tornado damage.  I found Alabama particularly to be very backward, but I visited the Pettus Bridge in Selma.  

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