Grand Divisions

Tennessee Equality Project seeks to advance and protect the civil rights of our State’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons and their families in each Grand Division.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Is secession an equality issue?

Secession petitions have filled the White House petition website, including one from Tennessee that reached the required number to receive some sort of response from the administration. 

Should the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community be concerned?  Well, there's little chance of actual secession coming from these petitions, but I think it's worth watching carefully as this aspect of the conservative movement evolves. 

Here's one comment that came shortly after the Chattanooga Times Free Press posted a question about Tennessee secession on its Facebook page:

There are so many questions yet to be asked, or for that matter, so many answers we need. Will there be gays in this new nation that Tennessee joins? I'm not advocating that we "throw-out" the gays, but a fresh start is a fresh start. What about abortion? I think this new nation that we form should outlaw all abortions and abortion by-products, thus forcing our women to obey the men. Am I saying that women will be viewed under men in this new nation? No, not at all, but men should hold their women to a higher standard in order to form a more prefect union.
Do these views represent the views of everyone who has signed these petitions?  No, they don't.  But how will we know what the movement is about until the views get clarified publicly?  
And we haven't seen much of that from those who might speak for the neo-secessionist movement.  We haven't even seen much from our own elected officials on the topic or from progressive organizations.  Governor Haslam has said that secession petitions aren't valid and Sen. Mae Beavers has expressed some sympathy, but that's about as far as it goes.  
 Most of the reporting has focused on which states have petitions and how far along they are toward the 25,000 signature threshold.   
So we have a real absence of response.  Not good.  Ignoring the Tea Party didn't work, certainly not in Tennessee where the movement helped pass a state law that nullified Metro Nashville's 2011 contractor non-discrimination ordinance.
Shouldn't we press adherents of these petitions on their motives, reasons, and arguments?  Shouldn't we ask what values would drive these independent states they call for?  Shouldn't we ask, given the quotation above, who matters, who has rights, who doesn't?  
Some of the signers are no doubt simply signaling a protest about their view of the state of our country and we may find that some wish to debate the right of states to secede.  But legal theories aren't the point.  The point is why would anyone even contemplate secession.
For most gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people the prospect of secession can only be scary or absurd.  For our community, the promise of America--the UNITED States--is our hope for full equality under the law, a hope that is finally bearing fruit in the last few years with real progress on federal legislation, the election of out candidates, and four wins at the ballot on marriage measures.    
We shouldn't get mired in the esoteric debates on whether states have the right to secede.  We need to stay on message and ask why.  What kind of society is it that the petition signers wish they could create or that they think they've lost?  And can we articulate a different vision of America that is more inclusive and hopeful?  


Jacob Bogle said...

This is the most absurd thing. First to act as though the notion of secession is only one promoted by the backward southern folk is one divorced from history. To suggest that the supporters of these petitions are likewise intolerant, without much - if any - supporting evidence is another sign that the people behind this article (and in the TEP) have little understanding of a) the issue and b) tolerance themselves. Making assumptions outright (or those grasped via the process of hermeneutics) when your presupposition is wrong/flawed is just as dangerous as preaching hate. Do yourself a favor, stop with the "us vs them" mentality and research the real legal issues and history of secession in America as well as the actual history of this specific topic.

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