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.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

"Special Rights" argument comes from the Religious Right's attempts to divide minorities on ballot measures

Maybe everyone else knew this, but I didn't until I started reading Gay Rights at the Ballot Box by Amy L. Stone, an assistant professor of sociology at Trinity University.  Basically the argument we so
frequently hear about equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people being "special rights" came from the Religious Right's efforts to divide minority communities during the Right's earlier wave of anti-equality ballot measures.

Here's what Stone says:

Part of this secular argument about 'special rights' was a new image of the Religious Right as supportive of civil rights for 'deserving' minorities such as African Americans but opposed to 'undeserving' minorities such as LGBT activists. The anti-gay Right used special rights political messaging to divide potential allies by exacerbating existing tensions about race and class in LGBT politics. Through this messaging, the Right reaffirms gayness as whiteness, creating divisions between a presumed white LGBT movement and the presumed heterosexual African American community.

It does seem pretty consistent with the playbook, though the language of special rights is now also used to justify majority rejection of equality legislation.  Both the special rights language and the tactic of dividing minorities are items to watch as the ballot measure campaign to overturn the partner benefits and non-discrimination ordinance in Chattanooga gets underway.   

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