AK Wants Equality. Bigots Want Cash.
Bigots don’t like being called bigots, and they’re not pleased with the idea of equality if it applies to people who are different than them. But if you open your wallets, the world might still be saved.
On Monday, Alaska Senate Minority leader Hollis French (D-Anchorage) introduced a resolution that would eliminate Alaska’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. As a straight, married man who already enjoys those legal benefits, he could have sat this one out, but to his credit he made the decision to support those who only wish to enjoy the rights he does.
“I believe that we as a nation have been engaged in, and are in the middle of, a long march towards marriage equality… There are rapid changes happening in the legal landscape on this issue… The day is not far off when the US Supreme Court rules that state prohibitions on same-sex marriage are inconsistent with freedom, justice, liberty, and equality. Passage of this resolution will allow Alaskan voters to remove this blot on our state constitution through our own action,” French said.
His action comes on the heels of a Public Policy Poll last month which showed that for the first time, a plurality of Alaskans support same-sex marriage, and a whopping 71% support some kind of legal union as an option for same-sex couples, including 54% of Republicans.
Since the resolution will require a repeal of the constitutional ban that passed in 1998, it will require a 2/3 vote of both houses in order to be put before Alaskan voters this fall.
Hours after French’s announcement, a breathless blast email went out from Jim Minnery of Alaska Family Council, rousing the troops who are fighting to keep the right to marry from their fellow Alaskans.
“French understands he doesn’t have a chance to get 2/3 of either chamber to vote to eliminate our marriage amendment so why is he doing it now?” Minnery puzzles. “My guess is that he’s doing it to begin a public dialogue on the issue in order to set up a lawsuit against our marriage amendment.”
If Jim Minnery thinks that there’s no chance of getting this question before the people (who are clearly evolving more quickly than their elected leaders) then why is he even bringing this up? The key may be cleverly concealed in a link embedded in the email he sent to supporters. And by “cleverly concealed” I mean in your face, and holding out a tin cup. There are two donation links in the email which lead to a page on his website that has… 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 links to giving.
Jim Minnery may question a progressive politician starting a dialog about the civil rights issue of our day, but there’s clearly no doubt why Minnery himself is talking about it. It’s a terrific way to scam the fearful and intolerant out of their money.
Alaska is young both in terms of its length of statehood, and the age of its population. Every year a new crop of 18-year olds become voters. And every year older people, traditionally more likely to hold same sex-marriage in contempt, move out of Alaska, or otherwise pass off the voter rolls. The tide is turning here and across the nation. The future of the Republican Party, and conservatism will embrace the thinking of figures like Nicole Wallace, Ted Olson, and Megan McCain. In Alaska, the Andrew Halcros will gain strength and support even as the uptight, repressed, morality policing of legislators like Cathy Giessel, John Coghill, and Fred Dyson will fade into oblivion.
The opinions of Alaskans have evolved in the last sixteen years, and we have a new crop of legislators to represent them. It’s not only time to acknowledge that fact, it’s time to make those who seek to repress Alaskans’ civil rights say it out loud to their constituents.
“They continue to call us bigots…” Minnery laments. Perhaps it’s because of the bigotry.
It is to Americans’ credit that never once have we looked back and said we were glad we discriminated against any group of people. We don’t pat ourselves on the back over slavery, Japanese internment, oppression of women, prohibition of interracial marriage, persecution of Native Americans. Those things, despite vociferous advocacy at the time, have always become a source of historical shame and embarrassment. Of course, in every case there was a bogus justification – national security, preserving tradition, keeping the social structure intact, the “natural” order of things, the inherent and objective superiority of one group over another. Bigots never think they’re bigots. But they always are.
For people like Jim Minnery and his followers who are banking on it “really being different this time,” they’re sure using a lot of the same talking points that previous bigots did.
Jim Minnery signs off at the end of his email like this (my emphasis):
Please join us today, financially, prayerfully, and as an engaged citizen. We need your support…
Standing for Families in His Name!
Since Minnery invokes “Him” after one last “gimme gimme,” I’d remind Mr. Minnery that according to Biblical mandate, we’d be stoning Bristol Palin to death, fighting financial institutions that charge interest, shunning Alaska king crab as an “abomination,” and getting rid of mixed fibers from closets across the state.
Thanks to Senator French, Alaska’s legislators have the opportunity to declare which side of history they’d like to be on. And we deserve to hear them say it.