Civil Disobedience for Beginners ~ ~ ~

This week law makers in the NJ senate rejected a bill designed to legalize same sex marriage within the state. Given the pseudo-liberal political climate in New Jersey, this most likely came as little surprise to many who live here. I describe the climate in my home state as pseudo-liberal because there appears to be a propensity of its inhabitants to have a jarring knee-jerk reaction to nearly every hotly debated or controversial issue that comes across the plate. This would be fine, I suppose if I didn’t have my suspicions of about why it occurs so often. In this particular case at issue, a casual audit of the population could easily reveal that the majority of people have absolutely no idea what approval of a bill on same sex marriage would even mean.

  We have all been exposed to the polluted line of thinking that essentially has hordes of legally married gay couples seizing power and conquering the known world, beginning of course with the prime real estate that is New Jersey. Oh, too drastic for you?  I’ll admit, these are the thoughts of the extreme right wing, and most well meaning liberal, blue-state dwellers would never concede to these points. But what about the other points, those that don’t seem so radically, well… radical?

 The really compelling stuff like: same sex marriages promote the wrong message to kids, and speaking of them, how would they function in school with children from “normal” families? If your channel of thoughts on the matter run along these lines, its time to do a purge of your reasoning system. Couples comprised of same-sex unions already exist ~ replete with school aged children, who are functioning quite well with the children from “normal” families, thank you very much. In fact, other than the “who sleeps where & with whom” factor, same-sex, civil union households look a lot like opposite sex, married households on paper: The median income of same-sex couples in New Jersey is $74,100,  the median for traditionally married couples is $75,000. Moreover, beyond being quite economically solvent, same-sex households are racially and ethnically diverse, representing and consistent with the multiculturalism observed daily in NJ public schools.

 So, one may reason, with the availability of civil unions, why are same-sex couples pushing for legalized marriage?  It is very clear that NJ’s ruling has a separate but equal stance in mind when it comes to same-sex unions vs. traditional (married) unions. And, let us be thorough here, as the States’ go…so goes the region, up and through to the federal government, which has saw fit to defer to States’ rights insofar as same sex marriages are concerned. It may, therefore be concluded that the federal government will not respect  civil unions for the purposes of  many federal benefits and protections that married spouses have  such as Social Security payments, immigration protections, veterans’ benefits, and taxation.  Ultimately, the message is that what same-sex couples have is not as legitimate or as significant as  a real marriage, and that these lesser relationships  are undeserving of the name~marriage.

It is a message that serves as a dangerous example for others in New Jersey that gays and lesbians, their children, and families are fair game for discrimination and abuse. These issues have a long reaching impact, especially on the children of same-sex couples.  So, opposition to legalized same-sex marriage carries with it an anti-family, anti-child stench.  Is this who we, the people of color, really are in New Jersey?

Or, has a spirit of complacency taken over our short-term memory ~ the rationale for the fight in the legalization of same-sex marriages has to do with civil rights, period. We need to re-remember how and when to practice free and independent thought. The judgment of our individual conscience is not necessarily or even likely to be inferior to those of the political majority.  It is a practical and warranted  obligation to disagree loudly and often with what you don’t agree with. This may take the form of crafting letter campaigns, taking to the streets and attending rallies, or organizing protests by form of petition, blogging etc. Otherwise, we are almost certain to become what Thoreau warned about in On Civil Disobedience ~ the well-disposed fashioned into the agents of injustice.

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