Biases, boycotts and mosques

I asked my Facebook friends what I should write about this week. Their top suggestions were Proposition 8, Target’s donation to an antigay politician and the situation in Lancaster. (By the way, if you haven’t friended me on Facebook, you might want to do so: We often break news there, and you can help me pick topics for this column at times.) So let’s go to your suggestions. Prop. 8. The latest news is that the right wing is saying that the judge was biased because he is gay. Since the subject was marriage, would a married judge be biased since he (or she) already agrees with marriage or is a single judge? Obviously, this argument does not hold water. But what the Republicans haven’t realized is that by spending time on gay marriage — which most of the nation doesn’t really care so much about, so it can no longer be used as a fright tactic — they are unable to spend time talking about the economy, which is what they should be doing to win. So let’s urge the Republicans to keep talking about gay marriage. (Web extra: Check this story online for quotes from local elected officials.) The suggested boycott of Target and Best Buy because they contributed money to an antigay politician. The latest twist is that Target has apologized. Maybe they have learned their lesson; we might have already made the point. Which brings up another point: boycotts. I’m all for them — but they must be organized to be successful, otherwise it’s just a hollow gesture. In the last couple of years, people in our community have suggested so many boycott targets that it would take a column to list them all. A boycott should be restricted to a major homophobic action, and supported by a staff working full time to make it successful. It’s a last-resort tactic not to be used lightly. Lancaster. The issue here is that the LGBT community has advocated for the Human Relations Commission to include “sexual orientation” in the group of protected classes, e.g., race, creed, color, etc. LGBTs have been so successful that the commissioners, in an attempt to circumvent the issue, decided to dismantle the entire commission, citing budget woes. That vote will come later this month. What is so impressive is that the LGBT community and its allies have put up a good fight, packing the hearings and organizing major, well-attended demonstrations. Whatever the outcome, we’ve already won. We now have a forceful organized community in Lancaster, which can take this issue and become a force to be reckoned with in the future. That is how equality is won, and Lancaster is on the right track.

Here’s my favorite: the proposed mosque “on hallowed ground at Ground Zero.” First, it’s not hallowed ground. Unless you consider a Burlington Coat Factory two blocks from Ground Zero hallowed ground. Second, Muslims were also victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. But most important are two other issues: This is about our Constitution, which guarantees freedom of religion and freedom of speech. It’s un-American to not support the mosque. Fox News, the least trusted name in news, suggested putting a gay bar next to it. Do we even have to dignify that with an answer? Mark Segal is PGN publisher. He can be reached at [email protected].