The Republic of T.

Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal.

The NAACP Gets It

Well, the NAACP has shut my mouth on this one. I was pretty hard on them this summer, when I got wind of a PFOX exhibit at an NAACP event. But it looks like the outcome off the proposition 8 vote has raised some alarm with civil rights groups, including the NAACP. [Via Kip.]

Meanwhile, five civil rights groups asked California’s highest court Friday to annul the ban on the grounds that Proposition 8 threatens the legal standing of all minority groups, not just gays.

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the Mexican-American Legal Defense Fund, the Asian Pacific American Legal Center and two other groups petitioned the state Supreme Court to prevent the change from taking effect.

The petition is the fourth seeking to have the measure invalidated. But it’s the first to argue that the court should step in because the gay marriage ban, which overturned the Supreme Court ruling that legalized gay unions, sets a precedent that could be used to undermine the rights of racial minorities.

Eva Paterson, president of the San Francisco-based Equal Justice Society, said the election raises the specter of voters deciding to bar illegal immigrants from public schools, disenfranchising black voters or otherwise using the ballot box to promote segregation.

“The court ruled that to discriminate in the area of same-sex marriage was unconstitutional and violated our guaranteed equality,” Paterson said. “Why should a slim majority of Californians be able to put discrimination back into the California Constitution?”

OK. there’s one thing that bears repeating here.

The petition is the fourth seeking to have the measure invalidated. But it’s the first to argue that the court should step in because the gay marriage ban, which overturned the Supreme Court ruling that legalized gay unions, sets a precedent that could be used to undermine the rights of racial minorities.

Next time you go to a protest, somebody please put these words from a previous post on a protest sign or poster. You have my express permission to use these words over and over and over again on as many signs, flyers, buttons, etc. you want.

You may not be gay, but you may be next.

The NAACP, the Mexican-American Legal Defense Fund, the Asian Pacific American Legal Center and those other civil rights groups probably get that they may not be gay, but if what happened in California on proposition 8 stands, they may be next. You may not be able to fit the next part on a sign, but it’s the rest of the argument.

Remember that we used to live in a country where civil rights weren’t decided by majority vote. Remember that we used to live in a country whose founding documents cite “inallienable rights.” Remember that we’re may not be living in that country anymore, and even if your rights were not up for a vote this time around, they are almost certain on someone’s hit list.

Better yet, put this question on a sign.

Which of your civil rights do you want put to a majority vote?

Or this.

Which of your civil rights do we get to vote on?

Or this.

Who gets to vote on your civil rights?

Or this. [Via Woodmoor Village.]

Image

If you think for one minute that the people who have been against civil rights from the beginning will stop with same-sex marriage or with gay people, you may be surprised. What they did in California was to establish a beachhead as a basis for overruling almost any established civil right on nothing more than a simple majority vote. In other words, they got a foothold for establishing majoritarianism.

What’s unsaid and unquestioned in all of the arguments above is the increasing conservative push for majoritarianism. Or, to put it plainly, absolute majority rule. Might, in other words, makes right. The majority is automatically right , no matter what it wants or doesn’t, because it’s the majority. Only the current crop of Republicans and religious conservatives go a step further than traditional majoritarianism, by seeking to bar a future majority from disagreeing with the (perceived) current majority.

What’s scary is that the creeping support for majoritarianism may result in a situation where no one has any “unalienable rights,” that the majority can’t take away, because the two avenues minorities have traditionally had to access justice that the majority withholds — the courts and the legislature— will have been delegitimized fo that purpose.They’ll henceforth exist only for the purpose of enforcing the will of the majority because, as noted above, the majority can’t be wrong.

What’s scarier is that some pretty smart people either don’t seem to realize this, or just don’t question it.

Kip put it better than I did by simply placing two significant quotes next to each other.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

–Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776

Who’s going to tell us what a civil right is and what’s not? Well, the people will.

–Massachusetts Governor, Harvard Law School graduate (and Christian), Mitt Romney, June 28, 2006

Who? The people?

Like maybe Gladys? Or any of the rest of these folks?

Kaltura

Think about it for a second. If they had a shot at it, which civil rights court rulings would these people like to see overturned? And not just the people in the video, but the far more politically savvy people who get them “angried-up” and out at the polls? The people whose founders, favored politicians, and spokespersons have a peculiar habit of defending America’s peculiar institution? The people who could conceivably mount a campaign to repeal civil rights rulings that they are “not against” but that are “no longer necessary”? (I’m just guessing how they might spin it.

Which would you like to see up for a vote:

  • Brown v. Board of Education (school desegregation, major blow against “separate but equal”)
  • Roe v. Wade (reproductive freedom)
  • Shelley v. Kramer (racially restrictive “covenants” in real estate – This one’s definitely on Glady’s list)
  • Bailey v. Patterson (segregation in intrastate and interstate transportation)
  • Batson v. Kentucky (basically says you can’t put, say, a Black person on trial and exclude Black people from the jury)
  • Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson (defined “hostile work environment” as sexual harassment under the Civil Rights Act of 1964)
  • Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Serv. Inc. (same-sex harassment can be the basis for a sexual harassment claim)
  • Romer v. Evans (overturned Colorado amendment prohibiting protection of LGBT rights)
  • Lawrence v. Texas (decriminalized sodomy, overturned sodomy laws)
  • Grisswold v. Connecticut (overturned law banning contraception, right to “marital privacy”)
  • And of course the major civil rights acts of
    • 1957 (established the Civil Rights Commission)
    • 1960 (federal inspection of voter registration polls)
    • 1964 (prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, sex, and national origin)
    • 1968 (Fair Housing Act)

You could almost line them up chronologically and figure out how far people would like to turn back the clock if they could. In a very real sense, even if you’re not gay, you could be “next” on their list.

Granted, we do not have anything like a national ballot initiative, yet. But there is a movement for one, supported by former presidential candidate Mike Gravel.

I don’t know if it would open the door to putting civil rights to a majority vote, and I don’t particulary want to find out. Neither, apparently, does the NAACP.

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