The American Constitution was set up, specifically, to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority. It was written in a time when in large swaths of Europe the church, primarily the Catholic Church or in our founders' case, the Church of England, dictated the daily lives of most people. If you wished to worship differently you were subjected to everything from harassment to death and this is why there is such an emphasis on the separation of church and state (even though some have forgotten why that separation was placed there to begin with).
Over time, as our country has evolved, the "minority" has gone from protecting religious minorities to different socio-economic groups to ethnic minorities to racial minorities to gender and others. There is a reason why major issues like interracial marriage and women in the workplace didn't come down to a vote. If it had been up to the will of the majority, women wouldn't serve in the military, blacks would still be slaves, all gays would stay in the closet and everything would be as it was in 1787 when only wealthy, white male landowners could cast ballots.
Sometimes the mob is wrong. Horribly, horribly wrong and wants nothing more than to bully those different from themselves. Case in point: the war against gays and Lesbians in parts of Africa.
In Uganda, homosexuals are facing the likely reality that a poorly written bill will pass that would allow for the death penalty to imposed on them for daring to exist. Friends and family members could face penalties as well for not "reporting" these homosexuals. In some cases, even landlords could get in trouble for renting to them.
From The Associated Press:
Gay rights activists say the bill, which has prompted growing international opposition, promotes hatred and could set back efforts to combat HIV/AIDS. They believe the bill is part of a continentwide backlash because Africa's gay community is becoming more vocal.
"It's a question of visibility," said David Cato, who became an activist after he was beaten up four times, arrested twice, fired from his teaching job and outed in the press because he is gay. "When we come out and ask for our rights, they pass laws against us."
In South Africa, Lesbians are living in fear of "corrective rapes," meant to teach women a "lesson" on how to be women by beating and gang raping them. Women who are attacked often receive no justice in seeing those who targeted them be punished. They are mocked and laughed at. Rape is not seen as a serious offense, especially against a woman who dares to born attracted to other women.
From Sky News:
In the the township of Khayelitsha on the outskirts of Cape Town, a group of women said they live in fear for their lives. All of them claim to know someone who has been violently dragged off the street and raped because she had come out as a lesbian.
"We live in a society firstly that sees women as always having to be subservient to men, but it is even worse when you come out as a lesbian, and a butch lesbian at that. There is always that threat that you are going to be raped so you can become a 'real' woman," says Funeka Solidaat.
Ms Funeka said she had been attacked on two occasions; on the second she was raped. She said the men covered their faces with ski masks and that she had been repeatedly threatened with rape in the township.
But what shocked her even more was the attitude of the police. "I told them I needed help because I'd been raped and I was just a laughing stock, " she said. The police did not even finish taking her statement.
I don't mince words when I say that homosexuality is not a choice. You cannot say anything to convince me otherwise as I did not "choose" to be straight. I was just born this way. No one taught me to be attracted to little boys when I was 12. No one taught me to desire and long for men as a companion. No one sat down and explained to me that this was how I was supposed to be. This is simply who I am. Why people would question homosexuals and argue that somehow they "chose" to be who they are is ridiculous to me. No one "chooses" these things. This is about something deeper and more human that mere gender stereotyping.
The fact is, in the face of death and rape, gays and lesbians in Africa are still loving each other. DEATH and RAPE. They are still coming out to their families and friends. In the face of discrimination, harassment, murder and violence, they are still declaring "I'm here! I exist! I am human! I have a right to be loved and love whom I please!"
I don't understand homophobia. What two consenting adults do among themselves has absolutely no affect on my life whatsoever. If two gay people get married and have a family it doesn't affect my desire to marry and have a family of my own. If two gay people have sex, it doesn't affect my desire for heterosexual sex. It doesn't do anything anymore than an Indian person eating peas and curry rice affecting my love of turnip greens and Honey Glazed Ham. In other words, what you eat and who you love has absolutely nothing to do with me or you or anybody else. Where does this fear come from? Where does this anger come from? What is it about this ignorance and violence?
Which brings me back to the power of the vote. Most people are against gay marriage in the United States. To that I say, so what? There was a time when the majority was also perfectly fine with calling strangers Communists and blacklisting them. There was a time when "Italians" and "Irish" were treated as ethnic minorities and the majority was FINE with discriminating against them. There was a time when you could beat your wife, legally, and no one said anything. There was a time when people were fine with women not being able to own property or go to college. There was a time when people were fine with slavery. There was a time when it was OK to attack and kill Mormons for being Mormon. There was a time when you broke an indecency law if people could see your ankles (if you were a woman). There was a time children could be forced to work 12 hours a day and never attend school and the majority was fine with it. The majority is large. The majority has all the power. The majority holds all the cards and the MAJORITY HATES CHANGE. Progress should never be left up to the majority because the majority is always going to fear what it doesn't understand and lash out at what is different.
The majority thought it was OK the beat up Jehovah's Witnesses for not pledging allegiance to the flag. The majority, in all honesty, TO ME, is kind of slow and numbing. While I'm fine with the majority picking our presidents and voting on transportation tax increases, "majority rules" suck when it comes to things like progress, morality and individual rights. The mob is amazingly dumb and malleable. After all, unless you're the person who's "different," it doesn't affect you, the mob, so you don't care.
Right now the mob is trying to rule in Uganda and South Africa against gays and lesbians and that's wrong. Right now the mob is trying to act like the government creating state sanctioned marriages between homosexuals would affect your religious marriages. I say, the mob needs to calm the hell down. You're big enough and you're bad enough to be gracious and tolerant. It won't kill you. It never has. Not even once. All the screaming and crying only for progress to end the way it always end -- with it happening.
We're not going back to 1787. Accept it. And if you think the mob deserves to wield it's power over someone smaller, remember, someday, that same mob could turn on you.
In related news, the other night Rachel Maddow took on someone who claims to be an ex-gay. You see? He's got the cure and such, even though he's still managed to slip and fall into some penis from time-to-time since being "cured." It would be laughable if it weren't for the fact that its people like him who went to places like Uganda to argue that homosexuality was a choice, hence it's OK to put up laws harassing and punishing anyone who "chooses" to be gay. A few Christian conservatives, to their credit, have come out against Uganda's death penalty for gays, even though their rhetoric is presently being used to justify this persecution of homosexuals.