David Rodeback's Blog

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Thursday, May 19, 2005
That Billboard on Main Street, American Fork

The Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Community Center of Utah has lately bought quite a bit of billboard advertising in Utah County, including one on the side of a dry cleaning establishment I pass on my way to and from work every day, on Main Street in American Fork. The ostensible purpose of the advertising is to promote an upcoming "Human Rights Campaign," but the agenda, of course, is larger than that.

It's a no-lose situation for the gay lobby in Utah, and it's a no-win situation for anyone who might be offended or perturbed or wish to oppose that lobby.

If you're gay and feeling oppressed and rejected in Utah County, the lobby hopes that you'll find courage and affirmation in the fact that someone out there is willing and able to put the words gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender on a lot of billboards. (The gay lobby is nothing if not well funded.) Oh, and they also hope you'll come to their parade, film festival, 5K run, etc., for more of the same. If you're only considering adopting the G, L, B, or T lifestyle, or if you are merely curious, they want you to know that you won't be alone if you make that choice. They'll be there to encourage you and get in your fellow citizens' faces to lobby for their version of your human rights. They win.

If you're a weak-minded, soft-hearted straight person, they hope you'll be sucked in by the magical incantation, "human rights campaign." Even if you don't end up supporting them openly, at least you'll be afraid to oppose them, because it's just so wrong to oppose anything on which anyone can hang the label "human rights." They win.

If you're offended by their campaign, or even by seeing those words in large print in public places, but you do or say nothing about it, they win on two counts: You are not opposing them, and they, as the self-appointed oppressed minority, can still talk about you and everyone else who thinks like you as the silent, majority enemy of their rights. Every cause needs a good foil, and the persecuted, misunderstood, despised minority vs. intolerant Utahans shtick is great for fund-raising.

If you're offended and you do or say anything to oppose them, they win on three counts. First, again, you're great for fund-raising, because a minority cause with real opposition has real donor appeal. Second, you increase their profile in the community, simply by calling attention to them. Third, if they can catch (or even quote) your opposition on television, radio, the Web, or any other medium, it makes great copy, and they get a lot of free publicity.

In fact, the publicity coup of someone vandalizing the billboards, for example, would be so good for them that, if they weren't so well-mannered and civilized, they'd be tempted to vandalize their own ads, incognito of course, for the sake of the television coverage alone.

(When I was a child in Colorado, the same lobby sent a man to get a marriage license to marry his horse. Again, it's a win-win: great publicity either way, and if the clerk had been dumb enough to do it, it would have set a very useful precedent for them. After all, if it's legal to marry your horse, it can't possibly be illegal to marry a consenting adult of either gender, right?)

Apart from someone with a tall truck arranging for it to break down daily in front of the billboard I see every day - which wouldn't work for the ones along the freeway, anyway - there really isn't much to be done.

Except this: Stop letting left-leaning causes co-opt the phrase "human rights" without protest from anyone else. The GLBT folks have the same human right to free speech, including commercial speech, as anyone else. They have the same human right to assemble peaceably, or to receive a day's pay for a day's work, as anyone else. They have the same divinely-appointed rights to life and liberty as anyone else. You and I have the same obligation to acknowledge and defend their rights as anyone else's.

But when they claim the right to marry whomever they please, and have it recognized by the state, we part ways. My opposition on this point is rooted in two human rights they don't mention.

First, I believe that every child, simply by virtue of being conceived and born, deserves to grow up in a stable, happy family with a mother and father who are married to each other (and whom the child can tell apart). Just because government cannot reasonably guarantee this right doesn't mean government should actively undermine it by licensing same-gender marriages.

Second: I believe that every human living in a free society has the obligation, and therefore the right, to defend the freedom of that society against philosophies and lifestyles which he or she believes will destroy that freedom. Freedom necessarily includes the ability to destroy freedom, but it cannot logically include the right to engage in that sort of cannibalism.

The GLBT lobby often claims that those who oppose same-gender marriage are using the law to impose their morality. Actually, we are. So far, we are using referenda, legislative bodies, and elected executives to impose a certain part of our morality on them. Meanwhile, they are trying to use judges to impose their own morality on us. Who is right is a matter of opinion, philosophy, or faith. I have a right to my own opinion, philosophy, and faith, and they have a right to theirs.

In a free society, there is no right to, or guarantee of, victory in a political contest. Who prevails is a matter of politics. If one side is eager to engage in politics and skilled at doing so, and the other side is inexperienced, unskilled, or even unwilling to join the fray, the former will defeat the latter, no matter who is right or wrong.

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