16 September 2013
Homosexuals and Pornography, Disputed
The Gay Rights Movement is a social movement advocating tolerance for lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender people. The common goal within the movement is to achieve social equality, most notably for marriage. In the early hours of June 28, 1969, a group of gay customers at a popular gay bar in Greenwich Village called the Stonewall Inn, who had grown angry at the harassment by police, took a stand and a riot broke out. As word spread throughout the city about the demonstration, other gay men and women who started throwing objects at the policemen, shouting “gay power”, soon joined the customers of the inn. Police reinforcements arrived and beat the crowd away, but the next night, the crowd returned, even larger than the night before, with numbers reaching over 1000. For hours, protesters rioted outside the Stonewall Inn until the police sent a riot-control squad to disperse the crowd. For days following, demonstrations of varying intensity took place throughout the city. In the wake of the riots, intense discussions about civil rights were held among New York's LGBT people, which led to the formation of various advocacy groups such as the short-lived Gay Liberation Front, which was the first group to use the word "gay" in its name, and a citywide newspaper called Gay. On the 1st anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, the first gay pride parades in U.S. history took place in Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, and near the Stonewall Inn in New York. The Stonewall riots inspired LGBT people throughout the country to organize in support of gay rights, and within two years after the riots, gay rights groups had been started in nearly every major city in the United States.
Opponents argue that altering the traditional definition of marriage as between a man and a woman will further weaken a threatened institution and that legalizing gay marriage is a slippery slope that may lead to polygamous and interspecies marriages. Most religions consider homosexuality a sin. Anti-gay rights activists claim it could start a chain reaction that destroys the whole idea of marriage, that unless we develop some firm definition of what a marriage is, the options are endless. If these options sound absurd, remember that all it takes is a few activist judges to use the statute to open the door. It doesn't matter if 95 percent of the population disagrees with the policy, one judge can interpret the case the way he or she wants and use the doctrine of stare decisis to impose a law on everyone. Virtually every religion in the world, including the major ones in this country, considers homosexuality unacceptable. They believe it is offensive and a swipe to the religious freedom of the majority to have to recognize a relationship they consider sinful. These people believe the legal system in the United States evolved out of the laws contained in the Bible and that we shouldn't go even farther to tear down those laws.
Proponents argue that same-sex couples should have access to the same marriage benefits and public acknowledgment enjoyed by heterosexual couples and that prohibiting gay marriage is unconstitutional discrimination. Denying them is a violation of religious freedom. The main reason for denying marriage to gay couples is that all major religions consider homosexuality a sin; however, the First Amendment of the Constitution clearly states that a person's religious views or lack thereof must be protected. Marriage by the state is a secular activity; the government cannot start making laws just because a religion says they should. Marriage benefits, such as joint ownership, medical decision-making capacity, should be available to all couples. Marriage is more than a legal status. It affects many things in society such as tax filing status, joint ownership of property, insurance benefits, and agency law. It affects critical medical decisions. For example, if one member of a gay couple that has been together for 20 years gets critically ill, visitation may not even be allowed since the other isn't considered a "spouse or immediate family member". Also, critical medical decisions must often be made when one person is incapacitated. It is completely unfair to deny these privileges to people because their relationship doesn't fit the state's definition of one. Denying these marriages is a form of minority discrimination. America was founded on the concept that the majority should rule, but the rights of minorities should be protected. It is the main reason we have a Bill of Rights as well as anti-slavery and equal protection amendments. Denying marriage to a homosexual couple is no different than denying marriage to Hispanic or black couples. It doesn't hurt society or anyone in particular. A marriage is a relationship between two people. It is a personal commitment that really is no one else's business. Society shouldn't be dictating what two people can or can't do when no one else is hurt in the process. If the church or certain groups disapprove, that's their right, but it isn't their right to stop it. The only thing that should matter in marriage is love. The number one reason that heterosexuals marry is not to establish legal status, allow joint filing of taxes, or protect each other in medical decision-making. They marry because it is the ultimate expression of a person's love for another. Marriage is a commitment. Some people talk about living wills and other legal contracts that can give homosexuals essentially the same rights as a married couple. The same financial benefits that apply to man-woman marriages apply to same-sex marriages. In today's economic environment, it often takes two incomes to live. A married couple shares rent, utilities, and other bills, which are often difficult for one person to take on alone. This is especially truly if a dependent person is involved such as a child. In addition, a married couple can often financially support each other when times get tough, such as when one of the two is out of work. The other can continue to pay the bills until the unemployed person gets back on his/her feet. Owning a house is often impossible without another person to share the financial burden, and owning a home is not only part of the American dream, it promotes stability and community pride.
It’s been nearly 45 years since a collection of events called the Stonewall Riots occurred and sparked the onset of the LGBT movement for equality. Long before marriage equality was the hot-button issue of queer rights, the movement was heavily focused on just the everyday struggles faced by queer individuals. Among the root of most of these struggles was the issue of blatant social discrimination that is still alive and, for the most part, legally on-the-books. Honestly, people back then were fighting to just have an identity. Some needed their own spaces and some just wanted to be able to wear heels whenever they wanted. Fast forward to now and very little has changed in the landscape of deeper queer issues. According to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute (2006), up to 40% of homeless youth identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. A disproportionate amount of teens that are LGBTQ-identified lose the support of their families when they come out. In Arizona, marriage equality is far cry in terms of relevance for transgender individuals who have to worry daily about safely using public bathrooms. Further, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) reports that it is still perfectly legal in 29 and 34 states to discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, respectively. This means people can basically get fired at any point that details of their personal life fall into less than progressive or accepting hands. When looking at the recent focus on the Supreme Court’s decisions on both Prop 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), it is quite sad that many feel that positive endings in favor of the LGBT movement will be a panacea for every queer issue. I agree that it is highly important that we all recognize marriage equality as a step towards progress, but only if we also keep in mind that there are many other issues that face the LGBTQ community. In fact, much of the discussion by queer individuals who oppose the movement’s primary focus on marriage equality is about the mindset of marriage as a classist and privileged obstacle. For some people it just isn’t as poignant. Jennifer Miracle, the Director of the LGBT Resource Center at the University of Georgia, isn’t sold on marriage equality as the most important goal of the movement. “I don’t understand why we went after marriage first. That doesn’t keep people from legally discriminating against you in housing and in the workplace. But I think that for a lot of people the idea of somehow legalizing marriage equality makes them think that maybe we’ll be seen as more normal or like everybody else,” she said. Unfortunately, this sentiment is correct. For many, financial security and access to jobs are a bigger issue and the passing of something like the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) would mean the start of the end for many of their woes. This act would federally outlaw the widespread practice of employers discriminating against employees on the basis of sexual orientation. Many proponents of the LGBT movement are unaware that their brothers and sisters are warranted in their disappointment with the employment non-discrimination push. Just how many of us remember that in 1996 when DOMA was being discussed ENDA was right along with it. At that time, ENDA was short one vote of Senate passage (49-50), whereas, DOMA only had a count of 14 senators. So, shockingly, it seems at one point, those behind ENDA were setting an important vanguard of queer rights. Further, the lag of progress on such important and more overarching LGBT legislation has pushed many queer folk away from trusting the mainstream faces of the movement. Particularly, queer people of color and transgender individuals. When we look at queer rights from a socioeconomic class perspective, we see that these individuals do have quite a large bone to pick with major LGBT organizations such as the HRC. Queer people of color and transgender people account for about 70% and 44% of LGBT violence yearly reports the National Coalition of Anti-Violence programs. Further, they posit that both of these groups are twice as likely to experience violence or discrimination than their respective counterpart groups, white and cisgender. Statistics aside, the mainstream LGBT movement also loses its appeal for these groups because it is highly whitewashed and largely lacking in diversity. The main proponents for the race to the equal alter tend to be white, middle-class gay men and lesbians because although they may still face discrimination they still tend to socially fare much better. Knowledge of these literal life-or-death statistics tends to tip the importance scale away from marriage equality. In fact, blind following of organizations such as the HRC has recently caused somewhat of a backlash within the queer community. A few months ago, when Facebook was engorged with a red version of the company’s logo for support of marriage equality, an alternative move was made by those disappointed in their limited focus. Some people began to change their profile picture to that of a red greater than sign, signifying that the LGBTQ community needs more than what marriage equality can provide. Who can argue with that logic? For most, marriage equality isn’t going to conjure up a well-paying job, running water, or even a supportive family (which most LGBTQ youth deeply yearn for). Fortunately for all queer people, it seems the tide on homophobia and transphobia are lifting in a general sense. A CNN/ORC International Poll (2013) indicates that 53% of Americans support marriage equality. The funny thing is, most Americans don’t have a choice. With 57% in that survey reporting that they are close to someone who identifies as gay or lesbian, it’s difficult for hate and misunderstanding of these issues to exist in the way that it once did. Perhaps the changing tide of the social landscape will remedy many of the issues within the queer community. If we build more families that accept and understand LGBTQ issues, more youth will have places to live. If we encourage people to start viewing their employees with the same respect that they regard their family and friends, then more people will be comfortably employed. If queer individuals are humanized across the board and seen as actually legitimate then hopefully less violence will occur. On why the movement once decided to focus on marriage equality, Miracle says, “Marriage is about love and relationships. It’s more universal. Perhaps it’s easier to get people to understand on that level. They may not, however, be able to relate based on something like discrimination. It pulls at the heartstrings. It’s harder to be a person who doesn’t get love.” And our love should extend to members of our community. We must remember that we are diverse as a family and we all have our own obstacles to hop over. The main point is that we continue to walk hand-in-hand with our brothers and sisters every step of the way. We need to be thinking about our next major course of action after marriage equal is a done deal. There is no debate that our movement is dynamic and fluid. We’ve come a mighty long way from those riots in the streets of New York. Pornography is a graphic display of human sexuality that can be traced as far back as any other sign of human intelligence. Throughout the ages pornography has evolved and developed, but it was not until the technological and ideological progress of the 20th century that pornography was able to find its way in literally every aspect of modern society. At this time American society has not yet formed a uniformly accepted opinion about the effects of pornography. Some activists suggest that pornography provides people a healthy way to explore their sexuality. Others argue that pornography is the root of all evil, and must be eliminated completely. Neither side is able to supply a solid proof of their position. Growing rates of failed marriages and increase in sex related crimes, however, suggest that, even though a moderate exposure to pornography is probably harmless, and excessive exposure can have a devastating effect on involved individuals. Critics of porn often focus exclusively on the specifics of how porn commonly plays out in contemporary culture. They see the body fascism, the rigidly narrow and male-oriented vision of sexuality, the sexism, and yes, there is sexism in porn, just like there's sexism in every other part of popular culture. They conclude that the particular is the same as the general. And they conclude that because that's how porn commonly plays out in contemporary culture, therefore that's what porn is always like, de facto and by its very definition. They also focus on video porn to the exclusion of all other forms. Not entirely unfairly, as that is the lion's share of the porn market, but somewhat narrow-mindedly as well. And there's an unfortunate confirmation bias when feminist critiques of porn focus on video, since written fiction is a far more woman-driven form of erotica than video has ever been. Especially when you look at the vanishing line between the erotica and romance genres. By the same token, though, defenders of porn often focus exclusively on the ideal of what porn could be, while ignoring the ugly realities of what it very often is. Anti-porn writers have a very bad habit of ignoring Sturgeon's Law. They fail to recognize that, yes, 90% of porn is crap, but 90% of everything is crap. And in a sexist society, 90% of everything is sexist crap. On the other hand, pro-porn advocates need to stop pretending that there isn't a problem. They need to recognize that the overwhelming majority of porn is sexist, is patriarchal, does perpetuate body fascism, does create unrealistic sexual expectations for both women and men, does depict sex in ways that are not only overwhelmingly focused on male pleasure, but are rigid and formulaic and mind-numbingly tedious to boot. What is often missing, from both sides of this debate, is nuance. Because pornography takes shape in almost every form of media, it would prove difficult to censor especially with the free exchange of information and data over the Internet. Censorship on pornographic films differs from censorship on literotica. Some have argued that pornography is already absent of moderate censorship and is in itself separated from other “expressions” in the media. Others point to the distinction between “erotica” and “pornography”. As the moral compass of a society shifts over time, so does what is considered inappropriate, and alternatively, appropriate. For example, use of the word “bitch” was once forbid on television, yet it is now acceptable. Fetishism and certain themes of porn, such as BDSM or voyeurism, have grown considerably and become more accepted. In its earliest years, pornography was exclusive to a softcore status and “normal” sex i.e. vaginal penetration, with few deviants. This is not to say that human sexual behavior has changed; only that acceptance of human sexual behavior has. Still, some find pornographic fetishes involving certain people, such as “midgets” and transsexuals, as well as pornography involving certain acts, such as omorashi and diaper wearing, as odd or distasteful; though they recognize such genres of pornography and fetishism as being of personal taste and simply choose not to view it. In other words, what is considered normal for one person may be considered disgusting to another. But whether individuals consider it moral deterioration, entertaining, disgusting, appropriate or inappropriate, pornography has grown into an outsized industry by taking shape in almost every form of media with unlimited availability and a plethora of observers. It has, and continues, to survive pressure from society and censorship. Historically, it has evolved from softcore flashing to hardcore double penetration, and it continues to evolve. It does so while consistently going against the grain of a perpetually changing society by presenting itself as an expression of the raw, natural fervor of human sexuality.
Employment non-discrimination act. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.hrc.org/laws-and-legislation/federal-legislation/employment-non-discrimination-act Garcia, M. (2012). The 1969 advocate article on the stonewall riots. The Advocate, Retrieved from http://www.advocate.com/society/activism/2012/06/29/our-archives-1969-advocate-article-stonewall-riots Gay rights. (2013, Jul 29). Issues & Controversies On File. Retrieved Sep 16, 2013, from Issues & Controversies database. Internet pornography statistics. (2006). Retrieved from http://internet-filter-review.toptenreviews.com/internet-pornography-statistics.html Is porn good for society?. (2002, May 14). Retrieved from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/1986869.stm Lavers, M. (2011). 70 percent of anti-lgbt murder victims are people of color. Colorlines, Retrieved from http://colorlines.com/archives/2011/07/70_percent_of_anti-lgbt_murder_victims_are_people_of_color.html Pornography in the internet age. (2009, Mar 13). Issues & Controversies On File. Retrieved Sep 16, 2013, from Issues