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Not the new black – Same-sex marriage not comparable to black community’s fight for equality

Submitted by on 03.24.2014 – 9:51 pm

I’ve heard it time and again: Americans likening acceptance of homosexuality to the black community’s fight for freedom and equality, claiming homosexuals are fighting a similar battle for civil rights in today’s world. 

This claim resurfaced in Idaho following Rep. Lynn Luker’s introduction of House Bills 426 and 427 and with Arizona’s Senate Bill 1062, which were essentially intended to protect professional licenses and businesses from legal action should they refuse service to individuals based on “sincerely held religious beliefs.” In general, those who opposed these bills felt the bills would usher in legalized discrimination against homosexuals if passed — similar to the infamous Jim Crow laws.

Essentially, opponents of the religious freedom bills have tagged gay as the new black.

Some, like author and political commentator John McWhorter of the New York Daily News — who often covers race issues in his books and op-eds — even think that the black community has a responsibility to be “further ahead of the curve than whites on accepting gay people as full citizens” due to their heritage and history in American society. Yes, because gay people somehow aren’t full citizens already.

To put it nicely, these claims and comparisons are idiotic and sickening.

Homosexuals face nothing like what the black community had to face in our country. I don’t claim to fully understand anything that the black community had to go through, nor do I claim that the black community today fully understands either. We can read and hear about what happened, but most modern Americans can’t fully grasp what it must have been like to live in bondage or even in segregation.

However, where the black community actually had to fight for freedom and true justice under the law, the homosexual community is simply fighting for so-called marriage equality and recognition under the law. The two are absolutely incomparable — like comparing the Revolutionary War to the fight to legalize marijuana.

If one wants to talk about a demographic in America that has been oppressed to the point where they have been considered less than human (legally or otherwise), enslaved by fellow human beings and turned into property with which the owners may do as they see fit and generally discriminated against because of their appearance, then consider the fetus as the new black. The only human beings in America today whose suffering compares with the suffering the black community has endured are the unborn, not the homosexual community. Over 57 million children aborted since 1973, and the count continues as states like Alabama struggle to fight for their protection under law.

Additionally, homosexuality is behavioral, while being black is not. One can argue that being homosexual is not a choice one makes, but engaging in a homosexual relationship — just like engaging in a heterosexual relationship — is. And that is where the issue lies. Where a black person could have been discriminated against by anyone or any business because of their skin color, a homosexual person is not likely to be refused service by businesses unless they tout their lifestyle choices in front of religiously devout employees or owners — as in the case of the Oregon bakery Sweet Cakes by Melissa refusing to bake a cake for a lesbian couple.

It’s time to cease comparisons between these two communities. Gay is not the new black and it never will be.

Andrew Jenson can be reached at arg-opinion@uidaho.edu

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