March 17th, 2011
Rev. Keith Ratliff, pastor of the Maple Street Missionary Baptist Church in Des Moines, is the president of the Iowa-Nebraska chapter of the NAACP. He’s also an anti-gay activist who takes his opposition to gay equality so seriously that in last year’s gubernatorial election he endorsed Republican Bob Vander Plaats, who made opposition to equality his signature position.
Ratlif had a few choice things to say this week to a rally organized by Vander Plaats to stir up anti-gay sentiment. (Iowa Independent)
“For the few victories that the gay community is claiming,” Ratliff said, “they have won it mostly based on the hijacking of them trying to parallel themselves on the backs of the civil rights movement, here in America.”
He said their is “no parallel” of what an “insult” it was for them to compare themselves with the civil rights movement.
Ratliff, of the Maple Street Missionary Baptist Church in Des Moines, said not being able to marry a person of the same gender was no where near what it’s like to be denied service in a restaurant or hotel for the color of their skin.
How sad that Ratliff has been subjected to the insult of gay people thinking that they were equal to him. But while it may make me seem uppity, perhaps Mr. Ratliff needs a history lesson.
You see it was in 1965 that the state of Iowa banned racial discrimination in service at restaurants and hotels, but it was perfectly legal to deny gay people those exact same services until four years ago.
And there are more than a few readers who could give personal testimony to experiencing exactly the same treatment to which Ratliff thinks there is “no parallel.” Except they had no recourse. It was perfectly legal.
I don’t pretend that racial discrimination is identical to anti-gay discrimination. There are differences and subtleties that are better discussed by those who have experienced both and I’ve heard good argument why either was painful than the other. Nor do I deceive myself into thinking that racism ended in Iowa in 1965. However, I do know that civil rights are those to which each person is entitled from their government without arbitrary denial and that discrimination is ugly and cruel.
And I know that anti-gay bigotry looks just like all other bigotry: the smirk which says that the most despicable and characterless of the “acceptable” race or gender or religion or orientation will always be better than you based on a scale that has nothing to do with merit and everything to do with unearned presumptions of superiority.
Yet while it is foolish and pointless to pit victims of bigotry against each other as though injustice and indignity against one is acceptable because someone else ‘had it worse’, if Ratliff’s wants to compete in the Oppression Olympics on “not being able to marry” and “being denied service in a restaurant or hotel” then he loses and the gay community takes gold. In our lifetime, we’ve known both.
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Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"
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