Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Political Homophobia: does this explain Incrementalism?

Joe Sudbay at Americablog coined that term to explain why the Congressional Democrats quake in their boots over giving any support to LGBT rights, and why despite all political signs that 2008-2010 would lead to great strides, we've not gotten far at all.

Bilerico chimes in:
If you follow LGBT politics closely, you know the polling numbers by heart. Two thirds of Americans believe same-sex couples deserve legal protections in the form of civil unions or marriage. About 75 percent believe gays and lesbians should be able to serve openly in the military. Even more say employers shouldn't be able to fire people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

In the last decade these numbers have moved in only one direction--toward fairness and inclusion. And yet, Congress still hasn't enacted significant protections for LGBT Americans. Why?

Fear, mostly. Fear that despite their distinct minority status, anti-LGBT extremists wield inordinate power when directly challenged. Swat that nest, the thinking goes, and the hornets will swarm. ....

Whether one believes it's rational or not, this fear exists, and it's part of working in LGBT politics in Washington. It must be understood, or the conversation stops.
Yes, decrying this doesn't do much good. How do we reverse it? Part, I think is exposing the fringe views of the opposition, exposing their hatred and hypocrisy. We have to mobilize the non-extremes.
Someone once said fear is just an acronym for "false evidence appearing real." When it comes to anti-LGBT extremists, there may be something to that.

Few lawmakers who've voted to end discrimination against people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity have been defeated by anti-LGBT challengers. That's not to say there isn't a hardcore group of voters who will work to oust pro-equality politicians, but that group may not be large enough to matter very much in many places.

There will always be elected officials whose constituents are overwhelmingly opposed to LGBT equality. And with few exceptions, those politicians will fall in line whether they personally agree with the voters or not. But public opinion has shifted so dramatically in recent years it's hard to justify caving to minority opinion in more moderate districts.

Our job as advocates is to come together to find a solution, address the fear and create the conditions to win.


James said...

It's sad to have to acknowledge the truth in this article. Fear is the number one weapon in the right wing fundamentalist arsenal.

Jacob Woods said...

It is good to know that the percents are rapidly changing. Activists fight through words and marches while people begin to talk about things more and more. The more it is discussed the easier it is to accept the harmless in the difference.

NancyP said...

Fear is a major motivator of "authoritarian followers". I keep plugging the free e-book, "The Authoritarians", by psychology professor Robert Altemeyer, a lay summary of his research over decades. Google it and read - you can finish it in a few hours, and it offers some interesting insights based on experimental psychology.