The Gay Rights Movement And Slavery

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Christian fundamentalist, Bryan Fischer, has compared a service provider being forced not to discriminate against a gay couple to slavery. His comparison is apt, but not for the reasons he thinks, says Rob Buchanan.


Christian fundamentalist and sometime radio show host Bryan Fischer loves the limelight. This cheerful lunatic has been a poster child for such delightful outrages against human decency as the Aids Denial Movement, which claims that the deadly disease is not caused by HIV but by drug use. Unsurprisingly, epidemiology and virology are not among Fischer’s many self-appointed qualifications. When he isn’t inciting people to kidnap the children of gay families or comparing anal sex (when gay people do it) to paedophilia, he is claiming President Obama hates white men and is a communist Muslim. You get the picture. It seems with Fred Phelps six feet under (or at the right hand of the Lord, depending on your perspective), now is Bryan Fischer’s time to shine.

I’ve written previously about Fischer’s deeply offensive, yet slightly hilarious attempts to connect LGBT people to the perpetrators of the holocaust. Well, not fully satisfied with saying Nazis were gay, he’s now comparing us to slave owners.

“Meet our new overlords, the new owners of the American plantation, the gay mafia. All hail Big Gay, our new slave masters!” he recently announced on the website for his organisation, American Family Association.

The flashpoint in this latest vehicle for the delusional demagogue was a baker called John Phillips who refused to serve a gay couple wedding cake. Without any sense of his own incredible irony, Fischer wrote: “Slavery, by definition, is involuntary servitude. It is being forced to provide labour or produce a product against one’s own will.”

John Phillips’ discrimination against the gay couple comes straight out of the Jim Crow Laws, which allowed people to discriminate against black people, who had been freed from slavery but still denied their equal civil rights.

Phillips “forced labour” was not cotton picking for an overlord who owned him. It was producing a wedding cake. His refusal to serve the gay couple was ruled as discrimination by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. That’s all.

Perhaps I’m missing the part where he was dragged from his homeland in shackles and worked to death on a plantation, whilst his family were lynched, raped and taken away from him. Jack Phillips wasn’t even threatened with fines, let alone any jail time. In fact he’s currently appealing the ruling in the Colorado Court of Appeals.

However, in one thing Fischer is on the right track. Comparisons between the fight for LGBT equality and abolitionism or the black civil rights movement of the 1960s are absolutely pertinent.

As we tentatively enter a new stage in the battle for LGBT equality, it would be comforting to think that the war is over save the shouting. Like in the evolution of other civil rights movements, such as the end of abolitionism and apartheid, finally the majority of the social consensus in the West is that LGBT people exist and are equal, even if the laws of every country don’t yet reflect that reality. But just as freed slaves still had a fight on their hands in a word that recognised their freedom but still denied it to them with Jim Crow laws, we have a civil rights fight on our hands.

Recently, while preparing a piece about the shocking levels of homophobic hate-speech in the literature of certain predominantly Afro Caribbean church congregations in Dublin Inner city, I thought it would be interesting to hear what some of the Afro Caribbean preachers thought about the parallels between the homophobia they preached in the pulpit and the racist hate a previous generation of white ‘holy men’ got away with.

My letters and emails to those Afro Caribbean preachers have yet to be answered. But I will persist. When dealing with irrational people I find it’s often easier to make them see the light by appealing to their own interests rather than to common decency.

Perhaps if there is a cure for homophobia in the world, it is through showing the common grounds of discrimination.

© 2014 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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