Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Wrong Side of Rights

The irony cannot be lost on historians or civil-rights activists. Here in Massachusetts, we have ministers, including African Americans, who called for overturning the rites and rights of same-sex marriage on the Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend. In Washington and Oregon, other ministers, including African Americans, urge boycotts of companies who would give homosexuals health and other benefits. They would also pass laws ensuring that homosexuals would never have the rights enjoyed by straights.

Ken Hutcherson mugHere, we find the reactionaries in a dwindling party of kvetchers. They fantasize that the Supreme Judicial Court cannot legalize anything because they are not legislators (oops, back to Civics 101 with you). They swear they will reverse whatever court decisions, whatever laws protect gays and share rights. Meanwhile, tra la la la, life goes on. People see that their brothers, nieces and grandmothers marry their same-sex partners to nothing but good effect for all. Voters tire of Chicken Little who have screamed far too many times.

Now, what Washington State? The master of schadenfreude, the Rev. Ken Hutcherson (above), tries again to threaten some of the world's best-run, fairest, and largest corporations for their gay-friendly policies. He wants a boycott of Microsoft, Boeing, Nike and HP for promoting equality. Those dastards!

Ken may have taken too many hits on the gridiron. He lists among his close friends Rush Limbaugh. Also he regularly appears on James Dobson's Focus on the Family radio show, where he chose to announce formally his attempted boycott. In short, you shall be known by the company you keep has never been more revealing. Kenny keeps company with professional bigots, bullies and hater mongers.

So, there was this King fellow, also a minister, who called for boycotts five decades ago. Yet, MLK asked people to stop supporting those who would deny rights to others. Here, Hutcherson turns that on its head to ask people to stop supporting those who would give rights to others.

In his state, the issue is not yet same-sex marriage, rather a long overdue anti-discrimination bill, along the lines of the one Maine finally passed and upheld. Those boycott targets would have the state outlaw discrimination in housing, insurance and employment based simply on sexual orientation. Hmmm, just the type of cause MLK supported.

That is likely to pass this session and a similar measure would well become law in neighboring Oregon.

Hutcherson's bluster includes:
We're tired of sitting around thinking that morals can be ignored in our country. This is not a threat, this is a promise. Check out the past presidential election. We made the moral issue the No. 1 issue.
Boeing is much more Christian in its view. Like the other boycott targets, it has personnel policies that forbid all manner of discrimination. Boeing's spokesman Peter Conte said the company would support the proposed civil-rights protections. "The position that we have taken is one that we do feel strongly about," he said. "It is entirely consistent with our own internal practices and policies."

As for Hutcherson (and other such confused clerics whose egos have outpaced their intellects), we are willing to forgive him after he fails and when he admits his blunders.

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