The commonality of being black and gay in America: Same old story different “framing.” The question today is, do you support “gay marriage” or the “freedom to marry?”
Jonathan Capehart wrote an article in the Washington post on the commonality between blacks and gays in America. When asked by MSNBC’s host Joe Scarborough, “would you compare the civil rights struggles of African Americans over 300 years in America to marriage equity?”, he immediately responded, yes!
“It’s an issue of civil rights… It’s an issue of equality. It’s an issue of equal treatment under the law,”… “No one is asking for special rights. No one is asking for any kind of special favors. We’re just looking for the same rights and responsibilities that come with marriage and also the protections that are provided under marriage. In that regard overall we’re talking about a civil rights issue and what African Americans continue to struggle with is exactly what lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are struggling with today.”
In addition, he mentioned the fact that both African Americans and gays have been the target of physical attacks due to being who they are, as well as other forms of discrimination suffered under the law.
“What links the two struggles is the quest for equality, dignity and equal protection under the law. In short, gay rights are civil rights. It’s that simple.”
The simple, but ugly truth is that the radical right wing in this country is adamantly opposed to gay people getting married, which is precisely why they frame the issue as “gay marriage.” They use this frame to garner support for their position so they can later point to polls that show people are against “gay marriage.”
According to George Lakoff, Professor of Linguistics at UC Berkeley, “Surveys have been done that say Americans are overwhelmingly against gay marriage. Well, the same surveys show that they also overwhelmingly object to discrimination against gays. These seem to be opposite facts, but they’re not. “Marriage” is about sex. When you say “gay marriage,” it becomes about gay sex, and approving of gay marriage becomes implicitly about approving of gay sex. And while a lot of Americans don’t approve of gay sex, that doesn’t mean they want to discriminate against gay people. Perfectly rational position. Framed in that way, the issue of gay marriage will get a lot of negative reaction. But what if you make the issue “freedom to marry,” or even better, “the right to marry”? That’s a whole different story. Very few people would say they did not support the right to marry who you choose. But the polls don’t ask that question, because the right wing has framed that issue.”
In the end, the hatred felt for both blacks and gays in this country not only stems from the way in which a question is “framed”, (in terms of how it is worded) but more importantly, the destructive emotions and negative beliefs derived from this and other “frames” used by the radical right wing, reflect a world-view of intolerance, obedience to (their) authority, and fear of change.
The question we must ask ourselves is are we in favor of equality for all, which includes the freedom, or right to marry who we choose, or should we accept the radical right wing “frames” that tell us who we should love, who we should hate, who we should fear, and who we should obey?