The Republican Party is seeking to reinvent themselves. One of the problems that comes from a lack of empathy is the fact that they cannot rely upon facts in order to do this. As Ned Flaherty noted “To regain relevancy and survive, conservatives — Republicans, libertarians, Tea Party members, independents — must clearly choose between returning to their true, core principles (e.g., fiscal responsibility, limited government) versus continuing to waste public funds on policies of social oppression,” such as against LGBT Americans.
Last week, both National Organization for Marriage Chairman John Eastman and NOM President Brian Brown issued attacks on adoption largely claiming that it is better if children have their biological parents. Now, it may seem as if this was true. It turns out that it isn’t. This idea that children are best off with their biological parents stems from the same studies that they use to attack same-sex marriage; however, the problem for NOM is that they are so vested in the argument that same-sex marriage is wrong that they have bend over backwards to keep the attacks on marriage equality going.
This is one of those cases where empathy is a problem for the GOP, and the reality issue is also a problem. As Flaherty noted:
The U.S. Supreme Court will soon hear conservative arguments, conceived, drafted, and bought with taxpayer dollars, claiming that outlawing same-gender marriage saves government money because it bans couples from programs they already paid for. But even after 18 years, conservatives can offer no evidence that supports this claim, because they know it’s false. That’s why they blocked the Congressional effort to require the General Accounting Office to itemize the costs and savings of repealing DOMA.
Flaherty goes on to explain that DOMA costs the federal government about $2 billion a year, and if you want to read his analysis, please do so here.
The battle over same-sex marriage has its roots in the creation of the Moral Majority in the wake of desegregation. It is not surprising that most of the tactics that are used to combat marriage equality are the same as the ones that were used against People of Color back in the 1950′s and 1960′s. (I am using PoC here because, though antiquated, the term is accurate. Desegregation involved all non-Whites. In fact, one of the cases folded into Brown v. Board of Education involved a young Asian girl.)
The battle over LGBT rights is the same as the battle over Racial rights in so far as the particulars of the other side. This might seem strange, but take a look at what it is that these groups want. They want superiority over others.
While the term “privilege” is an uncomfortable one to fold into this conversation, the reality is that it fits so beautifully. In Terry Pratchett’s Night Watch, he stated “Privilege means ‘private law.’” In sociology, privilege means being above someone else. It means that, no matter how low you are on the socio-economic scale, you are still better than someone else no matter how high they rise. While not all people will feel privileged, those in the privileged group will be treated a little bit better than a person of equal standing, but of a different group. I will go into greater depth about privilege later.
What is important to understand is that this entire battle over LGBT rights comes not from the Bible. The Bible is just a justification used as ammunition. It comes from a desire to keep LGBT Americans subservient and less privileged than straight Americans. This means that they deliberately refuse to have any empathy for those that are oppressed because doing so means giving up the ‘joy’ that comes from being privileged and superior, and it means that being privileged must be defended at all costs.
This means segregating the groups. It means coming up with sometimes even nonsensical arguments to attack equality. It means resorting to violence when necessary. While I have used LGBT rights as an example, this can be seen in all minority rights battles.
It is why there is such hatred for President Barack Obama. It is why the never ending push to restrict abortion rights. It is why Jews are still derided by people. It is because of that privilege that they want to keep going.
That privilege means not being held accountable to the whole population. The feeling is that they are not accountable to us because they are better than us. The ultimate example of this is the Roman Catholic Church which did everything they could to maintain the illusion of caring for molested children even as they shuffled them around. They did this to maintain the illusion of privilege becuase, ultimately, in the United States, the attitude is not that “All men are created equal.”
The lack of empathy for those who are from other societal groups only comes about when someone is forced to confront it- unless someone is very empathetic. This is why Senator Porter finally gave up on being a homophobe, and it would be what would change Boehner’s mind even if he claims he wouldn’t. It is why President Lyndon Johnson, after teaching young, poor Latinos in Texas, waged such a fierce battle over racial and economic equality.