News : Counterpoint

Oh, yes, we’ve got trouble

Right here in River City, bigots are picking on the gay community again

Did you catch the 100-Christians-strong flap last week over H-E-B’s $300 donation to Pridefest? That’s Pride with a capital “P,” and that rhymes with “G,” and that stands for “gay,” people. Gay. San Antonio has a lot of gay citizens, some of whom you probably couldn’t even pick out of a police lineup — although that’s what Christian radio talk-show host Adam McManus would like to have you do. McManus, who organized the protest at the H-E-B at 1604 and 281, referred to the gay community in an Express-News story as “people defined by their sin.”

Which makes McManus a dues-paying member of the group of “people defined by their bigotry.” A group apparently not filled with much pride, as evidenced by their miniscule turnout last Friday. I can’t blame them. Who wants to carry a sign in public that reads “H-E-B promotes sodomy”? Might as well wear a T-shirt, too, proclaiming “H-E-B promotes the woman’s vote!” Or “H-E-B promotes the Emancipation Proclamation!”

The successful passage last year of the amendment to the Texas Constitution prohibiting gay marriage (or, as I like to think of it, the bill promoting sex-change operations) might fool you into thinking that McManus and his ilk are not a dying breed. But there is a reason they protest so long and loudly. Three years into legalized same-sex marriage in Canada, a recent poll found that a solid majority of the country considers the issue settled. You’ll also note that the earth did not open up and swallow the hosers whole.

A recent Australian poll found that 45 percent of voters favored formalizing same-sex relationships Down Under; only 35 percent opposed the idea. Among 18 to 39-year-olds, approval was at 56 percent. Anecdotal evidence also suggests that in the same way our parents’ generation talks about our grandparents’ skin-color prejudices, our children will talk about our generations’ treatment of people who are gay. I’m heartened when I see same-sex couples kissing on the high-school corner, or holding hands at the Quarry shopping center (it’s almost always girls, which points to a strange infiltration of straight sexism into queer culture, but we’ll take that up another time). I hear theater kids talking openly and without malice about the gay boys in their class.

In the U.S., in polls taken after the Senate declined to set in motion a Constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages (P.S. Should Democrats or Republicans be more concerned when Arlen Specter starts to sound like a paragon of democratic reasonableness?), only 42 percent of respondents said they thought the ban was a good idea. While a majority of Americans apparently still think same-sex unions should be illegal, they’re not willing to warp the Constitution to make it so. Keep in mind that the U.S. was a slow second in eradicating slavery, too. We may be behind the Mounties and the Aussies for now, but we’ll catch up.

Texans are also not willing to give up shopping at their favorite grocery store to promote bigotry, and that may be the real bellwether. At a corporate training seminar I attended in May, the featured speaker reminded us that “the market will discipline you.” Indeed, on the Saturday following McManus’s sad show, I circled the packed Central Market parking lot searching for an open space, dodging shopping carts pushed by couples, some same-sex, some not.


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