Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Huckabee Claims Civil Rights Of Gays Are Not Being Violated: They Aren’t Getting Their ‘Skulls Cracked’
Today on ABC’s “The View,” former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabe discussed his pride that an African-American has been elected president. When host Joy Behar asked if he feels the same about gay rights, he said that the two were “a different set of rights,” and suggested that the gay rights movement hasn’t suffered enough violence to be a real issue:
HUCKABEE: It’s a different set of rights. People who are homosexuals should have every right in terms of their civil rights, to be employed, to do anything they want. But that’s not really the issue. I know you talked about it and I think you got into it a little bit early on. But when we’re talking about a redefinition of an institution, that’s different than individual civil rights.
BEHAR: Well, segregation was an institution, too, in a way. It was right there on the books.
HUCKABEE: But here is the difference. Bull Connor was hosing people down in the streets of Alabama. John Lewis got his skull cracked on the Selma bridge.
Huckabee is echoing a newly popular conservative trope. Last week, Tony Perkins claimed that gay rights and civil rights are “totally different.” Tara Wall, deputy editorial page editor at the Washington Times, wrote today that “[t]here is no comparison” between blacks’ struggle and gay people’s struggle because “[b]lacks were stoned, hung, and dragged for their constitutional right to ’sit at the table.’ Whites — gay or not — already had a seat at that table.”
To suggest that a civil rights movement must meet some sort of violence threshold is an incredibly dangerous argument — not to mention blind to the serious violence gay people have already suffered. 16.6 percent of all hate crimes reported by the FBI in 2007 “resulted from sexual-orientation bias,” and the number of hate crimes directed against gays and lesbians increased six percent from 2006. More striking, a 2007 study by the University of California, Davis, found that “[n]early four in 10 gay men and about one in eight lesbians and bisexuals in the United States have been the target of violence or a property crime because of their sexual orientation.”
The murders of Matthew Shepherd in 1998 and 15-year-old Lawrence King earlier this year brought renewed public focus to lethal danger of homophobia. The violence gay activists face will gain more attention in two weeks, when “Milk,” a new feature-length movie about the first openly gay elected official, is released. Harvey Milk struggled for the political rights of gay people — just like civil rights leaders pushed for African-Americans’ political rights — and he was ultimately killed for it.