In his comment to my post speculating why Andrew Sullivan made a hard left turn, Chuck in Del asks:
I would just like to know where does one go in conservative circles to get support for gay equality? Is it progressives and liberals ammending state consitutions against gay marriage? I am sorry but how long does a gay conservative have to sit in the back of the bus to get even workplace equality? Or are we supposed to swallow the argument that equality is code speak for special rights?
My response is simple, you don’t go to conservatives begging for equality, not for gays, not for anyone. When conservatives are true to their principles, we speak out for freedom. Indeed, freedom, until all too recently, has been the watchword of the American political tradition.
Thomas Jefferson did indeed write in the Declaration of Independence that we are “created equal,” but the rights with which we are “endowed” included “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Equality didn’t make the list.
And yet when we survey the gay political landscape, we see the notion of “equality” replacing the idea of freedom, with many state gay political groups defining themselves by a word with socialist implications. Here in the Golden State, it’s “Equality California.” Similarly in the Old Dominion, the Tarheel State, the Sunshine State, the Buckeye State and the Keystone State, to name put a few.
The equal sign serves as the logo for HRC which bills itself as “America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality.” (Emphasis added.) Neither the word “freedom” nor “liberty” appears once in the group’s mission statement.
So, I’m curious how did this come to pass? Who decided that equality should be the goal of the gay political movement? And why did they choose this idea over freedom, with freedom being the defining idea of our nation, the cause to which soldiers rallied in the Revolution and Civil Wars and which defined the political philosophy of our greatest leaders from Jefferson to Lincoln to Reagan.
In his celebrated, “I Have a Dream” speech, one of the clearest articulations of the American creed in the past century, Dr. King used the word “equality” only once, but used “freedom” twenty-one times, mostly notably in the powerful repetition of the places where he wanted to hear freedom ringing.
And yet, during the debate over the popular initiative which would appear as Proposition 8 on Golden State ballots last fall, some wanted to replace Dr. King’s, “Let Freedom Ring,” with the expression, “Let Equality Ring.”
Who decided to make equality their mantra, the mantra supposedly of the gay poltical movement?] And why this word, why not the idea which motivated our founders and our fighters?