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Gays and lesbians don't just want the same rights and privileges as straight people with respect to marriage. They also want people to think about a gay and lesbian unions in the same way that they think about traditional marriage. Unfortunately, hearts and minds arenít won over with legislation. To change a culture, to redefine key institutions in that culture, is a two part process. The first part is more radical; itís where we as a society do something drastic, and demonstrative, like Brown V. Board of Ed., and The Civil Rights act of 1964. Radical changes like this almost immediately give disenfranchised people rights that cannot be legally denied based of prejudice or bigotry. The second part is more difficult, because it involves patience. You have to live with, work with, and interact with people who may not share your point of view. People who may not like you, your color, your lifestyle, or your sexuality.

Blacks have had certain civil rights/privileges guaranteed for quite a while now, and thatís a good first step. Over the last 40 years or so, we as a society have grown from tolerance for blacks into acceptance for blacks Ė and weíre moving toward full inclusion for blacks (and a lot of other minorities too). Progress has been made. That said, many blacks will tell you that they still rail against prejudices, and stereotypes every day.

Iím sure that many blacks would rather have ďfull-inclusionĒ now, but the battle for hearts and minds is a hard fight. You have to wear the enemy down. You have to wait them out. As you advance, some will retreat, others will be overtaken and some will even switch sides. This is the hard reality in the war of ideas. For blacks in this country, peopleís attitudes are still changing Ė slowly. Hearts and minds are still being won over Ė gradually. Patience and perseverance are key. This is the lesson that African Americans are still learning. Itís the lesson that gays and lesbians need to learn. Itís the lesson that we all need to learn.

Oh, and for the record, my heart doesn't need to be won over. My mind is already made up. Intolerance is wrong. Any two people that want to commit to each other in the same way that my wife and committed to each other 8 years ago, has my blessing. They have my encouragement, and my support. To care so deeply for a person that you want to share intimacies with that person, and then celebrate that bond in a public way - that's a feeling that I can relate too. To love someone so deeply that youíre willing to share in a personís debt, a personís struggles and a personís pains, is a wonderful selfish thing. It speaks to what you value most, and thatís what matters most. How can I not celebrate that? Lastly, while I personally don't find anything about men to be particularly attractive, I understand that quite a few people do. I'm glad that my wife does.


(Whatever you think about the writing, whatever you do, PLEASE take the time to comment. I'm looking for constructive critism; blocks upon which I can build. THANKS!!! rajengineer)

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The following comments are for "Hearts and Minds"
by rajengineer

Robert Jackson
You know it's funny, my partner and I were discussing this, I think it's unfair and he doesn't give a monkeys about marriage, saying that it is no longer an important part of modern life, rather a throw back to when religion had any inkling of control over society.

I can see his point but then the old fashioned part of me says 'I WANNA'!!!! LOL!!

I must admit I don't agree with what you say about socialisation.

I have friends who were together in the 60's when it was still illegal to be gay within the UK. Despite socialisation they were still not accepted because they were not accepted legally, the law nust firstly change before anything else.

I also think you have confused the issues between African-American and gay and lesbian communities. The types of prejudice are totally different, just take a look at the role religion plays in both, one is used to strengthen a community (African-American) and in the other it is used to destroy (gay and lesbian). It is very important not to confuse them both as the same struggle, they are totally different.

With regards to socialisation, I feel that in this article, accpetance of a way of life means that there has to be a certain level of behaviour, almost beyond being human and being a civilised robot. I have to disagree again, Political Correctness has done wonders in reversing so much good work before it, thanks to the feminism of the 1970's from which it was born (especially in the UK), it has now gone to far.

The whole point of PC is to play down differences, instead it only highlights them and makes people aware of a difference. If one more person apologises to me for making even a slightly un-PC remark I shall pull my hair out. We do NOT need to be wrapped in cotton wool.

I understand that you wish to express your tolerance of others, going against perhaps the stream of thought that minorities come up against on a daily basis. However, I do think it is better to point out that I have never 'behaved' as anybody 'different', therefore I am NOT 'different'.

Labelling everyone as a 'minority' is utterly misleading.

Thank you for sharing this, it is very clearly written and your honesty when so many others are not is great!!

With Respect

Alex :-)

( Posted by: londongrey [Member] On: August 26, 2004 )

reply to Londongrey
Alex - your comments were well recieved, and appreciated. Thank you. In reading your comments, and realizing that you were from London, It occured to me that I was writing from a vantage point that you may not share. With that in mind, I wrote the following:

In the States, there's an ongoing debate right now about gay marriage, and within that debate, there's a mixed message coming from the Gay and Lesbian community. Some say that they simply want equal protection - which can acomplished through lobbying and legislation. However, many others want immediate full acceptance by society. Sadly, you can't force hearts and minds to change. There are a miriad of differences between the African-American's struggle in America and the gay rights issue in America. Despite the obvious differences, the gay and lesbian community in America makes every effort to show parity between their cause and the civil rights struggle of the 60's and 70's. They want to define the issue as a civil rights/equality issue with biases and prejudices akin to what blacks experienced before the civil rights movement. While I don't entirely agree with the premise, I can understand why they'd try this approach; and my thoughts in "Hearts and Minds" essay was written within this context.

Most Americans are shamed by the way that we treated blacks before the civil rights struggle. Most Americans are ashamed of slavery; it wounded my country to it's soul, and the wound has yet to heal. If gays and lesbians can show real parity between their struggle and the struggle of blacks in America, then it'll be easier (they hope) to change hearts and minds in America, because many people will agree that on it's face, the discrimination that they speak of is real, and is wrong.

As for religion, religion has been used for years to justify first slavery, and then discrimination in America. Slaves were forced to convert to Christianity, and then they were indoctrinated with a perverted form of the faith, that justified slavery. for instance, There are Old Testament scriptures that speak to one of Noah's son's being cursed. This son was said to be the "father" of the black race, and so all blacks were said to be cursed. There are other scriptures in both the Old and New testaments that talk about the relationship between slaves/servants and their masters. These scriptures were used to discourage slaves from escaping or rebelling. There are many other examples. In more recent times, Biblical scripture has been used to deny inter-racial marriage, and even to deny intergrated neighborhoods. Some would argue that even now, religion is used as a way of appeasing blacks in America, by focusing more on the promise of life after death, than the chance to have a life fully lived here on Earth. Someone more wise than me once said, "...religion is an opiate of the people", and I agree.

As to your point concerning socialization and legalization, I think we're actually in agreement (although you presented your position as a rebuttal of my position). The first step is the change the law, so that the biased/prejudiced behavior has no legal legitimacy. This will give disenfranchised people the freedom to move, live and get along with their lives, just as anybody else would. There's nothing politically correct about it. People will change their minds because living with, working with, interacting with gays and lesbians will personalize the issues that are being debated. It's sometines easier to hate an idea than it is to hate a person.

Thanks again for your comments, and I hope to hear from you soon.


( Posted by: rajengineer [Member] On: August 26, 2004 )

Partial agreement
I agree with many of the points you make, but I don't know that I agree with the idea that homosexual equality necessarily has to take a similar path as the black Civil Rights Movement, a struggle that's taken several hundred years and still hasn't quite ended. I subscribe to the idea that just because something hasn't happened yet doesn't mean that it can't. We do live in, as they say, interresting times and the world can really and truely change in a matter of days. We live in the information age, the age of the education blitz, the age where free speech is always at our fingertips. I think that great things can happen if every resource is used. I admit that I really have no answers, but I also believe that its people without answers that ask the right questions, and sometimes those are what matter.
This was a very well-written piece, and, as you can see, it deffinitely made me think. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

( Posted by: Spider [Member] On: August 27, 2004 )

Welcome to Lit. Robert
I found this to be quite thought provoking. So much information is gathered and written very well. I do not normally read essays, poetry is my favorite. I need to expand on my favorites because in reading your work here I see that I have been missing out on intellegent work. I find your experience in researching, as you must have done with this, to be admireable.
I believe in equal rights for everyone; Ethnicity, religion, sex,age, marrital status, size, sexual preference as well as any lifestyle desires; etc, etc...
Rights should be fought with the same backbone for every and each group.
Thank you for this opportunity to see things through your eyes.


( Posted by: Dareva [Member] On: September 7, 2004 )

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