With so much well deserved attention placed on the recent brilliant Weinstein Brothers movie, Bully, and other school bullying campaigns of late, I thought it only fitting to focus on the continued bullying of our American political playground. Yes, Amendment 1 passed last week in North Carolina, but who other than compulsive gamblers with a penchant for the underdog, would have bet against this constitutional carnage passing? For god’s sake, it’s North Carolina, the last deep south, anti-gay amendment holdout, in a half-witted heyday of human hate.
Now, before I get the emails denouncing my own perceived prejudice that say, “Schmootz, not all southerners are like that”, I agree with you…just 61% of them according to North Carolina statistics. And least you forget, I’m an expatriate of Miss Pittypat’s School of Southern Propriety and have the scars (both literal and figurative) of the ugly underbelly of homespun hospitality and so-called evangelical Christian kindness.
Last week, while most of the country’s media, both mainstream and social, was focused on the Tar Heel State’s imminent losing battle against LGBT bigotry, the Centennial State was engaged in a bit of a civil war of its own. Yes, Colorado, another one of those mid-American fly-over states, was on the brink of human rights history. With little advocating fanfare from other than those with a vested state interest, Colorado Senate Bill 2 was making its way through the legislature. SB12-002 granted civil unions to same-sex couples unable to marry under the state’s DOMA, thus providing an additional 27 rights, enjoyed with little notice, by heterosexual couples legally wed in the state.
The Colorado State Senate, controlled by the Democrats, passed the bill with little fanfare, as it has done in the past. The legislative kiss of death has traditionally been the path through the state’s House and its GOP majority of one vote. Characteristically smug that the weakling bill would die a slow re-death in committee, the House leadership proceeded with business as usual, seeing little need to sharpen up their sticks and apply any poking political pressure. But wait, back the bully truck up…
House Finance Committee member, B.J. Nikkel, a Republican, a musician and a woman, votes YES, and a collective GOP gasp echos through the purple mountains of Colorado majesty…yes, purple, check the song. And just like an avalanche of unexpected enlightenment, committee opposition tumbles…Rep. Don Beezley, GOP of the the House Finance Committee, “YES”, Rep. Cheri Gerou, GOP Vice-Chair of the Appropriations Committee and another woman to blame, “YES” to civil unions. All that is left is another reading of the bill and a full House vote, of which there are adequate affirmatives to pass, and all committed citizens of Colorado will have the same recognized state’s rights under the law.
But wait, back the triumph truck up…
…right over the hopes and dreams of thousands of gay and lesbian Colorado citizens. In one of the most blatantly obvious bullying tactics I’ve ever seen in politics, the Speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives, refused to bring the bill up for a procedural vote, and called an extended recess to play around with the political football and let the clock run out on on equal protection. Now to be honest, the Democrats participated in a little retaliation of their own killing a couple of Republican backed bills like the “how much is too much medical pot to drive” bill. But come on, really, just look in the back seat and count the Doritos bags.
Picking themselves up and dusting the dirt from their clothes, Colorado equal rights activists reluctantly handed over their metaphorical lunch money to the gavel-holding gang barring entrance to the statehouse door and vowed one day soon to have an equal place at the table. And guess what? Do you hear that beeping sound of something big backing up? Colorado Governor, John Hickenlooper, in response to the childish games being played in his back yard, makes a stand and calls the legislature back in special session. Add to that President Obama being jerked out of the closet by grass roots pressure, Will and Grace, and his own Vice President, and maybe, just maybe, the sanctimonious Slushie is on the other foot, right? Wrong. The Colorado GOP Speaker of the House verbally kicked the geeky governor to the curb and assigned the civil unions bill to the hard-core Conservative Veterans and Military Affairs Committee where after quite a bit of name calling about bestiality and bromance, the bill found no joy and was killed in action just behind party lines.
What does this tell us? Well, I would suspect little more than those playground bullies from our youth merely grew up to be statehouse bullies in their adulthood. Back-boned by a well funded and fearful, yet focused, moral majority, these so-called representatives will continue to blacken the eye of justice (why do you think she wears that blindfold) as long as the masses are allowed to vote on the civil rights of the minority.
I sincerely hope the Weinstein Company puts together Bully 2, the behind the scenes documentary of our political system starring those adult authoritarians, and supported by the national media and advocacy groups that enable them, that use their unsubstantiated personal and religious beliefs to beat against a bully pulpit and bloody into submission those with a marginalized voice. It gets better? Not always…ask that gay kid and his prep school barber, Mitt Romney.