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Expression Leads to Oppression

Marco Rubio fails to realize that expression is what teaches fear and hate.

On April 24, 2017, as part of his #expressionNOToppression initiative, Senator Marco Rubio said the following on the Senate floor with regard to human rights abuses against the LGBT community In Chechnya:

"We should never, ever tolerate human rights violations against any person for their political views, their religious beliefs, their sexual orientation....

The United States and other responsible nations should do more to ensure that all people are protected and those who harm them are held responsible.

We should use our voice on the global stage to call attention to these horrifying acts and to ensure they are condemned in the appropriate way, and ultimately in the hopes that they will be stopped."

According to Rubio, his #expressionNOToppression initiative highlights human rights abuses around the world. In fact, he has described his initiative as follows:

"For the past couple of years, my office and I have been highlighting human rights cases through our social media campaign. We call it hashtag 'Expression NOT Oppression.'' The goals of this are to raise awareness about these cases and the individuals who are suffering at the hands of these repressive governments. We know that through history some of the oppressed people--we may not think these floor speeches matter; we may not think that mentioning it here in this forum matters, but it does to them because one of the first things oppressors tell them is that the world has forgotten about them, and they don't matter anymore. That is one of the first reasons we come: to raise awareness and let them know we know their names, we know their story, and we will continue to speak out on their behalf."

Interestingly enough, when Rubio was running for President of the United States, the Advocate, a publication for the LGBT community, published an article by Matt Baume titled Marco Rubio Might Be the Most Antigay Presidential Candidate Yet. The article states in part as follows:

"Rubio is the latest Republican presidential candidate to announce his bid, but he's already racked up an extensive antigay record.

Whether the issue is marriage equality, immigration, adoption, or ex-gay 'therapy,' Marco Rubio has made his position on LGBT people clear: He doesn't like them....

Rubio's hostility to protections for LGBT families doesn't end there. In 2013, Rubio opposed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, saying 'I'm not for any special protections based on orientation.'

Earlier this year, Rubio told Meet the Press and Fox News that businesses should be exempted from nondiscrimination requirements when serving gay and lesbian couples.

Amid the congressional debate over ending the military policy known as 'don't ask, don't tell,' a spokesperson for then-candidate Rubio said he 'doesn't see any reason for [DADT] to change,' despite the forced ouster of more than 13,000 qualified gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members under the now-defunct law.

Counterintuitively, mainstream media reports that Rubio is seeking to be a uniter of various Republican ideological factions. But his policy positions are at odds with a growing consensus within the Republican Party that LGBT Americans should be entitled to equal treatment."

In fact, the article in the Advocate titled Sen. Marco Rubio Condemns Antigay Violence in Chechnya stated the following:

"Rubio is known for having an anti-LGBT record. He's voted against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would protect workers from being fired because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. He also supports the First Amendment Defense Act, which would allow government officials to deny services to LGBT people because of 'religious liberty.'"

Along those same lines, the Human Rights Campaign has said the following when it comes to Rubio:

"Marco Rubio: Consistently On The Wrong Side Of Equality

Whether the issue is marriage equality or protecting workers from discrimination, Florida Senator Marco Rubio has consistently opposed giving LGBT Americans equal treatment."

Earlier this month, Rubio was one of eighteen Republican Senators who sent a letter to Trump insisting that he legalize anti-LGBT discrimination.

Yet, in August 2016, Rubio "warned Christian conservatives of the costs of gay intolerance."

"Using the shorthand 'L.G.B.T.' several times, Mr. Rubio told the group that the perception that many Christians are anti-gay is harming their faith. He urged them to resist passing judgment on gays.

'Do not judge, or you will be judged,' he said, echoing a verse from the Bible.

'To love our neighbors we must recognize that many have experienced sometimes severe condemnation and judgment from some Christians,' he said. 'They have heard some say that the reason God will bring condemnation on America is because of them — as if somehow God was willing to put up with adultery and gluttony and greed and pride, but now this is the last straw.'

He then walked through a list of examples that included discriminatory hiring practices by the federal government, raids of gay establishments by the police and the proliferation of anti-gay slurs."

Despite what Rubio may believe, Baume is correct that Rubio's rhetoric and policy positions could not be more inconsistent.

Part of the disconnect is described by Yezmin Villarreal in his article published in the Advocate as follows:

"During a July press conference in Orlando about the effect of the Pulse massacre on local businesses, Rubio was confronted by activists. David Thomas Moran, who was one of the activists who staged a sit-in at Rubio's office for 49 hours in honor of the 49 lives lost at Pulse, told Rubio he had 'blood' on his hands because 'I don't feel like you're doing anything to support the queer Latinx community that has been so devastated by this, the LGBTQ+ community. I need to know what is your relationship with the [National Rifle Association]. Why are you talking to transphobes and homophobes?'

Rubio responded to Moran by saying, 'I disagree with your assessment. Homophobia means you’re scared of people. I’m not scared of people. Quite frankly, I respect all people. We probably have a disagreement on the definition of marriage.'

On the two-month anniversary of the Pulse shooting, he spoke at an event organized by a network of antigay groups. But shortly after the attack on Pulse, Rubio told The Advocate, 'The gay community was targeted. ... We know what ISIS has done to people they accuse of being homosexual. They throw them off of buildings. They execute them.' Gunman Omar Mateen was reportedly an ISIS sympathizer."

It appears as though Rubio is "pretending to be what [he is] not, or pretending to believe something that [he does] not", which is the definition of hypocrisy.

However, I believe that Rubio sincerely sees himself as a uniter, while he is doing and saying things that could not be more divisive.

As social science researcher Brene' Brown says, "At any given moment, people are really trying to do the best they can with what they have. Our bests are all different."

Regina Pally, M.D. said something very similar on April 26, 2017 at UCLA Friends of the Semel Institute’s Open Mind Lecture: Dr. Regina Pally The Reflective Parent. During that lecture, Dr. Pally said she believes that all parents want what is best for their children and are doing the best they can with what they have, and therefore no parent should be judged or blamed.

Among other things, Rubio seems not to be self-aware.

In his article titled Self-Awareness: The Foundation of Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman stated the following:

"What is Emotional Self-Awareness?

With Emotional Self-Awareness, you understand your own emotions and their impact on your performance. You know what you are feeling and why—and how it helps or hurts what you are trying to do. You sense how others see you and your self-image reflects that larger reality. You have an accurate sense of your strengths and limitations, which gives you a realistic self-confidence. It also gives you clarity on your values and sense of purpose, so you can be more decisive when you set a course of action.

Leaders who are self-aware can recognize when their emotions have a negative impact on their work, or on the people around them. They are then better equipped to address it in an effective way, such as through creating opportunities for feedback, experimenting with different ways to motivate their team, or being more open to creative solutions."

One explanation for Rubio's ability to rationalize his apparent hypocrisy lies within his belief that "homophobia means you’re scared of people."

Gregory M. Herek, Ph.D., an expert on sexual prejudice, has "long argued that we must get beyond ‘homophobia’ to understand sexual prejudice.”

Someone suffering from arachnophobia does not typically harm or kill spiders because they are too frightened of them. For that same reason, a person who suffers from ophiophobia does not typically harm or kill snakes. There is a huge difference between hate and fear.

Rubio has denied that he is homophobic by stating, "I’m not scared of people."

However, fear and hate are related, as described by Robert Perry in his article titled What is the relationship between fear and hate? that was published by Circle of Atonement. In that article, Perry states as follows:

"Fear is the summary emotion of the ego because it is where all of the ego's emotions lead, not where all of them come from.

On a practical level, what this means is that when we make a choice for hate, we are really making a choice for fear, because that is where our hate will lead us. Our hate seems to be a choice for strength, a choice that will raise us to the top of the heap, but in fact it is a choice for weakness, a choice that will leave us cowering in the shadows. It will leave us waiting in dread for our sins to come down on our heads, for all our chickens to come home to roost. It will leave us feeling weak and hunted."

Consider the lyrics to Rogers and Hammerstein song from South Pacific titled You've Got to Be Carefully Taught:

"You've got to be taught

To hate and fear,

You've got to be taught

From year to year,

It's got to be drummed In your dear little ear

You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught to be afraid

Of people whose eyes are oddly made,

And people whose skin is a different shade,

You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught before it's too late,

Before you are six or seven or eight,

To hate all the people your relatives hate,

You've got to be carefully taught!"

Not only has Rubio denied that he is homophobic, he has stated, "Quite frankly, I respect all people."

Respect means holding something, someone, or a group in "high or special regard." Based upon Rubio's actions and rhetoric, he clearly has his own unique definition for the term "respect."

Actually, he seems to believe it is not that he lacks respect for the LGBT community, but merely "a disagreement on the definition of marriage."

However, Rubio's anti-LGBT actions, rhetoric, and extensive antigay record goes far beyond "a disagreement on the definition of marriage."

Rubio also fails to recognize that expression leads to oppression as a direct result of the fear and hate taught through expression.

For example, Frank Ancona, the Imperial Wizard of the Traditional American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan claims that his organization is not a hate group and has said the following:

"We don't hate people because of their race. We are a Christian organization.... We want to keep our race the White race. We want to stay White. It's not a hateful thing to want to maintain White Supremacy."

On June 13, 2016, the Washington Post published an article by Florida Catholic bishop Robert Lynch titled 'It is religion, including our own,’ that targets LGBT people. Bishop Lynch stated as follows with regard to the massacre at the gay nightclub in Orlando:

"Sadly it is religion, including our own, that targets, mostly verbally, and often breeds contempt for gays, lesbians and transgender people. Attacks today on LGBT men and women often plant the seed of contempt, then hatred, which can ultimately lead to violence.

Those women and men who were mowed down Sunday were all made in the image and likeness of God. We teach that. We should believe that. We must stand for that.

Even before I knew who perpetrated the mass murders at Pulse, I knew that somewhere in the story there would be a search for religion as motivation. While deranged people do senseless things, all of us observe and judge and act from some kind of religious background. Singling out people for victimization because of their religion, their sexual orientation, their nationality must be offensive to God’s ears. It has to stop, too."

At the same time, Pastor Roger Jimenez of Verity Baptist Church and other pastors praised the anti-gay massacre in Orlando.

'The tragedy is that more of them didn’t die,' Roger Jimenez, a Sacramento preacher, exhorted his congregants on June 12, the day of the assault. 'The tragedy is — I’m kind of upset that he didn’t finish the job! Because these people are predators! They are abusers!'...

Rebecca Barrett-Fox, a visiting assistant professor of sociology at Arkansas State University who has researched Christian extremists, said she had tracked about five churches — in California, Texas, Arizona and Tennessee — where preachers had endorsed the killings in Orlando.

They are not as well known as the virulently anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., which has become infamous for demonstrations at military funerals. But their views about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and what should happen to them, can be just as troubling....

Sermons posted online since the attack have been interspersed with dehumanizing labels for L.G.B.T. people reminiscent of those used by the perpetrators of historical genocides. The Orlando victims were 'sodomites,' 'reprobates,' 'perverts' and 'scum of the earth,' preachers have said.

In a sermon at a church in Fort Worth, Pastor Donnie Romero told his congregants that every gay person is a pedophile. He was praying that the injured Orlando victims would not survive, he said, 'so that they don’t get any more opportunity to go out and hurt little children.'

'I’ll pray to God that God will finish the job that that man started,' he added, referring to the gunman, Omar Mateen.

While the pastors have stopped short of calling congregants to arms, they say little to discourage it, either.

'I don’t believe it’s right for us to just be a vigilante,' said Steven Anderson, the leader of the Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, Ariz., in a video response to the massacre. But, he added, 'These people all should have been killed, anyway, but they should have been killed through the proper channels, as in they should have been executed by a righteous government.'

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, said it was alarmed by the comments of extremist pastors after the mass shooting in Orlando. Heidi Beirich, the center’s director of intelligence, warned that they should not be dismissed as empty rhetoric.

'I think it is entirely possible that someone could be inspired by this and kill gay people,' Ms. Beirich said. 'This kind of message is exactly akin to Hitlerian ideas of exterminating Jews. It’s that extreme. It’s basically genocidal toward a population.'...

Jay Brown, a spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, said the L.G.B.T. advocacy group was appalled by the incendiary comments of Mr. Jimenez and other pastors. 'But on the other hand, we’ve seen an enormous amount of inspirational comments from faith leaders,' he said.

Mr. Brown recalled how Utah’s lieutenant governor, a Mormon, gave a speech in which he apologized for his role in perpetuating homophobia. Around the same time, a Catholic bishop in Florida issued a public call for believers to stop demonizing gay men, lesbians, bisexual and transgender people. On Sunday, Pope Francis said gays deserved an apology from the Roman Catholic Church.

However, while many conservative Christian leaders no longer want to be seen as anti-gay, the change in tone should not be interpreted as full acceptance, Dr. Barrett-Fox said. The 'love the sinner, hate the sin' approach to homosexuality continues to be deeply woven into Christian thinking."

It bears mentioning that just this month Kenneth Adkins, a Georgia-based preacher and anti-gay activist who made such statements following the Orlando massacre, was convicted of child molestation.

As far as homosexuality and pedophilia is concerned, the following is an excerpt from an article titled Internalized gay ageism, mattering, and depressive symptoms among midlife and older gay-identified men that was published in Social Science & Medicine in December 2015:

Homophobia appears to be declining, although discrimination against sexual minorities is widely institutionalized and they face enduring stigma....

In addition, there is a persisting stereotype of the ‘predatory older homosexual’ who preys upon younger men and boys. This view is partially a carry-over from laws put into place decades ago to segregate homosexual men from children and is based upon the discredited belief that there is an inherent pedophilia in homosexuality.”

On April 26, 2017, Rev. Bryan N. Massingale, a Catholic priest and a professor of theological and social ethics at Fordham University and a former president of the Catholic Theological Society of America published an article titled As a Catholic priest, I am against an executive order on religious liberty, which stated in part as follows:

Religious conservatives and Republican members of Congress are urging President Trump to issue a sweeping religious liberty executive order, which I believe is unnecessary and most likely would threaten the rights of LGBT persons.

As a Catholic priest and scholar, I know that religious liberty is a bedrock principle of democracy. I also believe that honoring the intrinsic human dignity of gay, lesbian and transgender people is a requirement of religious faith. These values should not and need not be pitted against each other.

Religious liberty is essential for faith-based ministries. But it should never be a pretext or cause for discrimination against any group. Religious exemptions from civil laws should be carefully crafted to both accommodate religious claims of conscience and uphold the civil rights of all Americans.

This is why leaked drafts of Trump’s executive order raise serious concerns. It fails to properly balance the dual goods of religious freedom and nondiscrimination. Its language will be read by many as a broad assault upon LGBT rights and a license to deny basic services to same-sex couples. When the government sends a message that people can be denied basic human rights and dignities simply because of sexual orientation, neither the gospel nor religious freedom is well served....

Some might think it’s unusual for a Catholic priest to 'defend LGBT rights.' But this way of phrasing the issue is misleading. 'LGBT rights,' in the abstract sense, are not at stake here, but rather the human and civil rights of real people. At issue is not the protection of behaviors — about which there are sincere differences of belief within religious communities — but the welfare of fellow citizens and believers, human beings and families who are loved by God. This is why Pope Francis, while defending traditional Catholic teaching on marriage, has also called for a more inclusive welcome and embrace of LGBT persons. He even states that the church should ask forgiveness from gay people for the times Christians have excluded them or made them feel unwelcome through our practices and rhetoric.

False choices lead to flawed decisions. We can protect both religious liberty and the civil rights of LGBT people. There will be candid debate over how to best balance these two values, but I believe that most Americans know that sensible common ground is possible. I pray that the Trump administration also heeds that lesson."

Frank Bruni addressed this same issue two years ago, in his article titled Bigotry, the Bible and the Lessons of Indiana. He stated in part as follows:

"The drama in Indiana last week and the larger debate over so-called religious freedom laws in other states portray homosexuality and devout Christianity as forces in fierce collision.

They’re not — at least not in several prominent denominations, which have come to a new understanding of what the Bible does and doesn’t decree, of what people can and cannot divine in regard to God’s will.

And homosexuality and Christianity don’t have to be in conflict in any church anywhere.

That many Christians regard them as incompatible is understandable, an example not so much of hatred’s pull as of tradition’s sway. Beliefs ossified over centuries aren’t easily shaken.

But in the end, the continued view of gays, lesbians and bisexuals as sinners is a decision. It’s a choice. It prioritizes scattered passages of ancient texts over all that has been learned since — as if time had stood still, as if the advances of science and knowledge meant nothing.

It disregards the degree to which all writings reflect the biases and blind spots of their authors, cultures and eras.

It ignores the extent to which interpretation is subjective, debatable.

And it elevates unthinking obeisance above intelligent observance, above the evidence in front of you, because to look honestly at gay, lesbian and bisexual people is to see that we’re the same magnificent riddles as everyone else: no more or less flawed, no more or less dignified.

Most parents of gay children realize this. So do most children of gay parents. It’s a truth less ambiguous than any Scripture, less complicated than any creed.

So our debate about religious freedom should include a conversation about freeing religions and religious people from prejudices that they needn’t cling to and can indeed jettison, much as they’ve jettisoned other aspects of their faith’s history, rightly bowing to the enlightenments of modernity.

'Human understanding of what is sinful has changed over time,' said David Gushee, an evangelical Christian who teaches Christian ethics at Mercer University. He openly challenges his faith’s censure of same-sex relationships, to which he no longer subscribes."

Marco Rubio and a great many others can try and rationalize their rhretoric, actions and policy positions however they want. However, at the end of the day, 'Religious Discrimination' Laws Have Nothing to Do With Religion, as Julian Bond wrote in an article by that title.

"Julian Bond was at the forefront of the civil rights battles of the mid-20th century. He says the 'religious discrimination' bills now cropping up all over the nation are a return to the institutional intolerance of those days."

In any event, Bond concluded that article as follows:

"I have seen discrimination. I have stood inside businesses that would not serve me because of my race, and I have been told that the rights of those business owners were more important than mine. I countered that logic then, as I do now. We have no crisis of religious discrimination; we have a crisis of fear. I stand against these bills and with those who are fighting to stop them. I refuse to allow discrimination to cloak itself in a shroud of faith. I refuse to give into fear."

Come to think of it, maybe Rubio was correct to some degree when he said that "homophobia means you’re scared of people." If so, what he fails to realize is that it is fear that is leading him to pursue policies that legalize anti-LGBT discrimination. As such, Marco Rubio is "scared of people" - at least certain groups of people.

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