Arkansas Bans Equality for LGBT People

February 23, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Last week, a bill was passed in Arkansas, the “Intrastate Commerce Improvement Act,” which in effect prevents any anti-discrimination laws from being passed in that state that protect the rights of gay people. (“Arkansas wants to attract businesses by allowing them to discriminate against gay people,” Washington Post, February 17, 2015) While the bill performs a series of legal gymnastics to avoid saying what it is really about (backers claim it is about attracting business, and keeping laws in Arkansas consistent between counties), what is now being enforced is a preemptive move to make sure that gay people cannot be ensured basic rights. In fact, the law was initiated when people in the town of Fayetteville tried to pass a gay rights ordinance. That ordinance was overturned last December in a close vote that included a major mobilization by Christian fascists and the dean of the University of Arkansas campus shutting down buses that allowed students to get to the polls and vote.

This law is both totally unacceptable and very revealing.

In fact in 2015, only a handful of states even have anti-discrimination laws protecting the rights of gay, transgender, or gender non-conforming people. In 2015, the acknowledgement and acceptance of the existence of gay people and others who do not conform to archaic gender traditions has broadened amongst many people, and all this has been fought for, through determined resistance such as Stonewall, ACT UP, and Gay Pride. Yet in 2015, it is still perfectly legal in vast regions of this nation of so-called “equal rights” to fire a person from their job, kick a person out of a store, evict someone from their home or apartment, or deny a person the right to be legal guardians of their own children, just because they do not conform to the rigid gender roles dictated to them by this patriarchal system.

We also need to be aware of the positive—and in significant ways “subversive of the system”—potential of the assertion of gay “identity” and gay rights, even with the very real contradictions in this, including the narrowing tendencies of “identity politics” as well as conservatizing influences related to traditional marriage, and, for that matter, the campaign to be allowed to be part of the imperialist military while being openly gay. Even with all that, in its principal aspect this has, and can to an even greater degree have, a very positive, “subversive of the system” effect. This is a contradiction which, in the society overall, is “out of the closet.” It could be forced back into the closet, and underground, with not only the stronger assertion of the kind of fascist movement that is being supported and fostered by powerful ruling class forces in this period, but with the actual assumption of a fascist form of bourgeois dictatorship. But the struggle against the oppression of gay people is not going to be easily suppressed. We should understand the potential of this as well, and the need to relate correctly to this, to foster the further development of its positive potential and its contribution to the movement for revolution.

Bob Avakian
Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA,
BAsics 3:25

This is because in 2015, even in the face of a lot of struggle and some changes, we still live under a system that has patriarchy built into its every function, and where the repressive “traditional family values” that for too long have dictated that women are property and that define “manliness” as cruelty, domination, and aggression, are making a comeback. Across the country, women’s right to abortion is under unprecedented attack: clinics are shut down at record rates, bans are being passed at earlier and earlier points in the pregnancy. A multibillion-dollar industry of increasingly degrading pornography that promotes rape, violence, and humiliation of women by men as a legitimate form of sexual activity has seeped into the mainstream.

Through the global expansion of this capitalist-imperialist system and through people’s resistance to oppression, the world has changed in a number of ways. Repressive traditions of patriarchy are both being challenged and violently reasserted: women who are trying to make their own decisions about their future and want to be something other than a mother, a wife, or a sex object; men who step outside their prescribed role as “keepers” of women and promoters of macho bullshit; and any person of any gender who does not “fit in” to the patriarchal prescription of domination, submission, and procreation have no place and no rights in this so-called “land of the free.” This contradiction is sharpening up in the South in particular, where more and more gay and gender non-conforming people are demanding their rights, and the state of Arkansas, along with other states that are adopting a Dark Ages agenda, are moving to preserve a dehumanizing standard of what is “normal,” and to contribute further to a climate of hatred and oppression for those who dare to love outside of literal Biblical and other outdated mandates.

The same system that cannot promise a future for young people, or even a job, but instead criminalizes, guns down, and locks up millions of Black and brown people, a system that tears loved ones apart and ruins lives through deportation of immigrants while at the same time exploiting them in mass numbers, a system that cares nothing for the future of the planet but only for profit, a system which encourages a whole climate of hatred toward LGBT people and denies them basic rights, can say what it wants about “equality,” but the fact remains: This is a system of the past, a system that is defined by unnecessary divisions of people into masters and slaves, humans and sub-humans. What is needed now is much more of the determined resistance that won any acknowledgement for LGBT people to begin with, and in the long run, as was stated in Revolution in the July 7, 2013 article “Landmark Decisions on Same Sex Marriage... The Struggle Must Continue“: “[W]hat ... the real history of LGBT people in this society, and most fundamentally what the real nature of this system actually show is that we need a revolution and a radically new and different socialist system as part of a transition to a communist world. We have a chance to be part of a revolution to overturn ALL oppression and injustice—who would want to settle for anything less?”

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