Moving The Needle

Posted by Judith Gayle


Once again, it’s been a week of tit and tat, point and counterpoint, our cultural divides apparent in the halls of justice and on the streets, our emotions flowing from sorrow to anger and back again. Seems like we move from challenge to challenge without time to consider our shifting attitudes, but if we step back a bit, the picture of our growth becomes a bit clearer — and much more impressive.

By Judith Gayle | Political Waves

Once again, it’s been a week of tit and tat, point and counterpoint, our cultural divides apparent in the halls of justice and on the streets, our emotions flowing from sorrow to anger and back again. Seems like we move from challenge to challenge without time to consider our shifting attitudes, but if we step back a bit, the picture of our growth becomes a bit clearer — and much more impressive.


We’ve hit a turning point in recapturing realism, even as proponents of the old mythologies bite and claw to regain their stronghold. Freddie Gray’s death has been ruled a homicide, for instance.

Yes, it took Baltimore burning, and 22 charred patrol cars, to get a grip on the fact that we can no longer tolerate another unarmed black man being killed by police without consequence.

It took viral video of the mother of a young protester, descending on him like an unexpected storm, to turn the nation’s ’tisk tisk’ mentality away from the destruction of rioting ‘thugs,’ and toward examination of her fear and concern over his safety from the police presence, some quite obviously past the point of reason. As Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, told Charlie Rose last evening, while some may propose this woman for “Mother of the Year,” others only see how completely prior generations have failed the disenfranchised youth who faced off against the cops in the streets of Baltimore.

It’s taken astounding confrontation with mainstream media to press the point that things must change, here and here, offering a surprisingly candid view of the racial violence at hand and the tone-deaf response. It took the President finally having a no-nonsense moment about the chronically tolerated structures behind racial disparity. And it took the previous deaths of Eric Garner, Oscar Grant, Michael Brown, Walter Scott and hundreds, even thousands, more like them to get our attention.

We’re being challenged to grow. We’re being challenged to feel. We’re being asked to see our cultural diversity as strength, not weakness. We’re being asked to find our commonalities, rather than our differences. And while many of us are meeting that bar with grit and determination, others are being pulled toward it, kicking and screaming.

We can see that conflict in the Supreme Court, for instance. In some of the lamest pretense for intellectual discussion I’ve heard lately, the Supremes, hearing oral arguments on same-sex marriage, questioned whether or not this is the ‘right time’ to force states into compliance, given how quickly public opinion has shifted on this topic. This seems to me a riff on the parental notion that tolerance and/or acceptance of civil rights on gender issues is “just a phase” the nation is going through, no doubt fostered by the certainty on the right that allowing same-sex marriage to go forward is a grievous mistake and Biblical offense of gigantic proportions.

The Federalist argument that approval should remain a province of the state falls flat for those of us interested in establishing that “level playing field” Mr. Obama and Ms. Warren speak of so often. Essentially, the handful of states unwilling to accept same-sex marriage as a civil right are the same ones that always throw a monkey wrench. They’re the same ones that put Mr. Lincoln on high alert in centuries past, that resisted mixed-race marriage, that refused integration of public schools — and not so very long ago. Waiting for them to voluntarily allow their LGBT citizens marriage equality is the equivalent of waiting for Godot.

This ruling is meant to be definitive, finally settling the legalities of a problem that has had us stymied for a couple of decades, and sure fodder to stoke the fires of culture war. Granted, the issue is older than that by centuries but remember, we only came to terms with our gay brothers and sisters because the AIDS crisis forced us into awareness.

Prior to that, in most of the country this demographic existed under cover, “in the closet” and reluctant to make waves. To be sure, the average citizen was encouraged not to look. Safer to think that our wonky old great-aunt and her life-long roommate were just eccentric, than suppose anything ‘perverse’ happened in their household. Best to think of cousin Henry as a confirmed bachelor that no woman would have than one of those sissy-guys, seldom invited to reunions and NEVER asked to baby-sit. We were ALL in the closet, weren’t we?

Upright (up-tight) jurist Sam Alito seemed to be fishing for some way to split the difference on mandating same-sex marriage this week, rather than go all in, which signals the weakness of the defense. Indeed, there is little actual defense than can be offered against allowing those who love one another to legalize their commitment, unless one delves into the mythology surrounding this issue. Most of these arguments are provided by the evangelicals in their ardor to prevent America from suffering the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah, the Biblical tale in which the family patriarch threw his virgin daughter to the lust-filled Sodomites rather than surrender his angelic visitor. And — seriously — you’d think evangelical women would get a clue right there, wouldn’t you?

Indeed, it is the gender role of women that has come under close scrutiny in this sea-change known as marriage equality. And leave it to the redoubtable Justice Ginsberg to spell it out in no uncertain terms. When one member of such a legal arrangement is defined as subservient based on gender, then how can that possibly work with two people of the same sexual persuasion? Hence, when traditional definitions no longer apply, it’s time for a new definition — and a new tradition.

Josh, the oldest of the Dugger children (the “19 Kids & Counting” reality-show family that practices “quiverful” living in order to populate the world with true believers) has taken on the fight against gay marriage as a form of discrimination against his faith. So, to cut to the chase, he’s outraged that his ability to discriminate against others is being discriminated against? Yes, exactly. Everything that threatens his traditional (cultish and regressive) definition of family is an attack on his faith. He’s joined by most of the radical-right churches — and the politicians who curry their favor — in his belief that Christianity is under attack by secularism, a notion the founders would have batted down like a pesky fly, given their experience of religious oppression and desire for secular, egalitarian government.

Yet, after years of being manipulated by the Christocratic arm of the political spectrum, it’s no longer possible for the public to ignore fundamental Christianity’s thumb on the scale of equality. A deserved backlash may eventually become the fulfilling prophecy of those Christians whining about persecution. Thanks to the dust-up that Indiana Governor Mike Pence moderated with his failed Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the spotlight has turned to examine how the evangelical movement negatively impacts the whole of national politics.

Forever fussing about assaults to his Christian (superiority) exceptionalism, Mike Huckabee has announced this week that “We are moving rapidly toward the criminalization of Christianity.” Ted Cruz, speaking to the faithful, informs that “There is a liberal fascism that is dedicated to going after believing Christians who follow the biblical teaching on marriage!” One amicus brief filed by a number of conservative lawyers and professors, revealing its fundamentalist underpinnings, makes so little sense it wouldn’t make it across the desk of a 7th grade debate teacher. It posits that there is a link between same-sex marriage and abortion, with some 900,000 “unborn” projected to die as a result of such a ruling over the next thirty years.

As pointed out by Daily Beast contributor Candida Moss, understanding this far-fetched abortion argument requires in-depth knowledge of the Armageddon dialogues and their black/white, good/evil absolutes, while Bob Cesca offers a fine history lesson, patiently deconstructing the possibility of being both liberal and fascist at the same time. It would be helpful to the real world if those passionately opposed to same-sex marriage had an actual defense to offer, along with examples of victimization that involved real people and not simply a perceived assault on religious dogma. It would at least make the angst and struggle and money spent in an effort to limit these marriages credible.

And Mammon, being served regularly both privately and from the pulpit, seems to have pulled the old switcheroo! Mike Huckabee and others who pander to the religious base have taken exception to the many powerful corporations who have recently perceived discrimination against gays as dangerous to their bottom line (profit margin). Business concerns seemed to quickly mobilize against gay-bashing in Illinois a few weeks back, breaking traditon and tearing down one of those counted-upon walls linking the business class with the religious.

While some, like Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal, have announced that business is not the boss of them — well, we know how this goes, don’t we? Of course I’d rather see this church/state backlash take form from a point of principle, but I’ll take what I can get. If the money boys see religious pandering as a losing investment, then — God Bless America! — the needle has begun to move from the bias of the elders to the clear-eyed acceptance of gender equality among the youngsters. There’s no fighting it. It’s here to stay.

I received a petition about a gay teacher at a Catholic high school in Omaha, Nebraska (deep in the heartland, let me remind you) who lost his job when he announced his engagement to his boyfriend. He was not surprised to be fired, but he did not expect what happened next.

The kids at the school counted him among their favorites, and they rallied against the administration’s decision, wearing T-shirts that read “I support Mr. Eledge,” along with the Human Rights Campaign logo on the front. And, very much to the point of their religious education, the back quoted Jesus from John 13:34: “Love one another as I have loved you.”

Student Darya Kaboli-Nejad, interviewed by a local television reporter, put it this way:  “We can’t force a change, but we can inspire a change.”

The decision to legalize gay marriage at the federal level, expected in June, seems all but certain. The arguments against are incomprehensible, and like it or not, this issue has finally taken its rightful place as a matter of civil liberty. The change was inspired awhile ago, with 38 states having already received the memo. Those who hold out only serve to marginalize themselves, yet again.

So here we are, waiting to see what the court decides, but this time it doesn’t seem to be so big a deal. Those of us who think we’re forever stuck in dysfunction and chaos need to look very carefully at how things are beginning to shift. Years of baby steps eventually move the needle, bringing what appears to be sudden change, none of which could have arrived without months, even years, of advocacy that smoothed the way for progress.

I suppose that those who have so little confidence in their own marriage practice that they must deny others the same privilege will continue to fight tooth and nail, but it’s too late now. Love wins in this matter of marriage, no matter what the Supreme Court decides.

And eventually, perhaps not so long from now, the white and privileged citizens of this nation will understand that loving one another, as they are loved, includes even those who have been marginalized, disenfranchised and victimized by systemic disinterest and disregard, projected from subconscious guilt and fear. The promise of this nation cannot be realized until we’ve moved the needle to include us all.

By the way, Happy Beltane and May Day to all! Go here to read about how American activism gave the world an eight-hour work day, and how that victory is universally celebrated while we ignore it. Renewing the rights of the working class needs to move to the top of our national To Do List.

7 thoughts on “Moving The Needle

  1. Barbara Koehler

    5 stars Judith. The needle has moved. . finally. Message to the Supremes: Yea-ah, right time! Thanks for noting the one wall that’s tumbling down; the one between fickle business and dogmatic religion. Money speaks louder I guess. From Marianne Williamson, (as seen in The Mt. Astrologer magazine Apr-May edition, pg. 95), “Love is what we are born with. Fear is what we learn. The spiritual journey is the unlearning of fear and prejudices and the acceptance of love back in our hearts.” Nobody said it would be an easy journey, right Jude?

    This year’s Spring Equinox had Mars (action) conjunct Eris (discord) in Aries (ruled by Mars) sextile the U.S. (Sibly version) Mars in Gemini (media), and that’s the easy (sextile) part. But, Equinox Mars-Eris was also quincunx U.S. Neptune (elusive) in the U.S. Sibly chart’s 9th house (comprehension, laws) and it’s not so easy to move the Neptune needle to action. However, U.S. Mars squares U.S. Neptune and transiting Eris has been at this needling of U.S Neptune for well over a year. So. . . .

    The Pisces (ruled by Neptune) “Same-Day-As-Equinox” solar eclipse (long-term effect) was. .
    . . square (challenge) solar eclipse Pallas (justice) . .
    . . who was conjunct (at one with) the Galactic Core/Center (Universal directives) . .
    . . in Sagittarius (truth-telling) . .
    . . as well as sextile (attuned to) the U.S Moon (feelings), symbol of The People . .
    . . who is conjunct U.S. Pallas (justice) in Aquarius (humanitarian).

    In a nutshell, Timing is Everything.

    Two weeks ago the Aries New Moon was sextile the U.S. Moon/Pallas in Aquarius and square the U.S. Pluto (obliterate) in Capricorn (tradition). New Moon Venus (love) was conjunct the U.S Uranus (looks sudden but was done in baby steps) in Gemini. New Moon Ceres (parent of lost child) in Aquarius was sextile New Moon’s authoritarian Saturn (who is retrograde) in Sagittarius forming a yod with the U.S Venus (“love wins”) in Cancer (family), where transiting Hades (unbearable to look at) is once again hanging out. U.S. Venus must adjust. Curtain falls on this act.

    Curtain rises on tomorrow’s Full Moon in Scorpio trine the U.S. Sun in Cancer. Full Moon’s Ceres is conjunct the U.S. south node and U.S. Pholus in Aquarius. Mothers are drawing attention to past practices that do not promote growth (south node) and the U.S. Pholus is further primed to make a small thing become a big brouhaha. Mothers Day falls one week from tomorrow and the Sun will be conjunct the U.S. Vesta (dedication, investment) in Taurus (values safety and security), while the Moon will be in Aquarius where she will conjunct transiting Ceres-conjunct US south node-conjunct U.S. Pholus. It’s likely then we will see more baby steps taken in our spiritual journey. The needle moves in baby steps.

  2. Len WallickLen Wallick

    Jude: Thank you for exposing the “straw man” arguments which appear to have become the last refuge of Plutocratic and/or male supremacist scoundrels. Once those straw men have been exposed for what they are (instead of being held up for the paternal saviors they purport themselves to be) it does indeed become evident that there is movement, however glacial, in the proverbial needle you refer to. Without your holding forth against obfuscation as you did today, i might not have seen it except through hope. Now, you have helped me to see it with greater certainty. Before i was a bit more blind. Now i better see – thanks to you.

    Barbara: Thanks to you in turn for once again bringing astrology so skillfully and evocatively to bear upon corresponding events (further contributing to the improvement in my ability to better see).

  3. william kalbacher

    If blacks start hitting back they will be slaughtered big time. This has been going on forever…There actually was no “riot” in Baltimore to give you an idea of white fear. Totally media invented. The only real action came from a black prosecutor with power who was angry about all of it. Stop killing us please….well maybe they will. About all you can say. Change for the black plight? Out of the kindness of white mans racist heart you mean? Astrology, hmm. Sure is a lot of killing going on for a loving universe seems to me…remember the dead …. You just get so tired …its really not good enough to just stop shooting people ….as if doing them a favor. That’s why 6 cops getting sued…the joke is…half those cops are black too..

  4. Geoff Marsh

    Well done, Jude, an even more brilliant piece than usual.

    The British perspective on the needle is quite interesting at the moment. Last year, the Conservative (i.e. quite right-wing) government rushed through a bill legalising gay marriage against probably good advice that a serious discussion of the matter beforehand might prove more beneficial in the long run. No chance of that in a government dominated by fellows educated at Eton, Britain’s elite fee-paying school where homosexuality (fagging, as it’s called) between pupils is prevalent if not de rigeur (c.f. Lindsay Anderson’s film “if…”). It was a triumph beyond your average LGBTQ activists’ dreams, but will it last?

    Britain is now facing a general election this coming Thursday (May 7). A grass-roots party (Ukip) opposed to Britain’s membership of the European Union, immigrants and gay people has emerged as a credible force in British politics. They are openly modelling their rise to power on Adolf Hitler’s National Socialists in 1930s Germany. There’s not much doubt that it would be gas chambers for gays if they came to power.

    In the same election we have the belated rise of green consciousness in Britain. For many years a major force in Germany, the Green Party in Britain can at last see political gain in the current plight of Mother Earth. Like similar small parties at such times, when there is very little likelihood of their being elected to power, the leader has pronounced upon the otherwise unmentionable. In this case, the Greens would “consider” the question of whether three people in a relationship should be considered as in a marriage for legal purposes.

    When I first read that I thought, hang on a minute, isn’t that going a bit too far too fast? Isn’t that likely to drive an awful lot of decent folk into the Ukip camp, where concentration doesn’t mean focus? And then I remembered that it was yours truly who had cheered so loudly on first hearing Grace Slick sing “Triad” in 1968 (Crown of Creation, Jefferson Airplane). Why was I panicking so much now that all my revolutionary ideas were evolving into reality. Was it because it was all happening so fast and we really ought to wait a bit for the general populace to catch up? It reminded me of a comment I had heard at the start of my gay liberation activities in 1967 – the wheels of government grind exceeding slow but exceeding small. Meaning, I suppose, that no-one gets away with very much over the very long term.

    As for the difference between Britain and the States on the subject of police brutality against the black community, I doubt there is any. We might tut-tut about it but then we never exploited black or Asian peoples within our communities. No doubt in Africa and India, we colonisers were as ruthless in our oppression as any other nation. But, in Britain, no-one saw the oppression. Slaves overseas – whether in Africa, India or the Americas – produced the cotton, tea and other goods which paid for the industrial revolution here in the 1800s. Not having to watch the workers in their bondage at close quarters made us more genteel in our attitude towards these romanticised unwaged servants. When push comes to shove, however, no doubt the British police and our right-wing political militias will be just as ferocious in the face of a black uprising.

    The needle swings, and having swung, swings back. Let us at least inspire and teach our children the concepts of humanity as we understand them so that real progress is maintained.

  5. Barbara Koehler

    Hey Jude, I kept a low profile this Derby weekend and that means it was a good one! Hope you had lots of sunshine and pleasant people around to share the weekend with too.

    I’d say our Nation is in the bandaid stage of treating the wounds to its systems, but even recognizing the need to attend to them brought cheers in Baltimore. That a government official even acknowledged it was time for immediate response shocked a public grown used to lackadaisical bureaucratic approaches to problems. What’s this? Police officers charged for misconduct toward a citizen during the same week it happened? Unheard of. Still, it’s one of those baby steps that put the idea on the radar of public consciousness. It CAN happen and that’s encouraging.

    I so agree with you, punishment from God is a deep-seated Saturn thing that Uranus tries to free us from time after time, event after event, article after article. I like to think that after Saturn gets moving forward in Sagittarius, while Uranus is still in Aries, major breakthroughs such as realizing we have been brainwashed-by-religious-beliefs-to-make-us-fearful-and-obedient will happen. Maybe Christmas day in 2016 something like that could come to pass. Uranus in Aries, Saturn in Sagittarius, Jupiter in Libra and Venus in Aquarius will all be at 20+ degrees of their signs making an interesting pattern called a Cradle. No squares, one opposition, 2 trines, 3 sextiles sounds miraculous until you add in Chiron in Pisces, also at 20 degrees who will square Saturn, quincunx Jupiter who opposes Uranus.

    But in fact, Chiron could be the “right goad” to make a miracle happen. We must watch and wait for that one, bearing in mind that the Moon will be in Scorpio just before 4 AM EST to trine Chiron, square Venus, quincunx Uranus, semi-square Jupiter. Oh, and Ceres will be at 21+ Aries, having stationed direct less than a degree from Uranus earlier in the month, so she may Light The Fire that leads the way for all that energy to manifest. Food or Cradle for thought? :)

    Regarding your relationship with a black man and his family, trust that your presence among them went a long way (though not visible immediately) in altering their perceptions of the white race. I base that on just knowing something of your principles and attitudes which didn’t just develop overnight. It is very hard for any person who is outnumbered racially (or any other way for that matter) to be open and understanding to those who express ill will toward him or her. Giving them an up-close and personal opportunity to see the other side – non-bigoted – of a human being unlike themselves is a teachable moment.

    Which is what all your editorials are Jude; learning opportunities, and that goes for the responses you receive too. Many thanks for keepin’ on keepin’ on.

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