Post submitted by Eva Kendrick, HRC Alabama State Manager
Post originally appeared on al.com
On September 28, the Alabama Court of the Judiciary will gavel in the (hopefully) final hearing on the ethics charges brought against Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore. This hearing marks the culmination of more than a decade of unethical, extralegal actions from Moore, from his Ten Commandments crusade in 2001 to his present-day obstructionist tactics aimed at preventing marriage equality in Alabama. And, it marks a fork in the road for our state.
Since Roy Moore was elected, he has been nothing but trouble for our state. He’s blatantly pushed a personal agenda and ignored the rule of law and the code of ethics that guides the work of an Alabama Supreme Court justice. The Human Rights Campaign’s opposition to Roy Moore – along with groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center, the ACLU of Alabama and the LGBTQ community — has been well-documented, but the pending decision on Moore’s fate is about more than one man: it’s about the direction of our state.
When we elect politicians and judges who spew hate to public office, their actions define our future. Their decisions and their rhetoric trickle down to affect the everyday lives of each person in our state. When a leader says that a certain group of people is less valuable than another simply because of who they are or whom they love, people start to believe it. People who would seek to harm LGBTQ people use that rhetoric as an assurance that their hate is justified, and people who may be struggling with their own identity hear the hate pointed toward them and begin to hate themselves.
This cannot be the spirit of our state, and it cannot be the guiding principles of officials who are supposed to serve all Alabamians – not solely those who look and think like themselves.
The Alabama I know and love is full of warm-hearted people who care for their neighbor and work hard to provide a better future for the next generation. It’s brimming with kindness and open doors. This is what the Human Rights Campaign envisions, too. We see one America, and one Alabama, joined together by love and respect for our fellow citizens.
Roy Moore’s Alabama envisions fake divides, where LGBTQ people are treated as second-class citizens, and religion is used as a weapon to persecute. It’s a vision of closed doors and locked windows. Moore’s vision takes southern hospitality and turns it into a “No Vacancy” sign for anyone perceived to be “different.” It’s a vision of two Americas, and two Alabamas.
This cannot be the type of state we want. Our state motto is “We Dare Defend Our Rights.” That has to include the rights of everyone, no matter who they are.
Now, Roy Moore’s ethics trial is about a very specific question: did he act unethically in his position as chief justice? The answer, as spelled out clearly by John Carroll of the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Committee on August 8, is “yes.” That decision is clear. What may not be as clear, is how Moore’s fate is tied to our own. If Moore is removed, Alabamians who believe in ethical political service and equality under the law must reject a future where our next generation must be party to the mistakes of our past. We must learn from this mistake or be doomed to repeat it.
This change starts with all of us. The time I’ve spent talking to my neighbors and sharing who I am has overwhelmingly led to positive results for both parties, and I encourage anyone who may not understand LGBTQ people to talk and listen to someone who is gay or trans. Likewise, LGBTQ people should listen to the concerns of their friends and neighbors, as well. Nine times out of ten, our hopes, fears and dreams won’t be all that different. And, when we all recognize our similarities, the divisions promoted by people like Roy Moore are pretty clearly revealed for what they really are: superficial and based in the fear of the unknown.
We shouldn’t fear our neighbors; we should fear a future for our children that is worse than the present. Our future should start by rejecting the ideas and false divisions of the past. Our future should start with all of us.