Friday, November 05, 2004

 

Time for an internal brain drain?

If you are a gay or bisexual academic teaching at a public university or college in Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan (Michigan?), Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Ohio, Utah or Oregon (Oregon?), it may be time to think about upping stakes for a more tolerant state. Not only can you not get married in these states (where you never could anyway) but in some of them you won't even be able to enter a civil union; furthermore, you won't be able to list your partner on your health insurance, visit him or her in the hospital, or enjoy any of the other rights that heterosexual couples do.

Maybe it's time to teach somewhere else?

Public university faculty are state employees. What is a gay man doing teaching at the University of Alabama? What is a lesbian doing on the faculty at Oklahoma State? Granted, there probably aren't many, but maybe there shouldn't be any.

Liberals and progressives should seriously consider taking positions in any of these states, too. I know, you go where you can get a job, and maybe you don't have a choice. But if you do, just say no. The university communities in these states are probably more tolerant than the surrounding populations, and they probably didn't have anything to do with passing these bigoted initiatives, but the point has to be made. It would be very difficult to punish the University of Michigan, with its famously left-wing law school. Nobody is going to voluntarily leave there anyway.

But where possible, where reasonable, people of good will, people of tolerance, must vote with their feet. Few of these states are known for high-quality education at any level, which may be part of their problem. Some of them are on a downward slide when it comes to their populations. Most of them are economic basket cases. The perils of an emigration of their best academics and students would probably be lost on the intolerant voters who supported the anti-gay initiatives, but almost any rational argument appears lost on them. We can't change their minds, but damned if we have to reward them. Besides - why woud a gay person want to live in Mississippi or Alabama or Arkansas or North Dakota or Utah or Oklahoma anyway?
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