Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Collective New Year’s Resolution?

Looking forward to 2011 it is valuable to ask ourselves “What can we do this next year to make our nation a more just, safe and welcoming place for LGBTQ people?” Something that comes to mind reflecting on 2010 were the tragic suicides by LGBTQ youth. The Center for Disease Control in its “Youth at Risk” study of 1999 stated that one-third of our communities’ adolescents will attempt suicide. One-third!

It seems to me that Anti-Bullying Laws would be a very important cause for our community to support in this New Year. Here are some very good reasons:

1. Anti-Bullying Laws will affect our entire LGBTQ community. This inclusive cause will help to heal a rift in our community. Many in the Trans community have felt abandoned by our community in our efforts to pass ENDA and repeal both DOMA & DADT.

2. “Social conservatives” have invoked “the children” as a trump to our civil rights repeatedly. Anti-Bullying Laws enable us to turn the tables on these bigots and places them on the defensive. They will counter claiming their right to “Free Speech;” however, their speech incites hatred, emotional and physical violence that is visited upon children.

3. Anti-Bullying campaigns and laws may be championed at different levels. From the local PTA meeting, School Districts, States and on a National level. This encourages grass roots and Direct Action. Ordinary people without huge financial resources can have a considerable impact.

4. We will be able to collaborate with various other organizations and people of good will. For example, PFLAG, GSA, ACLU, the Trevor Project, and It Gets Better, to name a few.

5. Grassroots action will help to change social attitudes and the very dialogue about LGBTQ civil rights. In short, this will put a human face on our civil rights goals. Children will be highlighted as the victims of anti-LGBTQ prejudice and bigotry.

6. The most important reason of all is that we will become a public voice for those in our community who have no voice. We will become advocates for those who are arguably the most vulnerable. Most of us have experienced the fear and sometimes-outright terror of constant verbal and physical harassment at school. It is time we spoke up and spoke out to end this monstrous evil.

How to start:

1. Have a team of Psychologists and Educators explain the effects of bullying on victims. Have this team also delineate some of the tell tale signs for parents; incidentally, this opens straight parents as our allies in this battle. Have this team also suggest active measures that parents/guardians and local school boards can take to help stop bullying.

2. Ask attorneys to take the recommendations of this team and help to fashion laws/legislation that could be adopted to assist parents/guardians, teachers, and school boards to reduce or eliminate bullying.

3. Ask each major LGBTQ organization to designate one contact person to meet with a national board to coordinate our efforts at advancing Anti-Bullying campaigns.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Tipping Point.

After President Obama signed the Repeal of DADT this last week, there have been a slew of comments from both ends of the political spectrum. Regardless of how a person “feels” about this, the conclusion that we have reached a significant “tipping point” in American society is evident. When President Harry S. Truman signed an executive order in 1948 desegregating the U.S. Armed Forces and Civil Service, it sounded the death toll for segregation in American society. The Courts took notice and in 1954, the landmark decision of Brown v. Board of Education took the President’s lead one step further. The signing of the Civil Rights Act in July of 1964 by President Lyndon Johnson drove a stake through legalized bigotry. Social racial bigotry has been slowly eroding ever since.

The U.S. Armed forces form American youth. Every year countless High School graduates leave their hometown and go to boot camp. Those young men and women acculturate to military standards. Years later I still find it disquieting to see a man wearing a hat indoors. I find myself writing the date/month/year and not the month/date/year. I still think of 4 PM as 1600 hour, the end of the workday at Edwards AFB. These are small things; however, acceptable and unacceptable attitudes about women and minorities are unmistakably articulated and enforced in boot camp. After years of living in this military culture, veterans return to civilian society along with these engrained attitudes.This is the real reason that social conservatives so rabidly oppose the repeal of DADT.

On Friday, the Los Angeles Times reported the following:

In a news conference Wednesday and in recent interviews, Obama signaled that his position favoring civil unions is not fixed and that he may one day conclude that, a committed gay couple should have the same right to marry as anyone else.

Obama's views seem to be tracking those of the broader American public. Polls show support for gay marriage is growing. A Gallup study showed that while in 1996 only 27% of the population believed gay marriage should be legalized, the figure had jumped to 44% in May of this year.

Many social conservatives, such as Eagle Forum president Phyllis Schlafly, refuse to believe that a majority of Americans would support gay marriage.

Gays, she said, are already free to live together. "Nobody's stopping them from shacking up," she said. "The problem is they are trying to make us respect them, and that's an interference with what we believe."

The last comment by Ms. Schlafly constitutes one of those rare moments of clarity when social conservatives reveal their true motives and intent. Judge Walker accurately perceived such motives when he ruled Prop 8 unconstitutional. The Judge cited an animus against gay people as the motive of the “Yes on [California’s] Proposition 8.”

Imagine the outrage if Schlafly’s comment had been made about any other minority group, or if interracial couples were stripped of their right to a civil marriage! Of course, 63 years ago social conservative made such comments about African Americans, Native Americans, Jews, Catholics or and women. Today Immigrants and LGBTQ people are the targets of “social conservatives.” Now as then, social conservatives wrap themselves in the flag and cite the Bible in a vain attempt to justify their bigotry. In a painfully slow process, their bigotry is exposed as such. One by one, their arguments are debunked by science and people of conscience.

It is an adage that “It is always darkest before the dawn” bigots will become more virulent and violent, as they correctly perceive they are losing control. Rather than being intimidated, this should embolden us to fight even harder for our rights and human dignity. Ms. Schafly your respect and beliefs are inconsequential to me, but my rights and dignity are not

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The battle for DADT ends. The battle for ENDA and DOMA continues

Pop a bottle of champagne and enjoy this victory we have worked very hard for this day and we should rejoice. This is one battle won in a continuing war for our full civil rights and human dignity. What next?

Barney Frank has said that then next two years nothing will happen in Congress on our front. Perhaps; however, that does not mean that nothing will happen nationally. There are, after all, fifty states connected to the DC beltway. In those states, we need to fight for the election of congressional representatives that will vote for the passage of ENDA (the Employment Non Discrimination Act). While we are on that subject, we need to ask officials of the Democratic Party why the 111th Congress FAILED to pass ENDA.

We need to hold them accountable and responsible, not out of some irrational desire for vengeance, but to remind them and future politicians that they will be held accountable for failing to keep their promises to our community. There must be a real world consequence for selling us out.

The repeal of DOMA (the so called Defense of Marriage Act) should be reinstated in the list of legislative goals of both the DNC and the White House. Both organizations have recently removed them from their list of objectives. We have noticed and we do not like this sin of omission. Politicians and political parties are vehicles towards justice, but often have ulterior motives. Recall that both DOMA and DADT bear President Clinton’s signature. We have been sold out before and if we look the other way, we will be sold out again.

On a local level, I suggest we focus resources on electing State Senators in New York State who support full marriage equality. Common wisdom is that the Ninth Circuit Court or the US Supreme Court will rule narrowly to uphold Judge Walker’s decision that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional. This will restore Same-sex marriage in California. If New York State passes legislation that permits Same-sex marriage, we will have achieved a “critical mass” that will propel same-sex marriage forward in the United States.

Savor today’s victory, but realize that we are still engaged in a war for our full civil rights and human dignity. This is no time to “rest on our laurels.”

Friday, December 10, 2010

Barack Obama [R]?

The following is a list of things that President Barack Obama could do without an Act of Congress.

1. Direct the Department of Justice to immediately drop an appeal of Judge Virginia Phillip’s ruling that DADT is unconstitutional.

2. Order a “Stop Loss” that would effectively end the enforcement of DADT.

3. One/all of over 100 actions as Chief Executive delineated in the “New Beginnings Initiative”

The following is a list of what you can do as a voter if President Obama fails to do the aforementioned items.

1. Encourage your friends and coworkers to consider supporting another Democrat in the primaries for presidential elections in 2012.

2. Work for another Democrat running against Obama in the 2012 primaries.

3. Consider working for/supporting a third party candidate in the 2012 primaries.

4. Join GetEQUAL and help form a local chapter.

5. Engage in Direct Action to help underscore the injustice of laws such as DADT and DOMA.

6. Donate to organizations like ACLU, make a photocopy of the check and mail it to the DNC. Inform them you’re redirecting your funds to organizations that actually make a difference in social causes.

Finally, share the following video clip with your "die-hard" Obama supporters.