Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Thought for the Day: Second Class Citizenship
Courtesy of the pioneering Kate Clinton, lesbian standup comic extraordinaire. I saw Kate perform a bunch of times, and even emcee, at the now defunct Wimminfest -- an annual music-comedy-art-dance and more event held for years at the KiMo and the historic hotel that used to be called La Posada in downtown Albuquerque. She was always fabulous, and brave in the early days of the gay rights movement. Back when downtown Albuquerque still had angled parking places on Central, the long Wimminfest weekends in May filled the otherwise rather empty streets with lesbians galore (and some straight feminists) from all over the country. Quite the scene.
Of course we never contemplated marriage back then. Licenses issued by the state were considered tools of the establishment to be avoided at all costs. We weren't part of the mainstream -- we were rebels living risky lives outside the lines. We weren't thinking ahead to the time, decades later, when we'd be worried about visiting our partners in the hospital, getting joint health care coverage with COBRA, inheriting one another's survivor benefits from pensions or Social Security or making sure our families had adequate legal protections.
Now most of us are smack dab in the middle of the mainstream in most ways, but without the civil rights taken for granted by other citizens of the republic. It's a crime, literally. We work hard for Dem candidates, expanded civil liberties and wide-ranging progressive causes, but too few politicos return the favor.
I'm still waiting for the day when some prominent Dem politician or officeholder outside of San Francisco or Boston will have the nerve to state the obvious, flat out: civil law providing for gay marriage is the only equitable solution to the current injustices experienced by 8-10% of the American population. Hey Barack -- why don't you start? Tom Udall, Martin Heinrich, Ben Ray Lujan and Harry Teague -- what about you? What about the Dem caucus in the New Mexico Legislature? Is it acceptable to you that so many fellow New Mexicans and Americans are treated like second-class citizens? Speak up for what's right. Our time COULD be now. Now that would really be the Change We Need.
Want to help? Sign the Courage Campaign's pledge to help repeal California's Prop 8.
Democratic politicians need to have our backs like we have had theirs. We stick up for them and they need to stick up for us. It is long past the time to get real about this and do what is right. We will now have an African-American president and it is time African-Americans and other people of color support us too. It is not about what churches say it is about equality under the law. African-American and Hispanic politicians need to lead on this with their people too. No more bigotry should be acceptable in a nation where Obama is president.
Have you all seen Keith Olbermann's special comment on gay marriage and prop 8?
Posted by: Brett | Nov 11, 2008 2:37:26 PM
Depending on politicians to support marriage equality is short sighted. It wasn't that long ago that Sam Nunn was measuring the distance between bunks on a submarine to determine how straight men would feel sleeping next to a homosexual if DADT didn't pass. Homosexuals are often lulled into feeling "ok" because more and more we seem to be "accepted" by those close to us -- family, friends, co-workers. This is a lovely bubble to live in but two powerful institutitions -- religion and politics -- stand together to burst that bubble. The NM Dems you mention hide behind serving us a watered down version of "rights" in domestic partnerships. Not good enough. Unless and until gay men and lesbians take to the streets, from marching to going door to door, and demand equality it isn't going to happen on a scale that is meaningful. So much money poured into CA to defeat Prop 8 and now it appears that much of it was spent on media and little if any was spent on community organizing. Mormons and Evangelicals went door to door. Gay men and lesbians did not. And once again the Human Rights Campaign Fund sucked up a bunch of money, enlarged their donor pool, expanded their email list and made nice inside the beltway. Beware when the HRCF comes to your town and has a fundraiser that takes money away from local grassroots organizations doing the real work. Community organizing is at the heart of change and we all need to get out of our bubble and do the hard work.
Posted by: Kate Stone | Nov 11, 2008 3:03:10 PM
Nobody's "depending" on politicians but I do think it's a good idea to remind them who helped them get elected. Contrary to what you say there is not only one way to effect change.
Progressives worked from many angles for years to get the victories on November 4th. Grassroots, netroots, nonprofits, candidates, elected officials, party people, you name it. It's the same for gay equality and marriage.
I don't think "demanding" is what's needed. Persuasion and education are much more effective with many people who don't get it about gay rights. The rest won't support us no matter how much we demand.
Politicians are only as brave as the voters allow. The voters have to be convinced even if it's one at a time. Convincing our families, friends and work colleagues IS important because they vote.
I agree more grassroots is crucial but I understand why many GLBT people are fearful of doing that especially in some neighborhoods where it's needed the most. It can be dangerous. The Mormons and the Catholics have the churches as their meeting places and the worshippers as their captive audiences. That's a big advantage.
I say we need to keep working on all levels. I don't agree that the HRC is the enemy either. In fact, they trained and supported a number of grassroots campaign workers here this year.
It's also important to donate money and time to EQNM.
Posted by: Greg | Nov 11, 2008 4:03:49 PM
What do you all thing about this angle?
It seems intuitive to me that rules have been, if not broken, than stretched thin. Isn't an investigation worth a try?
Posted by: LopsidedMom | Nov 11, 2008 4:49:35 PM
"Demand" doesn't have to be a negative. During Reagan's tenure he never once mentioned HIV/AIDS even though the epidemic was killing thousands. It took the demands of Act Up! to get recognition (as in funding for research and medication) to help people. Forget about dangerous neighborhoods. Take a straight person with you. I disagree on HRCF. Very inside the beltway and very mainstream. The real work for rights is being done by Lambda Legal Defense Fund.
Posted by: Kate Stone | Nov 11, 2008 5:09:19 PM
Um, Greg, does EQNM still exist? I thought they had a going out of business sale about 7 months after filing a DP bill that included a definition of marriage. Haven't heard from them except to beg since then.
I'm not suggesting cause and effect are at work, but what exactly is this 'equality' for which that organization advocates? We have employment and housing discrimination protections, which means 'equality' should be modifying something...can't think what it is, but same sex couples can't walk up to the county clerk's office and pay $25 for it? It'll come to me.
Meanwhile, it's time to stop hoping that our professional queers are planning to become useful.
I'm going to make a big ugly sign for the protest, displaying the names of some local contributors who paid for the broadcast of lies about our families on CA's airwaves. Like the owners of Blake's Lotaburger and Dura-Bilt Construction, for example. Maybe we should burn some Bacon Green Chile Cheeseburgers!
Posted by: PhoenixRising | Nov 11, 2008 10:46:29 PM
President Obama is not going to defend the gays per se. Why? Timing, timing. Bill Clinton was hit with gays in the military right at the very beginning of his first term. Clinton failed to control the timing of the agenda on the left on several issues. This allowed the GOP to attack from day one. It appears that half the population is still against equality so the gays need to back off the national front and build a grass roots movement from the bottom up. The advocates for equality need to time their moves carefully. I suspect that these issues may be resolved once the WWII era elderly and front end of the boomers pass on to oblivion.
I tell you that THIS up and coming generation that is just coming into the work force and in college accept gay people as peers and friends like no other generation. I do not see segregation of gays and straights in modern social setting and colleges. I am very hopeful in the evolution and enlightenment of our coming generations.
Posted by: qofdisks | Nov 12, 2008 12:48:18 PM
That's all well and good gofdisks. You have your rights while so many of us are aging and need protections that you take for granted. We don't have the retirement fund, Social Security, health insurance, tax or other protections under the law that everyone else has. I'm tired of being "patient." I'm too old to wait for people who are young now to take over.
Some of the ads used to convince people to vote for discrimination in California used a clip of Obama stating he opposed gay marriage. Thanks Barack. It's high time for him and other African-American leaders to educate their people and the black churches that is is wrong and illegal to discriminate in civil law. Same with Catholic Hispanics.
All people hear are arguments from the right while the Democrats cower in their doubletalk and refuse to lead. Everyone knows most Democratic officeholders support gay marriage or whatever they want to call it. Everybody knows they lie about it to try and pander. Stop pandering.
Bringing up an issue from the beginning of the Clinton admin isn't helpful. It is long ago now and was handled very badly by them.
Politicians are all too ready to take the money of GLBT people but they do absolutely nothing to support us. In New Mexico we can't even get a simple domestic partnership bill passed because Democrats always stop it. Ask Carlos Cisneros about that one.
There have been many grassroots efforts on the gay rights front but until Democrats in power decide to take a stand on civil law principle, we cannot match the hate campaigns of the right and the Mormon and Catholic Church.
Posted by: Out Gay | Nov 12, 2008 1:55:44 PM
Kate Stone: I don't happen to know many straight people who would go door to door for gay rights. It's easy in places like Santa Fe, San Francisco and Boston but very hard in other places.
gofdisks: What makes you think the crazy right won't attack no matter what Obama and the D congress does? If there's nothing there, they make it up. Appeasement doesn't work.
LopsidedMom: Great idea. Fire up the litigation.
Posted by: Greg | Nov 12, 2008 2:04:13 PM