Tag Archives: civil unions

On Becoming a Footnote

It’s such a strange world. Sometimes I have trouble keeping up. In November, we allowed right-wing moralists to push through stripping hard-won civil rights from gays in several states. Our former president tried to convince us that we are attacked because others hate our freedom. Perhaps he didn’t mean the freedom to marry or to adopt. And Iceland now has a lesbian as Prime Minister.

And you know what is so remarkable about a lesbian holding the top job in Iceland? Apparently, nothing. At least not to Icelanders.  Prior to becoming PM, Johanna Sigurdardottir was the Social Affairs minister and had a 73% approval rating. Her civil union to partner, Jonina Leosdottir, in 2002, was widely known and basically, nobody cared.

Klaus Wowereit, during his campaign to become mayor of Berlin, was cheered when he made the statement “Ich bin schwul, und das ist auch gut so.” (“I am queer, and that’s how it should be”).  Paris has a gay mayor and so does Hamburg. There are openly gay members of parliament in France and the United Kingdom. 72% of voters in Spain support equal rights for gays.

So what is it about the “land of the free”? I have my suspicions but its late and that kind of rant could keep me up all night. Besides, I’d like to get some feedback here. Why do you think we claim freedom as our motto, something we sacrifice our sons and daughters to defend, and yet stingily dole out with so many restrictions?

Silvia Jaen, secretary-general of the Spanish Federation of Gays, Lesbians, Transsexuals and Bisexuals, was quoted as saying about being “out” in most of Europe,  “There was a time when you would have received a lot of extra press coverage for being gay – these days it’s a footnote.”

So, now we know what we’ve been working for all these years — to have that little quirk of difference become nothing more than a footnote.

Hmmm…..I’m not sure how I feel about that…..

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Sexual Jihadists — Who Knew?

I couldn’t help but think about Robert Hillsborough today. Oh, I honestly didn’t remember his name, but I’ve never forgotten him. And it wasn’t hard to find. Just had to do a quick search on the gay man that was stabbed to death while his attackers shouted “Here’s one for Anita”. It was two weeks after Anita Bryant’s “Save the Children” campaign overturned Dade County’s non-discrimination ordinance.

Why think of him today? Because another contemporary of Bryant has written a column so hateful and inflammatory that it almost surprised me — and this stuff rarely surprises me. Pat Boone, white buck shoes and all, felt the need to lash out last week at Proposition 8 protesters with statements such as “…there is a real, unbroken line between the jihadist savagery in Mumbai and the hedonistic, irresponsible, blindly selfish goals and tactics of our homegrown sexual jihadists.”

Homegrown sexual jihadists? What is it about Christian singers anyway?

And what is it with people who purposely spread hatred and incite violence? Sure, Boone will probably become the next greatest thing to happen to gay rights. Just like Anita Bryant was. But that doesn’t make up for what happened to Robert Hillsborough. Or to Ovidio “Herbie” Ramos. He was a gay activist in Miami who committed suicide following the backlash from the Bryant campaign. After participating in a radio talk show where callers said gays should be deported, forced into concentration camps or executed, Ramos told a friend “I didn’t know they hated us so much”. A couple days later he shot himself.

So, what do we do, now?

For starters, we continue to support organizations like HRC. I sent my donation in today and they promised to send Pat Boone a note stating that a donation had been made because of him. I thought that was a nice touch. I’m sure they will do the same for you. Tell Pat Boone you’re no terrorist

More importantly, though, I think we need to focus on the incredible progress that we’ve made. We suffered some heartbreaking losses at the polls but the entire tenor of the campaign was different. The vast majority of our opponents were falling all over themselves saying that we certainly deserve equal rights — just don’t call it marriage. That’s a huge difference from the standard rhetoric of just a few years ago.

We still have a lot to do. But I honestly believe that the momentum is now with us. I think the “other side” knows that too and that’s what is motivating this last push. So, it may get a little worse before it gets better — but one of these days….

Yeah, one of these days!

Some Questions Deserve Answers

I just finished watching the Vice Presidential debate and I’m trying to remember if I ever watched one before. If I did, it certainly wasn’t memorable. Tonight’s, however, was everything an important debate of its kind should be. The differences between the two camps were laid out, clearly, passionately and with supporting facts and figures.

The only problem is that all of that came from Joe Biden.

Did Sarah Palin ever answer a question? I know she made the statement that her maverick status meant that she didn’t have to, but I can’t remember if she maybe slipped up and actually responded to the question put to her.

You have to give her credit, though. Considering how far out of her league she is, she showed a lot of courage just showing up. She appeared confident and had obviously been doing her homework. Showing her skills as a politician, she managed to sidestep answering the tough questions — like how unsupportive this Republican platform is to gay rights. But, if I didn’t already know that, I wouldn’t have learned it by listening to her tonight. In fact, there were moments when she seemed to actually appreciate diversity.

And therein lies my main issue with not just Palin, but all Republican politicians (and a fair amount of Democrats). Pandering to their base. None of them — McCain, Palin, Bush, Cheney — are really all that opposed to our having equal rights. Palin claims that one of her best friends is a lesbian. Dick Cheney is very supportive of his gay daughter. Its just a tactic for them. Something to stir up the conservative base. An issue that mobilizes the religious right and gets them to the polls in droves.

It’s a tactic. All’s fair in love, war and politics, right?

Well, no, it’s not right. Because, for us, it doesn’t end when the election is over. It lives on through the energizing of movements to pass legislation to deny our basic civil rights. It lives on through the empowering of lunatics like Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist followers as they picket military funerals, chanting that God has taken these lives because the United States condones homosexuality.  It lives on in the implied license to follow God’s will and society’s bidding by killing innocents like Matthew Shephard and 15-year-old Lawrence King. By removing threats like Harvey Milk. To vilifying and threatening until even those like Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson are forced to wear a bulletproof vest at public events.

No, all is not fair. And I, for one, am pretty tired of it. Sarah Palin is totally unqualified to be in this election. She was chosen simply to ignite the conservative base. 

I started this by talking about questions. Let me sign off with one for you. How do we put an end to being used as pawns and scapegoats?

We vote.