Tag Archives: gay politics

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…..

JFK to Rick Warren

I have few memories of JFK before those surrounding his death. The doings of presidents meant little to a twelve year old back in 1963. But I remember exactly where I was the moment I heard that he had been shot. And I bet that most of you do, too. That’s a connection we will always share.

From then on he became “our president”. Who knows if he would have had a successful administration. Maybe — maybe not. What we do know is that he became a symbol for a new generation. And that symbol was immortalized in the words “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”

When did we turn our backs on that sentiment? When did we decide that we have to go on the offensive every time something doesn’t go our way? When did it become about me instead of about us? Or am I being naive and its always been that way?

I know that Rick Warren was a poor choice for the inaugeration. But let’s face it, Barrack Obama has repeatedly said that it is his belief that we can disagree about certain issues but still find some common ground to work together. We are not going to like all of his choices — and neither is anyone else. Wouldn’t it be better to give him a chance to at least get sworn in before we judge what kind of a president he is?

Besides, if you think about it for a minute, which religious leader could have been chosen for the invocation that would have met with eveyone’s approval? Ah…maybe that should be the focus of some of this dispute.  There shouldn’t be an invocation during the inaugeration. No matter who does it — no matter what they say — a large number of American citizens will be offended and feel as if their beliefs are not being honored. That’s the whole point of separation of church and state.

I think we’re a little scared. We’ve allowed ourselves to believe that it was our turn to take our equal place in society. We got bruised pretty badly in November. Now, we’re wondering if Obama said all the things we wanted to hear so that we would help get him elected.

Personally…..I’m still hopeful. I’m still excited about the inaugeration. If Rick Warren starts spouting religious hogwash, there’s always the volume control button on my remote.

This is going to be my president — I’ve waited a long eight years for him to get here.

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!

Flip Side of the Race Card

There’s a question starting to make the rounds. It’s rearing its little head in blogs and forums, letters to editors in print publications — maybe even on the air. I wouldn’t know about the latter because I never listen to talk radio, and if it doesn’t make it into a plot line on The Ghost Whisperer or Bones, I’m unlikely to see it on TV.

It’s the flip side of the race card.

What is the difference, they ask, between not voting for someone because he is black or voting for him because he is black?

Actually, it’s a very good question. African Americans, in every state, are being registered by the thousands. Yes, as a demographic, they historically vote as Democrats. But no one doubts why an overwhelming percentage is expected to vote for Barack Obama.

Would it not be the same for our community? If we had a gay candidate in the race for the presidency, would we really care about their foreign policy experience? Or whether they could pronounce the names of all the generals running the various wars we have going? Of course not. We would vote for one of our own.

So, why is that okay but it not be okay for someone to vote against someone that they don’t feel is one of their own? Why is one condemned as racist if not the other?

I’m just asking. Somehow, I don’t think the answer to this one can be found on this particular playing field. Besides, I was ruined for these kinds of questions years ago. Back in my first year of college when I had to read a book titled Situation Ethics by Joseph Fletcher. I’ve not been able to think in terms of absolutes since.

But, maybe an answer is something most of us believe but oftentimes lose sight of — focusing on those things that we are for rather than those we are against. Voting for a candidate instead of against one. Looking for the common ground where we can agree and work to build a future that benefits us all — not, as will happen the day after this election, mobilize to undermine whatever the “other side” supports.

In my dreams? Yeah, I know.

I do try not to be cynical but with the state of politics and government….it’s hard. But Barack Obama makes me almost believe that he can make a difference. This time it’s more than simply the choice of the lesser of evils. Something about him makes me believe almost enough that, even if he was running against one of “us”, I just might still vote for him….

Unless, of course, it was Ellen. Or Lily. Or Nathan! Nathan Lane, President of the United States of America — what a world that would be!

Cats, vegetables and yellow Volkswagons

This morning I woke up to my elderly cat screaming at me to get up and dish out the cat food for her and the two other less vocal ones. Uh oh! I was supposed to buy cat food yesterday. What to do? I rummaged through the pantry and found a can of dog food. Since it was from Halo, the company that Ellen DeGeneres is promoting, I figured it couldn’t be all that bad.

They seemed to love it, so I left them to it and puttered off to do something else. When I returned, they had each cleaned their plates — of everything but the vegetables. How interesting. It would have been much easier to have eaten it all, but they were obviously interested in only what they liked.

Reminded me of yellow Volkswagons. You know, how you never see them until, for some reason, they are brought to your attention, and then you see them everywhere? Not only that, but pretty soon, they are all you see?

And that reminded me of the Biden/Palin debate. Or, rather the aftermath. It was so clear to everyone who had won. To the Democrats, it was clear that Joe Biden had won. And to the Republicans, it was obvious that Sarah Palin had won. Everyone heard exactly what they wanted to hear and turned a deaf ear to the rest.

Have we always done that? If not, when did we stop listening to each other? When did “we” start watching CNN and “they” tune in only Fox? How did pundit become a career? 

If we only listen to those we expect to parrot our own thoughts and beliefs, what is the point of any dialogue?

We may as well just talk to ourselves.