Saturday, November 15, 2008

It's time to get busy: LGBTQ equality post the 2008 election

This past election was a whirlwind of excitement and celebration, built up to with a whole lot of anticipation. I’ve held back from sharing here on my blog my complete disappointment and sadness, however, for so many LGBTQ people and our families across the country who suffered painful defeats at the ballot, for fear that I didn’t want to take away from the elation of electing a man of color to the highest rank of political seat in the nation.

Sigh. But it is disappointing. It was a hard election. The majority of Arkansans voted to prevent adoption or fostering of children by gays and lesbians. Think about that. They would rather children be parentless than be raised by gays or lesbians. They join other states, such as Florida, who have passed similar legislation as well.

Also this election, Arizona and Florida passed laws preventing not only gays and lesbians from marrying, but from benefiting from civil unions and/or domestic partnerships as well. And of course there’s California, who passed the equivalent of Oregon’s Measure 36 of 4 years ago, defining marriage as only between one man and one woman. This vote puts in jeopardy the 18,000 marriages that have taken place in that state. My heart goes out to those couples: it’s a hard day when your marriage license fee gets returned to you. This election has dealt hard blows for the gays.

But I have hope. Within days of Barack Obama’s win, his website went up, including information for how to apply for a job with his administration. And in his non-discrimination clause was sexual orientation and gender identity (it's there at the bottom). There was no discussion, no voting, no chatter, it was just included.

And that gives me hope.

So what are you doing now? What are you doing tomorrow? What are you doing to turn this tide around? I’m thinking of five, simple things…

• Come out. The more people know us, the less they can deny us. Maybe we all need a button that says I’m Gay or I’m Queer or however you want to identify. (Hmm. I’ll work on that.) Just don’t be invisible.

• Speak out. Write, talk, create film, art, photography about injustices and about equality. And never underestimate the power of writing letters and making phone calls. You will be heard. Demand it.

• Get involved in your local LGBTQ organizations. These are the places that are making the good fight, creating community and building capacity for the future. Here in Portland that may be Basic Rights Oregon, Q Center, Pride Foundation, PFLAG, Equity Foundation, among others. Become a member, become a donor, become a volunteer. Be the change.

• Stand up for injustice everywhere, including those who are the targets of the fundamentalist right. This means immigrants, people of color, those with disabilities: remember that we are all in this together. We can’t just fight for ourselves, we must fight for us all.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. —Martin Luther King

• Remember that just because you may not experience injustice in your own progressive bubble, it is not the same for others across the country. Listen to and share their stories. Fight for yourself, fight for them.

I’m inspired by today’s rally in Downtown Portland. All of the young faces, and the faces of friends who have been fighting the fight for years. It is so easy to become complacent in our progressive bubble of Portland, Oregon, a place where we’ve been fortunate to have a mayor, Tom Potter, speaking out tirelessly for us his entire life, even when he was police chief, and where we are soon to have the country’s first major city’s gay mayor, Sam Adams. But it’s not time to say we’ve made it. The hard work is yet ahead, just like our president elect said in his acceptance speech. It’s time to get busy.

Photos from today’s Rally for Justice in Portland, Oregon:


Unknown said...

I have hope too. I have hope and I have been working on ways of backing up that hope with action. Thank you for your list of 5 simple things.

Anonymous said...

Know that a straight Christian is right behind you and is disgusted with the discrimination I can only imagine your community experiences.

Decorina said...

I just discovered your blog (from Slashfood) and I love it!

I am straight, but I have many gay friends and am totally behind the GLBT community in their quest for equal rights. I'm thinking that maybe this Prop Hate was passed so that the Supreme Court can rule once and for all on equal treatment and civil rights for everyone in this country. The tyranny of the majority was something that the framers of our constitution were concerned about - and was one of the primary reasons for the judicial branch of government.

The thought of children being without families because of this rigid thinking is intolerable. And to have the Mormon church preaching ANYTHING about marriage is laughable.

Yes we did! And civil rights for GLBT people will happen too.