In 1886, 7 union members died in the US fighting for the 40 hour work week and 8 hour work day. We seem to forget that many freedoms we take for granted were ideals people had to die for – including the deaths of people who weren’t trained soldiers, but average people who were just standing for their principles.
I’m shamelessly cribbing this post by Chris Douglas from bilerico.com, because it’s so true and bears repeating in as many places as possible — so hopefully people like RiShawn Biddle with see it.
As long as we’re contemplating the advice from the straight community about the strategy employed by various sectors of the gay community, I’ll add my own beef.
Ever since this assault on the Constitution was launched, I’ve spent time talking quietly with lobbyists, business people, public relations folks, politicians and political donors who, upon coming to understand the damage this amendment does to decent gay and lesbian citizens, begin to tell me what the gay community needs to do, describing a massive and obvious task of education.
The glbt community ranges from 5-10% of Indiana’s population, or 1 in every 20 to 1 in every 10. When it’s all said and done, we’re still a minority, one that like other minorities in the past (black, Jewish, Asian…) has been victim to every form of stereotype, mischaracterization, denigration, or dire warning. A minority. We can do only so much alone. If members of the straight majority do not take personal responsibility to assist in this task of education, we’re sunk.
I was once witness to an outrageous racist incident in the Air Force. I didn’t say to the female black officer colleague of mine, who had been viciously harassed, “Here’s what you need to do; I’ll watch.” Instead, I said “I will do whatever you want me to do in your support.” And I chewed out my commanding officers, American to American, rank be damned. I was angered by a clear miscarriage of justice… one that had nothing to do with me…. but one that required my acquiescence as an observer. Nothing doing. The cadet codes include the words: “We will not lie, cheat, or steal, or tolerate those who do.” Standing up to such actions was and remains a matter of honor in itself.
Those who are not in our minority, but who disagree with this assault have an obligation not merely to disagree, but to speak up… not merely to advise, but to assist. We cannot preserve our constitutional standing as free citizens all by ourselves. We need you to speak up, too. Not only as a matter of the defense of the Constitution and American freedom, for which we are all asking young men and women abroad to die, but as a matter of American honor, you must speak up, whatever the discomfort you may feel.
I’ve had an observation rolling around in my head for many years, but as far as I can tell, I haven’t put written it on my site yet, although I know I’ve pointed it out in email on the gayindy mailing at various times. It popped back into my head as I was thinking about SJR-7 and the testimony that will occur.
There’s a long-standing internet meme called “Godwin’s Law” (also known as Godwin’s Rule of Nazi Analogies) that says “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.” In other words, in any debate, eventually one person will suggested that the argument the other is making is somehow fascist, or comparable to the Nazis.
I’d like to propose a corollary to Godwin’s Law, based on my observation of religious figures in discussions on the subject of equal rights for gay people. And if you’ll excuse me, I’d like to name it after myself:
Regarding the same-sex marriage ban:
“I don’t believe there’s any issue that’s more important than this one,” said Sen. David Vitter, a Louisiana Republican.
Note where the guy is from — a state who’s citizens are still displaced all over the country, who had a major U.S. city destroyed last year.
TODAY the Indiana House of Representatives will debate an amendment to House Bill 1010 that would prohibit cities and counties from providing equal rights protections based on sexual orientation or gender identity — like the Human Rights Ordinance we worked so hard on here in Indianapolis.
Please Contact your State Representative immediately (TODAY!) and tell them you oppose this amendment. Municipalities must retain the right to pass the laws that are appropriate and needed for their community and their citizens. Basic human rights should be ensured for all Hoosiers.
In reaction to the recent update of Indianapolis’ Human Rights Ordinance and other local non-discrimination laws throughout Indiana – the Religious Right, led by Advance America’s Eric Miller, tapped Representative Jeff Thompson (R) to author an amendment to HB 1010 (eminent domain). The proposal, Amendment #12, specifies that local government may not extend protections for employment or housing that is “greater than those protections or opportunities offered by the Constitution of the State of Indiana, the Constitution of the United States, or federal law, except as expressly granted by statute.”
This proposal would make illegal human rights protections based on sexual orientation or gender identity, including those that have been enacted in Bloomington, Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, Lafayette, Michigan City, West Lafayette, and Tippecanoe County.
On Tuesday afternoon Democratic House members argued that the amendment was neither acceptable nor relevant to the bill. Nevertheless, the amendment was ruled germane and debate began. After intense questioning of Rep. Thompson by a number of Representatives (both Democratic and Republican), Speaker Brian Bosma adjourned House for the day without taking a vote on Amendment #12. As there was no vote, the House will continue discussion on the proposal when they re-convene at 5:30 pm on Wednesday, January 25th.
What You Can Do
1.) Contact your State Representative immediately and tell them loud and clear that this proposal is simply not acceptable! Municipalities must retain the right to pass the laws for that are appropriate and needed for their community and their citizens.
2.) Join Indiana Equality at the Indiana State House on Wednesday evening, January 25, 2006 and deliver a message in-person to your Representative to reject Amendment # 12. Meet at 5:00 pm at the State House Rotunda.
Don’t Forget!! – Our Families Count!
Join Indiana Equality for the “Our Families Count” rally. February 9, 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm at the Statehouse. Don’t miss this historic event.
Despite the presence of gay characters on TV, there are still no openly gay actors on television, and that’s a problem. The real problem with Ellen wasn’t that her character was gay, or that there were too many gay themed shows, as some people claimed.
It was that Ellen Degeneres, not the character Ellen Morgan, was gay. During the debate over ratings and issues that surrounded the cancellation of her show, the example that proves that point, the real reason the show was no longer on the air, got overlooked.
During Ellen’s last season, there was an evening in which Ellen show aired at 9 p.m. Airing that same night at 8 p.m. there was an episode of Spin City. On that show, the gay character Carter, (played by a heterosexual man) kisses the heterosexual character Mike Flaherty as a joke. The fact that it happened was practially ignored, except that it aired as the promo for the show for days before hand.
That same evening on Ellen at 9 p.m., Ellen Morgan, a gay character, kisses her heterosexual friend Paige as a joke. Not only was it a big deal, it was given a warning prior to the show, and was universally criticized afterwards.
What was the difference between the two events? Both featured a gay character kissing a straight character in a romantic way, but as a joke. The only difference was that one of the real-life actors in the second show was gay in real life.
To my esteemed legislators:
When I was in college in August of 1989, I was raped. My rapist picked me out in a gay bar, followed me home, and came back to next night to attack me in my home. He did this because I am a lesbian, and he felt he was “teaching me a lesson” — his words during the attack.
As a result of this rape, I became pregnant and then had a miscarriage. Since then I have gone on with my life, but ten years later, I can’t say it hasn’t affected me, although I am a very strong young woman. I think about that attack every day when I unlock my car at night, and when I’m home alone.
In the course of that ten years I have had close friends suffer the effects of anti-gay violence, and have seen brutal anti-gay attacks that were well publicized both here in Indianapolis, and in Muncie, where I went to college.
I am strongly convinced that hate crimes laws can make a difference in curbing anti-gay crime, and in sending a message to society that targeting gay and lesbian people is not acceptable.
I’ve phoned or written you every year to express my support for Hate Crimes Legislation because I believe that it would make a difference for all minority groups. But I cannot support House Bill 1011.
To pass a hate crimes law that excludes gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people, some of the prime targets of hate violence, would be to fly directly in the face of the purpose of such a law, to make a mockery of it.
It would suggest, even invite, the idea that hate crimes are okay as long as they are directed against the “appropriate” targets — gay targets.
You have to excuse me when I say with vehemence that I no longer want to be a target, and I don’t want to be the shield that other minority groups hide behind.
If you truly believe that hate crime, any hate crime, is morally wrong, then you will not pass a law that puts forth the idea of the law while offending the spirit of it.
The phrases “in the closet,” “coming out” and “outing” are euphemisms for lying about your sexual orientation, or telling the truth about it. They’re phrases I dislike, because they allow people to rationalize away the fact that “staying in the closet” is a fundamental dishonesty. It’s much easier to say, “I’m not out yet at work,” than to say, “I’m telling the people I work with lies about my sexual orientation.”
The gay and lesbian community has created a whole culture around the concept of the “closet,” going as far as creating a pop-psychology theory about the “process of coming out” and naming national magazines and websites after it. (Out Magazine, PlanetOut)
Don’t get me wrong, I understand that it takes time for people to learn about, understand, and accept their own sexuality when it’s different from the norm. I went through it like everyone else, and it’s understandable that we want to help people who are going through the “great awakening.”
The problem is that the “closet” culture we’ve created allows people who are well aware of their sexuality the opportunity to be dishonest merely to avoid the stigma attached to being gay.
I say once you’re aware of your own sexual orientation, it’s time to tell other people unless you have some compelling reason not to. The older I get, the less tolerant I get of people who are lying about their sexual orientation for no good reason.
And there are some good reasons to lie:
- If you are in immediate danger of losing your life.
- If you are in danger of losing your children.
- If you are very poor and losing your job will cause you to be out of food, clothing or housing.
- If you are very young and telling the truth will get you thrown out into the streets before you are able to care for yourself, or bullied by your peers.
Many of the gay and lesbian people in this country who lie about their sexual orientation are not doing it for one of these reasons. Many of them are lying because they are afraid to face the hatred; afraid they won’t fit in. Black people have to face the hatred every day; they don’t have the luxury of being cowards.
As much difficulty as I have with the concept of the "closet," I get even more bent out of shape when people try to claim that their gay relationships are a "private matter" because that often reduces their relationship to a sexual one, rather than a loving, romantic one, which is the way the right-wing would like it to be.
When a straight person introduces their partner to anyone, they use the words "husband," "wife," "fiancé;" they naturally announce their emotions to complete strangers and don’t think twice about it. Straight people declare their love by getting married in front of family and friends and send announcements of their wedding to the community paper.
The "private" aspect of any relationship is the sexual, intimate part of a relationship between two individuals; the part that takes place behind closed doors. Heterosexual people have a "public" aspect as well; an aspect of their relationship that is the emotional, "love" part, and that love that is shared to some degree with the couple’s friends, family, and community. When other people know about their love and participate in it, they support it and strenghten it. That’s why the public part of their relationship is important.
Gay people rarely have a truly "public" part to their relationships, they may be honest to friends, and some family, but when it comes to holding hands in public or telling new acquaintances about their relationships, they censor themselves. Their relationships are often limited to the private, to the "bedroom." Because of this, gay people and straight people alike tend to think of gay relationships as merely sexual, rather than sexual and loving.
I know one of the first objections gay people will bring up is that we shouldn’t define our relationships by those of straight people. It’s true that we shouldn’t limit ourselves to that model; but we can draw some conclusions about human behavior by looking at them. Not all gay people want traditional, committed relationships and families, but some do and they shouldn’t be denied the opportunity.
"But… I’m Not Lying, I’m Just Not Telling People"
Oh, baloney. There’s no way to "not tell people." Within the first few weeks of getting to know someone, they’re going to ask you questions about your personal life that you have to answer. Sooner of later, you’re going to have to state a pronoun. If you choose to censor your answers, or be evasive, bingo! You’re lying.
I Don’t Want to Help You Lie
The closet culture we’ve created fosters a conspiracy of dishonesty within the community as well. People who are lying about their sexual orientation assume and expect those who are not lying to help them. They speak in conspiratorial whispers, rather than normal conversation tones. They look around before relating information, speak in code ("Is he family?" "Does he sing in the choir?") and expect others to do so, all with a bit of glee: "we’re putting one over on all these stupid straight people aren’t we?"
If people are lying to stay in the closet, and if I help them by perpetuating that lie, then I am as dishonest as they are, and as much of a coward as they are by going along with them.