One Equal World

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Is there a problem with inclusivity in the LGBT world?   Richard Lyon, our favorite columnist over at the Huffington Post, suggests that there might be.

According to Lyon, people in positions of privilege always have difficulty giving up that power, and that’s no less true of the middle-class gay white males than middle-class white males in general.  This means that when transgendered individuals were brought into the fold there was a great many pundits who claimed that the movement had lost its respectability.

“Racism within the gay community has a long and shameful history,” he adds.  “I have had many opportunities to witness the harassment and abuse firsthand.”

Lyon touches on the idea that while it is very easy for individuals to look for equality for themselves, it is difficult for them to see the same struggles that other minority groups have as well.  It comes down to a sort of, ‘you’re struggling, sure, but I really care about my struggles, and I’m afraid that if I help you with your problems then I’m not going to get mine taken care of.’

Which is a problem, in more ways than one.  Primarily, it keeps minorities minorities.  As long as the individual groups can’t work together they will always be struggling along by themselves- and continually losing the battle.

Instead, as Lyon suggests, the community should be looking for allies in other struggling communities.

“We need to be seeking and forming alliances with other groups that are excluded from the privileges of the elite,” Lyon writes.

“There is presently a window of opportunity open for doing that. It is not guaranteed to remain open.”

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The past year has nearly been a sea change as far as gay rights are concerned. Frank Bruni laid out some of the biggest changes in his column in the NY Times this last week, explaining how states throughout the country have stepped forward to support equality rights for gay candidates- with democratic governors in New York, Maryland and Washington promoting and signing same-sex marriage laws and even the sitting president declaring his support for LGBT marriage equality.

 

But it’s not only been the Democrats that have worked to support equality.  There’s a quiet movement in the Republican party as well right now, made up of leading lights on Wall Street who are working for equality.

 

People like Peter Singer, a billionaire hedge fund manager who helped to raise more than a million dollars for the same-sex marriage campaign in New York, and who has given more than $10 million of his own money to other campaigns.   Or Republican Kenneth Mehlman, who has been an active campaigner and advocate for those very same campaigns.

 

Some of this is self-interest, of course.  As Ken Mehlman explains, “a political party that ignores demography or ignores broader cultural trends does so at its own peril.”  And given the current trend towards equality in younger voters any party on the wrong side of the issue will suffer greatly in the future.

 

But it’s more than that, it’s a change in what is deemed acceptable by society, a real shift in the way that politics and politicians view the world.  And compared to merely eight years ago?  It’s a huge shift indeed.

June is LGBT pride month, and cities around the country and world are celebrating.

 

Here in the United States, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was eager to make the declaration.  She explained that “We will not rest until full and equal rights are a reality for everyone. History proves that the march toward equality and justice will overcome barriers of intolerance and discrimination. But it requires a concerted effort from all of us.”

 

In Mexico city thousands of gays, lesbians, transsexuals and supporters took part in the parade.  Tel Aviv’s Beach in Israel was packed with attendees of their Pride parade, and a huge rainbow flag was unfolded during a parade whose theme was “homophobia has a cure.”

 

Time Magazine has a great set of pictures up about these and various other events throughout the world on their website.

According to Padraig McCoid the practice of shaming gay Republicans is counterproductive.  His recent piece in the Huffington Post  brings up the excellent point that the LGBT community is full of people of differing opinions, and that they won’t necessarily change sides because of such practices.

“Gay conservatives vote for a variety of reasons other than gay rights. The reality is that gay conservatives are generally happy with the Republican Party, based almost exclusively on fiscal and foreign policy issues. Therefore, we should not tell gay conservatives to stop voting Republican, but instead put pressure on their party to end opposition to gay rights.”

With more and more Republicans becoming active in the fight for equality Padraig suggests that the push should be not to get them to abandon their party, but rather to work within it for equality.  “Our job should be focused on convincing [Republicans like] Ken Mehlman to put pressure on Republicans like Boehner.

“The sooner we can convince the Republican Party that a strong anti-gay platform is ineffective, the sooner we can move forward with equality,” he continues.

According to the Movement Advancement Project, Family Equality Council, and the Center for American Progress research shows that children raised by LGBT parents aren’t any different than those raised by non-LGBT parents.

The three different think tanks published a report in November that concluded that sexuality of parents has nothing to do with how happy and healthy children in a family are.  Having scientific data like this is good news for people like Sari Grant, Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services recruitment administrator, even if it isn’t a surprise.

 

“We need them,” she explained.  “For us, they’re not a second choice but as good a choice as other families. The sexual orientation of adoptive parents is not really relevant. We look for whether they can provide safe and loving homes.”

 

In fact ,according to Laurie Rein, adoption program manager at the private nonprofit Penny Lane Centers based in North Hills, , LGBT families may have an advantage over traditional ones when it comes to foster children- especially those that are victims of abuse or neglect.

 

“I think gay and lesbian applicants, because they may have gone through adversity themselves – including societal disapproval and rejection, even in their own families – sometimes can actually relate better to the difficulties that the children have gone through.”

President Obama’s vocal support for marriage equality may be a major step forward for the cause, but data and research is starting to show that the equality issue itself might be the electoral touchstone that everyone was expecting.

 

According the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Dick Poman  the problem lies in the fact that those who are active in the fight on both sides  are just not a large enough percentage of the electorate to make much of a difference in the overall opinion of the public.  Gallup poll editor Frank Newport backs this up.  As part of their research they,  “ask Americans to name the most important problem facing the country. Two-thirds mentioned some aspect of the economy. Less than 1 percent specifically mentioned issues relating to gay rights or gay marriage.”

 

See, there has apparently been a sea change when it comes to public opinion on the issue. In 2004 the Pew Research Center reported that Americans opposed gay marriage by almost 30 percentage points, today they oppose it by less than five.  We now live in a society where even Ken Mehlman, a former Republican National Committee Chairman hand-picked at the time by Karl Rove, can come out as gay man and actively work within the Republican party for equality.

 

And the Repbulican media machine is taking note, while Fox News initially posted headlines on their website declaring that Obama had launched a “war on marriage” they quickly purged it, understanding that opposing gay marriage will only make them look all the more intolerant and distant from the mainstream voter.

 

So while it’s surely a good thing that Obama is actively supporting gay marriage, it’s only a good first step.

For Mother’s Day 2012 the Huffington Post put up a wonderful piece on their Gay Voices subdomain.  In honor of Mother’s Day they asked their readers and bloggers to share anecdotes and stories about their moms with the website.

 

In a world where people still actively discriminate against gay and lesbian individuals family is incredibly important, and reading about the Huffington Post’s readers’ experiences with their mothers is heartwarming.  Look at the full piece up on their site here.