Jobs vs. equality: MLK sought both, but is remembered for ..?Editorial, Top Highlights Thursday, January 12th, 2012
During this presidential campaign season, I have already heard it said by some in our community that “LGBT rights are just some of my priorities. There are many other things that I care about that factor into my decision about who I will vote for.”
I have accepted statements like this from members of the LGBT community for years, but in today’s political climate these statements seem naïve.
Why shouldn’t a candidate’s views on LGBT rights be the only issue that decides your vote? What is more important than your ability to live freely and openly? Some might say a job is more important than LGBT equality because a job is necessary to support your family.
When African Americans marched on Washington in 1963, the march was called the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. It is not mutually exclusive that a candidate who will do what is right for the LGBT community cannot also do right by the economy. However, if you were given the choice of a candidate that would grant LGBT equal rights or one that would guarantee you a $75,000 a year job for life, which candidate would you choose? I would choose my equality over money any day.
How about healthcare? Is that more important than LGBT equality? Let’s say you are opposed to Obamacare, as the Republicans call it. Are you willing to vote for a candidate that would repeal the Health Care Affordability Act, but would also repeal DADT and support measures that prevent same-sex marriage and LGBT-parent adoption? I certainly hope not.
How about the federal debt? Is that what worries you the most? So, if a candidate could wipe out the federal debt but that would mean LGBT equality would be put on hold for the next 20 years, would you vote for him or her? If, in the alternative, a candidate would double the debt over the next ten years but would pass LGBT equality her first day in office in 2013, would you still vote for the candidate that would eliminate the debt faster but put LGBT rights on hold? I sincerely hope your answer is no.
Finally, how about the economy? Is LGBT equality more important than the economy? Many say if the economy fails, we will all suffer. The logical conclusion, I presume, is that I should put my equality on the back burner to save the country. I believe that thought is misguided. Many Americans have not supported our equal rights during boom economic times, so we should martyr our civil rights during economic uncertainty? I don’t think so.
Of course, many will argue that the choices I have suggested have no connection to reality. They would be absolutely correct. The choices I have put forth deliberately make you think about what is most important. I believe that some LGBT people will not agree with my assessment and that is their right. But, as you become engaged in the 2012 presidential election, remember one thing: LGBT equality is the thing. Period.
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