The election and our civil rightsTrans Progressive Thursday, November 15th, 2012
Commentary: Trans Progressive
This past Election Day, LGBT rights activists had a lot to celebrate. Marriage equality was legalized on the state level by popular vote for the first time, but not just with one state’s vote, but in all three states where freedom to marry the one you love was on the ballot: Maryland, Maine and Washington. The president was re-elected, and the number of pro-equality Democrats in the Senate expanded.
We in the LGBT community, who live in blue states or municipalities, sometimes forget that all LGBT people don’t live in the same world in which we live. In Salinas, Kan., LGBT people saw a 5-month old ordinance to grant antidiscrimination protections in housing, employment and public accommodation based on sexual orientation or gender identity overturned by popular vote by a margin of 54 percent to 46 percent.
So, what now?
What we’ve seen in the past four years regarding progressive social issues from LGBT rights to immigration rights is that the president usually needs to be pushed into action. Repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell didn’t happen in a vacuum; neither did June’s Dream Order. LGBT community members and immigration community members pushed and then saw action.
So in the LGBT community here in San Diego, and the rest of California, what do we want locally and statewide? What do we want federally?
Here in our state, we need marriage equality. Whether by court order or a future popular vote, we will see marriage equality – that is, if a significant number of us in the LGBT community continue choosing to keep working and sacrificing to achieve it.
Nationally, LGBT community members need repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), as well as passing into law the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) – an act that prohibits employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. We also need open military service for trans servicemembers in the same way that lesbian, gay and bisexual servicemembers can serve openly. If we can’t realistically achieve these national legislative goals through legislation in the next four years, then we firstly, need a Supreme Court ruling that nullifies DOMA, and secondly, we need the president to sign an executive order to ban LGBT discrimination among federal contractors – a Contractor Employment Non-Discrimination Act, so to speak.
Who of us are going to fund the LGBT equality efforts such as the marriage equality court cases winding their way to the Supreme Court? Who is going to lobby Congress or take direct action toward passage of ENDA or achieve a Contractor ENDA? Who is going to volunteer time and resources and donate money to achieve open service for trans servicemembers?
Who is going to push President Obama on our community’s issues in the way that has resulted in action on progressive issues previously?
If not you, who?
If we want ordinary equality for LGBT people we have to act as if we want it. If we don’t act that way, then we simply won’t achieve the ordinary equality we could obtain if we worked and sacrificed for it. It’s really just that simple.
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