Hi gang! Hope you all are well this week. Whew! We’re halfway through August already, and what a busy month it’s been. The Olympics have wrapped up, and they were brilliant! So, I thought today we’d chat about some of the important LGBT news I’ve seen over the past week or so. I see these smaller victories as hope for the future of our LGBT community and all Americans.
We’ll lead off with military news, since most of you know I’m a veteran of the US Army. Last week the Army announced the first openly lesbian woman was appointed to the rank of Brigadier General. Hoo-ya! Who would have ever thought that would possible so soon after the fall of DADT? Then, I read an article in the September issue of Curve Magazine, with an interview of a lesbian Marine stationed at Camp Lejeune, NC. Sergeant Patterson is quick to point out that “…the military is still not exactly a gay-friendly environment.” And, “Anti-gay slurs are pretty constant…” Also, we’ll note that the end of DADT has nothing to do with Equal Opportunity Policy in the military, which still doesn’t include discrimination based upon sexual orientation. Sadly, even the general still isn’t fully protected. But the fact that she’s a lesbian didn’t prevent her promotion, and that, my friends, is progress.
A couple of weeks ago I blogged about big corporations on either side of the equality divide, and praised Amazon and General Mills for their pro-equality stances. Well, I’ve been hearing a lot about KFC and McDonald’s coming out in support of the Chick-Fil-A position. Well, it turns out that the “proof” of those corporations solidarity with anti-equality are highly exaggerated; in fact, they are false. The marquee signs in question were fabricated on a website called Fast Food Sign Generator. Turns out KFC and McDonalds like equality just fine. And the newest edition to the growing corporate voice for equality list is REI. REI’s CEO, Sally Jewell, released her pro-equality stance on the company’s blog this month. My favorite toy store loves me back! Sweet!
LGBT youth scored a victory in Marion County, FL. Last May a couple of students at Vanguard High School requested permission to form a Gay-Straight Alliance Club. The principal denied the students request, saying he “wasn’t comfortable with a club based on sexual orientation on his campus.” On Thursday, the ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of the teens, citing violation of the Equal Access Act, as well as the students’ First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. It’s a shame that once again a lawsuit has to be filed in order for kids to form a school club. The good news is that the school board relented on Monday, and the kids can have their GSA. Awesome. Check it out, if you want.
In political news, there were significant gains for LGBT candidates. How’s this for a headline from the Advocate.com: “Gay Candidate Wins Where Anita Bryant Once Roamed”. That’s right, voters in Miami Beach elected their first-ever openly gay candidate for state legislature, David Richardson. Also, here in Florida, Orlando elected an openly gay representative, Joe Saunders. In Wisconsin, Democrats chose openly gay Rep. Mark Pocan to succeed Rep. Tammy Baldwin (also an out lesbian), who is running for Senate this November. If elected, Rep. Baldwin will become the first openly lesbian US Senator. Go, Tammy!
While we still have work to do, all of these stories are more proof that momentum is building, and the march of equality is unstoppable. We have to keep the message alive in whatever way we can. All of theses stories above have underlying political consequences and it truly matters what choices we make at the ballot box. As Rep. Baldwin tells us, “If you’re not in a room, the conversation is about you. If you’re in the room, the conversation is with you.”
Let’s all join in the conversation. It matters.
Thanks for reading ~LM