Vote Equality

Same-sex marriage is on the ballot in four states today. Thirty-two times before voters have cast ballots on the question of marriage equality throughout this country, and thirty-two times we have lost.  But this is the first time that the question has been on the ballot since the repeal of DADT and the president going on record as saying that lesbian and gay couples should have equal rights. Now, I know that some of you will still say that the president’s initial position was to endorse civil unions but not gay marriage. That is true. But you know what? I don’t care. The fact is that he came around and endorsed our right to marry, and that is huge. I’ve had people in my life tell me that getting to know Sandy and me has changed their opinion on same-sex marriage. That’s a good thing. Changing hearts is important.

So, here we are on yet another election day. I hope all of the marriage equality ballot measures are successful. The country is moving in the direction of equality, much to the consternation of the religious right. Try as they might, as with all civil rights issues before, truth, love, and equality will prevail. Those of you in Maryland, Minnesota, Maine, and Washington should know that we are all with you in spirit. In Maryland the marriage equality initiative seems solid, with a 9 or 10 point lead. Maine’s marriage referendum looks like it has the votes, with a 13-point lead. Washington has the brightest outlook, with a 54 to 38% lead among likely voters. Minnesota’s question is a gay marriage-banning proposal, or to put it more honestly, the conservatives want to enshrine inequality into the Minnesota constitution.

What all of these initiatives have in common is this: The people have the power to choose equality. And if you’re a lesbian or gay citizen in those states, or the friend or family member of a lesbian or gay American, it’s your duty to get out and vote. There is no room for apathy, folks. I hear so many of my friends saying, “Oh, I don’t like politics,” or some other lame excuse for inaction. If you don’t look out for your own self-interest, how can you expect others to do so? Friends, this is how our country works. Democracy is a privilege and a duty. Today, this duty couldn’t be more important, not only in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington, but everywhere in this country. If you care about equality, get out and vote. It’s imperative. Your quality of life depends on it.

The gains made for equality are fragile, and we’ve seen what can happen when we allow those who stand against us to frame the message. The stakes for those of you with marriage equality on the ballot are high and the implications for the rest of the country are huge. Momentum builds, change takes hold, and equality eventually wins. History bears this out. Get out the vote. Tell your family and friends. Let them know this is personal. Make your voice heard for equality. This is your moment.

Vote.

Amazing Times

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

Money changes everything…

Let that Cyndi Lauper musical anthem play in your head for this offering.

 

So, here we go again. The rabid religious right (or the RRR as I like to call them) is all flapped up and riled that corporations are donating to causes supporting diversity and gay marriage initiatives. Social conservatives are outraged—indignant I tell you—that corporations would sink money into this social issue. The conservative crowd is upset by the announcement that Amazon CEO Jeffery Bezos donated $2.5 million to help pass a same-sex marriage referendum in Washington State. And in June, General Mills came out publicly against a same sex marriage ban in Minnesota. The nerve!

Wasn’t it just last week that Dan Cathy, the CEO of Chick-Fil-A, reaffirmed his moral position against gay marriage by stating that our country is “inviting the wrath of God” for our tolerance? That’s the same Dan Cathy who has donated nearly $2million dollars to organizations opposing gay marriage in 2010 alone (Source: equality matters.org) What happened then? Why, the conservatives were gleefully praising the chicken giant, and calling for a dine-in for support. Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee were the standard bearers for the cause to defend the moral high ground, exhorting their followers to rush to buy chicken sandwiches and extra large waffle fries!

Help me to understand. I know Republicans believe in less government, and the less government, the better. Keep government away from my guns, my healthcare, my religion (only straight, intolerant Christian denominations here), fire all the lazy SOB’s with government jobs… the list goes on. That’s always their position. Government is bad. Right? Corporations should have unlimited ability to make political contributions without regulations. Regulation is another way for government to interfere. Right? Oh, wait, unless… GASP… a corporation gets behind causes benefiting women or lesbians and gays…

<That’s the sound of the needle skipping across the record>

Praise the corporations who funnel billions into certain causes, but supporting marriage equality for LGBT citizens? Nuh-uh. And when we respond by rightly saying we’ll spend our lesbian money somewhere else? Well, we’re just being…umm…reverse bigots! Yeah, that’s it! But if you’re cause is on the right, boycott or buycott as often as you can. So, I think our LGBT dollars should speak just as loudly for companies that support equality. And thankfully more corporations are realizing that a stance for equality is the way to go. We buy stuff, too! Wow, it feels good to know that my next lesbian ebook purchase will matter even more. Thanks, Amazon.

I read a newspaper article the other day that quoted a woman in MN lamenting that she is running out of places to shop because of all of those sinful businesses supporting gay and lesbian causes. She says they’re destroying thousands of years of tradition (read suppression) and the final indignity is that she’s had to take Cheerios off of her shopping list, presumably because of the General Mills stance on equality. I think that’s perfectly fine that she spends her dollars in accordance with her beliefs. She’s entitled to her buying decisions.

Tell ya what? With the money we save avoiding Chick-Fil-A, my wife and I will buy an extra box of Cheerios next week.

Thanks for reading,

~LM