LGBT candidates won in local races Tuesday because they campaigned on issues affecting their local communities. Gay marriage lost in Maine because straights don’t want to think about gay sex.
"Disappointed" doesn’t really describe my emotions over the marriage defeat in Maine Tuesday night, and so I am not going to try to spin it in a positive light.
Spin won’t cut it in this case.
The LGBT community spent a lot of money in Maine to support a bill that the Maine Legislature felt was the right thing to do.
The problem was a lot of zealous bigots felt giving LGBT people the right to marry would somehow hurt their marriages.
They used fear and the old "gay threat to our children" ploy — and it worked.
The anti-gay-marriage groups played the "child card" by intimating that if same-sex marriage was made legal, teachers would be forced to explain gay sex to kids.
Of course the bill said no such thing. But I guess lying is just fine as long as you are doing it to further the oppression of a minority.
OK, enough disappointment. Here are the stories you probably didn’t hear:
In Kalamazoo, Mich., voters overwhelmingly voted in favor of an anti-discrimination ordinance that specifically protects LGBT people.
Ordinance 1856 protects LGBT citizens against discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations. The Kalamazoo City Commission passed and repealed this law twice before it went to the voters to decide, and 62 percent of the voters said it was the right and good thing to do.
In Chapel Hill, N.C., an openly gay member of their city council was elected mayor, the third gay mayor in North Carolina!
Meanwhile back here in Texas, down I-45 more citizens of Houston voted for an openly lesbian candidate for mayor than any other candidate in a crowded race.
Annise Parker got 30 percent of the votes and is now in a runoff for mayor.
So what did these local candidates do that the folks defending marriage in Maine forgot?
First of all, the local candidates run on issues that are important to all citizens in their town. Same-sex marriage is only really important to same-sex couples.
That makes it easier to ignore the injustice, because it doesn’t affect the majority of voters.
But also, these local candidates did not have to deal with the basic problem with the whole same-sex marriage issue —that word, "sex."
As I have said before, the "sex" part of the equation is a big stumbling block for many people. A lot of straight people do not want to think about the technicalities of gay sex, and when you talk about marriage you are talking about sex.
Drawing the line in the sand with same-sex marriage is a much tougher battle than talking about equal rights. The religious right long ago gave up their zeal to enforce "separate but equal" when it came to civil rights for racial minorities, so it would seem to me an easier sell to take that route.
Try thinking like a right-winger for a bit, or at least use some of their "logic."
Since the Supreme Court’s Lawrence v. Texas decision, gay people can have sex legally. However because of the Defense of Marriage Act and other laws, they are not allowed to legitimize that coupling.
In other words, the laws are forcing gay people to have "out of wedlock" sex, or no sex at all. That cognitive dissonance might work for a while, but if taken as a moral objection it could make sense in their worldview.
Has any LGBT rights group pointed at DOMA and said it is forcing LGBT people into illegitimate relationships? DOMA makes "fornicators" of us all!
OK, like I said, it is a strange logic. But if you follow the right-wing rules, that’s the truth.
So let’s just drop this whole marriage bit and go for the gold. Equality is the real fight and marriage will follow.
It’s time we let America really know that we are not going to be satisfied with "separate but equal."
Maybe we need to set up fake drinking fountains next to public ones that say "GAY ONLY." Some outward sign of the institutionalized discrimination that is going on might make people think.
It is going to take making the issue of equality for LGBT people a local issue. When you are facing discrimination in your own back yard it’s much harder to ignore.
Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist. His blog is at http://dungeondiary.blogspot.com.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 06, 2009.