Thank goodness for Foster
Thank goodness that there is now a County Judge Jim Foster who has the common sense to stand up and tell Dallas County that they only made matters worse when they banned distribution of condoms in 1995 ("County may overturn ban on condom distribution," Dallas Voice, Dec. 26). Those of us in the GLBT community have known all along that ending the distribution of condoms would only increase the cases of STDs and HIV, not unlike "abstinence only" education telling kids and adults not to have sex just ignores human nature! Distribute condoms, teach people how to use them, and teach the dangers of not using them. The State of Texas believes in condoms and makes them available. Only in Dallas County could such a narrow-minded, uneducated decision deliberately ignore the facts and would officials vote based on well-intentioned but wrong "religious and moral values" instead of common sense or science. This was not good leadership in 1995 when the first and highest concern of Commissioners Court should have been the health and safety of its residents. The 1995 decision was pushing an agenda that ignored science and human nature. Enough!
Queer Liberaction calls for unity
Etta Zamboni’s letter to the editor in last week’s Dallas Voice ("Zamboni explains resignation," Dallas Voice, Dec. 26) is a testament to how incredibly difficult it is to work with this individual if there is a difference of opinion. Instead of bowing out gracefully, Zamboni dedicated three quarters of her resignation letter to accusing Gabe Coppinger and myself of being mean-spirited.
The real issue is that Zamboni confuses questioning and criticism of political strategies as "full scale attacks." This was the first time Zamboni organized political events such as these, so to a certain degree we understand her sentiments. Unfortunately, the former Join the Impact Dallas representative has gotten so personally offended by this debate that it seems to have prevented her from having a respectful discussion as to the validity of one political tactic over another.
The bottom line is that there was no dialog between the previous leadership of Queer Liberaction and Join the Impact. Those organizing with Queer Liberaction are aware that our direct action, unapologetic and visible style of activism is a bit different than what some in Dallas are used to. For example, Queer Liberaction is organizing the Dallas demonstration on the National Day of Protest Against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) set for Saturday, Jan. 10. We will meet at 11:30 a.m. at the Dallas Historical Plaza by the records building to unapologetically demand that the new administration repeals DOMA.
On Saturday, Feb. 7 at noon, Queer Liberaction is staging a Queer Kiss-In at Ross and Harwood. QL is also currently organizing a demonstration on the National Freedom to Marry Day, Feb. 12 at 11:30 a.m., complete with a wedding ceremony and more. There will always be differences of opinion, especially when dealing with a subject so powerful and able to evoke so much passion as our civil rights. QL believes that being out in the streets demanding our rights is what we so desperately need right now in the queer community. In the spirit of unity and to help rectify the lack of dialog, we at QL would like to extend an invitation to any representative from any group to sit down and have a public conversation. We would like to talk to organizations like the Stonewall Democrats of Dallas and the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance who take a different approach to winning our equality. This invitation is open to all churches, social organizations, political organizations and others that represent the gamut of political opinions, merchants associations, etc. To be apart of this or other Queer Liberaction events please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Time to come together
I attended a meeting with a new group of GLBT activists with whom I have been working. To keep this general, I shall not mention any names. As we talked some leaders from other groups arrived unexpectedly. We began with an open dialog about GLBT and now Q problems, such as gay marriage and civil rights and ways to organize protests. Up until this point all, the groups were on the same page. However, when the conversation turned to how to best achieve this, the discussion became very heated. One group wanted to protest their way, another theirs, and another group was on the fence. An argument began and went on for sometime.
Being a new person to all this, I listened with an open mind and heart and contributed when necessary. I sat there and a small thought came to my mind. While they were deciding about how to hold a protest, a very well organized MBMCC group got together a passed Proposition 8. That’s the Methodists, Baptists, Mormons and Catholics. I am not sure who is to blame — them or us! While the leaders of the GLBTQ, Republican, Democrat, grassroots and Internet groups were arguing on how to do it right in their own way, our rights were stripped away once again. If we as a local, state and nationwide community do not stop this useless infighting, we can kiss our rights goodbye. We must set aside our differences and come together just as those who came before us did. Go see "Milk," talk to the older folks who have fought for their rights and won and learn from their wisdom. It is time to "do" and not get caught up in the "how."
Log Cabin will hold Obama responsible
The gay left has proven itself incapable of holding Democrats accountable for delivering on their pro-gay promises. Democratic leaders might try to forget their promises. Log Cabin will expose Democrat double-speak on gay issues.
President-elect Barack Obama hasn’t even taken office yet and he’s already using the Bill Clinton playbook on gay issues. Mr. Obama invited the Rev. Rick Warren to provide the invocation at his inauguration. Warren campaigned against the discriminatory Prop 8 comparing marriage equality to legitimizing incest, child abuse, and polygamy. Political strategists say Obama made the invitation as a way of appealing to social conservatives.
There are other ominous signs in the transition:
1. President-elect Obama didn’t appoint even one openly gay person to his senior staff — 21 senior staff positions in the White House, not one LGBT person. (Sen. John McCain has a long record hiring openly gay people to senior positions both in his presidential campaign and senate office.)
2. There are have been no openly gay cabinet appointees. If Obama won’t do something like this, will he use political capital to do much heavier lifting on gay issues?
3. They are already lowering expectations on "Don’t ask, don’t tell." News reports say Democrats won’t consider the issue in 2009. Of course, in 2010 it’s easy to predict what congressional Democrats will say, "Sorry, but we have to wait until after the mid-term elections."
In the campaign, Mr. Obama offered promises to repeal ENDA, allow gays and lesbians to serve in the military and sign hate crimes legislation. He also voiced support for federal domestic partner benefits, federal civil unions and tax equity in domestic partner benefits. He also advocated repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act. Meanwhile, Democrats in the House and Senate have huge majorities. They raised millions of dollars from the LGBT community. With Barack Obama in the White House, the Democrats — simply put — have no excuses for not delivering on the promises.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Democratic double-speak on gay issues. After running on a pro-gay platform in 1992, Bill Clinton signed "Don’t ask, don’t tell" into law, signed DOMA (and then campaigned on it in the South), and signed a travel and immigration ban to the U.S. for HIV positive foreigners. Before the 2006 elections, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi made lots of promises to the gay community. Yet they couldn’t even send hate crimes legislation to the president’s desk. ENDA passed the house, but Sen. Harry Reid didn’t even bring the issue up for a vote. Time and again, Democrats won’t use political capital to advance pro-gay legislation.
Not again! Log Cabin Republicans is going to make sure gay and lesbian people know about it if the same thing happens again. Democrats take the gay vote (and gay money) for granted. We will work to highlight Democrats’ double-speak on gay issues. Join Log Cabin in 2009 at one of our regular monthly meetings. A noticeable shift towards inclusion is occurring at the Dallas County Republican Party. We are committed to bringing the entire party back to the "big tent" philosophy of including all who believe in the basic core values of fiscal and national security conservatism.
President, Log Cabin Republicans Dallas
Board member, National Log Cabin Republicans
Gay Democrats are keeping an eye out, too.
I was as disappointed and upset as everyone else when I learned that Rick Warren would be giving the inaugural invocation on Jan. 20. However, I am not so politically sensitive to think that this means a whole hill of beans. People forget that Obama campaigned specifically saying that there was not a "liberal America and a conservative America, saying that we worship an awesome God in the blue states, and yes, we have some gay friends in the red states." He recognized and yes, if you recall, campaigned on bringing a disparate country composed of widely different viewpoints together, as his political hero, Abraham Lincoln did in the 1860s. Any student of history will see that Obama has in fact assembled a "disparate team" in his cabinet and appears to be adopting a governing "style" similar to both Lincoln and FDR. While many of us think the inaugural invocation from Rick Warren is a slap in the face to our community, I see it as a gesture of reciprocity to Mr. Warren and his red state constituency, a small number of whom voted for Obama. Remember, Obama said that he wouldn’t be president of the blue states or the red states, but "the United States of America." That means all of the people. The "real" test in Obama’s presidency will come later in the actual government policies that are followed from Oval Office executive decisions to legislation that comes out of Congress. That is what I am going to be watching. Will Obama issue pro-equality executive decisions? Will he in fact sign ENDA ? Will he repeal "Don’t ask, don’t tell ?" Most importantly, will he appoint jurists to the federal judiciary who believe that every taxpaying citizen in the United States is entitled to the same civil rights? These and other actions are far more important to me personally and to our community collectively than who is invited to give an invocation at the inauguration. While I personally would have liked to have seen an even more "progressive" cabinet, I am willing to give President-elect Obama the benefit of the doubt and time to evince that he is in fact a "fierce advocate" for GLBT rights. Right now, I think it’s safe to say that Obama is still somewhat of an enigma. If Obama is as astute as I hope and think he is, he will in fact be able to create conditions and dialogue that allow for a transmogrification of our society as a whole. This wasn’t an easy task for either Abraham Lincoln or Franklin Roosevelt, both of whom governed in a time of crises and social upheaval, and yet they were both able to accomplish extraordinary things.
Unfortunately, we can expect that the GLBT community is going to be on the backburner for a while as the new administration tries to address and correct the disastrously irresponsible economic policies that George W. Bush and the GOP have left us. With that said, it is up to all of us in the GLBT community, as engaged citizens, to hold both the Obama administration and Congress’ feet to the fire to make sure that they deliver on their campaign positions.
(The comments contained in this letter are my own and are not intended to reflect the opinion or position of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas).
Vice president, Stonewall Democrats of Dallas