Marriage may be the rallying cry, but LGBT people must realize that we have long been treated as less-than-full citizens in ways large and small
In a recent article in the Huffington Post, John Hallmann likens the Bush years to a country living under a foreign occupier. He hits the nail on the head as he compares the situation in the United States to that of France during World War II.
The characteristics he details are telling:
• Public opinion is ignored.
• Core values overturned
• Basic infrastructure neglected
• National resources diverted overseas
• Propaganda ratcheted up
This list really defines the Bush years, and now as we struggle to cast off the remnants of this disastrous chapter in American history LBGT people need to take note.
LGBT Americans have lived under much the same occupation for most of modern history and it’s time we realized it. As citizens of this country, we have been denied our rights for so long we have forgotten what full citizenship looks and feels like.
Much like the French, living under foreign control, we still go about our daily lives and may even buy into the illusion that we are no different from our fellow citizens. But step outside the prescribed parameters and the reality comes crashing down.
Proposition 8 was just another wake-up call. The marriage issue may be a battle cry, but it is far from what we should stake our futures on.
Consider the simple display of affection that is taken for granted by full citizens of our country. They hold hands, hug and even kiss in the most public of places without so much as a moment’s notice.
Outside the "gay ghettos" that kind of public display of affection by LGBT citizens will bring stares, cat calls and worse. The problem is, we have learned our place and don’t notice the disparity.
At work, full citizens display photographs of their wives, husbands, lovers and children with pride. Others even comment on the pictures and fawn over their partners with kind comments.
For LGBT citizens, posting a picture of your significant "other" is always a minefield. Unless you work in an enlightened workplace, that picture will cause whispers and perhaps even a reprimand from a superior.
Full citizens accompany their wives and husbands to the hospital and are treated as family members who can in many cases share in medical decisions in emergencies. Unless LGBT citizens have the proper paperwork, that option is denied. Even visitations can be restricted and as "less-than-full" citizens, we have little right to protest.
Full citizens can raise their children however they see fit, and barring abuse or negligence, they can never be taken away from them.
For LGBT citizens, our children, both adopted and by birth can be removed from our homes simply because a group of zealous fanatics push through discriminatory laws that would never be applied to any other group.
The list could go on, but the point would still be the same. Though we have gained many rights, we still live as "less-than-full citizens" and until we shake off our complacency, we will continue to live without our full rights.
It is high time we pushed back with a resistance. We have been docile for too long and many of our brothers and sisters have actively collaborated against us.
We have lived as strangers in our own land for too long.
Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and a board member for Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. His blog is at http://dungeondiary.blogspot.com.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 28, 2008.