I started to write this as a comment in the “Michelle Obama connects the dots…from Selma to Stonewall” thread but decided that it is too much of a rant. So I am posting this here, with not much hope that anybody is actually going to read it, but goddammit, I need to get this off my chest:

With everything that Pam said, with all the timely, relevant points made, somehow we still keep losing sight of the forest for the trees and going back to the marriage issue.  I have some experience as a LGBT rights activist; not as much as many of the other posters here, but enough to give an informed opinion, and I am telling you straight out (no pun intended) that those of you who think that now is the time to focus all of our energy on equal marriage have got your timing backwards.

How many of you who want marriage so badly that you bring every thread about Obama back to that issue have put an equal amount of time into writing to or visiting your state and federal representatives to fight for anti-discrimination or hate crimes laws? Who among you has contacted your representatives in support of our trans brothers and sisters?  I know some of you have, but what about the rest of you? I am watching a bunch of articulate, intelligent people wasting their time and energy preaching to the choir about marriage equality when there is so much more at stake and every one of you is persuasive enough to be making a real difference on these other issues. Does anybody here think that Lawrence King’s last thoughts were about marriage equality? Or that Duanna Johnson was thinking about marriage while the cops were beating the shit out of her?  I know that I am pissing a lot of people off by saying this, but damn it, we have a lot more at stake here than marriage; what is going on in California is incredibly important, but it is not the only issue where time is of the essence. So do what you can to support equal marriage in California, donate your time and money if you can, but don’t lose sight of the bigger picture. As someone far wiser than me put it, getting married does not protect you from losing your job or home due to discrimination, but getting anti-discrimination and anti-hate crime laws passed does make our fight for equal marriage easier. We need to take a step back and look at the long term strategy for getting equal marriage rights in all fifty states in that context.  I don’t like it any more than anybody else does, but we do not have a frigging chance of getting federal DOMA repealed until we have a Democratic President and a real Democratic majority in Congress. For Pete’s sake, people, I have not seen one person in the past week mention the fact that the only reason we have a voting majority of ONE in the Senate is because Lieberman usually caucuses with us–and we all know he is not on the side of LGBT rights.

We still have to get the Shepard Act passed and inclusive ENDA passed; once these two very important pieces of legislation get passed, we will have much stronger legal ground to stand on in our fight for marriage equality and the wingnuts will lose the ability to make the argument that civil rights protections will increase lawsuits–it will take the wind right out of the sails of that argument. Nothing is going to happen on the marriage front on a federal level until after the election, but the Shepard Act and inclusive ENDA are in our sights and would lay a much stronger foundation for overturning federal DOMA.  The wingnuts know that and are going to fight tooth and nail against both pieces of legislation.  We need to fight back and fight back hard. And we need to do it now.

I am speaking from experience here: I worked my tail off for the Anderson-Murray Bill here in Washington and as much as I hated putting the marriage fight on the back burner at the time, Ed Murray convinced me that he knows what he is doing. And you know what? His strategy works, but it takes patience and perseverance.  

Believe me, I hate that the best we could get in Washington was domestic partnership, but, true to their word, Ed and his colleagues in the State House and Senate are very quickly expanding the rights and responsibilities of Domestic Partnership and have vowed to continue the fight for full marriage equality.  When we do get full marriage equality in Washington state, Domestic Partnership will remain an option for seniors (LGBT and straight alike) who would lose pensions or benefits if they got married.  

Please believe me when I say that marriage equality is every bit as important to me as it is to anyone. But I live right on the border of Idaho and I am over the state line where we have no protection from hate and discrimination several times a week. I actually breathe a sigh of relief every time I drive back over the state line into Washington.  If that isn’t an instant reality check, I don’t know what is.




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