Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Next Steps for LGBT Civil Rights
The Huffington Post

November 18, 2008

Since Election Day, I, like many LGBT Americans and their allies, have felt torn in two. On November 4th I was overjoyed to see Barack Obama become President-elect of the United States, and incredibly proud that the LGBT community played a central role in his victory. I was full of optimism at the prospect of a real ally in the White House, a president who has mentioned and credited the LGBT community in every major political speech he has given since 2004.

But then I woke on November 5th, to discover that hope and change were not coming to all Americans. Amendment 2 in Florida, Proposition 102 in Arizona and Proposition 8 in California had all passed, denying civil rights to thousands of LGBT families.

And I found myself asking: How could our nation embrace a movement for change, while three of its states voted to reject the rights of an entire group of Americans? Could this be real? And what did this mean for the future of our LGBT community?

I've carried that last question with me for the past two weeks. And on Wednesday and Saturday I got my answer, when I participated in two rallies that responded to this injustice.

Neither event was organized by established, well-funded institutions. They were fueled by modern day grassroots efforts. Thousands came together through word of mouth, text messages from a friend, or internet organizing. They were joined together as a community by a desire for justice and equality.

On Saturday, when I took the stage at a rally outside City Hall, the crowd stretched so far that you couldn't see the end. It took my breath away. The number and dedication of those gathered rivaled any demonstration I've seen in recent history.

I started to look at the faces in the crowd. It almost moved me to tears when I saw the looks in their eyes -- their smiles, their energy and optimism. They were not defeated; they were empowered, fueled by the possibility and the wonder of equality.

Of course people are angry -- I myself am angry. But what is significant today is that our community has taken an anger that might have turned to bitterness, and molded it instead into strength and action. We need to take this strength to our state capitals, and tell them that we are full citizens and deserve to have full and equal rights under the law.

The LGBT community's future is one of immeasurable possibility. It's bright and bold, strong and hopeful, and as limitless as freedom itself. Our community knows that our country is supposed to be the land of the free, where one can engage in the pursuit of happiness. On Saturday we once again demonstrated that we are committed to making it so!


av10011 said...

This past Saturday afternoon I marshalled at the NYC anti-Prop 8 rally at City Hall. The turnout was substantial -- I would guess it to have been about 7,000. As a longtime activist, it was very heartening to see so many people I did not know. Along with quite a few of the usual companion suspects from ACT UP and Queer Nation, there were so many of all different ages and appearances. Yeah for diversity!

For many I my sense this was their first occasion turning out for this kind of protest or maybe any protest. It was a great, friendly, high-spirited crowd.

The speakers were mostly excellent and on point. There was one boring one, but I thought we were entitled to have at least one of those.

There is nothing quite like getting into action mode to stir the juices and give you a downright cheery sense of kinship with a lot of fellow queers.

I have to say I strongly object to how the crowd was penned in by police barricades. The police themselves were fine and benign. But this business of not being allowed to have moving picked and either being on City Hall steps or our in the streets really pisses me off.

This country was founded by revolutionists who firmly believed in civil rights that are being denied in many ways, including the right to free assembly.

As I said when people were leaving at the end, "See ya at the next one," which was greeted with affirmative smiles and laughter and people eagerly asking, "When is it?" To which I replied, "Soon!"

It's been a long time coming and finally we have something to cheer about. I know that ultimately we're going to win. However long it takes the wind is at our backs on this one.

Cheers to all,

Andy Velez

NG said...

Has Miss Quinn said anything with respect to that so called backroom deal involving Diaz, Espada, and Kruger?