SpeakOut: Moving toward equality

by Eric Rader

With the midterm elections behind us, it's time to look ahead. The recent Republican victories would seem to be a major setback for the LGBT community. Since the early 1980s, the Republican Party has cozied up to the "religious right" in its efforts to win federal and state offices around the country and here in Michigan. Most prominent Republican officials have publicly stated their opposition to any measures that would guarantee equality based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The current debate over repeal of the military's "Don't ask, Don't tell" policy is an example of this, with Senate Republicans standing in the way of even debating this issue, despite overwhelming public support for getting rid of this discriminatory policy. During the 2004 presidential election, President George W. Bush's campaign operation spearheaded anti-gay marriage amendments in several swing states, including Michigan, as a political wedge to help drive up Republican turnout in his reelection effort. Two years after his reelection, Bush endorsed an anti-gay marriage amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Republicans have been at the forefront of the battle to deny even small measures of equality to our community.

Of course, not all Republicans have opposed LGBT equality and not every Democrat has supported us. At the midpoint of President Obama's first term, many in our community are concerned about his slow movement in ending DADT and repealing the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). It is important to recognize, though, that the few legal protections gays and lesbians enjoy at the federal level in this country have been extended by Democrats, including a ban on discrimination in federal employment and the provision of limited benefits to the same-sex partners of foreign service officers.

We should not despair over the political setbacks faced by the LGBT community in the recent election. Equality always comes slowly, no matter how just it is. We need only look at the African American and women's rights movements of the 20th Century to see how long it can take to achieve equality in the United States. The leaders of both movements faced overwhelming political odds in the 1950s and 1960s as they fought the battle to gain equality. Many of the political leaders of Congress at that time were conservative Southern white males who were determined to protect the status quo of that time. The people who fought bravely for equality at that time were never assured of success, and indeed, it often seemed that they would not succeed. Yet they persevered through demonstrations, boycotts, rallies, and court cases, putting their great moral weight behind the cause of justice and equality.

Since the Republicans have far more power at the national and state levels, we must follow the examples set by the other movements for equality in the United States. It is important to continue the legal fight for equality. Already, federal courts have ruled against the DADT policy and in favor of marriage equality in California. Eventually, these cases will go before the U.S. Supreme Court. While the conservative makeup of the high court might give supporters of equality pause, it's still important to pursue the cases. The Supreme Court was considered to be conservative in the mid-1950s before it issued unanimous rulings against legal segregation in the United States.

The LGBT community should also continue to lobby our legislators, even those who seem most opposed to our cause. Though most Republicans stand against LGBT equality, there are a few who are supportive, though they face strong pressures from others in their ranks to back away from change. We should make ourselves visible and show our communities that we are like everyone else, yet we face persistent legal discrimination. It is also important to make socially conscious decisions about where we shop, eat, lodge, and invest. Don't give hard-earned money to entities that would deny LGBTs basic equality.

Most importantly, now is not the time to shrink from the fight for equality. As other social movements have shown in their fight for equal rights, it is possible to be successful even when the odds seem to be against you. The important thing is to fight the good fight. Throughout this country's history, marginalized groups have moved forward regardless of the challenges. We must do the same today.

Continue to contact Michigan's two senators and urge them to pass DADT during the lame duck session. Note--Sen. Levin is the Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, which is handling this issue:

Senator Carl Levin: http://levin.senate.gov/contact/

Senator Debbie Stabenow: http://stabenow.senate.gov/email.cfm

HRC's 2011 Corporate Equality Index:


MI Marriage Trial

Michigan Same Sex Couples Demand Respect And Equal Treatment

Michigan Leaders React To Feds Recognition Of Marriages

MI Marriage: Schuette Asks For Full Appeals Court Review

The Stay Delayed Allows 315 Couples To Wed In State

Gay Marriage Defines Schuette's Reelection Campaign

Snyder Says Schuette Going Against Trend

Sixth Circuit Continues Stay

Michigan Marriage Ban Struck Down

Michigan Makes History With First Marriages

Elected Officials, Advocates Petition Schuette To Drop Marriage Aappeal

Pictures from Ingham County - Getting Married

Pictures from Oakland County Clerk's Office - Part 1

Pictures from the Oakland County Clerk's office - Part 2

Pictures from the Oakland County Clerk's Office - Part 3

Pictures from Washtenaw County

White Nationalist Group Files Brief Supporting AG's Appeal In Marriage Ruling

Discredited Witness Part Of Right-Wing Cabal

Schauer Celebrates Overturn Of Michigan Marriage Ban

Equality Michigan Circulating Petition to Drop Appeal

Why Are Governor Rick Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette Wasting Michigan Taxpayer Dollars On A Costly Appeal?

Michigan Marriage Ban Co-Author Goes 'Moral'

BTL's Wedding Expo: Like Pride in April

Snyder Says Marriages Invalid

Elected Officials, Advocates Petition Schuette To Drop Marriage Appeal

Request To Remove Stay Based On Process And Substance

Schuette Lies To Satisfy Political Base

DOCUMENTS: The decision, the stay, and more

BREAKING: Holder Asked To Recognize Michigan Marriages

Michigan Marriage Ban Ruled Unconstitutional

BREAKING: Sixth Circuit Court Of Appeals Issues Temporary Stay On Michigan Case

BREAKING: Same-Sex Couples Across Michigan Get Hitched

BREAKING: Judge Friedman Declares Michigan's Same-Sex Marriage Ban Unconstitutional

Judge Could Rule Late Today In Mich. Marriage Ban

Michigan Marriage Trial: And Now We Wait

Editor's Viewpoint: Our Long Journey To Justice

Federal Marriage Case Decisions Outside Michigan In Circuit Court of Appeals

Peers Distance Themselves As Regnerus Takes The Stand

Marriage Supporters, Protestors Brave Cold At Courthouse

Highlights From Michigan Same-Sex Marriage Hearing

Brown Says Schuette Instructed Clerks To Defy Court

Michigan Marriage Equality Trial Begins Second Week

Marriage Equality Trial Opens : Science v. Fear

Michigan Marriage Center Prepares State For The Possibility!

Michigan Marriage Case Begins

A Trial Full of Experts: Incredible and Not So Credible, In Hazel Park Case

like us on facebook follow us on twitter follow us on google+