Arts & Entertainment
On the Road Towards Equality, Peace
Bullying At Any Level Intolerable
Originally printed 1/3/2013 (Issue 2101 - Between The Lines News)
We're the further down the road to justice than we've ever been.
President Obama and Vice President Biden have declared their support for legal same-sex marriage.
Voters in two states have approved same-sex-marriage legislation.
Same-sex legal marriage has been approved in other countries.
The Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States are considering challenges to DOMA and to California's Proposition 8.
More women, some lesbian, have been elected to Congress.
A gay, Asian American man has been elected to the House of Representatives.
Judicial elections, nominations, and appointments have advanced our cause.
More public figures have come out of the closet.
Gallup polls conducted every decade demonstrate that support for our human and civil rights is increasing nationwide.
We have gained judicial support for same-sex-adoption rights, thanks to the ACLU.
And we "on the ground" have organized creative campaigns for human dignity and freedom.
The 100-Day Hunger4Equality Strike at Affirmations protested Michigan's anti-equality legislation. The Strike earned world-wide media attention. Every queer community center in Michigan joined in this protest. And individual supporters pledged to engage in their own hunger strikes.
The "Get Out the Vote for Equality" campaign at Ann Arbor's queer community center successfully engaged in identifying and mobilizing progressive voters. As campaign organizer Sandi Smith noted, "Together, we are making a difference."
In 2013 let's mount other campaigns!
We have much to do in 2013.
We must continue to push for the addition of gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation to Michigan's Elliott-Larsen non-discrimination law. Since our legislature has not approved this legislation - after 30 years of our advocacy - many more of our villages, towns, and cities must adopt their own protective policies.
We must continue to advocate at the national level for the passage of similar legislation.
We must continue to adopt and enforce anti-bullying policies in our K-12 schools.
Bullying is an abuse of power and authority, launched by individuals, groups, classes, and nations who have or believe they have power and authority. Bullying is perpetrated against individuals, groups, classes, and nations perceived to be weak, less powerful, threatening, or "different."
We need to name things as they are. In Michigan, we experience bullying by our governor and by our legislature, even though these politicians may believe they are "doing the right thing."
At the Service of Affirmation "Renewed in Love: Honoring the Tapestry" held at the First Unitarian Universalist Church on Dec. 18, the Reverend Selma Massey urged us to forgive those who harm us.
That's an essential first step.
And then, we must hold them to account through "tough love": we must make it clear we expect them to engage in ethical action.
And then, to attempt to prevent bullying, we must live out empathic, peace-making behavior everywhere.
In talking with those who oppose our human and civil rights, we can support their human worth and dignity by seeking to connect with them through values, feelings, and life experiences that we may share with them - concern for the welfare of children or of the aged, for example. And then we can attempt to express our point of view.
I need to say that each of us has a child within. And our child within, the child within each of us, however buffered by the armor of our adulthood, is at risk of bullying and harassment and discrimination and assault.
And we say, "I wouldn't bully anyone." I trust not. And when we witness or hear about bullying and harassment and discrimination and assault, we have an obligation to intervene and to report these acts of psychological and physical violence - instead of being silent bystanders. And an obligation to do all we can to prevent these inhuman behaviors.
And I believe that we are called to ally with those who are at risk of bullying and harassment and discrimination and assault on person and property. Those who are denied power and autonomy and equal access to resources. People who are at risk because of their biological sex, because of their gender identity, their gender expression, their sexual orientation, their partnership status, their age, their race, their color, their ethnicity, their national origin, their disability, their economic class, their veteran status, their conscientious objection to war, their political belief, their religious belief.
We are called to ally with them.
A grateful resolution and task for all of us, in the New Year, as we labor in the cause of justice and peace.
"The wrong shall fail, the right prevail. With peace on earth, good will to all."Jim Toy co-founded the first sexual orientation program office at any university in the world. That original Lesbian-Gay Male Programs Office at the University of Michigan still exists and is now named the Spectrum Center. For more information about the Spectrum Center, go to http://www.Spectrumcenter.umich.edu. See the Spectrum Center's 40th Anniversay short film on Jim Toy, his story and his legacy at http://gaybe.am/yg.
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