In light of last weekend's very encouraging news, I'd like to repost a diary I wrote in July after witnessing the event that many still are in shock over. So come on over and take the time warp back with me to July 27 and the famous Netroots Nation session that was a sign of the major LGBTQ equality breakthrough that was to come.
So today, I get a nice little message from Lt. Dan Choi and GetEQUAL. I read they want to "keep Sen. Reid accountable to his promise" to ensure the repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell". OK, I agree with that. I'll toast to that.
I just want to say that this should be easier than some expect. In the last year that I've lived here in Southern Nevada, I've learned things about Harry Reid that I never knew before.
Before I moved here last year, I just assumed that Reid was just "Mr. Mormon Limp Dick" who didn't know what he was doing. But as soon as I moved here, I learned things I had never realized before. Reid's a master vote counter who can count his way to a win better than anyone else I know. He's the best friend Nevada's LGBTQ community has had, and the door is always open for us to go and ask about what's happening with ENDA or DADT. And for being so "conservative", he's much better than past "Democrats" elected as Senators here (Pat McCarran was a notorious McCarthy ally, Howard Cannon lost his touch with the locals, Richard Bryan was never interested in anything progressive).
There's an interesting back story on Reid that I've been learning since I moved here, and the more I know the more I come to love "Grampa Harry". He's not perfect, but he's our Senator and he's done a damned good job for us.
Because Harry Reid is Mormon, it's often assumed he's a "homophobe". Maybe in the distant past there were problems, but today that couldn't be further from the truth. He received plenty of flak from his church when he publicly disagreed with the church leadership's decision to finance California's Yes on H8 campaign to repeal marriage equality. When the National Equality March went to DC last October, Harry Reid proudly endorsed it.
Plus, I can tell you about what I've observed since I moved here to Vegas. Whenever we at the Stonewall Democratic Club (Disclosure: I'm the Secretary & Political Director) have wanted to talk to him about ENDA or DADT or hate crimes, the door has always been open and he's always been on the same page. When the Las Vegas LGBT Center needed help with a new TV for the youth program, Reid's office got it for them. When we were preparing for Las Vegas PRIDE in early May, Reid's office was there for us and made sure we had enough resources to do voter registration and be a major presence.
OK, so Reid isn't perfect. Who is? I wasn't impressed at first... Hey, I was used to calling Barbara Boxer my Senator! But you know what? It was all these little things, combined with some really important big things, that created the soft spot I have for Harry Reid.
And this is why I know we can count on him to fulfill his end of the promise to end "Don't Ask Don't Tell" and make sure what happened to good soldiers like Dan Choi won't happen to anyone else again. I think my change in attitude toward Reid is similar to his evolving relationship with our community. As he's come to know all of our LGBTQ families in Las Vegas, in Reno, in Winnemucca, in Pahrump, and all around our great state of Nevada, he's become more of a friend to us.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not making excuses. And I'm not saying it's wrong for GetEQUAL or any other LGBTQ advocacy group to demand full equality. As a gay person myself, I'm 110% there with you! I'm just saying that Harry Reid is NOT the enemy, but rather a friend who I know wants to do the right thing. Sometimes we need to give him the extra push and "make him do it", as both he and Nancy Pelosi said on Saturday at Netroots Nation. But in the end, it's important to keep building these relationships, holding leaders like Reid and Pelosi accountable when necessary, but also remembering that these are our friends and we don't have to fight against them.
OK, enough of my rambling rant. I have some phone calls and door knocking to get back to. ;-)