Monday, December 26, 2011

10 of 11: #Equality

Not so long ago, LGBTQ equality seemed a distant dream. Hell, much of the community was excluded not that long ago as even many community leaders would only talk of "gay rights". But over the course of the last decade, this would change in a radical way. And in 2011 here in Nevada, we saw some big changes.

The year started with some uncertainty as pro-equality bills like AB 211 were being overshadowed by the bigger budget brawl. In March, the vote counting was still very much underway in Carson City. But in May, we saw a breakthough when AB 211 finally passed the Legislature and Brian Sandoval agreed to sign it into law. Never before in Carson could any transgender rights bill even reach the Assembly or Senate floor. But now, transgender Nevadans can finally work without fear of easy firing because of who they are. We also saw bills addressing housing discrimination, school bullying, public accommodations, and kids in foster care become law to the benefit of the entire community.

It seems like in the course of just three years, Nevada has made a great leap forward in treating its LGBTQ residents as full human beings. However, we still saw reminders this year that we've not reached full equality just yet. While the LVCVA took the long awaited step of marketing more to LGBTQ tourists, many of the powers that be in this state still can't admit that issues like marriage discrimination hold us back. And in October, the RGJ actually published a smart and insightful story on the hardships local LGBTQ families still face in this state.

[Joe] Edson said that, as a couple, [he and registered domestic partner Mike Hardie] have "jumped through all the legal hoops backwards" to get many of the same rights and protections that come to opposite-sex couples. That includes legal powers of attorney for health issues and revocable trusts. Edson said he had to be treated for colon cancer in 2004 and that helped propel the decision to get family rights.

"Any drunk heterosexual couple can wander into an Elvis chapel in Las Vegas and get all of these rights automatically," Edson said. "We have the education and the financial wherewithal to get those kinds of rights documented. A lot of our friends do not."

While domestic partnerships certainly offer more legal protections, rights, and responsibilities than the great heap of nothing we had before 2009, they're still not marriage. But even with this, there's hope emerging. The Prop 8 case in California is still making its way through federal courts. And if Judge Walker's overturning of the California marriage equality ban continues to stand, then it sets an encouraging federal precedent that will likely lead the way to the end of our own Question 2 marriage ban, as well as other discriminatory marriage bans across the country.

And speaking of federal matters, another encouraging development was the end of DADT. Last year, our own Harry Reid helped lay the foundation for its ultimate demise. And this year, homophobia fueled discrimination in America's armed forces finally landed where it belongs, in the dustbin of history. It's just too bad that the G-O-TEA still refuses to enter the 21st century.

Wow. Has the Republican Party really sunk that low? Apparently so. Remember, a bunch of Florida Republicans attending last night's debate in Orlando booed an active duty soldier, and did so simply because he's gay and he wanted to ask the Republican Presidential Candidates about reviving DADT.

And you know what makes this even more disgusting? Only two Republican candidates (neither of them with any real chance of getting the nomination), Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman and Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, rose to defend Stephen Hill and the end of DADT. Apparently, the rest of the GOP "clown car candidates" think discrimination is fabulous.

What really makes this appalling is that the Florida Republican audience at that debate last night showed complete and utter disrespect for an active duty soldier. They essentially booed our military and showed contempt for our country. Think about it. For as long as I can remember, the Republican Party has tried to position itself as "the patriotic party", the party that believes in the sanctity of the flag and everything it represents. Yet last night, we didn't see that party. Rather, we saw the continuation of a trend in the unveiling of a "new Republican Party" that's been hijacked by "TEA Party" extremists who care more about radical ideology than even the well being of our military and our very national security.

And therein lies our continuing challenge. But hopefully one day soon, we shall finally overcome bigotry's last stand and achieve full equality.

No comments:

Post a Comment