Thursday, October 9, 2014

On Long Waits & Enduring Hope

(The past 48 hours have been frustrating as hell. We just can't candycoat the sh-tshow that the Sevcik case has become. For the time being, marriage equality remains on hold in Nevada due to yesterday's epic courtroom confusion. Stay tuned here for further marriage updates.

In the mean time, let's take another trip to the Nevada Progressive archives to calm our nerves. Here, this might help us feel better: a classic from August 2010 on dealing with delays and confronting the bigotry that threatens to hold us down.)

This week has been a doozy for me. I was up. I was down. I was right. I was wrong. I was elated with joy. I was horrified and filled with fear.

And in the end, I just have to keep on chugging and do what needs to be done to move forward and achieve the full equality we so badly need and fully deserve.

I still have painful memories from 2008.

The yard signs that were stolen from my front yard. The homophobic insults coming from my own family. The belligerent Yes on H8 paid canvassers trying to bully my dad into taking away my civil rights. The "urine yellow" Yes on H8 signs being sprinkled all over my neighborhood by the anti-equality churches. These are my memories from the campaign.

The married couples wondering if their marriages were still "legally valid". The couples that waited too long and missed the chance to get a "limited edition marriage". The kids who were bullied in school before and after the election. These are still memories I have from the first days after Prop H8 passed.

Beating myself up constantly about why I didn't do more to stop this oncoming tragedy. This is the guilt I still have over my failure to do enough to stop Prop H8 from passing.

I still remember the drive home with my dad on the day after the election. (We were actually here in Nevada to help Obama win.) As soon as I heard on the radio that Prop 8 passed in California, I broke into tears... And cried all the way home. For the next two weeks, I was deeply depressed.

Am I sub-human? Are gay couples just inferior to straight couples? How could this happen here? Is this all my fault? These were the questions swirling around my head.

This week, I finally felt some closure. Prop 8 was overturned in federal court... And while marriage equality is still on hold in California, it was nice to see a glimpse of that "liberty and justice for all" I've heard about in this country.

I know we've all been frustrated by what may seem sometimes like a stunning lack of progress on attaining even the most basic of human rights for LGBTQ Americans. I know I have been. But this week, my hope was renewed. For once, the politics of hate and fear and bigotry was trumped by the possibility of a better America, an America that isn't ashamed to treat all her citizens equally.

Yes, I was feeling so great on Wednesday...

Then reality slapped me in the face yet again.

You see, last year I moved to Nevada. Yes, my dears, Nevada. I live smack dab in the middle of Henderson, which feels like the heart of that mythical "Middle America" I heard about when I was safe in the confines of "Left Coast California".

And believe it or not, this crazy lady is actually running for US Senate here.

Among her positions, outlined in answers to 36 yes-or-no questions, [Sharron] Angle would oppose making sexual orientation a protected minority in civil rights laws. In a section on school prayer, she affirms that students and teachers should be able to talk openly about religion in schools, including the right to "publicly acknowledge the Creator." [...]

In the questionnaire, submitted to the Washington-based Government is not God political committee, Angle said she would vote in Congress to prohibit abortion "in all cases," and considers a fetus a person under the Constitution.

The Washington-based group's website says it supports candidates who oppose abortion rights and "stand firmly against the unbiblical welfare state that is destroying the spiritual and economic greatness of our nation."

And if you think that's all, think again. Sharron Angle is supported by "Christian Reconstructionist" religious right extremists who want to impose THE DEATH PENALTY on "homosexual sodomites".

An organization calling itself Vision to America sent out a recent fundraising appeal sponsored by U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) on behalf of Nevada Republican senatorial candidate Sharron Angle. "I have put together a plan to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars into the Nevada Senate race — along with several others like it — to achieve conservative victory. This plan includes running statewide television and radio ads, sending direct mail to targeted voters, and operating phone banks — all geared toward defeating Harry Reid in November."

What is American Vision, and why do they love Sharron Angle? American Vision has a goal: "The goal is to return America to its Biblical foundations “from Genesis to Revelation” (a postmillennial reading of Revelation, which holds that the Second Coming will occur after an era of Christian dominance). American Vision is a non-profit, tax exempt, educational organization. Like many of these groups, DeMar also has a companion organization that can raise money and promote candidates for elected office: Vision to America." [link ...]

The Bible is clear on moral issues that are culture-killers: homosexuality, homosexual marriage, and abortion," says DeMar, who is closely allied with D. James Kennedy of Coral Ridge Ministries, where he frequently speaks.

While DeMar insists that homosexuals wouldn't be rounded up and systematically executed under a "reconstructed" government, he does believe that the occasional execution of "sodomites" would serve society well, because "the law that requires the death penalty for homosexual acts effectively drives the perversion of homosexuality underground, back into the closet."

Another "long-term goal," he writes elsewhere, should be "the execution of abortionists and parents who hire them." [...]

In 1993, American Vision helped county commissioners in Cobb County, Ga., pass an anti-gay resolution so strongly worded that it sparked a national controversy. Cobb County Commissioner Gordon Wysong spoke at American Vision's annual fundraising banquet the following year, saying of gay people, "We should blame them for every social failure in America." [link]

Frightening enough, right? Wait, it gets worse. Sharron Angle herself openly advocated the complete denial of even the most basic civil rights to LGBTQ Nevadans when she helped found the openly xenophobic Independent American Party of Nevada in the early 1990s. Yep, that's right. She thinks we SHOULD be discriminated against at work, when shopping, when on the bus, when applying for disability benefits, when searching for a place to live, whenever, wherever.

Oh, and Sharron Angle won't even take money from companies that treat their LGBTQ employees fairly and equally. Yep, she's that serious about her homophobia!

So how can someone like this even be taken seriously? How can someone like this earn votes in her run for the United States Senate? What happened here?

It's still saddening to see bigotry used as a "wedge issue" in political campaigns. It broke my heart with Prop 8 in California two years ago, and now it just infuriates me to see Sharron Angle flaunt in my face her hatred of me and my extended queer family.

It just goes to show how much progress we still need to make in this country. It's great to see federal judges like the Honorable Vaughn Walker rule in our favor and rightly decide that we are citizens deserving of equal rights... And then it's terrifying to see Senate candidates like Sharron Angle vow to oppose any and all remedies to wrongful discrimination. Of course, it's safe to say she doesn't agree with Judge Walker's Prop 8 ruling.

OK, I guess I should mention the elephant... No, make that donkey in the room.

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.

Yes, Harry Reid is my Senator. And yes, I know he's not perfect. But whenever I feel frustrated about why DOMA is still on the books or why ENDA hasn't been passed yet, I remember what's at stake here. I remember the batshit crazy tea-nut queen running against him, and I remember I have no choice but to make sure the tea-nut queen gets nowhere near the US Senate.

Sometimes, change isn't fast. Most often, change isn't easy. But in the end, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was right. Change happens. "The arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice."

That's what gives me hope... Hope that Prop 8 will soon be another sad footnote in our history, one that we will have overcome. It's what gives me hope that one day soon (oh, it should be soon!), Harry Reid and Barack Obama will be able to herd those cats often referred to as "US Senators" and deliver on basic freedom from discrimination in the workplace. It's what gives me hope that homophobic, transphobic extremists like Sharron Angle won't be able to win elections on pure, primal hate.

So I guess the hope is still alive. It's been a long walk to freedom and equality, but I guess we'll soon make it all the way up there.

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