After a brief hiatus, I'm back with a vengeance! I'm sick of all this primary stuff! Boo to the primaries! We need a reality check.
The Democratic contenders are all "on our side," more so than any other viable candidates we've seen in recent years. And we can spend as much time as want to comparing telepathic notes we seem to have about which candidate actually means his or her support for LGBTQ issues -- well, for certain high-profile issues, anyway, like marriage equality, Don't Ask, Don't Tell, ENDA, Hate Crimes, and, oh wait, is that it??
The fact of the matter is -- and please, if you disagree, do so vocally and convincingly, because I'd like to see it -- none of these candidates, if elected, is going to push an LGBTQ rights agenda, at least not in the first term. None of them, for instance, is going to repeal DOMA outright. The best we'll get is some back room wheeling and dealing, and fine, but that's not where we're going to make our case for full equality. That I can assure you.
So why all the fuss?
Let's not be distracted by the presidential glint! As presidents go, we've got a relatively good slate on the Democratic side. Let them be. In the meantime, let's get back to where our issues matter most, at the state and local level.
Take, for example, safe schools issues, something we don't often talk about on here. Just this afternoon I spent the better part of an hour on the phone with a lesbian mom in Massachusetts, whose six-year-old daughter is being told by her "friends" in school that it's impossible for her to have two mommies. The principal has "tried" to respond, but doesn't really know what to do, and is likely to get defensive as soon as these well-meaning parents step up and make suggestions to make the situation better.
No president is going to do anything about this issue or issues like it, even if they were to pass a Comprehensive Federal Safe Schools Bill. Which, by the way, is unlikely to be Comprehensive with respect to LGBTQ issues, since the language that protects us most tends to get watered down in the process, or, in the case of ENDA, thrown out completely!
Sure you might say this one family's issue is minor, at best, when looking at things from the "big picture" perspective. The problem is that we know these incidents in schools are happening all the time, so often and to such varying degrees of severity that they're nearly taken as facts of life.
The problem with these kinds of issues, and, I believe, one of the main reasons why they haven't reached the same level of national priority as others, is that their solutions are not simple strokes of the pen. All states have different Departments of Education. They all have different school districts, policies, administrations and ways of doing things.
Solving these kinds of problems takes continued and vigilant action by members of the community, themselves, and it's not just about writing letters to Congress, it's about siting down face to face with superintendents explaining who your family is and what you need, each and every time someone new in the administration appears.
We can make change on the issues that matter to us most in our daily lives, but we have to understand that at least half the time we spend worrying about the nominees could be better spent worrying about what's actually going on in our own communities.
How many homeless queer youth live on your streets? How many elderly queer people are being mistreated by their caretakers? How many kids can't talk about their families at school?
It's too easy for those of us who are fascinated by the trappings of politics to get caught up in the campaigns and forget about the wars at home.
I know a lot of the people who read and contribute to this blog do amazing work in their communities on a regular basis, so let's shift the focus back to that, at least a bit. In fact, I'm officially putting in a request: Bil, Alex and other esteemed editors of Bilerico, can we declare an upcoming week "No Primaries Week"? And can the sub-theme be, "Talking About the Issues the Candidates Won't Address"?
In closing, fresh off my "back to blogging rant," as this is, I have a new theory of presidential priorities I'd like to share. It's my thought that until a candidate begins to speak about a particular person (usually with a colorful name) from a particular place and their particular issue, that issue won't be taken seriously by the candidate or her or his administration.
So until we've got candidates stumping with, "You know, last week I met Coralee Hines in Bulpitt, Illinois, and she's a lesbian, and she's just fifteen. Her parents kicked her out simply because of who she loves, and now she lives on the streets 'cause there's no shelters in Bulpitt, and even if there were she'd be too afraid to go 'cause they'd mistreat her for being gay. And we've got to do something about this gay youth homelessness problem in our country, 'cause when one young lesbian is living on the streets, all our kids are living on the streets," we aren't getting anywhere fast with them.