Editor's Note: Guest blogger Stephen Zollman is a lawyer who works for the San Francisco Public Defender's Office and is passionate about youth issues, access to quality/affordable health care, education, and a cleaner environment.
A lot has been written and processed about what has transpired for the LGBTQ community since President Obama has taken office. He and the Democratic Party have had our support and I was willing to give things a shot for a while longer - despite a series of what I would consider "setbacks."
I've seen no effort on Mr. Obama's part in getting us out of one war and into another, the handling of the financial bail-outs has been lacking, there has been little progress on environmental issues, and don't even ask me about Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
And then along came Mr. Obama's Department of Justice - not only defending the Defense of Marriage Act, but EQUATING our love with that of incest.
And that is when it all became tooooo much.
We, as a community, do care more than just about ourselves and what is in it for us. We take pride in not only our accomplishments, but also in how we help to accomplish things for the greater good - including working to elect the President of the United States. Especially in this, our Pride month.
This can most thankfully be seen in our younger communities. A group was formed shortly after the Nov. 4th election in response to Prop. 8 results - when it was finally acknowledged that we did not do a good enough job in understanding how many social issues affected our own besides marriage.
One Struggle One Fight is an impassioned group that gets the interplay between health care, war, education, the environment and equal treatment under the law and how they affect our community - and the larger global community.
I created a Facebook page entitled "DNC Boycott" - and it states "until 'our' leadership decides to lead on the issues important to US - on health care, education, a cleaner environment, job creation, getting us out and keeping us out of wars, equality for all to include marriage for all - then we will not give our time, nor our money."
One response on the Facebook page was essentially, "won't Sarah Palin be happy when she hears this." And a couple other members scolded that Mr. Obama has only been in office for five months.
Well, several friends and I have some thing to say about these responses:
"A man can't ride your back unless it's bent."
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The LGBTQ community - in all it's diversity - may not have a leader like Dr. King, but I'll tell you this: Our Backs Are Not Bent Anymore!
For myself, my job gives meaning on a daily basis to the old adage that a society is judged by how it treats its most vulnerable. I am a public defender who defends the rights of our youth, while also securing any and all necessary services for them and their families.
These young people have went through - and continue - to endure discrimination on a daily basis, and they do not see a reason for any one to be treated differently under the law.
Also, I am an Army veteran and saw first hand the horrible effects of the onerous Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy enacted by the U.S. Congress under former-President Bill Clinton in 1993.
As for how the LGBTQ community moves "forward," the following might be helpful:
- Be okay with disagreement in our community, try to take a breath and realize that we are all feeling many things and "try not to eat our own" as a friend would say.
- Be mindful of where you spend your money. Is it going to fund a politician or an organization that is not speaking for you, or going to those who have less than a minute with the Prez while being served a cocktail? Even if they keep saying that more time is needed...needed for what??? As we have learned, there is never a good or convenient time for civil rights to be asserted and obtained.
- Think about the options. For those who say that the Dems are at least better than the Repubs...are they really?? Who has and continues to receive money from the very same organizations that they now want to regulate - the banks, the healthcare companies, etc. As a friend recently reminded me, there are other parties - like the Green Party who has a great LGBTQ platform that a friend drafted. Competition is and always will be a good thing. Or, declare yourself an independent - and make them come looking for you and how you are thinking about voting.
- Think about how you can help support our youth, our future leaders, and other groups who have the same interests as you. Those involved with securing access to affordable/quality healthcare, especially for those with HIV in our community.
- Continue to share your stories about how being treated as a second or third class citizen is affecting your family. How you can't access your partner's healthcare benefits and pensions until DOMA is done away with. We as humans are more alike than dissimilar.
Many thanks to my friends who provided their thoughts on where we are and how best to move forward. I really want to hear your thoughts, so please forward them to firstname.lastname@example.org, or check out DNC Boycott on Facebook.
Yours in Pride - and on behalf of all those whose backs have now been straightened.