Editors' Note: Guest blogger Dixon Osburn was the Executive Director of Service Members Legal Defense Network for 13 years.
When is it ever "convenient" to grant civil rights for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community? To follow recent events, our elected leaders and even our allies continue to run away from our civil rights like some bad smell. It is time for us to stand up for civil rights is now - no delays, no excuses.
This week, most of the judges that had correctly ruled that denying marriage equality violated the California's State constitution, ruled that Proposition 8 was valid, denying Californians marriage equality. The ruling means that any minority can have their equality stripped from them by mob rule. That is unacceptable. It is time to vote out elected judges who support the tyranny of the majority, and vote in judges that will defend full civil rights.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said that our civil rights will take a back seat to economic recovery. She said, "Right now our agenda is jobs...." Then, pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act now so that we are protected from job discrimination. Why has it not even been introduced?
Regarding Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said "Let's push that one down the road a little bit." If you have a lot on your plate, Mr. Secretary, then stop kicking out the people you need. Tell Congress to pass the Military Readiness Enhancement Act so that Arabic linguists, like West Point graduate Lieutenant Dan Choi, and 18 year veteran aviators, like Lieutenant Colonel Fehrenbach who has flown combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, are not discharged for being gay. The military is about leadership. Lead!
The Washington Blade reports that the Senate is "conflicted" over how to pass hate crimes legislation. This bill should be a slam dunk. Senators, get off of your butts and pass it as a stand alone bill. If bigots block it with a filibuster, then attach it as an amendment, but stop wringing your hands, and as Nike says, "Just do it."
Our leaders are running away from full civil rights despite the majority of Americans supporting our equality, and an unprecedented political opportunity with Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, and President Obama pledging support for our equality.
I say, "Enough!" No more excuses. No more delay. We can and must demand full civil rights now. We can and must hold accountable our elected and appointed officials.
Last week, twenty-four people gathered to answer one question: Can we achieve full civil rights for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community faster? We believe we can. We adopted The Dallas Principles to set the bar high and invite you to do the same.
The Dallas Principles enumerates eight principles that should animate our movement at this auspicious time of hope and change.
- Full civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals must be enacted now. Delay and excuses are no longer acceptable.
- We will not leave any part of our community behind.
- Separate is never equal.
- Religious beliefs are not a basis upon which to affirm or deny civil rights.
- The establishment and guardianship of full civil rights is a non-partisan issue.
- Individual involvement and grassroots action are paramount to success and must be encouraged.
- Success is measured by the civil rights we all achieve, not by words, access or money raised.
- Those who seek our support are expected to commit to these principles.
The Dallas Principles also set forth seven goals to achieve full civil rights that reflect what we have all fought for at the local, state and federal levels for years.
- DIGNITY & EQUALITY. Every lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender person has inherent dignity and worth, and has the right to live free of discrimination and harassment.
- FAMILY. Every LGBT person has the right to a family without legal barriers to immigration, civil marriage or raising children.
- ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY. Every LGBT person has the right to economic opportunity free from discrimination in employment, public housing, accommodation, public facilities, credits and federally funded programs and activities.
- EDUCATION. Every LGBT child and youth has the right to en education that is affirming, inclusive and free from bullying.
- NATIONAL SECURITY. Every LGBT person should have the opportunity to serve our country openly and equally in our military and foreign service.
- CRIME. Every LGBT person should enjoy life protected against bias crimes.
- HEALTH CARE. Every person should have access to affordable, high quality and culturally competent health care without discrimination.
If you agree with these principles and goals, the question then is how can we move more aggressively forward in achieving full civil rights?
Ask your government leaders to embrace the Dallas Principles and hold them accountable. Make your political giving contingent on their adopting the Dallas Principles.
Ask our local, state and national organizations to adopt clear strategic plans, with defined goals and objectives. Ask them to identify measurable results that propel us to full civil rights now, and hold them accountable. Demand collaboration. Eschew silo strategies. Share lists to build the strongest electronic grassroots and political voice possible.
Share ideas on how to achieve full equality on the Dallas Principles Facebook page. You may hold the key. Spread the word. Let us connect to as many who share our vision of full civil rights. The last election cycle showed us the power of electronic activism. Let's harness that power, and bring us together across the nation.
Most importantly, demand action now. Not next week. Not next year. Not after the mid-term elections. Not after the economy is fixed. Or when the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are over. Not when global warming is rectified, or when health insurance costs are reined in. Now. Demand full civil rights now. Join The Dallas Principles today and let us celebrate when we achieve full civil rights.
CEO, The Osburn Network