Phil Reese

The time to demand unequivocal Progressive support

Filed By Phil Reese | November 09, 2009 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: DOMA, Don't Ask Don't Tell, ENDA, lefties, lgbt issue, liberals, progressives, recruitment, straight allies, UAFA

I think everyone's already put their two cents in on 'Maine'--including myself and Maggie Gallagher. Certainly we're not all on the same page on marriage, but what happened in Maine was a demoralizing defeat for a lot of people. The same-sex couples in Maine in desperate need of legal protections for their relationships, and the young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender teens who had to endure severe and dehumanizing scrutiny in the media are the folks I feel worst for. I feel sort of bad for our whole Progressive movement too.

Our movement is easily distracted. We are a broad and curious umbrella of causes. We are united by a common proclivity toward supporting society's greater good, equality and justice and building on rights, access and protections for people rather than limiting them. The form that this progress ought come in, however, seems to often be very different depending on who you ask. The Progressive "Movement" is almost a misnomer. We're not all on the same page.

If you're an active ally, I thank you for standing with me. So many Progressives, though, simply don't understand why they should focus on this issue. I need your help convincing them.

Follow me here, after the jump...

Truth be told, I'm more progressive than I let on, but far less passionate about non-LGBT Progressive issues than I'd like to be. I want freedom of choice for women, universal health care, equal pay for all, measures to stop Climate Change, an end to the war--and all wars for that matter--Education Reform, Drug Policy reform, stronger anti-trust laws and enforcement against big business and a little less worship of the free market... but if its not news on ENDA/UAFA passage or DADT & DOMA repeals, it mostly flies below my radar.

Matter of fact, that's how many Progressives are with LGBT issues like ENDA. We're off their radar. So many of us in the LGBT community--myself included--have noted tons since Tuesday that we're shocked our Progressive friends didn't know about the vote in Maine. Shocked? At this point why should it be a surprise that non-LGBT people aren't focused on every little thing that happens to us queers? We don't invite our Progressive friends to care at all. We're afraid of coming on too strong, seeming self-centered.

I'm sick of tiptoeing around it. In my immediate situation, Question One was not going to disrupt the law, yet I was heavily invested in Maine--in time and finance--and was deeply effected emotionally by the loss there. Who in the LGBT community doesn't see every "Yes" vote as a subtle little vote against our very humanity and existence? I don't plan on getting married tomorrow, nor was I ever planning to do so in Maine, but I know what people were voting for was to shut me up and push me back into the closet.

Greater Movement, And How We Fit

Health Care reform is going to fundamentally reshape our nation, and effect all of us in many ways, but in reality, the group of folks that it will make the most immediate change for is probably a size of the population not too much larger than the LGBT population. There's about 30,000,000 of us. This will immediately provide coverage for about that many un- or under-insured. Why should we care about this? Because its the right thing to do.

I've been uninsured in the past, but I'm insured now. In fact I have very good insurance as a member of the graduate student union. This bill is not going to change my coverage. It may make it a little better, but I'm not going to notice much difference.

This is not in fact the case for many people, though. For many people their lives will be monumentally improved--if not saved--by this legislation. I'm just not one of them. However, I've been supporting, fighting for, and staying abreast on Health Care for years--I've written letters, talked to my Senators... I've been an advocate for a long time.

Same with anti-war actions, anti-racism efforts, environmental efforts, and anti-domestic violence efforts. I've been there; and I've been there, simply, because I've been called on to do so. The leaders in these movements have made it very clear that if you're really a progressive, you must show action on these issues.

LGBT leaders, on the other hand, have never been so bold.

In a way, we're still a little afraid to come out of the closet. We make apologies for our Progressive friends: "There are more important things." And, "there are bigger fish to fry."

We can't apologize anymore for Progressives who--while our rights are put up to popular vote--stay at home and wish us luck but don't lift a finger to write their lawmakers, or phone a friend on the fence and demand they become an LGBT ally. These allies are allies in name only, and very recent history has proven that's not enough. As other leaders in the Progressive movement have refused to accept complacency from Progressives, we too must push harder, be bolder, and demand more action from our allies.

A Call To Action: Allies and Potential Allies

I need you to come with me--or even go on your own power--to tell your lawmaker why they don't have your vote unless they become tough and aggressive allies of their LGBT constituents on ENDA, DOMA repeal, UAFA, and DADT repeal.

I need you to recruit more allies--tell your friends that LGBT equality IS a big issue for you: its a matter of fairness, justice and equality. Ask them: if we continue to deny equal rights to a huge group of Americans, despite our promise in the Declaration of Independence of the Equality of All, how can we possibly begin to fix our other problems, let alone the problems of the world?

We need to demand that the Progressive movement make this a priority. Queers have been working with them for years, and will continue to fight alongside, but we can't give our all to the greater fight if we have to do the work of five people ourselves to advocate for our own equality.

Lets start finding four people each--four people who support LGBT rights, but haven't done anything about it. Let's get them active and focused, and send them out to find four more people too. Soon, lawmakers will have heard from a majority of their constituents in favor of equality, and they will have no choice but to advance the bills that will make all Americans equal.

Where to begin

Please watch my video, and then visit the link mentioned to view more resources about how to become an LGBT ally. Post the video everywhere, and spread the word. Leave comments and let me know how others can engage more allies. Email me if you have any comments, questions or suggestions. Most important, get out and vote, write Letters to the Editor in favor of LGBT rights, and meet with your local, state and national lawmakers and demand they support the bills listed with the resources.

When you've done that, stand with me and demand that other Progressives do the same. Once we're all Equal, we will be able to get so much more done. Thanks for standing with me.


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You're so much more hopeful than I am. Did you see how women were thrown under the bus this weekend? Sheesh. You'd think they were a cottage industry asking for a subsidy, the way the House bartered away their access to reproductive health care. And there are more than 30M women in this country.

I think that progressives do take LGBT issues seriously. I think we have more to worry about when it comes from the liberal/centrist/conservative-but-vote-Democrat-because-the-GOP-is-nuts crew. The ones that aren't really anti-war, just anti-the iraq war a few years too late. The ones who are in favor of universal health care, but not health care that's too affordable.

And I don't really know what to say about that. Yes, keep on coming out and speaking out. But the entire system seems broken, the whole game rigged.


you know where i stand, phil.
and i'll never sit down until this is done.

alex; sorry, the numbers don't add up.
the donations and the phone-banking and the house-parties and the collaring people in the streets is not happening with the same fervor and the money is not as forthcoming for GLBTQ rights as it is for, let's say, healthcare.

solid healthcare reform is desperately needed for all of us, but there is no damn reason the same energies can't go into equal rights -also desperately needed, of course.

'progressives' are 'supportive' but,dammit, it's often a bit too close to the president's soggy cereal definition of 'fierce advocate'.

much, much more has to be gotten out of the str8 progressive community: time for them to put their tuchkes affen tisch, (yiddish for 'put their ass on the table')

i know from where i speak, because i'm a progressive str8 ally.


Thank you so much for standing with us! You're amazing!