Andrew Belonsky

Gay Rights Needs to Roll with Weed Reform

Filed By Andrew Belonsky | June 13, 2010 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: gay rights, HIV/AIDS, medical marijuana, News

Ganja, like gay rights, has fueled innumerable social battles, and both continue to inflame massive amounts of Americans. pinkpotplant.jpg

In abstract terms, medical marijuana and gay rights aren't that different. They're both fine examples of federalism: gay equality has civil unions, employment non-discrimination, and a rare marriage law, while medical marijuana contest decriminalization, legalization, dispensaries and taxation.

For all these subtle parallels, though, these cultural campaigns have their fair share of differences. But those differences aren't insurmountable. They may actually be assets, and I bet that if gay and pot advocates threw into a coalition, both movements could reach new highs.

It's more than likely that medical marijuana will sweep the nation before same-sex marriage. There are a few factors playing into this prediction. Most obviously, influential baby boomers are changing their minds: according to a recent Pew poll, only 30% of people over 65 say they oppose medicinal legalization, and only 20% of Americans between 50 and 64 say the same. A whopping 73% of Americans answer in the affirmative when asked about potential reform.

The Internet also helps raise awareness and spread the word to younger generations. And then there's the business angle. "Business terms helps build reception for people," said Matt Brown, Executive Director of Coloradans for Medical Marijuana Regulation. "Build regulations on other business codes, like state alcohol codes." Yet, for all the proven economic benefits of gay marriage, they're not nearly as tangible, or plentiful, as those made by curative herb: legalization in California this November could bring in $1.4 billion. More notably, medical marijuana doesn't come with heaps of moral baggage.

The arguments about medical cannabis and gay rights are both culture wars, although of far different breeds. The war on drugs stems from what fellow Bilerico contributor Joe Mirabella described as "remnants of anti-war versus war establishment. The war on drugs is fueled by a military machine." Thus, gay policing often falls into the hands of the religious right, which are far more comfortable attacking same-sex affairs than bongs and blunts.

It's virtually impossible take down sticky icky from a moral perspective. Not that the right doesn't sometimes try: Evangelical leader Scott Lively told radio host and Fox News man Alan Colmes this year that homosexuality should be punished with small fines, just like "decriminalized" dope. It's a cumbersome fit, for no one knows how to scale from a hand-job up to intercourse.

Aside from the comparative argument's awkwardness, the humanitarian aspects of medical marijuana carry a lot of weight. "It's good that medical marijuana doesn't have religious blockade," said Brown. "Many Christians understand the 'compassionate' argument." It's certainly not very Christ-like to allow others to suffer when their pain could be remedied, and states can make a buck in the process. Still, that doesn't mean everyone wants to hop on the weed bandwagon.

As with homosexuality, there's still a potent taboo hovering above marijuana. People may support it, but that doesn't mean they're ready to come out and say it. "A problem with the marijuana movement is that previously it was a taboo subject: people didn't want others to think they smoked," asserted Mirabella. And this taboo has impacted potential coalitions. Asked whether he and his peers had reached out, Brown from CMMR said "yes," although didn't name any names: "A lot of people say, 'we appreciate it, but don't want to be a part of it." This shortsighted thinking only hurts gay rights.

The positive implications of teaming with marijuana advocates far outweigh the bummers. Again, young people are joining the first for marijuana reform, and those young people could help bolster the next generation of gay rights. "Progressives need to wake up and play nice with these coalitions," says activist and consultant Jay Lassiter. "It's strategically good because marijuana reform activists likely won't vote against us." Then there are the boomers and Christians: weed wafts between political circles and could very well bring divergent ideological groups together like a modern-day piece pipe. Geographic patterns too may be a boon. A number of states like Maine, New Jersey and California have simultaneously tackled both debates. And marijuana often comes out on top: last November, in Maine, reefer reform won on the ballot, while gay marriage lost. California, meanwhile, may very well pass marijuana legalization in a state that infamously criminalized gay marriage. But if there's strength in numbers there's even more power in the symbolic pragmatism.

I originally started this article back in December. Keeping with the spirit of the subject, I took some time to put "pen" to "paper," largely because my direction had completely changed over the course of interviews and research and I put it on the back burner. I had originally hoped to ruminate on the aforementioned federalism and the legal side of the gay and marijuana movements. The ties, I found, are far deeper, and frame the green stuff in a decidedly lavender lens. "Fostering ties would be good for both sides," insisted Mirabella, "especially in terms of HIV."

MPP's Mirkin also cited the HIV/AIDS link. "I had been a freelance health reporter and hung around with AIDS activists," he explained of his early days in the field. "As I got into the issue and looking at research, I became more and more appalled by how dishonest our government was being." Lassiter too referenced the nasty retrovirus: "A lot of activists cut their teeth during the AIDS crisis. Marijuana reform is part of that heritage, a growth." Joining the medical marijuana movement could be homage to LGBT pioneers who went before us and laid the ground for gay rights in the first place.

Weed may be a simple plant, but its influence shouldn't be discounted: it has been employed medicinally for centuries, inspired countless artists, visual as well as aural, and accounts for nearly half of Doritos's sales. Nor should pot's political heft go untapped: weed did, after all, contribute to an entire counter-culture that helped oppose the Vietnam War. It could again prove a potent weapon in social battles on the horizon. If administered correctly, of course, and with moderation: neither movement wants to lose sight of its ultimate goals. But that doesn't mean they can't get together for a progressive jam session every once in a while.

Image via Thor's Flickr.


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I disagree. Well, that is I disagree with the attempted linkage between gay rights and marijuana legalization efforts. I myself support the legalization, heavy regulation and taxation of pot, but not because I'm gay. The two have nothing to do with each other and the links you attempt to draw are tenuous at best. We can tie our efforts to every little cause out there, which we have been doing for quite awhile now, which may result in some publicity and minor successes but overall is a distraction. Groups for these other causes are usually glad to accept help from all sources but are rarely there for gay rights when it counts. Besides, we lose some folks who might be sympathetic to gay rights but may be opposed to the issue we link to not to mention it hands yet another weapon to the anti-gay opposition to attack us with. Factor in that you alienate segments of the gay population itself when such dissimiliar causes are continuously linked together and this is a bad idea.

Kathy Padilla | June 13, 2010 10:33 AM

Seems unlikely as a close coaltion for lgbt folks. For lbg folks - since Lawrence v Texas you're not trying to repeal laws making something illegal. For trans folks - the closest parrellel might be ....if medical treatment or gender expression were illegal. Neither currently are. I suppose one could look at coverage issues under insurance, but it's hard to see a piece of legislation both groups could put forth.

LGBT folks arguments that lead to goverment solutions that are inimical to a main argument on the pot issue, which is libertarian to a large degree. Nondiscrim laws, hate crimes laws, passport policies, government funding for HIV research & treatment, getting ride of private insurers restrictions on Transgender related care - they all conflict with a strong libertarian philosophy.

Doesn't mean folk can't support each other; but I don't see a a close coalition developing.

Kathy Padilla | June 13, 2010 10:37 AM

Posting from my phone these days - please excuse format sp errors.

As an LGBT community we often forget we are part of a larger Progressive community. Sometimes we need to form coalitions simply because it is the right thing to do. With prison overcrowding, drastic budget deficits, and the nation's largest cash crop sold untaxed on a black market -- as a Progressive community it is time we stand up and call for smart public policy. States like Washington, California, and Oregon are considering legalization initiatives this year. California's will likely pass with the support of the majority of voters, legislators, and even Governor Schwarzenegger.


Great piece Andrew. I hope it is just the beginning of a larger conversation with the LGBT community.


I disagree Joe. We only need the existing majority that supports equality to stand with us. We compromise our equality every time we seek to gain friends by embracing their issues. It isn't necessary to build "coalitions" for our very simple issue.

Calling the LGBT struggle for equality a "progressive Movement" isn't helpful, either. It isn't based on political ideology, it is based on the human principle of equality. It's a very simple "yes" or "no" and everyone is welcome to join us, from Progressive to Conservative wing-nuts. We jeopardize that by adding "Legalize Now!" to the mix.

But, if we can buy some support with Doritos and donuts, tell me where to send the check.

AndrewW, I agree entirely. Partly for these same reasons, I think we should never lump in other unrelated minorities such as transgender people with the work of gay civil rights organizations.

You are forgetting Joe that, if exit polls are to be believed, at least a quarter of gays do not consider themselves to be part of the larger "Progressive community" and reject such attempts to link gay rights issues with the panoply of other items on the Democrat agenda. Factor in that even some gay liberals do not agree with every linkage that's attempted and that's a sizeable amount of the gay community lost to such efforts.

To add: I would also dispute the idea that the medical marijuana community or even the larger pro-decriminalisation/legalisation of marijuana community identifies as progressive/liberal. Is there any affirmative polling data that indicates otherwise, and that's not based in, say, Seattle, Manhattan or Los Angeles? I've spoken to a number of medical/general marijuana folks over the years and, frankly, some of them are a scary lot when it comes to race, sexuality, and economic issues. And I'm one of those who supports legalisation.

And then there's the fact that gay marriage (which appears to be only "gay right" being discussed here) is increasingly not seen as "countercultural" - in fact, it's more likely to be supported by conservatives and liberals precisely because it is seen as the opposite, a movement that affirms the most conservatives ideologies at play.

Agreed that many of those movements have leaders who might be progressive on their own issues, but backward on others--like ours. And the same can go for ours. We have many leaders who clearly push hard for our community's stated agenda (whatever that agenda seems to be) but are in the last century on race, gender, military and law issues.

Some of the most racist white people I've met, I've met in LGBT organizations and at Pride festivals. In fact, THE most openly racist man I've ever had a conversation with in my life was at Chicago Pride last year. It was nauseating.

I agree with Joe that we really need to be better progressives all around--we need to work harder to stay conscious and active in other issues, especially immigration, workers' rights, prisoners' rights, and law enforcement issues.

However, here's what I see is really the problem here. We already have filled the membership rolls of the big organizations in many of these movements. However, though I know queer folk who work hard on immigration issues, racial equality and advancement issues, healthcare issues and law enforcement issues, they tend to be VERY closeted about their own issues in these "progressive" circles.

When I talk to these folks about our issues, they often dismiss the need to fight for our community's rights. And I'm just talking about equality issues, not liberation, I'm pretty Conservative in those regards! Our equality seems to make some of these folks uncomfortable, and I suspect that there is a little bit of internalized homophobia here. I don't know for sure, but I suspect my queer "progressive" friends working in other movements are afraid to have conversations within those movements about their rights as queer Americans, because they're afraid of how those conversations will go down.

I'll be more specific. I have a friend who works with workers' rights--something I'm really supportive of, being from Detroit, a proud Union town. Folks he works with know he's gay, but its not something he talks about with them, and he refuses to facilitate any coalition building between our organizations, because LGBT equality is low on his list of priorities. My suspicion is, however, that deep down, he's afraid of how those conversations will turn. He does not want to single himself out. He does not want to get alienated. He does not want to risk those good relationships he has, even though those good relationships are so obviously based on the fact that he lays low, stays quiet and doesn't make waves.

My point here--and I do have one--is that we DO have to start getting more vocally involved in the greater Progressive movement--on an individual basis on our own initiative--but more vocally involved means being vocal and visible. We need to be 'ballsy' and make those waves. When we get involved in the rights of undocumented immigrants--something that I think more of us should be moved to get involved with--I think we should do all we can to move that movement forward, but while we're there, we need to be clear that we're queer, we don't have the same rights as the rest of Americans, and that we need full 100% support and commitment from our friends in THAT movement to help change that.

So Joe, I think you're right, but its not JUST that we get involved and step up in the greater Progressive movement, its HOW we do so. We need to do so without fear, shame, or compromise. We must be unabashedly queer when we're pushing for these other non-explicitly LGBT issues.

I do think, however, that these "Progressive priorities" ought to be selected on an individual basis. Joe, your politics and mine are probably about as in line as you can get, but I'm sure there are some progressive issues that you care deeply about that are less important to me, and vice versa.

I feel like I'm very left on most issues, but I know that Yasmin does not consider me left enough, and has good arguments proving that I'm downright conservative. Though Yasmin and I agree that change must occur in our world to make it better for LGBT people, we disagree on the mode by which that change needs to come about, about what change is needed, and how it will take shape. What is a "progressive priority" for Yasmin is not for me. What is a "progressive priority" for me is right of center for Yasmin. Doesn't make either of us wrong (well, Yasmin might disagree with that ;-)) it just shows that the progressive coalition is a very broad and complex coalition and agreeing on a slate we should all start taking up would be impossible.

Whatever we choose to get involved with, however, we must not forget to demand empathy, respect and advocacy on our behalf. Our priorities are low on many folks' lists, and these folks feel they have good reason to keep us low on the list, but we must not accept that. We must start demanding that LGBT equality be a top priority for the progressive movement, no matter what.

We should get involved with what we are each individually passionate about, however when we do, be fucking queer at it. Be as queer as you can be!

Several years ago a panel of top UK scientists compiled a report on twenty recreational drugs, including heroin, cocaine, barbiturates, alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, MDMA (ecstasy) and alkyl nitrites (poppers), listing them in terms of the economic, social and physical & mental health problems they cause. The first four I listed were all in the top five; tobacco was in the top ten; MDMA (which is class A, the same as heroin and cocaine) was second from bottom, one place above poppers. Alcohol, a legal drug, was fourteen places higher up the list than MDMA, a class A drug. The report's publication simply confirmed what many British drug users had long suspected: that the UK's drugs laws are based on social prejudice, not scientific fact. The result was that on drugs issues they now pay far more attention to the government advisors (many of whom were involved in compiling the report) than politicians.

Shortly before the UK general election last month a relatively new street drug, mephedrone (with is different from methodone, a drug used in some countries for heroin addiction) caused a fairly big scandal because it had been linked to several deaths and injuries. The truth? No-one (as far as I can find out) had died and the injuries (which included one person ripping his own balls off) were entirely fictitious, a satire on how drug users thought they were seen by the "Daily Mail Reader" types (less-extreme equivalents of Freepers or Wing Nut Daily readers). Their perceptions of others' preconceptions turned out to be pretty accurate, since the stories were taken to be true. The result was a crack-down on Mephedrone, and several other street drugs, not covered by the UK's drugs laws, are already moving in to take its place.

Mephedrone first became popular because of a crack-down on cocaine and MDMA (ecstasy) which resulted in a fairly major shortage and a spike in prices. Now there's a crack-down on mephedrone, a spike in prices, and a shift to other drugs. With each new drug that appears there'll be a crack-down, and a shift to a new drug. The senior government advisors were already in open revolt over government policy before the mephedrone scandal, and although they've not actually said it, there's been strong hint of "ignore the government's line on street drugs" reading between the lines of comments from certain current and former advisors, many of whom have quit over the government's handling of mephedrone, cannabis and other drugs.

Part of the advisors' problem with the government's stance is that the risks of cocaine and MDMA are known, but the risks associated with mephedrone and its successors are not. The government, understandably, wants to discourage people from taking these drugs, however their handling of the entire situation has been flawed right from the start and this is hampering their efforts. Because the law is known to be based on prejudices, rather than on facts, drug users don't take much notice of what the government says about drugs, and so ignore the warnings given about the very real dangers of new and unknown psychoactives. So instead of stopping drug use, the UK government is encouraging the use of drugs which could have any number of unknown and dangerous short- and long-term damaging effects, instead of drugs with risks that are well known to both scientists and drug users.

Eventually a seriously dangerous drug is going to hit the streets, a large number of people will die or be seriously injured, and people will want answers. Until then the British government is, quite literally, playing Russian Roulette with its citizens lives.

Kathy Padilla | June 14, 2010 10:57 AM

"Eventually a seriously dangerous drug is going to hit the streets"

That happened. Fortunately – it hit so quickly that it didn’t effect a large population. NOVA had a special on “The Case of The Frozen Addicts” years ago:

Case of the Frozen Addict (The)
In July 1982, a 42-year-old addict in a San Jose, California jail became paralyzed—unable to move or talk. His symptoms, caused by a bad batch of synthetic heroin, were indistinguishable from those associated with Parkinson's disease, a degenerative nerve disorder that strikes the elderly. NOVA traces the story of a "designer" drug which could lead to a major medical breakthrough.
Original broadcast date: 02/18/86
Topic: medicine/disease & research

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/2035477/the_frozen_addicts_a_sad_contribution.html

http://www.amazon.com/Case-Frozen-Addicts-William-Langston/dp/0679424652

Of course - pot in no way meets the definition of a seriously dangerous drug. It's less dangerous than many that are legal.

I want to burn a joint (or six) with: Yasmin Nair, Andrew Belonsky, Joe Mirabella and Jay Lassiter. I'll bet that would be one helluva conversation.

AndrewW, you can come hang out too but if you just start going on and on about how you have better stuff, but you left it at home so you can't share any, but it's still much, much, much better than the stuff we're smoking now, we're gonna end up telling you to get lost and stop harshing the buzz. :)

I'll bring some, but it's still growing.

crescentdave crescentdave | June 14, 2010 12:04 AM

No, gay rights doesn't need to "roll" with weed reform. I don't think it would help focus in on LGBTQ issues. I sure think it would help focus on marijuana legalization issues though.

I also think it approaches insulting to fashion an equivalence of sorts to something that is just a personal recreational preference to something which is an integral part of being. I, of course, am not talking about medical marijuana, which seems to have an ever-increasing number of organizations, politicians and citizenry supporting it.

Personally I have no issue with the legitimate use of marijuana for chronic pain or use by terminally ill patients.But I do have an issue with the people pushing medical marijuana.Most of the ones I've seen are in it to use others pain and suffering to soften all marijuana laws something I don't support. A policy that I believe is sorely needed within the lgbt rights community is a KISS strategy (keep it simple stupid.)Another words recognize we all have different views on outside the lgbt rights issues.Focus on the issues that only pertain to us as a group and avoid the devisive ones.I'm not saying it's wrong or improper for someone to express support for an outside issue but that it is wrong to attach the lgbt as a whole to it.

I think the link between LGBT rights and medical marijuana (or even recreational marijuana) becomes clearer when you look at both issues through the lens of government imposition of morality. The government's ban on medical marijuana has little to do with science and is more wrapped up in conservative attitudes towards this particular drug and outdated ideas leftover from the drug war, which ignorantly depict any and all marijuana use as "bad." Similarly, laws such as adoption bans aimed at LGBT people and same-sex couples are not based in science, almost all of which says children of gay and straight parents are equally likely to succeed, but instead use government to impose a moral viewpoint that homosexuality is inherently wrong. While the two are not as tightly tied together as, say, LGBT rights and reproductive freedom, they are both in the same universe of attempts by the government to impose its version of morality.

AndrewW: When you write "it isn't necessary to build 'coalitions,'" it makes me PTL that you aren't in charge of any organization that's actually working on our issues. Coalitions are the only way we're gonna get our issues solved. See Kyrsten Sinema's amazing book Unite and Conquer: How to Build Coalitions that Win and Last if you want to open your mind a bit.

I think you should do some math, Sam. Coalitions are rife with problems and difficult to maintain because of competing interests. We only need people that support and will stand with us for equality. That is currently about 65% of all adult Americans - no coalition required. It is a simple yes/no issue.

Create that majority and you no longer need all other political efforts. Krysten Sinema in "Unite and Conquer" shows how the future of the "progressive movement" is to be found in unity, alignment and partnership, or your political "coalition building." The LGBT Movement is NOT the "progressive movement."

All of your LGBT Advocacy organizations have been building coalitions for 40 years. They've never recognized the value of transforming us from a numerical minority to a powerful majority. PTL some more, I suppose?

I would much rather have 170 million of our fellow citizens standing with us than your coalition-strategy of trying to negotiate support. the support is already there, we just need to demonstrate it.

Coming soon.

Dude, how is 170-million Americans, most of them non-LGBT, working together NOT a coalition?

Inform yourself: LGBT orgs have NOT been working in coalition for 40 years. In fact, most of them have been notorious for not working together with other organizations that share common goals. Only a few have done good, or any, work on this front.

And as for "coming soon?" Details please, or you're just another troll.

I didn't say anything about "working together." 170 million people and one issue "equality."

co·a·li·tion

Function: noun
Etymology: French, from Latin coalescere
Date: 1604

1 a : the act of coalescing : union b : a body formed by the coalescing of originally distinct elements : combination

2 : a temporary alliance of distinct parties, persons, or states for joint action

I didn't suggest coalition, it isn't necessary. LGBT Advocacy Organizations have been trying to form political coalitions forever. Do you Remember the Rainbow Coalition?

"Troll," huh? Good for you.

I agree - pot legality should be reexamined in light of the fact that alky-hol is a whole lot worse for your health and more addictive - but I always wonder what these coalitions are supposed to look like. Is HRC supposed to be lobbying Congress to loosen pot regulations? Or are people like me supposed to leave blog comments about pot?

If so, done and done.

You have Kobe Bryant shouting out the word Faggot...then again with the jets guy and David Tyree speaking out against Gay Marriage...and of course you have Tracey Morgan being downright hateful against gays and there are no ramifications. Even the sight of Weiner's Weiner has brought down a Congressman. Are people that afraid of Gays in this day and age? Well Marc Freden, too, has been given pause with the issue.

As a gay man, even he feels the need to apologize for the blatant use of the word "Faggot" in his new book "REALLY!?!" Now Freden using the "F" word should get a tacit pass...much like black people using the "N" word to describe themselves. His harmless use of the word...(And you must read the book to understand) has lead him to a video mea culpa on YouTube "Marc Freden Must Apologize to the Gay Community".

Furthermore, Freden has pledged that if Kobe Bryant can be fined $50,000 then he too should pay a price. A percentage of every book sold as a result of his apology will go to the Trevor Project - a gay hot line for distressed teens looking for a voice of calm and understanding. It is the least he can do. Who will join Freden in this cause?
http://www.really-marcfreden.com/pdf/penisenvy.pdf

Sorry for jumping in 15 months late, but as Co-Author of the California Compassionate Use Act of 1996 (Proposition 215) and the founder and former President of Southern California's first medical marijuana cooperative cultivation project on the one hand, and an out, gay, legally married (July 25, 2008), United Methodist pastor (in a denomination that forbids all four) on the other hand, I feel compelled to comment, if for no other reason than as an auto-reality check for the homo-pot coalition of one that resides between my ears.

I think Andrew is on to something in observing certain similarities and mutually useful strategies among the two movements although I'm not sure it's the something that he thinks he's onto.

The simple fact is a coalition between weed and homos isn't necessary because we are already over represented in the weed world four our raw numbers. Particularly in California, where the medical marijuana struggle was initiated and driven forward by gay folks responding to the AIDS crisis, a coalition would almost be redundantly inbred.

The whole notion of medical use arose almost organically in the early days of the pandemic as AIDS patients and their friends noticed pretty quickly that pot helped them keep down the mega-doses of AZT and DDI that would ultimately kill them (great irony number 1). When some 700 mostly California AIDS patients applied for legal access to US Government stores of cannabis through the Compassionate IND Program, the system melted down and was eventually closed by King George the 1st because it was never designed to actually provide care in such volume but rather as a mechanism for handling a dozen or so legal anomalies.

It was the same groundswell of outrage toward government indolence to which ACT UP was responding only with med mar it was in the criminal context of Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No" escalation of the War On Drugs. Here the Reagan Administration couldn't even bring themselves to mention the word AIDS, Big Pharma had its head squarely up its ass, and marijuana arrests were sky-rocketing to all time highs, sending countless AIDS patients into court to defend their use of the one thing that brought relief from the horrible symptoms of the disease and the its treatments.

Cannabis buyer's clubs emerged as a hybrid model of the early AIDS buyer's club that were importing any and all promising therapies they could get their hands on. When push came to shove it was gay folks who had the "stones" for such an in your face approach to policy reform. First, do the right thing. Second, change the law.

By 1990, with our friends literally dropping like flies, a pot bust in San Francisco at the home of Dennis Peron -- the Castro's most notorious pot dealer and a longtime confidante of Harvey Milk. Peron had been busted plenty of times over the years, but this time was different. With his lover Jonathan West suffering on the witness stand in the end stages of AIDS -- a scene no civilized society could accept -- the California Medical Marijuana movement was born.

After Jonathan died, Dennis collected 12,000 signatures to place Proposition "P" on the 1991 General Election ballot in San Francisco, which to everyone's surprise but Denis' passed with 79.7% support. It was during that campaign - in September - that an old friend of Peron's named "me" called Denis for a lawyer referral after losing his marijuana plants, which he used for epilepsy, to the federally funded C.A.M.P. helicopters.

After expressing my substantial fear as a school teacher, and having NEVER been arrested before, Peron said "Scott, we don't have time to be afraid. Our people are dying and nobody's gonna do this for us. Besides you're gonna be too busy collecting signatures in Santa Cruz to be afraid. And sure enough one year later, in November 1992, Central Coast voters adopted Measure "A' by 77.1%

I remember a meeting in Santa Cruz shorty after the second county-wide initiative had passed, when a straight women said, "Marijuana reform needs to take a page from the gay play-book. We all have to "come out" as pot smokers."

So you see, Andrew, calling for a coalition of gay folks and the medical marijuana movement would be somewhat akin to a coalition between the passengers on the Mayflower and the Pilgrims. Why, when they are us.

And if you'll allow me a word on the notion of "coalition(s)".
Coalitions are great when they are single issue focused or of short duration for a given campaign or event. Long term coalitions though, particularly as described here in people's responses all too often take on the worst attributes of identity politics, with its competitive victimhood fighting over scraps from "massa's table." And the alternative is the equally grim throwback to the mutual backscratching of the smoke-filled room. The hell with the merits of any given issue, I'll support your cause BECAUSE you supported mine.

At the end of the day you've got a "bridge to nowhere."

Ultimately, no one else can save us. Social change is just plain hard work. There are no silver bullets. That's not to say where mutual interest converge we shouldn't be in coalition. But coalitions aren't the answer, but rather just another question on the long road to social justice for all people.

Grace and Peace,
pastor scott.