When the Dust Settles from the Marriage Debate

Cross-posted from my blog, Creative Trouble!

The Marriage Protection Amendment is dead on arrival in the Senate. The debate is a superficial one, more about pandering to conservatives than protecting America. It's pure politics, and what's great is that nearly everyone, left right and center, understands it as such. We may even find that a majority of the Senate ends up voting against - or very close to it. There seems little use in me echoing what has already been said on tons of blogs and media outlets already. Instead, all of us need to think critically about what we've seen, what the prevailing cultural narrative of what's happened offers, and most importantly, about what is to be done when the dust from this week settles.

We need to be sharply critical of the narrative I've recapped above, that "Bush and the GOP are just pandering." That statement is true, but those on the left who promote that narrative need to be careful. What lies beneath that statement is this idea that Bush and the GOP are actually a lot more fair-minded than they seem, but need to pander to the far right of the party in an election year. There's something insidiously exculpatory about this, making Bush and Frist look helpless in the face of an onslaught by rabid fag-bashers. It's a way of rationalizing their actions, such that the gay right can still claim hope for the GOP, rather than recognizing that the vast majority of that party stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the far right of the party on these issues. Bush and Frist have taken sides against our community, whereas Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi (and nearly all the Democrats in the Senate, save Ben Nelson) stand firmly with us. Just as we can't acquit Reagan for his silence on AIDS, we cannot acquit Bush and the GOP for lending their muscle to the same people who sought to kill us all with AIDS and still would like nothing better than for terrorists to blow up every gay bar in America.

Now, perhaps more than ever, we cannot afford to remain on the political fence. We have to take sides. It's true that the Democratic Party is not where it should be on LGBT issues, but abandoning the Democrats is not the solution, as plenty of people have called for in the wake of Howard Dean's recent fuck ups in LGBT community relations.  Such incidents make clear that we can't just always side with the Democratic establishment whenever possible, as the Human Rights Campaign did when it endorsed Joe Lieberman over pro-equal marriage Ned Lamont. But we do have to cast our lots with the Democrats and progressives in general. We have to reject the rhetoric that all the politicians, regardless of their party, take us for granted. We can't afford to be neutral in a culture war that has already had and will continue to have real casualties.

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Gay Marriage - An Open Letter to Social Conservatives

(Originally posted at Deny My Freedom)

Dear Social Conservative,

I come bearing an olive branch from across the ideological aisle.

I know what you are thinking: Why should I listen to anything that a bleeding-heart, liberal traitor like myself has to say about anything.  Trust me, I understand.  I would be asking the same thing if our roles were switched in this whole mess, so please just give me the benefit of the doubt and listen to what I have to say.  The issue I want to discuss is Gay Marriage, and why you need to realize that you are being played like a pawn in Karl Rove's clever game of political chess.

Let me spell this out as simply as possible:  President Bush doesn't care about gay marriage.  He doesn't care about preserving the family.  He doesn't care about social stability in our country.  The only thing he cares about are your votes.  This is my message.  This is my plea.

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Same-sex marriage on PoliticsTV

(Cross posted from Daily Kos.  We just launched the PoliticsTV blog last week.)

The crew at PoliticsTV has spent the past week focusing on issues related to the federal marriage amendment [FYI: Bush's big Federal Marriage Amendment press conference is coming up at 1:45pm ET / 10:45am PT today].  Gay bloggers John Aravosis of AmericaBLOG.com, Addie Stan of AddieStan.com and Terrance Heath of Republic of T all came by PoliticsTV's DC studios over the past few days to share thoughts and rants.

Check out highlights from PoliticsTV.com below the fold.

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The LGBT Movement Can't Go It Alone

Cross-posted at Creative Trouble!

I'd like to respond to this comment left on my last post and this post over at The Malcontent and Robbie.

To put it bluntly: we are fools if we really think we can win the fight for equality all by ourselves. No major movement in the past century that has achieved real, measurable progress has ever done that, and let's face it - our numbers and our political/economic leverage are not so great that we can be the sole champions for our cause. If we are dumb enough to think that we can do the nearly impossible - create a major shift in American culture that not only wins us equal rights and privileges but also makes us true cultural equals viewed as people with dignity who like all people deserve to be free of degradation and violence - all by ourselves, then we will reap no less than we have sown.

But this isn't just about having enough numbers to win. It's about challenging a system and a culture that makes difference - be it racial, ethnic, religious, class, sexual, or gender difference - a cause for fear, hate and violence; a system that devalues not just queer lives, but the lives of all who are othered. It's not enough for us to try to gain power for queers - rather, we must work to challenge the very idea that any group or groups in our society or world should have power over the others. It's that idea that ultimatley binds our cause to other movements for social justice.

It is not enough to merely demand civil rights and a "place at the table," but rather, as black gay activist Keith Boykin put it at the Millenium March, we must "demand a whole new table arrangement that welcomes all those who have been excluded." We must fight, in Boykin's words, "not to gain privilege but to challenge the whole concept of privilege itself." That fight is not won that will be won easily, and certainly not alone.

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My Experience Helping Fair Illinois

(The Anti-gay marriage referendum which has been making the rounds in several states has hit Illinois unfortunately.  The product both of intolerance and cynicism, it has no place on the Illinois Ballot. FairIllinois.org is spear-heading a volunteer effort to check every signature to see if it's legit.)

I was there on Saturday at the FairIllinois Office and went through 20 petitions.

Everyone was in good humor and helped each other -- which is what you'd expect from progressives.  I saw a number of couples come in both gay and straight.  I got there at about one and after the short training by the affable Matt, I hunkered down to work.

The hours of operation are pretty open since there are a lot of these sheets to go through -- over 50,000 I think.  Our job was to go through the list of people who had signed and make sure that their name and address checked out.  Simple enough.

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