Queers + Immigrant Rights + Standing up for Hotel Workers = Justice

Cross-posted at Creative Trouble!

Two things happened this week that could potentially be very important long-term in getting the queer community more engaged on issues of economic justice and the labor and immigrant rights communities more engaged on queer issues.

On Wednesday Matt Foreman, director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, issued this incredible statement on the need for the queer community to support the immigrant rights movement - both because it is the right thing to do and because it will tremendously strengthen the political power of both movements in the long term. The whole statement is worth reading, but this part in particular struck a chord with me:

We need to recognize that the leaders of the forces of political and religious intolerance are not driven primarily by anti-gay animus, even though it often feels that way. Instead, under their frame, anti-choice, anti-environment, anti-welfare, anti-sex, anti-immigrant and anti-LGBT philosophies not only fit together but are all intertwined...Those of us on the other side, however, lack this overarching and elastic frame. We're all desperately fighting defensive battles to protect our own very narrow slices of an ever-diminishing pie. By ignoring Ben Franklin's advice to all hang together, we are most assuredly in imminent danger of hanging separately, each in our own silos.

This is a stark reality for our own community. At between 4-6 percent of the population, we are simply too small to win equality by ourselves. That means we must build alliances and relationships of trust with other communities and causes. Building these kinds of alliances requires more than words, it requires reciprocal work.

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Senator Specter

Senator Specter, you should be ashamed of yourself.  Anyone who tries to use legislation to legalize hate and discrimination embarrasses themselves, those they represent and the Constitution itself.

If this is genuinely a serious issue confronting all Americans, and not a slick political move to stir up a restless base, why did you choose to have the debate essentially behind closed doors?  The American people have a right to know what their representatives are doing in their name.  If this is a bill that you truly oppose, why let it even reach the Senate floor?  Assuming you do not vote for this bill, 12 Democrats have to vote for it to pass.  Good luck.  You know for a fact this amendment has less than no chance of passing the Senate, let alone being ratified by 3/4 of state legislatures.  Why waste the Senate's time?  So you can continue to do nothing and continue to flush more hard-earned taxpayer money down the toilet?

It has been my experience that when people get as mad as you did yesterday (saying "good riddance" to a fellow Senator during a Senate hearing), it usually means you know you are on the wrong side of the argument, even though you may not have had a choice in the matter.  It must be frustrating to be forced into supporting such embarrassing legislation, though Jim Crow did fly for quite some time.I suppose desperate times call for desperate measures.  How does it feel, knowing you will be remembered as the Senator who allowed this hateful amendment to reach the Senate floor?  I didn't think you could sink to the level of the other Senator from your state, and right now, he knows the meaning of desperate. A few more stunts like these, and you might have the same problem as Senator Santorum in a few years.  Do Republicans really stand up for what they believe?  I don't think so.

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Feingold Stages Walkout in Judiciary Committee

From ABC News:

Feingold, Specter Clash Over Gay Marriage
Senators Have Fiery Exchange As Judiciary Committee Approves Amendment Banning Gay Marriage


WASHINGTON May 18, 2006 (AP)-- A Senate committee approved a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage Thursday, after a shouting match that ended when one Democrat strode out and the Republican chairman bid him "good riddance."

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Retaliation from Dean on Gay Issues?

This is messed up:

Democratic Party Chair Howard Dean on May 2 fired the party's gay outreach advisor Donald Hitchcock less than a week after Hitchcock's domestic partner, Paul Yandura, a longtime party activist, accused Dean of failing to take stronger action to defend gays.

Dean immediately hired gay former Democratic Party operative Brian Bond to replace Hitchcock, according to DNC spokesperson Karen Finney, who called Bond a "proven leader."

Bond served from 1996 to 2003 as executive director of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, a bipartisan national group that raises money and provides training to help elect openly gay candidates to public office.

"It was not retaliation," Finney said of Hitchcock's dismissal. "It was decided we needed a change. We decided to hire a proven leader."

Hitchcock declined comment Tuesday night except to confirm that Dean informed him May 2 through a surrogate that he had been terminated. He said he was considering consulting an attorney to decide whether to contest the firing.

"This is retaliation, plain and simple," said Yandura. "This shows what they think about domestic partners."

First of all, Yandura was just speaking the truth, as there is no strategy on gay issues in 2006.  Firing Yandura's partner doesn't actually address that problem.  Second, this just looks really bad.  If you're going to retaliate, do it in a way that's not obvious and clumsy.  And if this isn't retaliation, then wow,  what a bad and clumsy non-retaliation.  And through a surrogate, which is just the cherry on top of a sundae of keystone competence.

Anyway, I guess everyone's entitled to screw up sometimes.  I would just urge us not to just sweep this stuff under the rug, where it stays and festers.

Update: Let me clarify a bit. By 'strategy' I don't mean hugs, I mean a method to combat the anti-gay initiatives coming up on the ballot in states in 2006. These ballots are designed to drive up conservative turn-out. There isn't a strategy for dealing with those ballot measures, and we need one. You may or may not think it's ok to fire someone based on what their spouse says. I happen to find it repulsive, but that's not really the point. (A commenter brings up the savvy point that if you think Hitchcock should be fired for his spouse's comments, then what about James Carville and Mary Matalin?)

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Where's the Strategy on Gay Issues for 2006?

2006 should be a blowout for Democrats.  Given Republican failures, we should easily take back the House and Senate.  Yet Democratic Party leaders are still allowing the Republicans to define the terrain, which means that our chances are totally up in the air.  The GOP is quite public about their election plan, they are going to run on gay adoption and gay marriage, again. They are already taking ethics off the table by suggesting both parties are corrupt, as I said they would, and they are moving to blur the differences on foreign policy.  Democrats are reduced to the 'competence' line, and the Republicans are going to rev up their base with fearful moral values language.  What this means is that while we have huge leads in generic polls, voters may simply pull the lever for their local incumbent.

I asked Rahm Emanuel and Chuck Schumer on a conference call what they are going to do about wedge issues, and their answer was basically 'the Dubai port deal'.  That sounds great, if you can get Bush to try to sell our ports to foreigners in October, 2006.  If you can't, start making another plan.

And let me just point something out.  The immigration rallies should have taught us something - sticking up for your friends and allies is good politics.  I got this email from Paul Yandura recently to this effect.

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