I wanted to apologize that I haven’t been my usual active blogger self these last few days. I am in the midst of two weeks of hell on earth in terms of testing and sleeping patterns; this past weekend’s a”gayest two days on earth” did not help at all, though I had fun.
This is something large LGBT groups don’t seem to have grasped quite yet. For decades, their strategy was to win over straight America by convincing them that “we’re just like you.” It’s not a bad strategy, but the protesters and grassroots groups have come up with a better one: “We don’t care if you like us, but you must treat us as equals.” Unfortunately, the institutional weight of large LGBT rights groups have made it difficult for them to adapt to this new environment, as we saw last week in their tepid non-responses to New York Gov. David Paterson’s gay marriage bill announcement. Rather than supporting the move, most expressed a fear that it would not pass.
The underlying message was “We don’t want to disappoint people when it doesn’t happen.” This is a well-meaning but patronizing response; even a loss would be a win for the gay community. Why?
Frankly, we have little to lose.
First of all, I have this one thing to say about Gov. Paterson: on the one hand, thank you saying it — why not just propose the bill and lose? We try again next year. For that, he inspires me. On the other hand, I wonder if he would be such an adamant supporter of equal marriage if he weren’t falling so far down in the polls.
Second of all, there’s a lot of the world muttering about us having “turned a corner.” A lot of pundits (including me, at times) are suggesting that the fight is being won, after so many years of loss. And, though I am heartened and excited about the great news coming in from all over the country, and though I expect we will see probably 1-3 more states go marriage-friendly before 2010 (mostly in New England), we need not get ahead of ourselves.
We live in Ohio — in the political morass of “middle America.” We are the definition of the swing state. We neither jump ahead of social change, nor do we fall too far behind. We are equally red, and we are equally blue. We have a DOMA, but no protections in employment in housing. We have a smattering of municipalities with protections and DP Registries, but infinitely more with nothing at all. We have abortion, but we don’t like it. We supported the Iraq war, but now we’re not so sure. Our economy got hit pretty hard, but not as bad as, say, Michigan or West Virginia. We’re a lot of white, but we have a large African-American population, and growing Hispanic numbers. Meth and AIDS are here, but not so much as to be the public health disaster like Florida.
In short: we, as a national community, haven’t turned the corner until Ohio turns the corner. I don’t think we can honestly say we have an absolute win until we start overturning DOMA’s in the Midwest. That’s when we know it will be time to say, “Yes, we can.”
A few wins in New England, me thinks, is equivocable to the far right pushing Intelligent Design in the schoolrooms of Alabama. It’s to be expected.
And on a slightly lighter note, here’s a fun picture of a half naked boy and a link where you can see more (some NSFW):
Deep thought, then shallow motives. You know me.