FIGHT OR FLIGHT by Josh Aterovis - continued
I'm still trying to absorb the idea that we're stuck with Bush for another four years.
It just doesn't seem possible. How could this have happened? There's no telling how much
damage he can do in that time. Now that the elections are over, he may ease up on pushing
for the federal marriage amendment, but a Republican Congress will keep reintroducing it
and he definitely will not oppose it. In addition, a Republican controlled Congress
almost guarantees the continuing failure of measures like the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA)
and hate crime legislation. The most frightening prospect is that Bush will almost certainly
get to appoint several Supreme Court justices during his next term. Based on his past judicial
picks, we can expect his choices to be of the extreme conservative variety. Those appointments
will leave ripples of repercussions for generations to come.
With these realizations, my first thought was to start packing for Canada. Then I
realized I'd be abandoning my country in its time of need. I would never do that
to a friend, how could I do that to the country I love despite its obvious flaws?
So if flight isn't an option that only leaves fight.
The time has come to take off the gloves. We can no longer afford to play nice.
We can not simply roll over and play dead for the next four years. Now more than
ever, the LGBT community will have to stand up and demand equality and justice.
We will have to continue the fight for rights that should already be ours in courts
of law, in our states, in our communities, in our schools, in our workplace, and
even in our families. If you're not already out, then the first step you can take
in the fight is to fling open the closet doors and join the forces. You can't defend
yourself or others from the closet. As Dan Furmansky, executive director of Equality
Maryland, said in his letter of encouragement on Wednesday, "Our visibility is our power."
The Oregon marriage amendment battle proved that visibility and education do make
a difference. While Oregon's anti-gay marriage amendment did pass, it only just
barely managed to do so. When the Oregon campaign started, polls said the amendment
would carry by twenty-seven points. According to projections, the final tally will
be 54% to 46%, a difference of a mere eight points. That means the effort to
defeat the amendment moved the electorate by nineteen points in less than three
months. "The Oregon results clearly show that we can win hearts and votes when
we have the resources to reach voters and speak to them directly about marriage
and why it matters to gay people," said Matt Foreman, executive director of the
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF).
Visibility is a key element in the struggle for equality, as is education, but
with an antagonistic government actively working to ensure discrimination against
the LGBT community, we will have to fight for our rights. We may have lost a major
battle, but the war is far from over.
While the bad news seems to be overshadowing all else, not all news from Tuesday's
election was dismal. Cincinnati, Ohio citizens repealed an anti-gay law that has
prevented the city from passing any legislation to protect gays and lesbians for
the last ten years. Three states--North Carolina, Idaho and Missouri--elected an
openly gay official to the state legislature for the first time. The election of
Barack Obama in Illinois and Ken Salazar in Colorado--both openly against the
federal marriage amendment--was a victory against opponents who used marriage
equality as a wedge issue in the campaign. In states from Illinois to Indiana
to Connecticut, House seats were claimed or retained by legislators who fought
candidates using the marriage issue as a wedge in the campaign.
The three openly gay members of Congress--Barney Frank of Massachusetts, Tammy Baldwin
of Wisconsin, and the only gay Republican in the House, Jim Kolbe of Arizona--all
easily won re-election.
In Massachusetts, the fifty incumbent legislators who opposed the state constitutional
amendment to ban gay marriage were all re-elected. Plus, pro-equality candidates
won six of the eight open seats where the opponent was in favour of the constitutional amendment.
Even in the marriage amendment cases, all is not lost. Many of the state marriage
amendments that passed will now be challenged in courts of law, as was Louisiana's
passed earlier this year. A judge threw out Louisiana's amendment calling it
unconstitutional just three weeks after it was passed. Some of the other
amendments passed on Tuesday may yet be defeated in court. Challenges are already
being mounted in Georgia.
Clearly, there is hope. We truly can make a difference if we join together to
fight for a common cause--equality for all. In order to make a difference, however,
we have to be prepared to sacrifice for that cause. Let's use this setback as an
opportunity to regroup, come together like never before, and re-launch our
battle with new and improved strategies. The choice is yours: fight or flight.