So, President Obama comes out last week and says the DOJ will no longer defend DOMA in court (as so many of us have been asking him to do for two years) and the right wing goes CRAZY.
Possible presidential candidate Herman Cain called it a “breach of presidential duty bordering on treason.”
Speaker Boehner expects the House GOPers will step in to defend it.
And plenty of folks all over the right are lying that the President is no longer enforcing DOMA, which he quite notably is.
All of this got me thinking about the very gradual approach—the long haul—toward LGBT equality. In the scheme of the movement, this DOMA decision was not that big. It was two years overdue. It doesn’t undo the damage done by the anti-LGBT DOMA briefs. It doesn’t even necessarily expedite federal recognition of same-sex couples.
If anything, the call for heightened scrutiny is a much bigger deal, but no one’s talking about that.
But this one little decision has spurred a deluge from the right. Treason? Impeachment? Loss of all credibility? All the big guns for just this one little policy change.
Where are our big guns?
We’ve been playing the very long, very patient high-road game. Step by step, we’ll get to equality eventually. But that’s not the way our opponents play the game at all.
They lambast. They overreact. They explode with rage and they attack! attack! attack!
Now am I applauding their strategy? Not necessarily. But I question ours a bit. I don’t want to start lying or exaggerating. But I want us to have some guts. I want us to be able to be pissed.
Our civil rights movement has been pretty posh. Sure, our elders are living in poverty, our kids are bullied and homeless, our trans community attempts suicide at 40x the national rate, and the HIV epidemic never really ended. But it’s the middle-class couples with jobs and children that are our biggest priority, right? We need marriage equality now!
When are we going to be pissed about how our community is actually treated in this society? When are we going to fight back? When are we going to call people out? When are we actually going to make a concerted stand?
I still feel like I haven’t seen it.
If anything, the National Equality March came closest. And it had a lot of potential to energize and motivate and utilize a whole lot of young people tired of injustice. And did anybody do anything with it? No.
Look, the President is hurting us slightly less on one of our issues! Hooray! We’re so grateful! You’re the best gay ally in presidential history! Whoopee!
Suddenly Bil and Pam come along wanting to air some dirty political laundry and everyone backs away. Oh no. We’re not that kind of a movement. We don’t call people out. We just raise lots of money for our elite lobbyists and then let them lobby. Lobby lobby lobby. That’s how we’ll get equality.
I can’t wait to see what Bil and Pam come up with. And I can’t wait to see the whole movement look and say, “Oh! Yeah! Look at the hypocrites!” and suddenly be on board with a little investigative research on our opponents. But in the meantime, are our relationships with the progressive movement so fragile and poor that any political boat-rocking is considered too big a risk? Three and a half minutes from Lawrence O’Donnell calling out some lies is our big guns? (Thanks for that much, Lawrence.)
We can’t do anything big if it isn’t a nice polished campaign with one of the big orgs’ logos on it, because of course, who gets the credit is more important than what gets accomplished. We can’t even agree on messaging. We’re all just doing our own thing and pretending it’s a cohesive movement with a realistic timeline. It’s no wonder it feels like a surprise every time a new state gets civil unions or whatever, because no one’s paying attention to what each other is doing!
We should care about education. We should care about helping every single American citizen understand the basic concepts of sexual orientation and gender identity. We should be quite proud of our morality and call out every hypocrite who tries to smear us “dirty homosexuals” but won’t acknowledge his own vita of adultery, divorce, and other abridgments of the “sanctity of marriage.” We should celebrate every victory, but each should make us more eager to demand the next, not less. We should be pissed every single time any politician or public figure smears us, and we should emphasize immediate movement-wide response (as opposed to, say, just waiting for GLAAD to deal with it).
But that’s not our movement. We aren’t transparent and we don’t work together. We don’t come with the big guns handy, and while for some of us these issues are our lives, our progressive allies think they’re doing us a big one by even mentioning our struggles. And we’re so thankful when they do; it’s a lot to ask of them.
This is insufficient.
If the right is going to make a big deal about every little step forward we take, it’s time we demand the left have the same reaction for every attempt at a little step backward. The stagnancy is stifling, and I’m sorry, but I don’t have the same patience as my very comfortable elders in the movement.