viernes, 21 de noviembre de 2008

The Elephant in the Room

It should come as no surprise to anyone that while Etta Zamboni and I were both lead organizers for the November 15 demonstration against Prop 8 she was put on a pedestal and applauded by many in the community.  I on the other hand I was sidelined and shut up.  It's amazing what happens when you are a new voice in the choir.  

Zamboni's assimilationist, apologetic and poorly thought through politics mirror those of the people that have put her on a platform.  Unlike last week's Voice article, which can be found here, The Edge ran an article this week which does a much better job in hearing from both sides and exploring the issues in greater depth.  You can find the Edge article here.

Let's take a moment to review a few of Zamboni's better remarks.  She states that "protest directed at any religious organization is not going to be beneficial" but fails to explain why.  She continues to say that "their participation has already been brought out publicly".  Is she suggesting that it has already been done thus there is no need to call them out again?

In fact LGBT groups that did not take a "let's be friends with our oppressors" stance were the ones that got Dr. Laura Schlessinger's rights to the airwaves taken away in Canada and had her radio show dropped from dozens of radio stations in the US for propagating hate speech against LGBT people.  This was done by confronting the issue and publicly labeling her as a hate monger which caused her popularity to dive.    

Zamboni says that "we are trying to win [the public] over...and going out in front of a Mormon Church serves no benefit".  She is correct that we are trying to win over the public.  One side of the coin is getting our message out there that our love is just as valid as straight love and it deserves all the rights that go along with it.  I believe Zamboni would agree with this but she is ignoring the other side of the coin.  And that is that while we positively assert our right to equal rights we must be prepared to defend and stand up for ourselves when we come under attack.  If organizations like the Mormon Church got behind rolling back civil rights of African Americans could you imagine the NAACP staying silent on the issue and not confronting those actively implicated in beating back their rights?  

Both sides of the coin are necessary.  Disgracefully, our "leaders" are more afraid of stepping on toes, even if they are the toes of homophobic religious extremists. 

Lastly, Zamboni suggests that standing up to an organization that stripped us of our rights is only going to "further divide us as a country".  From a psychological point of view I can understand that everyone has a need to be accepted by the larger society, but rights have never been won by holding hands with those that are making sure you are second class.

The politics that Zamboni has been propped up to support during the past week have come in and out of fashion in the LGBT movement.  It's no surprise that progress falls on the heels of independent unapologetic activism.  On the other hand its no surprise that after 15 or so years of Ms Zamboni's politics we now have 30 states with constitutional amendments, others with bans on gay adoption, no federal protections, DOMA, etc...  Constitutional amendments have passed in each and every state where they have been put to ballot.

Let's not ignore the elephant in the room any longer.