Second-Class Kids

As I wrote the other day, and as the media has been reporting lately, there’s been a lot of attention on gay or perceived gay kids committing suicide. It’s a very nasty problem, and one that requires a number of solutions, including stomping down hard on bullying.

But I can think of one solution that no one else seems to have mentioned. Part of the problem is that gay kids feel like second-class citizens and, indeed, they are. There’s only three groups that are legally discriminated against in the USA, and the third one is gays. The others? Convicted felons and sex offenders, and even they have a very important fundamental right that gays lack: marriage.

If you’re a murder, you can get married. If you’re a rapist, you can get married. If you’re gay? Not so much, except in a handful of states, and that’s not recognized at the federal level. In many other states you can’t adopt kids if you’re gay.

It’s clear to me that an essential part of dealing with the issue of gay and perceived gay kids being bullied is to actually make gays equal with the rest of the country. Children take their cues from adults. Make gays truly equal under the law, and soon you’ll find a serious decrease in the rate of bullying over sexuality. And if you don’t? Well, then, at least America will be living up to the ideals of equality we’re supposed to have.


It Was 40 Years Ago Today


Today marks an important day in history, but one that was ignored when I was taking history in high school. It’s the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. No, this wasn’t a bunch of Civil War re-enactors getting grumpy, it was instead a seminal moment in the gay rights movement. We learned about the black civil rights movement and the suffragettes, but we didn’t learn anything at all about the gay rights movement, so I never knew what an important day June 28, 1969 was.

It was the day that a group of people, fed up with police brutality and corruption in an unjust society, finally stood up and said that they were as mad as hell, and not going to take this anymore! They rioted, big time, in New York City, creating a fire that burned its way across the United States and within two years had spread overseas.

I’ve learned a lot about the riots in the last few hours, largely from that Wikipedia article, which is today’s featured article. I never know, for example, that the bar was owned and operated by the Genovese crime family (sure, the mafia hated gays, but who wouldn’t love a group to whom you can sell watered down drinks for twice as much, knowing they won’t complain to the authorities?). I never knew that it coincided so closely with the death of Judy Garland (though it seems unlikely her death was a major contributing factor). I never realized that prior to the riots, gay sex was legal only in Illinois, and illegal everywhere else in this country that prides itself so much on freedom and tolerance.

I dump on gay culture quite a lot, but that’s at least in part because I have the luxury to do so. Like the educated black man who can look down on the minstrel shows and the stories of Uncle Remus, I can look down on the flamers and the love of all things Broadway. I have a broader, much more interesting culture that I can access and feel at home in; normal, mainstream, American culture, and that’s at least in part due to the struggles made by people during the Stonewall riots, as well as those brave souls before and after.

Gays, lesbians and bisexuals still have a long way to go before we’re actually granted the equality this country’s philosophy says we should have. We’re still excluded from the military, in actuality if not exactly in law. We can’t marry those whom we love, except in six states, and those marriages aren’t recognized nationwide or at the federal level. We can’t adopt children in many states. We’re still second-class citizens.

But much like Bunyan’s Pilgrim, we’ve made our progress. Thanks to Lawrence v Texas, gay sex between consenting adults is legal nationwide. In most places, we can’t be fired for our sexual orientation (and to straights who have a problem with that, let me ask you how you’d take being fired for being straight? Protections like these protect you, too). We’re more equal now then we’ve been at any time in our nation’s history.

So tonight take some time and remember our past, and keep an eye on the future (you’ll be spending the rest of your life there, after all). Start putting pressure on the White House to bring an end to things like DOMA, DADT, the HIV travel ban and other such discriminatory practices.

The weight of history is on our side. We are right and just and those who would treat us as subhuman are wrong and intolerant.

We shall overcome!

Prop 8 and Prop 102

So America hates gay people. It’s hard to think there might be anything else at work here. Prop 8 in California, which would destroy legal marriages and break up families, passed last night, as did Prop 102 here in Arizona. Both of these are amendments, and so not subject to any court oversight, except by the Supreme Court.

I have some choice words for the people who voted in favor of these bigotted, homophobic initiatives, as well as ones who voted for similiar bills nationwide, including more bills to prevent marriage and a bill in Arkansas to prevent gay couples from adopting children.

Yes, I have some choice words, but you know what? You’ve all heard them before. They’re the same sad, miserable, unhappy words that we’ve all said since before Stonewall.

But here’s my choice words for gay Republicans out there: you done pretending yet? You get it? Your party hates you. Democrats are no angels when it comes to gay marriage, but they do tend to support gay adoption. Obama has said he’d lift “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, and let gays serve openly. He’s also at least in favor of gay civil unions nationwide.

The Republicans, on the other hand? They don’t want gays adopting children, they don’t want even civil unions and they certainly don’t want gays in “their” military. In short, they want us to have as few rights as possible. They use us as a wedge issue to get votes. They make denying us equal rights a major part of their platform.

So you gay Republicans get it yet? It doesn’t matter that you favor lower taxes. It doesnt’ matter that you favor a strong national defense. All that matters is you like the same gender, and because of that the GOP hates you and will do everything they can to keep you from getting more rights and to strip away the ones you already have.

You get it yet?