My inbox has been hit heavy today with emails celebrating yesterday’s victory and trying to take advantage of the win to help propel an LGBTQ agenda forward. For example, Courage Campaign is pushing for an end to DOMA while GetEqual is pushing a broader (vague?) Equality effort. And don’t be mistaken, GetEqual is no less a major LGBT organization than HRC or any of the others. The notion that they are grass roots is silly. They are just as grass roots and just as not grassroots as any of them.
So, what is the highest priority LGBTQ issue, and how do we advocate for it moving forward? Is there such a thing as an individual issue that we can name as more or less priority as any other? The conventional wisdom is to focus attention, awareness and resources on one item and assure success there, keeping in mind the context which includes the legislative climate and the probability of action. But, what if there is no one issue that is meaningful overall, and to all? Is it possible that our collective and diverse communities have a variety of unique and specific needs that may or may not align one with the others? Do we harm our overall efforts by trying to prioritize one issue over another?
And, what about this notion of context? Not only is there a legislative climate to consider, but also a judicial environment to understand. For example, DOMA is moving up through the Courts, and while repealing DOMA in the legislature may be useful, will the same be accomplished by allowing the current legal efforts to move ahead on their own?
Too, we must grapple with the very notion of “community” as we seek out our future steps. Often, I have heard younger queer activists claim that same-sex marriage is a white-gay agenda item that doesn’t touch their lives. Is this a true portrayal and is it true that marriage doesn’t impact all? An easy case can be made that says Marriage Equality doesn’t help our Trans community. Look at Canada where Marriage existed for about ten years while the Trans population remained victim to discrimination and violence. On the other hand, same-sex marriage breaks down gender barriers or definitions, returning the focus to commitment between two individuals no matter their gender. That does align with Trans issues in a big way.
My list of priority items (in no particular order)
Here are some of the issues I fond most significant, but I’m presenting them in an unordered way. I am not sure any one is more or less important, and I want to start simply by articulating what they are.
LGBTQA Safety with a special focus on Youth Safety.
Often this is discussed as anti-bullying efforts, but I think it is far bigger than that. It is the creation of all sort of ways in which our youth are supported so that no matter what is thrown at them (i.e. bullying) they can survive and thrive. And this impacts more than LGBTQ youth and adults. It must encompass all those who are othered and isolated for being different than the status quo, and even those who are simply perceived as different.
Non-discrimination in Employment, Housing and Public Accommodation
I was so tired of hearing gay conservatives say that the economy was more important that gay issues. What good is having a job if you can be fired, or refused hiring simply because of who you are? The improving economy must be linked to job equity and job equity must include non-discrimination protections.
Non-traditional family support.
I’m not comfortable thinking of how we build and support our relationships and our families as being all about marriage. Gay, Lesbian, Bi, and Trans persons form families, become couples, raise children and have broad needs no matter what we call those relationships and those family structures. So, we must not think that the ability to say “I do” is the whole of it. I won’t argue that if everyone could say “I do” and have their commitment civilly recognized, it might solve many many things, but I am not convinced that the institution of Marriage is the whole answer either.
In the larger picture, the conservative efforts have been a war on women as well as an attack on other progressive issues like LGBTQ Rights. In many ways, this is all the same battle, one attached to gender norms and the status quo. Trans issues are predominately connected to Gender norms and restrictions too. In other words, so much all comes down to seeking real and tangible gender equity. Moving LGBTQ Rights forward will require linking our issues with associate issues for all progressive causes a and ideas.
So there is my list and thoughts. What about you? How would you identify and prioritize LGBTQ issues and efforts? Leave a comment and share your thoughts!