It isn’t hard to find articles, news stories or blog posts detailing how and why 2013 was a banner year for LGBTQ rights, yet little is being written about what it means for 2014, and I’d like to take a stab at it. Why? No matter how big the recent successes, the important stuff is what still stands before us, and 2014 will be a critical part of that struggle. I have no clue how well I’ll pull this together into a readable, coherent post, but I’ll try.

The path to full equality.

I’m not always sure that we ( in the most general sense) are talking about the same thing, when we talk about LGBTQ Rights. Indeed, few talk about LGBTQ at all, and some are still trying to make parts of the whole community “fit” inside the notion of “Gay Rights.” For some, Equality seems to be code for the right to marry, when many of us believe, Equality, is far bigger than that one issue. On a good day, I can almost buy the strategy, that if marriage is accepted, the rest of the LGBTQ agenda will follow. 2014 will be a year to advance the full equality agenda, because of the important election year. What happens to Dem and GOP majorities at state and the national levels will impact how non-criminal ion, hate crimes, and a host of other issues move forward. This election is extremely important, and while voting for a candidate that that you agree with, is important, the bottom line in 2014 is all about majorities, and who controls Houses, Senates, assemblies, and whatever other form of state and national elected bodies exist.

Here in Pennsylvania, the GOP controls, the House, the Senate, and the Governorship. Anything impacting the LGBTQ communities can not advance unless we can break the GOP control of the House. If we can’t get Darryl Metcalfe voted out by getting a candidate to run against him, we must get him bumped from a seat of authority by returning Democrats to control of the House. This same dynamic holds true in every state as well as at the Federal level. There may be elections where it makes sense to vote only your conscience and vote for 3rd party candidates, et al. But 2014 isn’t one of them. Every voter needs to be thinking about how they can impact who is in the majority.

Marriage Equality may be closer than you think.

A month or so ago, I would have told you that I believed same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania, as well as the whole 50 states would be  about 10 years away, but in all honesty, given the judicial rulings of 2013, I am not inclined to think that we could see marriage in the whole United States before the next presidential election. That doesn’t mean, it will be easy, but if you couple what happened in the 2012 elections with the recent judicial rulings, it is clear that same-sex marriage is inevitable because logical thinkers see it within the US Constitution. Even Antonin Scalia, in his dissenting opinion identified that it is coming.

One thing that I believe will help speed the inevitable will be money. Utah is requesting 2 million dollars to take fight the recent judicial decision there. Imagine how much good that money could do for everyone, if it was spent on Education, infrastructure, or any number of other governmental initiatives? At some point, the majority of politicians, even those who are not pro-same-sex marriage are going to have to wonder if the expense to fight the inevitable is worth it. We may not see this change in Utah. They may be willing to waste that much, but I won’t be surprised if it is the last major waste of taxpayer dollars to fight a losing battle.

While no one even mentions that the US Supreme Court, returned same-sex marriage to California, and Judge Walker’s decision isn’t big news anymore (is it even cited by anyone?) what happens within states is as important as what is happening at the Federal level. Just as some states tried to block family benefits to National Guard families, some states will make noises as if they don’t have to follow the national trend or national policy, but in the end, they all will comply. Recent decisions in New Mexico, Utah, and Ohio lay the ground work for striking down state DOMA laws as well as state constitutional bans on same-sex marriage.

LGBTQ Rights on the global stage.

The real wildcard is trying to predict what will happen for LGBTQ Rights around the globe. Much is being said about the new Russian anti-LGBT laws, but it is just one of a number of states where gays and lesbians truly fear for their lives and atrocities against queer people are so horrific it is hard to even think about it. The status quo seems to be to either care more about global rights or care about our own “local” i.e. American rights. But 2014 will demand new ways of looking at it, because an either/or approach can not succeed. An either/ or approach is the same false dichotomy that powers anti-LGBT efforts here.


Potentially the biggest global event that will (or won’t) impact LGBTQ progress will be the way the Sochi Olympics plays into a PR campaign either for or against the Gays. Russia is a wreck right now with bombings and unrest. If the issue of fairness and equality for gays and lesbians gets connected to terrorism and bombings, it will get spun in horrific ways. At the same time, if the world just ignores the human rights violations in Russia and elsewhere, it will only embolden those who seek to oppress the LGBTQ Community.  What will take priority- truth and real news over spin and editorializing? Time will tell.

LGBTQ Equality isn’t the most pressing issue for our country.

I write often and talk about ” the culture war” and I think that applies to what we see here in the US, although perhaps it is the same globally, I don’t know. But I am sure that here in the US LGBTQ Rights are not the most significant problem in and of themselves. LGBTQ rights is, one of many issues that are symptoms of a larger sense of inequality where a few very wealthy control the whole, and use cultural issues as one more tool to manipulate the system and keep the status quo. Did you see the movie, Elysium? In some ways, that is where we are headed if we aren’t careful and those who have will be very few, but so very powerful that the rest have no real options. Racial equality, gender equality, economic opportunity, conservation and the environment, climate change- all of there are parts of a larger system where, we the people remain distracted from the way the richest rich are accumulating enough wealth to control everything and control our very lives.

In 2014, those seeking LGBTQ Rights must step back enough to really grasp how this struggle is part of a larger struggle and forge strong and real connections to other groups and interests who are seeking change to the larger system. People cite the GOP as having a problem with minorities, and that may be true, but it is equally the that even win thin a progressive LGBTQ movement, there is a lack of real coalition and diversity. It is mostly men and mostly white men who are the real movers and shakers for the LGBTQ community. Why is that? What have we learned or not learned about developing equality and fairness, and how will we use that knowledge in 2014?

A story to illustrate this for me, revolves around an interaction I had on Facebook regarding Robin Roberts who recently came out. This white guy, mid 40’s wasn’t posting to celebrate, but rather to complain about how much good could have come from this person coming out sooner. As if, he has any idea what it is like to walk in her shoes and what are the issues and expectations that are a part of her world. I believe that if you look at the past of big celebrity coming out situations, women like Robin Roberts and Sally Ride demonstrate that there is a gender difference in how celebrated a coming out story may be. You take a handsome white guy, and few opine why he didn’t come out sooner, just celebrate that he did. This is because we are all too busy seeing other’s worlds only through our own eyes, rather than adjusting our own perspective to try and understand what it is like to see things from their viewpoint. This is white male privilege in the most base systemic way. It is so much a part of the structure, that is is close to invisible- as if it is part of the DNA of things and unchangeable.

In 2014, one of the most important things we can all do to move LGBTQ Rights forward is to be willing to contemplate and adjust our own perspectives and try to see things with another viewpoint. How are our own rules and expectations constructed from our own individual experiences and what are our own blind spots to accepting and promoting diversity and respect for others who are different from us?

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