Monday, July 25, 2011

Countdown Clocks and Wedding Bells – Celebrating Justice

There’s no doubt that the hours, days, weeks and years of struggle can become enraging, depressing and frustrating. The enormous amounts of time and treasure that we pour out attempting to achieve even basic fair treatment under the law can, on some days, be overwhelming.

But not on this day. Not today.

This day we celebrate two tremendous, historic and game-changing victories. This day we begin to mark the ending of some decades-old struggles.

Friday, President Obama, the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs signed and sent to Congress the Certification that our armed forces are ready and able to end decades of discrimination in the armed forces. And the 60-day clock started. On September 20, 2011 the discriminatory law that has forced lesbian and gay servicemembers to hide, struggle and suffer in silence will be repealed.

Done. Over. Now just a shameful chapter of history. As the clock ticks down the days, we’ll all be nervous; anxious that no last-minute, desperate acts of hate interfere. But we will also wait and count down with the growing sense that decades of activism, hope and courage are about to be rewarded with a historic victory. A new gay home decoration will be born: the framed copy of the front page of the New York Times headline that says: Repeal! Discrimination Dead!

And there’s more. Yesterday in the great state of New York, loving, dedicated gay and lesbian couples began to marry. Couples who have waited a lifetime to receive the basic dignity and recognition of their love and families that every human being deserves finally got to feel love win. Years of work, acts of bravery on both sides of the aisle, and thousands who have worked and held the hope can hear the bells ring. We celebrate with New York!

Does it mean all the battles are over? Of course not. Every Californian feels the bittersweet pain as they celebrate New York. It means that for a few short days we all get to remember that these days do come. That the values we represent -- freedom, dignity, compassion, fairness, service to country and to family, and equality -- do win.

Today is a celebration for all of us, not just a few. Today is a day when we remember that every email to an elected official, every Facebook post and re-post, every dollar we gave, every vote we cast for supportive candidates…it all mattered.

The struggles are painful and hard; the celebrations need to be equally intense, passionate, and hope-filled.

Join us at The Center tonight (Monday, July 25) at 6 pm to celebrate the certification of DADT repeal and the Countdown to Justice! In 57 days, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell will finally be history. We’ll get the legal update from Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and hear from some of our LGBT elected officials. And we’ll savor the moment surrounded by our servicemembers who have served so bravely in silence, our community, friends and allies. It’s a monumental step forward – let’s celebrate it!

In the meantime, SLDN is continuing to caution servicemembers not to come out until the 60 day countdown has passed. For more information on the legal issues,

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The First Time

LGBT Pride parades and festivals are a part of an American ritual.

In four days San Diego begins its version of what is now a nationally recognized tradition: LGBT Pride Weekend. While many communities have days that are cause for public celebrations, visible actions and collective remembering -- Martin Luther King Day, Cesar Chavez Day, St. Patrick's Day -- this one's ours. And it is widely recognized as one that is the most fun for the most people.

Days that include proclamations, festivals, parades, parties, picnics and political actions are an American tradition. It's the way Americans call out to each other and to their neighbors, friends, families and larger city surround: "We're here. We are a unique and valuable part of the nation's fabric. We are your neighbors, your doctors, your businessmen and women, your volunteers, members of your congregations, your contractors, your armed services, your educators, your police, your nurses, your politicians, your sons and daughters and grandchildren."

On such days of celebration and remembering, we celebrate together how far a community has come and how much they have contributed, we remember all those who have fought the good fight and have inspired us to do more, and we are outraged together at how far we still have to go to achieve full equality and justice.

Across the last decade there has been much discussion of the continued relevance and meaning of Pride celebrations. My intent is not to rehash all that here. Instead, it's to say that most of that discussion is really about "how" to celebrate and protest, not whether we should. It's also about who "needs" to celebrate.

We are one of the most diverse communities in the nation. We are business owners and working-class folks. We are brown, black, red, white and a mixture of all. We are seniors, middle-aged, young adults, high-schoolers, parents, grandparents and babies. We are democrats, republicans and decline-to-states. We are progressive, centrist and conservative. We are men, women, transgender and those who refuse binary gender labels. We are gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer, and have lots of heterosexual friends and family members. We are leather-men and women, bears, drag queens, businessmen and more vanilla-types.

That's a whole lot of awesome and incredible diversity, and it makes for a zillion different ways to celebrate Pride.

Not all of us enjoy parades. Not all of us love politics and actions. Some of us aren't fond of any kind of sexy public displays or loud music. Some of us don't care for huge parties. Others of us love the chance to celebrate a sex-positive and embracing message, love the celebration of the amazing electoral power we have come to possess in some places. Others love private pool parties with friends, neighbors and family. Some people own a thousand rainbow flags. Others have just one they courageously put out twice a year (Pride and Harvey Milk Day) in their more conservative suburban neighborhoods.

And some of us love all of it, love the view and vision of all those different kinds of people marching together, or watching together as a crowd of 200,000.

And somewhere in that crowd are way more than a handful of folks, often on the edges, who have never before seen the pride, the power and the joyful celebration and affirmation of LGBT persons. Too often those of us privileged to have seen it a thousand times, privileged to be connected to community, fail to see or remember the quiet tears of the closeted or fearful seniors and youth, and the joyful wonder of feeling the love and hope for the first time.

So however you like to celebrate, to remember, to protest or to live, join us Pride weekend in your own way, with your own style and tradition…and feel the love and the celebration of all of who we are.