Tuesday, September 15, 2015

It's Not Over

The LGBT social justice movement has made great progress very quickly, schooled by the courage and hard-won lessons of the civil rights movement, the reproductive rights movement and all others who have worked toward the vision of fairness and justice. We have learned the lessons of mobilizing, the importance of seeking allies and help, of electing the right minded and continuing to build and stand loyal to coalitions. We've seen powerful results and we are optimistic and hopeful as we wait for a Supreme Court judgement on marriage equality.

But we are also beginning to learn the painful next lesson, the one our justice partners know all too well. While thousands have worked hard for this moment in the sun, the vestiges of hate and ignorance are still alive in far too many. Because of them, change comes only unevenly and is not guaranteed. Ignorance survived the battle.

Today the so-called "religious freedom" laws being considered in more than 25 states seek to undermine LGBT equality and non-discrimination laws and policies. Whether these laws can be legally successful is a matter for the lawyers to argue, but the political motivations and animus of those lobbying for them are clear. They represent the stubborn and tantrum-like refusals of those who cannot share a vision of a free and just society. "We don't want to evolve or change," they say. "We want special exemptions to continue to discriminate, especially against gays and trans people." (www.acslaw.org/acsblog/indiana's-rifra-the-law-is-complicated-but-the-anti-gay-politics-are-not). Like a virus, this type of ignorance seeks any mutation of itself to survive.

Our right to be served in the public marketplace without discrimination is one of our most cherished freedoms and one of the highest obligations of our American government. It does not infringe one's right to believe and worship as one chooses.

The lesson is painfully clear - some battles may be won, but the mission is NOT accomplished.

No matter how tired we are, we can't stop fighting. We owe it to all those who came before us. We owe it to our seniors. We owe it to those who will have to fight after us. We owe it to our youth. We are Californians - we owe it to all the LGBT people and their families in all the states to keep leading forward.

We have to fight. And we will have to fight exactly as we began - state by state, city by city, issue by issue, in schools, in the military, in healthcare, in housing, in employment, in benefits like social security and mediCare, in the battle for HIV treatment and care. In the words of Michelangelo Signorile, #itsnotover.

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