Saturday, November 20, 2010

Midterm Elections Prove Fight for Our Rights is Still Real

by Norm Kent, Publisher

The past elections reveal one glaring reality that should impact all LGBT thought, whether you voted Republican or Democrat. The simple truth emerging from the election is that we are still in a war for our rights, and many people are fighting against us.

It is very significant that one of the most ardent supporters of ending DADT, Patrick Murphy, was defeated. Himself a veteran, he stuck his neck out for human rights but it was chopped off on the electoral block.

Similarly, when three justices of the Iowa Supreme Court voted to ratify the constitutionality of gay marriage, they could not have expected that an organization entitled the National Organization for Marriage would emerge and launch a successful campaign to unseat them from judicial office.

Any chance that ENDA would be passed has end- ed with the Republican takeover of the House. Progressive legislation, especially in Florida, will suffer enormous setbacks with neanderthals populating offices in Congress and state legislatures. We will be tested by those seeking to push progress back. We must forge forward with an iron will. We have come too far to go back into closets for anyone.

Courts and corporations are protecting our rights, and we are standing up for ourselves without anyone’s help. In legislatures, we have passed hate crime laws. In neighborhoods, we have formed civic associations. In schools, we have created task forces against gay bullying. We have elected gay mayors and seen lesbian judges sworn into office. And if a right wing mayor takes a swing at us, we swing back. At SFGN, each week we profile gay businessmen and women; entrepreneurs making a difference.

Our travel issue this week shows how many places we have been and where we can still go. Today you wear your pride rings on your fingers and post your rainbows on your license plates. Today you vacation in Mykonos, and make summer plans with gay travel agents on Fire Island or in urban venues like Toronto.

We were once the love that dared not speak its name. Now in South Florida we are the home of the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association. Our community is an epicenter for international gay tourism and the host of the White Party in two weeks, as well as the Hurricane Softball Tourney run in greater Fort Lauderdale, for hundreds of gay players. We own restaurants and clubs, and we applaud our partnerships and our progress. That can never be taken away from us ever again.

We have won a place at the table by our professionalism and patience, our fortitude and forthrightness. We just have to keep on truckin’. Our day will come. Ask Martin Gill as Equality Florida applauds him in a gala this weekend, his tenacity awarded as he adopts a child our government sought to take away. Ask Nadine Smith, who can tell you how far Equality Florida has come in its decade of growth since finding roots.

Finally, let’s not forget there is still a war against AIDS patients, many of whom are facing escalating cutbacks, creating unconscionable waiting lists for those who need meds.

Let’s not forget the teen suicides which have come to light recently are a reminder to us that bullying in schools is still very real.

Let’s not forget homophobia is still rampant in certain professions and many sports.

Let’s not forget there are many causes still worth fighting for, and that you can never let up, let go, or look away.

Whatever you do, don’t remain neutral. In the middle of the road you will only find yellow lines and dead skunks.

Sometimes life calls upon you to make a difference. Somewhere, find the time and energy to make your community a better place.

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