Friday, November 7, 2008

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back for Gay Americans

Posted By on Fri, Nov 7, 2008 at 5:50 AM

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I went to bed Tuesday night elated that, as a country, we'd taken such a huge step forward for civil rights by electing the first black president. Obama didn't win by as much as I'd hoped, but a win is a win. I thought of Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock and other black comedians who've joked about it over the years, and here we are to experience the reality of it. No joke. But as I woke up on Wednesday to an America that has made such a symbolic opening up of the table, I found that, as a gay citizen, plenty of America stood up to say, "Sorry, we still don't have room for you." The measures passed in Florida, Arizona, Arkansas and California to write unnecessary discrimination into their constitutions (as Tennessee did two years ago) took much of the wind out of my sails. If Arkansas had banned gay adoption this time last year, my nephew wouldn't be in the loving home of my sister and her partner, who still have to jump through all sorts of legal hoops to ensure they're both regarded as his equal parents since they can't be recognized as a legitimate couple in the eyes of the law. Now, I understand that race and sexuality are not the same. Race is always on display. On The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Wanda Sykes said it best when she joked that she never had to come out as black. And there's a lot of truth to the Avenue Q song "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist," but at least an Obama presidency proves that we're making strides in facing and overcoming the issue. However, gay people are, by definition, a minority: The majority of people are straight. The anti-gay measures that passed were basically a big "Screw You" to gay people all across the country, not just in the states affected. It's a simple case of a majority dictating what a minority can or can't do. It's called democracy. But it's also called disrespect. These discriminatory measures--as well as most anti-gay sentiments--are based in religion, pure and simple. There are those who may claim otherwise, but we all know this is the honest truth. And from my understanding, this violates the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. And for those who claim it's a choice, you're correct: People do choose their religion. I didn't choose my sexuality. Years ago, I did have to choose to be myself after hiding who I was and who I loved. But this November, as my partner and I celebrate six years together, we can't choose to be a couple recognized by our state or nation. We're separate and unequal.

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