|Videos||News Feed||Syndicate the Show||About|
Mar 21, 2011: Anti-Gays Using Race as a Wedge: This Week in Prop 8 for March 21
This week: Finger-pointing in Maryland, along with some disturbing new racial rhetoric. Meanwhile, pressure to repeal DOMA heats up in Congress and in the courts.
Though Storey represents a county that voted overwhelmingly to ban gay marriage, his hometown critics say he was disingenuous when he didn't raise his intentions earlier. Many voters thought the county's role in the contentious issue ended Jan. 4 when the appeals court ruled its board of supervisors and deputy clerk had no legal standing to defend the ban.
Now that marriage equality has been delayed by a year in Maryland, the finger-pointing has already begun.
On one side you have what's commonly called Gay, Inc: The Human Rights Campaign, Gill Action Fund, Freedom to Marry, Equality Maryland, the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund. They all supported postponing the Maryland vote to next year. Their argument was that we didn't have enough votes this year, and that losing in in one state might trigger setbacks in other states, such as New York and Rhode Island.
On the other side you have a few independent players and anonymous sources who say that Gay Inc doesn't understand how Maryland politics work, and that one-year delays have a habit of actually lasting a lot longer.
Now, Gay Inc's been wrong before. But it's also really easy to second-guess from the sidelines, and most of the critics in this case are bit players, or unwilling to even go on the record. Meanwhile, every major organization involved, and the LGBT caucus, say that delaying for a year was the right decision. And the Baltimore Sun, which knows a thing or two about Maryland politics, fully expects the issue to come back in 2012.
We'll know for sure who was right and who was wrong one year from now.
But in the mean time, there's something else going on in Maryland that's worth pointing out. Something bad.
The National Organization for Marriage seems to be trying out a new tactic. More than they have in the past, they've been bringing up race.
Maggie Gallagher started it on March 3rd when she said, "the gay marriage machine appears to be re-focusing its attacks from Black Democrats who oppose gay marriage to an easier target: Indian-Americans."
Crazy, right? Our side was in talks with lots of legislators. Some white, some black, one was Indian-American, but nobody was being attacked, and why would she start pointing out everyone's race?
Then March 12, NOM's Brian Brown latched onto race again, accusing Senator Allan Kittleman of making racially loaded statements. But all Kittleman actually said was, "everyone, regardless of race, sex, national origin or sexual orientation, is entitled to equal rights."
In the same press release, NOM says that African-Americans, "played a particularly key role in this effort," and that one anti-gay legislator was attacked by racists who, conveniently, they don't identify.
And there's more. Anti-gay legislator Don Dwyer said, "the black churches were tremendously responsible for stepping up to the plate."
And a March 17 article in the Catholic News Agency didn't even bother being subtle. They complained that in some states, anti-gay groups weren't able to force a popular vote on civil rights, but here's how they chose to frame it: "a small group of political elites (almost all of them white) ... deny one of the most fundamental rights in a constitutional democracy -- the right to vote -- to the masses of black citizens."
Again -- why keep bringing up race?
Well if I had to guess. My guess is that they think they can drum up support among people of color by convincing them that marriage equality is a whites-versus-blacks issue.
Now, obviously, that's just plain not true. But it's a meme that refuses to die, going all the way back to Prop 8, when bad polling data made it look like African Americans supported Prop 8 in greater numbers than they actually did.
It's easy to debunk this lie.
First, they can't make sweeping generalizations about peoples' values based on their race. That's the definition of what racism is.
Second, it's not hard to find people of color who support the freedom to marry. Al Sharpton, Christine Chavez, George Takei -- this is obviously not a whites-only issue. To claim that it is seriously marginalizes LGBT people of color and bi-national couples.
Third, if you want to talk about, "a small group of political elites, almost all of them white," just take a look at NOM's board of directors.
This race thing is an ugly lie that we can stop now, by making sure that when we fight for marriage, we do it with a coalition that reflects how fully inclusive our community really is.
And there's no better opportunity to do that than with DOMA. This week both the House and Senate introduced bills to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.
Now, passing these bills is going to be a multi-year effort. But we're off to a good start: just two votes shy of passage in the Senate Judiciary Committee. And a new poll by the Human Rights Campaign this week shows strong national support for repeal.
And as our allies in Congress work to repeal DOMA, it might happen even sooner in the courts.
This week a judge here in San Francisco ruled that a lesbian employee of the federal court system is ineligible for the same benefits as her straight colleagues, because of DOMA. Now on its face, this is a setback. But the judge also gave her until April 15 to amend her lawsuit to specifically challenge DOMA's constitutionality.
And another case, this coming week, is going to break new ground, with a bi-national couple arguing against the deportation of Monica Alcota. She fled homophobia in Argentina over a decade ago, and even though she's now legally married in the US, she might be sent back.
On Tuesday, she'll ask immigration officials to exercise what's called "prosecutorial discretion" to halt the deportation proceedings and keep their family united. It's the first time this has been attempted since the Justice Department decided that DOMA is unconstitutional, a decision that has particular weight in this case because the Board of Immigration Appeals is a part of the Department of Justice.
Her lawyer is Lavi Soloway, founder of Immigration Equality and Stop the Deportations. We interviewed him on this show just a few weeks ago. You can click here to watch that episode.
There are now nearly a dozen separate legal challenges to DOMA, so one way or another, it's going away. We've just gotta be patient, and keep building inclusive coalitions that derive strength from diversity.
If you need to get up to speed on the DOMA situation, you can check out our DOMA for dummies special, along with all of our other recent episodes. And don't forget to subscribe for more weekly updates, and connect over at facebook.com/stop8.
Keep an eye out for their ugly race-bailing rhetoric, and shut it down the moment it pops up. See you next week.
Keep in Touch