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22 September 2010, 5:05 pm 3 Comments

Zack's Ramblings: Greetings, Second Class Citizens!

This post was submitted by Zack Rosen

If you had any remaining illusions that our country treats all its citizens equally, dispel them now. I suspect that most people reading this site had some inklings already, but it’s in front of us today. Clear as the goiter on John McCain’s face. Queer Americans, people from all over the LGBTQA spectrum: We count for less than our straight counterparts. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell failed to be repealed last night and that’s all the proof I need.

There will always be bigots in this world. Racist, sexist, terrible people who want to discount others from their own privileged existence. Luckily, a long and bloody tide shift has happened in the last 50 years or so in this country. It’s not that people don’t still harbor these thoughts, or pursue their resulting agendas. It’s that popular thought has shifted to acknowledge that it usually socially acceptable to use racial epithets in public forums, to dismiss or harass female coworkers. It happens more often than it should, but the court of public opinion rarely sides in favor of the aggressors. This is a good thing.

Queer people, we do not have that luxury. Last night showed the continued allowance of a law that exists for no other reason than to indulge homophobia and relegate its victims to the shit heaps of American opportunity. DADT is not based in politics. It’s not based in unit cohesion or national security. It is based in patent, bald-faced dismissal of queer people. It continues to be in our law books, in our very social fabric, that queers aren’t like everyone else. John McCain made it clear last night, with innumerable allies, that we aren’t deserving of equal treatment.

Its beyond my concern right now what went wrong. I don’t want this to devolve into a confusion of politics, of who failed to do what at which time. Our failure was based in legislation, of course. But it obscures the truth behind the ruling: things are wrong. Things are so, so wrong and so few of us will admit it.

There are people who didn’t fight against DADT because they aren’t enlisted. People for whom ENDA means nothing because they are safe at their jobs. Trans protection ignored by the lucky cis. Marriage equality dismissed by those who don’t want to get their hands green in the muck of money and heteronormativity that the fight implies. But it’s not a scatter of separate battles. It’s a war.

I was hoping to see riots last night. I wanted DC to burn again so that once, just once, we wouldn’t be ignored. This isn’t a collection of hot button issues or political wedges. We are so far beyond that. We are nothing.

Second class citizens, we didn’t draw a line in the sand. It was already drawn for us. What’s it going to take for all of us to storm the beach? Our rights should not be contingent upon the economy, the environment, the price of tea in China. They are out there somewhere waiting for us and I, for one, am done asking.

But I will tell you what’s next. Queers are becoming this country’s biggest scapegoats. Things aren’t going well in America right now and it’s being taken out on us. Just look at the treatment immigrants are getting in Arizona. Think that’s not going to spread? If we can’t risk our actual lives to keep this country safe, why should we adopt kids? Teach at schools? Visit our partners at the hospital? Institionalized homophobia is going start getting a lot more institutionalized if we continue to lie back with our knees up asking America to go slow or use lube. If we don’t get off our backs, we’ll just keep getting fucked.

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  • Matthew said:

    I too am outraged, and somewhat shocked by the lack of outrage I feel from others. This is a sad and pathetic episode in our country’s history.

  • Adam's Apple said:

    Although, I strongly feel your anger and I applaud your call for deeper commitment and action, I had to slightly (just slightly) shake my head. I did because what happened with yesterday’s vote is so much more complicated and the picture for the LGBTQ community is much better than you’re painting. As someone who works closely with the architects of the DADT repeal, know that very powerful people in Congress are angry and frustrated with the result. It’s not over. Not even close. The LGBTQ community has incredibly powerful allies who are dedicated and are working their asses off to ensure that the repeal is made law. Keep in mind 56 Senators voted FOR the repeal.
    Nothing happens in a vacuum. Yesterday’s vote was ENTIRELY about politics. Absolutely homophobia was involved, but it wasn’t the largest factor dominating the GOP’s filibuster. They’re more concerned about sticking to a policy of obstructionism that emboldens their right wing base, hoping to boost their numbers post-November. It’s not about gays it’s about seats. The tactic they used they’ve also attempted against financial reform, the healthcare bill, the small business bill, the credit card reform bill, the multiple stimulus measures, etc. Did they vote against them because they were striking against the LGBTQ community? No. They’re playing off the backs of multiple groups (the unemployed, the sick, the impoverished, the middle class) for political gain. This speaks bigger than queer baiting. My personal opinion, it’s more alarming that a major political party discards the needs of virtually every American to appeal to a small, yet loud and powerful, fringed faction. Remember they also voted against immigration reform yesterday too.
    In this case, queers DO have the luxury of public opinion. According to NPR more than 60% of Americans are in favor of repeal! It’s INCREDIBLY popular. This isn’t the beginning of a new institutionalized homophobia, but the growing pains that comes at the end of one. Popular support for all queer issues continues to rise in America. Progress is painful and it’s riddled with starts and stops, but we’re definitely moving in the right direction. The very fact that the repeal was up for a vote proves this.
    You’re correct that more needs to be done, but a riot or a surrender to fear that bigots will be knocking down your door with torches and pitchforks is unnecessary. It’s almost (almost) a charge in the wrong direction. We should let the fact that our issues are now national issues EMBOLDEN us. We need to embrace the power that comes from our fight being the top story in every media outlet. We have America’s attention. Should we play to their irrational fears that we’re an angry mob destroying the fabric of this country? No. We should demonstrate that we’re a substantial and pivotal thread that runs deep making the American fabric that much stronger. That’s how we got 56 votes yesterday. That’s how we’ll get 60 come the second vote.

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