Keeping Public Sentiment in Favor of the LGBT Movement
On Friday, September 30, 2011, I was invited to join Leader Nancy Pelosi at a private function to celebrate the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Members of the United States Military as well as many LGBT activists were present at the event. Our very own Zoe Dunning and Julian Chang, as co-chairs of SLDN, introduced the Leader to the crowd. Before the leader approached the podium, Zoe, and Julian along with Petty Officer Joseph Rocha, as well as community leader former Ambassador Jim Hormel, thanked Leader Pelosi for her courage, her honesty and her integrity. They attributed this win to her strong and bold leadership.
They like others in the crowd believed that it was the Leader that caused this great change and the progress forward toward LGBT equality within our armed forces. However, when the leader got to the podium she insisted that it was the work of those of us in the community that put her in the position to fight the discriminatory ban against gays in the military.
She said (and I summarize) that without our advocacy, and our personal stories, she would not have been able to effect change. She insisted that it is our courage in speaking with our family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues, that effects change. She quoted President Lincoln numerous times, “Public Sentiment is everything.” She said it was our work that changed public sentiment and allowed a change in the climate that gave her the opportunity to co-sponsor a bill to finally end DADT.
At an HRC dinner in Washington DC on Saturday night, our President said emphatically, “I need your help to fight for equality, to pass a repeal of DOMA, to pass an inclusive employment non-discrimination bill, so that being gay is never again a fireable offensive in America. And I don’t have to tell you, there are those who don’t want to just stand in our way, but want to turn the clock back, who want to return to the days when gay people couldn’t serve their country openly. Who reject the progress we’ve made. Who … want to enshrine discrimination in state laws and constitutions — efforts that we’ve got to work hard to oppose, because that’s not what America should be about. We’re not about restricting rights and restricting opportunity.”
I had a great time celebrating our progress this past week and we should relish in our achievements and be proud of them. However, my fellow advocates, we have work ahead of us. Now that we have the momentum that the repeal of DADT has given us, we need to remember to still fight, speak up when we are booed, speak out against discrimination, and make it our personal goal to never stay silent. We have a duty to ourselves, to our freedom, and to this country that stands for equality to keep fighting. Because it is through this work, that we keep public sentiment on our side and give opportunities to our elected representatives like our Leader Pelosi and our President to effect the change we so much desire.
In addition, to not staying silent in our personal lives as we talk to colleagues, family, and our community, we have the opportunity this election to elect a mayor that will stand with us, fight with us, and will be an advocate with us at every stage to achieve equality once and for all. Join us as we walk precincts, at kick off events, and when we make phone calls to celebrate and support our first choice for Mayor, Dennis Herrera, and our second choice, Bevan Dufty. It is because of these types of leaders that our voice will continue to be heard and will force public sentiment to stay on our side. I will see you in the field as we continue to fight the fight!
Bentrish Satarzadeh, Co-Chair
Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club