By Ron Flynn
Alice Board, Co-Chair
Almost every month it seems the LGBT community takes another step forward toward full equality. And almost every month we are reminded that we have a lot of work to do. That people will continue to try to tear us down by raising suspicions and fears about us, by mocking us. As we move toward Pride Month, let’s be thankful for the gains we are making, and remain diligent in seeking equality for all.
In March, the Supreme Court spent two full days discussing our lives. It was clear that at least four Justices believe that we are entitled to full equality under the law. But we need five votes. As we wait, I have gone back to read the transcripts of those hearing. The snarky gratuitous comments sting each time I read them: Alito and Scalia wondered what unknown harms will befall the children. They both ignored the fact that in the Perry trial there was overwhelming evidence that no harm comes to the children of LGBT couples (outside of their parents being discriminated against), and absolutely no evidence the other way. Nevertheless, the Justices took the opportunity to toss in comments suggesting that we are dangerous in some unknown ways. A step forward, a shove back. Of course, more and more states are getting the work done – most recently Rhode Island – again steps forward. Next month we will know how big a step forward, or a shove back, we have taken on the marriage front.
In April, Jason Collins kicked open the closet door on male professional sports. Huge step forward. Both President and Michelle Obama congratulated him. Much of the media swooned. Again, a sea change. But others went out of their way to make clear that he should have just kept quiet. There was the ESPN commentator who said he “is not a Christian.” I don’t know if Jason considers himself a Christian or not, but I do know that there are many LGBT Christians who do not deserve to be dismissed so easily. Our community includes people of all faiths, as much as some of those faiths would love to deny it. And then there was the Daily Beast columnist who took Jason to task for “hiding that he was engaged – to a women,” and then mocked him for “playing both sides of the court.” Of course, Jason had revealed that he had been engaged to a woman in his article. So what was the point? It was a not-so-subtle threat to those still in the closet. You see, life in the closet is full of deceit. It includes self-denial, and sometimes attempts to be or appear straight. This often involves dating a person of the opposite sex. The closet hurts them as well. The Daily Beast commentator was essentially saying, if you live in the closet, we will dig up your past when you come out. We will find out that you dated a woman, or lied about being straight, or whatever else you had to hide – and we will tell the world. But these threats will not stop the tide. Jason is said to be walking in Boston Pride next month, he is one of us now. More and more athletes will come out. We will win this battle.
What will be the next big step? I hope it is LGBT inclusive immigration reform. For too long, Republicans have scapegoated immigrants. During this last election, they paid the price, and are now seeking to reach out – a bit. Of course, the radical right is going crazy. What are Republicans to do? Throw us under the bus: “We would love to help immigrants, but the LGBT community ruined it all by wanting to be included.” We have to stand tall, push Democrats and Republicans alike to do the right thing. One way in which we do that is to elect more Democrats interested in our issues.
We took a big step forward on that issue last November when Democrat Mark Takano was elected to Congress. The first out person of color in Congress, he has taken a strong stance on immigration reform. He is calling for comprehensive immigration reform, which includes the Dream Act and family reunification for all, including LGBT families. Congressman Takano is going to be a featured guest at Alice’s Pride Breakfast on June 30, 2013. Come be part of it. It is a great way to start Pride Sunday and to be among the political movers and shakers – the ones who care about our issues.
Next month as the flags go up along Market Street, remember to be thankful for all of the great strides we are making, and to continue to push forward toward full equality for all.