Saturday, November 27, 2010

Some Of My Best Friends Aren’t

"If a bullet should enter my brain,
let that bullet destroy every
 closet door." ~ Harvey Milk
November 27, 2010 – Thirty-two years today in San Francisco, Mayor George Moscone and County Supervisor, Harvey Milk were assassinated in their offices at City Hall so this seems to be appropriate day to share my views on human rights and gay rights in particular.
You may ask yourself, why would a middle-aged straight white man have any interest in gay rights? Truth be told in all, I am the target market for all human rights issues. The middle-aged white male still controls most of the political power in North America and Europe. (Note: Moscone and Milk both fell into this category.) Legislative change can only come by convincing this group to share what rights they already enjoy with  others. Although African-American leaders like Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr. and Jesse Jackson led the fight outside the houses of power it was actually a much maligned Texan, Lyndon Johnson that convinced, cajoled and arm-twisted his colleagues in the Senate to pass historic civil rights laws. It was a white middle-aged straight, Prime Minister, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, that spearheaded legislation in the late 60s to take homosexuality out of the Criminal Code of Canada stating that “the government has no place in the bedroom and what goes on behind closed doors between consenting adults is their own business". There are several states in the US that have only recently had laws geared specifically against homosexuals struck down by the Supreme Court. I cannot even begin to address the vile laws less advanced countries in Africa and Asia where the crime of homosexuality warrants penalties up and including death.
This brings us back to why am I proponent of gay rights? As long as I can remember I have been a believer in equality for all members of the human race. Even in my early youth, I supported equal rights for people of colour and was disgusted when I heard about the Jim Crow laws in the southern United States and even more when I later learned about apartheid in South Africa. I was lucky to have several liberal minded teachers, most of which were white males that guided me on my journey of enlightenment. In the early seventies, the women’s rights movement began to gain momentum and I again took pride in calling myself a feminist. As you can surmise from my photo I am not a member of a visible minority and not likely female. I say this because I am also not gay although I firmly believe that no one is totally 100% one way or another.
Along with not being gay, I do not have any openly gay family members or even openly gay close friends. If you asked me why I don’t have gay friends my honest answer would be “I don’t know, I just don’t.” It is for this reason you will not likely hear me utter that cocktail-party liberal statement “Some of my best friends are (insert downtrodden group du jour)”. I have found out later that friends from the past who I had long lost contact with did eventually “come out” and one friend I was very close with in high school is now transgendered. During my long boring life I have worked with several gay men and women, I belonged to political groups with gay members and yes, I know it sounds stereotypical but being involved in with adult mixed softball played with and coached a disproportionate number of lesbians. My conclusion after meeting and dealing with all these gays is that some are extremely n*** people (regular followers know that word is not allowed on my blog) and some are absolute assholes. Believe it or not most of them like everyone else fall somewhere in between.
In the US, the two most significant issues pertaining to gay rights at this time are the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy (DADT) and gay marriage. Ironically, when DADT was introduced by Clinton administration in the nineties, it was considered to be a victory for the gay community particularly those wishing to serve in the military. Previous to the introduction, if the military hierarchy even suspected you of being gay you would have been investigated and likely given a at best a less than honourable discharge and if they discovered you were indeed gay you were automatically court-martialled and subject to dishonourable discharge and possibly imprisonment. In military organizations in most democracies, homosexuality is a non-issue however the US is a quasi-theocracy. The move is  now afoot to repeal DADT in two houses of congress but this is very unlikely with the Republicans having control of the lower house and there not being enough solid support in the senate to even clear that house. (Note: there is an outside chance this may be introduced on the senate floor next week but don’t hold your breath) A lower court has already ruled that DADT is unconstitutional but is now under appeal by the Department of Justice. The Religious Wrong, and other conservative groups claim that allowing openly gay people serve will destroy morale and put the services in disarray. The US military has been a total clusterfuck and lacked any sense of morale since the early fifties and this had nothing to do with homosexuals, bisexuals, or even heterosexuals. The worst excuse I heard was it may affect recruiting. Has anyone analyzed the quality of recruits the US Military has been getting since the draft was abolished over thirty years ago? Does the US Army really need the guy that’s only criteria is “I’ll join if I don’t got to bunk next to no faggot”? Rachel Maddow of MSNBC has been following this story closely so keep an eye on the MaddowBlog.
If two consenting adults, regardless of their gender love each other enough to commit themselves to each for life they should the right to be married and receive all the same legal benefits. Several states have passed laws allowing same sex marriage but even more have passed laws that specifically restrict marriage to one woman and one man. Several other states, including California, have had same sex marriage recognized by the order of the courts. Unfortunately, in 2008 the Religious Wrong garnered enough support to get Proposition 8 restricting marriage on ballot and managed to get it passed at the ballot box. Proposition 8 has also been struck down by the lower courts and is now going through the appeal process. If the Religious Wrong truly believes in the sanctity of marriage why have they not pushed for the concept of making divorce illegal? The truth is the Religious Wrong doesn’t like you being different. They didn’t like the uppity Negroes in the mid-twentieth century, they didn’t like the free thinking women in the late twentieth century and now all they have is the homosexuals not to like. Watch Keith Olbermann’s view on this subject.
Oddly, the outcome of both these cases will ultimately be decided by one moderately conservative middle-aged white man, Supreme Court Justice, Anthony Kennedy. Kennedy has been the thorn in the side of the Religious Wrong since he was appointed by President Reagan because everyone assumed he would toe the conservative line and vote along with Chief Justice Roberts and the other Supreme Court sheep, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito.
Here in Canada the legislative fight is almost accomplished. Sexual orientation is recognized in most of our statutes and two adults who love each other regardless of their gender are allowed to wed. This does not mean the battle is over.
As a socially conscious person who believes that no one is truly free until everyone is equal, I feel it my duty to speak out on these issues. I have even found myself chastising co-workers for describing something as “totally gay”. I would like to thank all my friends out there who support the concept of equal rights for the LBGT community and continue to encourage me to speak my mind on the subject.
We must continue to fight the backlash from the social conservative movement and we must continue to educate our children about acceptance. A beautiful example of this acceptance comes from The Crown Prince. One day while we were discussing the topic of gay rights he said to me “Remember ‘S’ the big guy from my high school, he came out of the closet”. I asked him “How do you feel about that?” The Prince replied “I’m cool with it but he’s still a dickhead!”
Thank you and enjoy the rest of your day here in the Magic Kingdom. Oh crap, wrong theme park! ;-)

Post Note: December 18, 2010 - The US Senate voted 65-31 to repeal DADT.
Post Note: June 24, 2011 - The New York State Senate has passed the Same Sex Marriage Bill. I am so happy for Christine and Ericka from Albany pictured above. I met them in Costa Rica and they were so much in love and wanted to so much get married now they can! And yes, that's the Pink Hat Ericka is wearing. :-D


  1. Beautifully said.. It is an honor to call you "friend". I'm sharing this one!

  2. Well said. Very well said Denny!