DCBigPappa's Blog

Politics & Pop Culture from a homocon.

Tag Archives: Civil Rights

Dear Senate GOP: Stay out of DC Politics

Back in January on these pages, I wrote a post about a report from the Washington Post that congressional Republicans had filed an amicus brief in DC Superior Court calling for a voter referendum on whether to legalize marriage equality in the District.

In that post, I respectfully asked congressional Republicans to BUTT OUT!  I concluded with State’s rights and local control are tenets of our party.  HONOR THAT!

Today, in the wake of the Senate health care reform bill becoming law, and the changes that are currently being made to it via reconciliation, that same issue has now reared its ugly head in the United States Senate.

As I first read in the DCist, “The New York Times has started posting all the Senate Republican amendments to the health care reform bill, and, surprise, surprise, one of them concerns the District of Columbia’s same-sex marriage law.”

The Bennett amendment – SA #3568 – is said to protect the Democratic process and the right of the people of the District of Columbia to define marriage.

So tell me, Senator Bennett, is the Democratic process not at work when a city council, duly elected by the people of its city, passes a law in which you are in favor?  Wait!  Don’t answer that.  I suppose I already know your answer.

Again, to Republican leaders I say, that as a member of the DC Republican Committee and Vice President of the DC Log Cabin Republicans, I respectfully ask congressional Republicans to BUTT OUT!  State’s rights and local control are a tenet of our party.  Honor that!

DADT and the State of the Union

According to news sources, President Obama is going to mention Don’t Ask Don’t Tell tonight in his State of the Union address.

The White House has asked the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), to postpone announcing a hearing that would explore repealing the law that bans openly gay people from serving in the military.

Here is my response to this latest development:

Mr. President, anything short of initiating a moratorium on the discharge of servicemembers on the basis of their sexuality until Congress has a change to act on the repeal of DADT would be unequivocally unacceptable.

Harry Reid & Slavery: an idiot speaks

Fine!  I’ll say it.  Senator Harry Reid, you’re a complete effing idiot!  And that’s being polite.

How dare you compare those who oppose your heavy-handed approach to health care reform to those who opposed ending slavery some 136 years ago.  As a direct descendant of slaves, I am both offended and saddened by this lack of knowledge and lack of historical accuracy.  You see, I was fortunate enough to know my great-great grandmother.  She passed away at the ripe old age of 102 back in 1990.  Her grandparents were slaves.

The right side of history, as you say, is not one that drafts legislation in secret, behind closed doors and doesn’t offer opposing view access the to sweeping changes in your bill with merely a few days before debate begins.  The right side of history is one that is open, listens to opinions from all sides, and takes the best of all that is offered.

Oh, and for the record Harry, it was Republicans who were fierce advocates for the abolition of slavery.  It was your Democrats who were against it.  It was a Democrat who unsuccessfully tried to filibuster the Civil Rights Act of 1957.  And it was and is a Democrat who is the only former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

Harry Reid, you’re a complete effing idiot!!!

Lambda Rising Closing — Losing an Icon

On Saturday, I met up with a friend for coffee at Starbucks.  There being no room to sit inside, and with the season’s first snow fall, we decided to venture two blocks north and peruse the bookshelves of Lambda Rising, the premiere bookstore for gay DC.  Lambda Rising has been serving the GLBT community in the nation’s capital for 35 years.

While there, we heard the very sad news that Lambda was closing it store soon after the new year.  A patron nearby vocalized exactly what I was thinking at that moment – “first the Blade and now this?”  The clerk quickly countered that the Blade had now become the DC Agenda.

I was happy to learn, after some quick digging, that Lambda was not closing because of hard financial times, but simply because its owners wanted to retire.  You see, Deacon Maccubbin has been at the forefront of our push for civil rights.  His name is often mentioned in the same breath as Frank Kameny, Del Martin and the likes.

Deacon created DC’s Gay Pride Day, which has become Capital Pride, of which I am a board member.  What started out as a one-day community block party has turned into the fourth largest event of its kind in the US.

So I would like to applaud Deacon and Jim Bennett, his partner of 32 years for their incredible service to our city and our community.  Thank you very much, and happy retirement!

You can read more on the closing of Lambda Rising in the DC Agenda.

Gay & Conservative

A week ago, a friend of mine posted an open question to conservatives: “how many conservative positions must one hold on the issues in order to be considered a conservative?” But in order to answer that question, one must first define what a conservative is.

The conservatism I believe in is a combination of lower taxes, less government spending, freer trade, freer markets, individual liberty, personal responsibility, and a strong anti-communist foreign policy.

I believe there are two forms of conservatism – fundamentalism and true conservatism. I see fundamental conservatism as a recent dogma; having become popular with the rise of the Christian Coalition and the religious right in the mid-80s. Now, while I am a religious person, I do not adhere to all of their dictates. Religion has been used as a weapon all throughout history. This is especially true with the case of slavery here in the United States.

Many have asked me how I can be gay, yet call myself a Republican or a conservative. To them, I say the answer is easy. It’s similar to answer I give to those who pose the same question about me being black and Republican. A long time ago, I looked at the issues on both sides of the political spectrum. While there are a few on the left I agree with, there are many more on the right that fit my belief structure.

To those who ask the black/Republican question, I ask, is it racist to say that all blacks look alike? I’ve yet to encounter one who says no to that question. I then quickly follow up with ‘then isn’t it equally racist to say we all think alike?’

To those who ask the gay/Republican question, I merely point to a rainbow flag and echo the mantra “strength through diversity.”

When it comes to marriage equality, I simply must repudiate any argument for not allowing gays to marry. If one truly wants to protect the sanctity of marriage, then the government should make it incredibly hard to get a divorce and outlaw annulments all together. If it’s a religious argument, then get the state completely out of the marriage business and only allow churches to marry. Then the state could provide civil unions or domestic partnerships to any who applied – gay and straight alike.

Fundamentalists bloviate because they want everyone to adhere to their way of life, forgetting that this is America where we hold certain truths to be self-evident. Phrases like religious freedom, and separation of church and state don’t fit into their small-minded worlds. They always go back to the Bible – often citing Leviticus, but forgetting passages like Matthew 5:10, John 13:34, and Psalms 129:2.

The Bible says many things, like it’s an abomination to eat shell fish or cut one’s hair. It also allows for man to beat his wife, but that is not acceptable practice today in America. It’s funny how like liberals with the Constitution, fundamentalists like to pick and choose which parts of the Bible to focus on. Yes, the Bible does condemn homosexuality. But I know that God made me in His image. He didn’t create me simply to condemn me to hell from the get go. The Bible also says an eye for an eye. And then there are the Ten Commandments. I recall that when DOMA was being pushed through Congress, the very ones who were vehemently championing the legislation were themselves guilty of violating several of the commandments.

If one truly believes in the foundations of America and our Constitution, and one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all, then one must strive for just that – liberty and justice for all.

Testimony to DC Council on Marriage Equality Bill

Below is my testimony given today on the marriage equality bill that is before the DC City Council…

The Council of the District of Columbia
Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary Legislative Hearing
On Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009
Bill #18-482
Phil Mendelson, Chairman
John A. Wilson Building

November 2, 2009

Mr. Chairman, Members of the Council,

Thank you for allowing me here today.  I come before you as a 13 year resident of Ward 6, a civic leader, a small business owner, and a Christian.  I am a Republican, and serve as a member of the DC Republican Committee, as well as on the board of directors for the DC Log Cabin Republicans.

I am pleased to lend my support to the bill that is before you today.  Marriage equality is a vital step in assuring the true meaning of our Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment clause of equal protection under the law.  Thomas Jefferson once said, “No man has a natural right to commit aggression on the equal rights of another.”

We have seen over the years the outcome when the majority dictates what rights are afforded to the minority.  From the Dred Scott cases of 1857 involving freedom, to the Loving v. Virgina case in 1967 dealing with interracial marriage, this great country has started out on the wrong side of history and equality, only to be rectified with the courts interceding.

Today, we have a chance to not only come down on the right side of history, but to also do so without the involvement of the judiciary branch of government.

Many of the detractors to this bill have and will continue to argue on moral and religious grounds as to why this is a travesty.  I wish to remind them that this country was built on religious freedom.  I wish also to remind them that many of those who came before us used the same great Book to deny slaves their freedom.

In Matthews 5:10, it reads, “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.”  And John 13:34 quotes Jesus as saying “a new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you.”

Mr. Chairman, that is all we are asking for; to be able to love and show that love and have that love legally recognized.

DC Council to Hold Hearing on Marriage Equality

Next Monday, the DC City Council will hold a hearing on marriage equality.  As many have heard, two weeks ago, Councilman David Catania introduced a bill that would allow same-sex marriages to be performed in the nation’s capital.

The fact that Catania introduced the bill is nothing of a shock to those who follow the machinations of the Council.  What is surprising is the fact that to date, ten of the 13 members of the Council have signed on as cosponsors of the bill.  Mayor Adrian Fenty has already said that he will sign a marriage equality bill once it is presented to him.

If I took anything away from the National Equality March here in DC last weekend, it was that we must act locally throughout our communities, cities, and states in order to assure full equality for all.

That is why I plan to attend the hearing next week, and testify, if needed.  The fight for equality must continue!

Equality won’t come overnight!

THREE MONTH AGO, we were in the midst of celebrating Capital Pride and marking the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York City, which is universally acknowledged as the birth of the modern gay rights movement. Another anniversary quietly came and went with little recognition. On June 12, 1967, the United States Supreme Court unanimously struck down Virginia’s anti-miscegenation statute, ending all race-based legal restrictions on marriage in the United States.

This is important to note, because while today we are fighting the battle for marriage equality for the LGBT community, we must remember that this fight, while important, is not going to come easy, and it sure won’t happen overnight. To be sure, we have made great strides and have taken positive steps in the last few years. However, we are nowhere near our goal of true equality.

Today, it is hard to imagine a white man and a black woman not being able to marry one another. In fact, there is strong public support for it. But that was not the case 50 years ago.

IN JUNE OF 1958, Mildred Jeter, a black woman, and Richard Loving, a white man, were married here in the District of Columbia. Both were residents of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Some time after their return to their home, they were caught sleeping in their bed by a group of police officers who had invaded their home — which sounds eerily familiar to the machinations that led to the Lawrence v. Texas decision back in 2003.

The Lovings were charged with evading the Racial Integrity Act, a law banning marriages between any white person and any non-white person. In this violation of Virginia’s ban on interracial marriages, the Lovings pleaded guilty, and were sentenced each to one year in jail. The judge suspended the sentence on the condition that they leave the state and not return to Virginia together for 25 years.

In their decision on Loving, the Supreme Court wrote in part, “Marriage is one of the basic civil rights of man.” The Declaration of Independence lists our inalienable rights as being life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is one of the most famous phrases of our American history.

We struggle to compare the civil rights movement of black America to that of gay America. However, we need to understand that the history of Stonewall and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” does not equate to that of slavery and Jim Crow laws. While I say we cannot compare, I do believe they are tragic, cynical and appeal to man’s most base instincts of hatred of that which is different or not understood. We can’t compare, but we have learned from the struggles of black America.

WE HAVE LEARNED that we cannot merely focus our battles in state capitals. We can’t say “pretty please” to the majority heterosexual population that they not discriminate against us in hiring and housing. Yes, we’ve learned.

A few weeks ago on these pages, it was suggested that the National Equality March, scheduled for October would be an ill-advised protest. I respectfully disagree! Yes, the last two marches on Washington, April of 1993 and April of 2000, had major financial issues. And yes, only one-third of the anticipated one million participants showed up. But, look where we are today. We have openly gay and lesbian members of Congress. We have many (mostly Democratic, but a few Republican) allies who have formed the LGBT Equality Caucus. What if Martin Luther King had listened to those who said that it wasn’t the right time? Would we have had the Civil Rights March in 1963, which led to sweeping civil rights legislation the next year?

We not only need to hold our elected officials’ feet to the fire, but we also need to do the same with our community groups. That includes the Human Rights Campaign, the Victory Fund and even the organizers of the National Equality March.

As we continue our struggle for full equality, we must keep everything in perspective. Ten years ago, same-sex marriages did not exist anywhere globally. Five years ago, we lamented the fact that 11 states had just passed constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriages by wide margins. While there are 29 states that have constitutional amendments explicitly barring the recognition of same-sex marriage, said marriages are now legal in six states, and in seven countries around the world. And, as of July 7, those marriages are now recognized here in the District of Columbia.

Yes, this is a civil rights fight, and we must charge forward.

Originally published in the Washington Blade, July 10, 2009


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