Joyce L. Arnold, Liberally Independent, Queer Talk, equality activist, writer.

We have a good idea what the GOP wannabe’s and what Mr. Obama think about LGBT equality. But there’s a lot going on at the state level, providing some context for what’s happening at the national level.

“Vanity” license plates probably aren’t the first thought when it comes to working toward equality, but the option shows support. In Indiana, via IN.gov:

By purchasing this plate, you will help fund programs at the … (Indiana Youth Group) activity center, build capacity for Gay Straight Alliances in high schools around the state, and assist other communities in forming their own youth services.

And from LGBTQ Nation:

Carolina Equality, the Palmetto state’s LGBT education and political advocacy organization, announced Thursday that South Carolina joins Indiana this week as one of three states to claim pro-equality license plates. Maryland was the first in 2008.

And in Maryland, via Washington Blade:

… Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, a Democrat, denounced efforts to legalize same-sex marriage in the state …

‘I don’t want to sound like one of the Republican candidates for president, but I am what I am. My mother and father were married for 50 years, I got 5 children, I got 13 grandchildren, I’m a traditionalist.’

In New Jersey, from WSJ, “Gay Marriage Nears Veto-Proof Support.” The report includes the information that a new Quinnipiac poll finds that “52% of New Jersey voters favor gay marriage, the first time approval has topped 50%.” Which probably has something to do with this, from Think Progress:

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) has backed away from past comments he’s made about vetoing a same-sex marriage bill, promising he’ll make a ‘deliberate’ and ‘thoughtful’ decision if it passes in the legislature … .

I love this one, also marriage related, in North Carolina, via Citizen Times Chronicle:

The elections director in socially conservative Harnett County has resigned, saying she could not in good conscience preside over the upcoming vote on a proposed amendment to the state Constitution banning same-sex marriage.

Sherre Toler says her romantic relationship with a man of a different race cemented her belief that the civil rights of couples in love should not be put to a popular vote.

In New Hampshire, via the Eagle Tribune, Republican House leaders delayed until next month a vote to “oppose a repeal of the state’s same-sex marriage law.”

An HRC press release, “Oklahoma Lawmaker Moves to Ban Gay and Lesbian Service Members from State National Guard.”

In Texas, by way of Change.org, a follow-up on something I wrote about here.

… the Dallas Veterans Affairs Medical Center announced that they’ve concluded their investigation of an allegedly homophobic nurse who harassed a lesbian Marine vet, substantiating the claim that this nurse subjected the vet (Esther Garatie) to anti-LGBT abuse. According to the VA: ‘Ms. Pandithurai will retire from federal service effective January 21, 2012.’

Through Smart Brief, happening in Nebraska:

A new debate is brewing at Omaha City Hall and in the State Capitol over who can qualify as a ‘protected class’ under discrimination laws.

City Councilman Ben Gray says he plans to place a measure to ban discrimination against homosexual and transgender people on the council’s agenda … .

But an Omaha state senator wants to bar cities and local governments from unilaterally creating such protected classes. …

Via AlterNet in Tennessee:

Today’s award for bigotry and intolerance goes to one Richard Floyd, a GOP State Rep. from Tennessee who has introduced legislation that would ban transgender individuals from using public restrooms and dressing rooms that are not designated for the gender listed on their birth certificates. What’s more, Rep. Floyd said … if he ‘was standing at a dressing room and my wife or one of my daughters was in the dressing room and a man tried to go in there’ (by which he means a transgender person), he would ‘stomp a mudhole’ in that person.

The The Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition says that the Senate sponsor of the “Bathroom Harassment Act” has withdrawn the bill. Also returning to the TN General Assembly is the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

Finally, in Colorado, Girl Scout cookies become a symbol of equality. Or not. Avital Norman, at AlterNet:

A Denver, Colorado troop initially refused to let 7-year-old Bobby Montoya join. Montoya, who identifies as female, was denied entry to the troop when Felisha Archuleta, Bobby’s mother, first approached them. After protests from Archuleta, and some media coverage, the Colorado Girl Scouts of America ended up welcoming Bobby into the scouts, and released a statement through GLAAD, clarifying the organizations policy:

‘Girl Scouts is an inclusive organization … .’

Naturally not everyone was happy. Norman recounts three GS troops in Louisiana disbanding over the “message of inclusivity.”

One of the former troop leaders … claimed that the message from the GSUSA is ‘extremely confusing,’ and that it ‘goes against what we (Northlake Christian School) believe.’

Then came some parents calling for a “cookie boycott” because of the “inclusion of transgender girls.”

With a video quickly going viral, a 14-year-old girl … speaks on behalf of the group, Honest Girl Scouts, and is calling for a boycott of Girl Scout cookies. …

Instead of encouraging people to participate in the boycott, it has actually spurred many more folks to support the GSUSA by buying more cookies this year.

Imagine the experience of those who are excluded, or told they should be, because of gender identity. Imagine, too, what the 14 year old “Honest Girl Scouts” spokesperson is being encouraged to do, and the long-term impact on her life.

The slow steps toward equality continue, by way of license plates, legislation, petitions, courageous individuals, and cookies.

(Indiana Plate via IN.gov.
South Carolina Plate via LGBTQ Nation.
Maryland Plate via EQ Maryland.)