Joyce L. Arnold: Liberal, lesbian, Independent, equality activist, writer.
Over a couple of days I suddenly saw the phrase “tipping point” show up, as related to progress toward LGBT equality. Not that it hasn’t been used before, but it was interesting to see it several times in so short a period.
In a press release, “HRC Launches ‘On the Road to Equality’ – Nationwide LGBT Equality Bus Tour,” organizational president Joe Solmonese said:
We are in the midst of a cultural tipping point on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues and our job is to push the scale as far and as fast as we can toward fairness. The tour will serve as a powerful visibility tool and support the work of creating real and lasting change in these communities.
Zack Ford, at Think Progress writes, “TheTipping Point On LGBT Equality?”
Congress held its first hearing on repealing the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) …. Same-sex marriage became legal in New York …. And the certification of (DADT’s) repeal means that gay, lesbian, and bisexual servicemembers will be able to serve openly beginning Sept. 20. Add to those victories a new poll … confirming the trend that more people support allowing same-sex couples to marry than oppose, and it seems the times couldn’t be rosier for the LGBT movement, especially compared to where things stood 15 years ago. But this spate of successes does not necessarily indicate snowballing momentum. While there is plenty of reason to be optimistic that future victories might come more easily because of the progress that’s been made, there is a more immediate concern about backlash as conservatives continue to fight a very well-financed campaign against equality.
In another “tipping” mention, Dan Avery at Queerty writes “The Atlantic Joins Mainstream-Media Bandwagon Calling Gay Normal’ For Shame!”:
In it’s current July/August issue, The Atlantic laid out the 14 biggest ideas of the year … the magazine included the radical idea that being gay is normal. …
… with marriage equality in New York and New Hampshire, the repeal of DADT and President Obama stepping away from DOMA, 2011 really does feel like a tipping point. …
The feature also makes another, more disturbing point: That anti-gay forces have flipped the script and now portray themselves as the ‘oppressed majority.’
Well, “tipping points” are inclining or leaning, not firmly planted and forever settled. Back-lashing is inevitable, as those opposed to Queer equality find themselves in the smaller side of poll results.
The twelve week HRC Equality Bus Tour – well, it’s a bit ironic, given the “under the bus” language used by many, including in Queerdom, to describe how it’s felt at times. But I also think it may be somewhat helpful. The release included information from a recent, nationwide poll that “found Americans widely support LGBT equality issues but more work remains to be done – particularly in the South and Midwest where support lags other regions.” The tour “will travel to 17 cities in 11 states and D.C., with particular emphasis on the Midwest and South where there are limited legal protections for LGBT people and living openly and honestly can be difficult.” In order of visit: Utah, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Kentucky, DC, Georgia, Alabama and Florida. Of these states,
none has a state-wide non-discrimination law including sexual orientation or gender identity. Additionally, none has any form of state relationship recognition and all have passed discriminatory constitutional amendments to ban marriage for same-sex couples. Many have laws prohibiting the positive discussion of gays and lesbians in schools and few have safe-schools laws that include LGBT students.
Note two things here: the efforts from the anti-LGBT groups, who have indeed whipped up an old argument, that they are, in fact, the victims. And second, HRC is taking the fight to the states where rights and protections are weakest. For that move by HRC, I give the activists at state and local levels all the credit, because they are the ones who have kept up “home” efforts, while simultaneously screaming for help from national organizations. This isn’t the first time such help has come. But that “the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization” is highlighting such efforts is significant.
Which leads me to another potential “tipping point” for Queerdom: Broader recognition that confirms LGBT equality is not just for Blue states and atheists. Okay, I’m over-stating. A bit. It is not unusual to have been told: We have to use the resources we have in places where we have a better chance of winning, i.e., not in a too Red state. Sometimes that line of thinking includes another – anyone who lives in a Red state basically deserves what they get. Which logic, if followed, presumably means all the people who marched in the Civil Rights Movement in “the South” had it wrong – they should have just moved, rather than fight for their equality. That, of course, is ridiculous.
Perhaps in the case of LGBT equality, the “tipping point” in our nation as a whole is accompanied by one within Queerdom.
Of course, some of those on the anti-LGBT Right still have the will and the resources to get the attention of good numbers of Electeds, local, state and federal. So the fight continues. And one of the best responses I’ve seen to claims of victimization is from Jonathan Rauch, an Atlantic editor:
In a country where evangelicals outnumber self-identified gays by at least 10 to 1, and where anti-gay bullying is endemic in schools, and where same-sex couples cannot marry in 45 states, and where countless gay Americans cannot even get their foreign partners into the country, much less into a hospital room-here, we’re supposed to believe that gays are the bullies?
Well yes, that’s what they want folks to believe. But here’s a tip: did you notice the photo at the top, the two ladies in blue? Phyllis Siegel (76) and Connie Kopelov (84) were the first lesbian couple to marry in NYC. Anyone who can look at them and not understand what the fight for equality is about is hopeless.
(Photo via WipeOutHomophobiaOnFacebook)