Joyce L. Arnold, Liberally Independent, Queer Talk, equality activist, writer.
Why is it important that Mr. Obama unambiguously act as the “fierce advocate” he says he is for LGBT rights? And, why is there as much or more caution and calculation than fierceness? Why the continued hedging, especially when he has taken some important steps? And especially in light of this:
The Southern Poverty Law Center recently released “The Year in Hate and Extremism,” the Spring 2012 issue of their Intelligence Report. It contains information on a range of “hate,” including anti-Muslim, Black Separatist, Christian Identity, Nativist Extremist, KU KLUX KLAN, Neo-Confederate, Racist Skinhead, White Nationalist, anti-women and, anti-LGBT.
From the report, The ‘Patriot’ Movement Explodes:
The radical right grew explosively in 2011, the third such dramatic expansion in as many years. … .
The number of hate groups counted by … SPLC … last year reached a total of 1,018, up slightly from the year before but continuing a trend of significant growth that is now more than a decade old. The truly stunning growth came in the antigovernment ‘Patriot’ movement … .
SPLC identified Hate groups have grown from 602 in 2000 to the noted 1,018 last year.
Check out, for a very pertinent to the 2012 campaign / Rush Limbaugh example, Misogyny: The Sites and Men’s Rights Movement Spreads False Claims about Women.
All of the groups are defined by their hateful focus on some “other,” whether by way of gender, orientation, race, religion or whatever. In relation to the question of why it’s important for President Obama – and for Electeds and those in places of leadership in general – to be “fiercely” supportive of LGBT equality, the “Anti-Gay Groups” section of the SPLC report is particularly relevant. Just as significantly, it reveals the ease with which the “hate” overlaps.
The LGBT community made significant advances in 2011, with the repeal of the ‘Don’t Act, Don’t Tell’ policy… , the growing acceptance of same-sex marriage … . But it was precisely these advances that seemed to set off a furious rage on the religious right, with renewed efforts to ban or repeal marriage equality and what seemed to be an intensification of anti-gay propaganda in certain quarters. … In another development, most of the religious right groups that started out opposing abortion but moved on to attacking LGBT people have recently begun to adopt anti-Muslim propaganda en masse. … Overall, the number of anti-gay hate groups in the United States rose markedly, going from 17 in 2010 to 27 last year.
Another section of the report focuses on the role of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH):
Billing itself as the counterweight to the two most prominent mental health authorities — the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association — … NARTH has emerged as the preeminent source of what many regard as ‘junk science’ for the religious right — psychology that underpins the anti-gay movement’s fervent opposition to equal rights and stigmatizes LGBT people as mentally sick. …
While we LGBTs are making progress, being the “other,” the object of hate, remains very real.
The LGBT community is overwhelmingly the group most targeted in violent hate crimes, according to an Intelligence Report analysis of 14 years of federal hate crime data. Gay men, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people are more than twice as likely to be attacked in a violent hate crime as Jews or blacks; more than four times as likely as Muslims; and 14 times as likely as Latinos.
Among LGBTs, the transgender community is the most likely to be targeted. Among those, people of color are the most likely. See a pattern here? Add “other” labels, and your chances of being attacked rise accordingly.
It matters, what Electeds say, and do. From The Advocate, Will President Obama Back Passage of Antibullying Bill?:
A bill intended to help stop antigay bullying in schools nationwide would move closer to passage if President Obama backed it, according to a letter sent to him by 70 organizations.
The Student Non-Discrimination Act was proposed by Sen. Al Franken and has about a third of the Senate signed up as cosponsors. … (G)roups including the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network and the Gay-Straight Alliance Network are calling on Obama to make clear his support for the bill. …
A White House aide told the Blade that the president supports the goals behind the bill but did not go as far as it has on ENDA or the Respect for Marriage Act.
Why the hedging? The Obama administration has hosted a conference on bullying (in general, not just LGBT specific). Last Friday, Obama administration officials “hosted a national conference on housing and homelessness in America’s LGBT communities”. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force estimates that LGBT youth are between 20 and 40 percent more likely to be homeless than heterosexual youth.
In 2008, candidate Obama pledged support for a federal contractor nondiscrimination policy, according to Metro Weekly. But President Obama has failed to act, and for the last several months, the WH has refused even to comment on just such a policy. This isn’t “fierce” advocacy.
Reports that begin with the headline, “Poll: Obama’s approval rating sinks to new low” don’t mention his many LGBT and allies supporters, but in spite of the fact he will likely get the majority of the LGBT vote again, there are significant numbers who are in the non-approving ranks. And of those who will vote for him, a good number will do so in spite of the “evolving” cautious approach.
Mr. Obama, you’ve allowed the decades of work by LGBTs and allies to guide you in some good directions, but your hedging continues. Please take a look at those rising hate group numbers. Some of us don’t have time for the cautious, re-election approach.
(Photo via Facebook Wall Photos)