22 February 2006

ESPA Grows A Set

Well, it seems that one of my favourite organizations, the Empire State Pride Agenda, has finally grown a set.

I was really dismayed when Matt Foreman (note: Matt, you need to add some more stuff to your Wiki bio), its former Executive Director, left ESPA to head the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF). I mean, it's great for Matt -- I've had a few conversations with him (Matt, that is) at various lobbying events and I think he has a great mind, a level head, and is really committed to the cause. But I knew nothing of ESPA's replacement for Matt as its new ED, Alan Van Capelle, and very little about Joe Tarver, its spokesperson.

I have to admit that I haven't really been all that active in the gay rights struggle since my car accident, so I haven't been paying all too much attention. But from what I recall, nothing that ESPA has done -- until now -- has really stood out in my mind.

I think it's great that Mr. Van Capelle has called the Democratic Party's bluff -- especially our lackluster junior Senator, Hillary Rodham Clinton. Of course, Mike Rodgers has been doing this for quite some time now, and he has a take-no-prisoners approach to it.

Now, some hard-lined Democrats came to Hillary's defense. But there's a very, very large hole in the logic that they use to defend her. Let's examine this for a moment, shall we? Take, for example, the following statements taken from the article:

"Certainly we have seen that Sen. Clinton is working on the forefront of LGBT issues, like immigration equality and HIV/AIDS funding that is critical to residents of New York," [John] Marble[, spokesman for the National Stonewall Democrats] said.

* * * * *

"I don't see gay marriage issue as the issue for the gay community," Kunst said, referring to Clinton's opposition to same-sex marriage. "It's basic civil rights that matters." [Bob Kunst, president of HillaryNow.com]

I have a serious problem with these lackluster attitudes towards our rights, especially with this last comment. Apparently, these distinguished gentlemen do not consider marriage to be a basic civil right. It's much more important to fight for basic civil rights, such as "immigration equality." Of course, if we were allowed to marry, immigration equality wouldn't be an issue anymore, would it?

Perhaps their view that marriage isn't a basic civil right has to do with the fact that it's a fundamental civil right. You see, back in 1967, nine people decided that marriage is, indeed, a fundamental civil right, and that any attempt to curb one's right to marry must be subject to strict scrutiny.

You see, back in the heyday of the civil rights movement, the opposition employed a great strategy: make them fight for their rights piecemeal, instead of giving them what they want all at once. As such, they were able to drag out the civil rights movement for well over a century and a half.

So we can be like Messrs. Kunst and Marble and fight for each and every one of our rights, piece by piece. Or, we can choose to go after marriage, and win a lot of those rights all in one fell swoop. You see, the United States General Accountability Office, way back in 1996, conducted an internal survey of how many rights and responsibilities are accorded to married couples: 1,049 (this is a link to a PDF file). Maybe it would be clearer if I wrote that out: There are more than one thousand and forty-nine rights and responsibilities accorded to married couples.

While winning the marriage equality struggle wouldn't end the gay rights struggle (think about it: has the civil rights movement ended?), it would be a giant leap forward, instead of taking all these tiny baby steps that people who hate us want us to struggle through it all. But no, we'll just continue kowtowing to the Democratic Party (I'd include my own Party, the GOP, but they're not doing anything for me to kowtow about) for the scraps of meat they throw our way -- just enough to keep our dollars flowing into their pockets.

Thank you, Alan Van Capelle, for having the chutzpah to stand up to disguised bigotry and complacency.

Gay leader slams Sen. Clinton on record -- Queer Lesbian Gay News -- Gay.com