I’m not sure whether to celebrate or cry. It is the best of times, and the worst of times, for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.
On the plus side, the Florida Department of Children and Families said that it won’t appeal a September appeals court ruling that declared the state’s law banning adoption by gay people was unconstitutional.
A DCF spokesperson said that it chose not to fight the decision by the 3rd District Court of Appeals in Miami involving Martin Gill and his long-time partner’s adoption of two brothers. The law hearkened back to the Anita Bryant era, when the disgraced orange juice queen overturned a Miami law banning discrimination against gay people with a hate-mongering campaign that pledged to “Save the Children”.
It probably did not help our opponents that their “expert” witness, George Rekers, was caught with a male escort he met on Rent Boy.com. As I said on Anderson Cooper 360, “George Rekers thinks its okay to rent boys, but not to raise them.”
As a native Floridian, it feels incredibly liberating to finally have this yoke of inferiority and second-class citizenship lifted. I’d also like to recognize Equality Florida’s Nadine Smith, who tirelessly spoke out against the harm caused by this law and refused to let our foes’ public association with Rekers die.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, a federal judge ordered an immediate end to enforcement of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which prohibits gay and lesbian soldiers from serving openly. We are waiting to see if the Obama administration will appeal this ruling.
However, the early signs are not good. In a move that has enraged much of the LGBT community, the president’s Justice Department filed a notice of appeal with the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts in support of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, that bans marriage equality, even though Obama claims he actually opposes the law. It seems curious that Obama would make this move so close to the elections, when he is trying to excite his base. The president seems tone deaf and still believes that if he is nice enough to the extreme right, they will come to like him.
If Barack Obama does not vacate this bipartisanship delusion in the next 12 months he will be a one-term president. (Unless the GOP nominates a nut to run against him, which is not out of the question)
This has been a year of tremendous strides. A Gallup Poll found that, for the first time, the percentage of Americans who perceive “gay and lesbian relations” as morally acceptable has crossed the 50 percent mark. The numbers on people who support marriage equality is also at an all-time high – and more notable people than ever (Ricky Martin, Ken Mehlman, Chely Wright) are coming out.
However, the dramatic success of 2010 does not mean that the barbarians have agreed to go back into their caves without a fight. This week, New York Republican gubernatorial candidate, Carl Paladino, trashed the LGBT community, saying, “I don’t want [children] to be brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid and successful option. It isn’t.”
The candidate’s openly gay nephew, 23-year old Jeff Hannon, whom the candidate used as cover to prove he was not hateful, said that he was “very offended” by his uncle’s remarks and stopped showing up to work for the campaign. (Let’s give Jeff credit, because the lesbian sister of rabidly anti-gay Republican Senate nominee Christine O’Donnell still disgracefully supports her sister. Jenny O’Donnell recently proclaimed herself, “A lesbian, liberal Democrat for Christine, right here.”)
The Paladino situation went from uncomfortable to downright embarrassing when it was revealed that the candidate’s son, William, had once run a gay Buffalo nightclub, Cobalt, that held drag queen nights and featured “boy-tenders”. Backed into a corner, the perpetually angry candidate offered a lame apology.
However, words matter and the consequences of homophobia are devastating. In the Bronx, the ninth and 10th suspects of a grotesque anti-gay kidnapping and torture hate crime were arrested. And, a week after attending a Norman Oklahoma City Council meeting, where a hateful and disparaging “debate” on gay rights took place, 19-year-old Zach Harrington committed suicide at his family’s home.
In a appalling breech of journalistic standards, The Washington Post, gave space to the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins to justify such bigotry and try to absolve his role in the slew of recent gay youth suicides.
There is no doubt we are winning, but it is clear that we have quite a fight ahead of us.