Many people are worried about their right to vote after the Supreme Court’s decision to dissolve stipulations of the Voting Right Act (VRA) that racial/ethnic minorities could not be discriminated against while voting. Members from the NAACP, Gays and Lesbians Task Force and others involved with immigration are now working together on an initiative to restore this injustice that has far reaching implications. Here’s more:
A broad cross section of social justice organizations — from environmentalists to immigrant reform-focused — came together last week to announce a concerted fight to restore voting rights lost when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled a key provision of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional last week. Among the groups assembled for the “tele-townhall” conference call were the NAACP, the environmental groups Sierra Club and Greenpeace, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, NCLR, Voto Latino and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, all of which were represented by their leading directors pledging pro-active fights against voter suppression efforts.
Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, said that his organization’s 2.1 million members “are ready to fight” to preserve voting rights in America by “knocking on doors, making phone calls and lobbying Congress.” Brune said that the same people the Sierra Club is fighting for attacking clean energy and climate change protection laws are the same people who are trying to restrict voting.
“We know that to protect our environment we must protect our democracy,” said Brune.
Well before the Supreme Court decision, the Sierra Club joined forces with the NAACP for what’s called the “Democracy Initiative,” a coalition dedicated to defending progressive election reform initiatives and protecting the right to vote.
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force executive director Rea Carey said the SCOTUS decision on DOMA was sweet but, “The sweetness does not erase the bitterness.”
“Those who seek to deny any of our votes seek to deny all of our votes,” said Carey. “I do have hope and we can’t stand for this, the LGBT community will not stand for this.”
Finally organizations are banding together because they see the far reaching implications the VRA decision could not only have on African American voters and Latinos, but also to the LGBT community. As I have written about over the past few weeks it is time for us to be united more than ever. This imbalance seems to loom over the marginalized groups in the country.
But imagine how much could be done if we actually sought out common ground with each other. If we collectively spent time uniting under one cause, equality. My intersectionality of my race and sexual orientation has been a blessing in that I can see the strengths these groups share. We would have better rules in place to protect our rights. We would no longer have to tiptoe around when we are seeking out equal rights.
But how do we do this? How do we go about encouraging this union without it disintegrating? Those are the areas we need to address so we can see more unity and become the real movement for equality.
The Employee Non Discrimination Act (ENDA) that would provide federal protections to LGBT men and women so they cannot be fired because of their sexual orientation has unfortunately been at a literal standstill for years. Too often many democrats, including President Obama have made promises to help pass the bill so that many of us would have peace of mind. Now it appears that the bill is starting again and Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), the first openly LGBT politician to be elected in the US Senate, is willing and ready to do what’s necessary to get this bill passed, including reaching over partisan lines. Here’s more:
In a Thursday interview with The Huffington Post, she said a Democratic senator approached her earlier in the day to ask her to explain ENDA in more detail and clarify some of the provisions.
“I said, ‘Absolutely, we can sit down and do that anytime,'” said Baldwin. “I’ll be having those same conversations with my colleagues on the other side of the aisle too.”
Only three Democratic senators have not signed on to cosponsor ENDA: Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Bill Nelson (Fla.) and Mark Pryor (Ark.). Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Mark Kirk (Ill.) are the only Republican senators supporting it so far.
The push in the Senate is being led by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), who is the lead sponsor of the bill. He has been meeting one-on-one with his colleagues and having floor conversations between votes in an effort to get them to join him.
So far, Republicans haven’t shown much eagerness to back ENDA. Most seem to be either unaware of the legislation or concerned it will lead to excessive litigation against businesses and hurt religious organizations.
In response, Baldwin pointed to the fact so many states and localities have already passed non-discrimination ordinances, and they haven’t led to excessive litigation.
“In fact, often it’s provided the tools to work these [cases] out without having to resort to filing lawsuits,” she said. “When people learn, for example, that there is a law at the local level, that they’ve violated it, there’s often an effort to address the situation in many different ways. So we have examples we can point to to when someone says that the sky is falling. It’s not. The sky isn’t falling.”
It’s great to see Senator Baldwin ready to sit down and find common ground with the republican party and hopefully she will be able to find GOP members that are willing to stand for equality rather than discrimination. I’ve mentioned this before so again here’s my take: It’s not just President Obama that is at fault for dropping the ball on ENDA. It’s also some of the leaders in the LGBT community as well that campaigned only for marriage equality as they saw that is the issue that would have a more favorable outcome. We have been focused on marriage equality and same sex marriage and that is all we as a collective have been focused on as if we’re unable to multitask more than one cause at a time which isn’t true.
Look at where we are now, all the momentum that HRC and GLAAD could be using to galvanize this community after Prop 8 was overturned and section three of DOMA struck down has this community energized more than the 2012 election with almost as much on the line. But instead it appears that time and donations are being spent on making rainbow stickers for Facebook statuses. This tepid, tiptoeing around the other issues we face as a community have been one of the biggest things slowing us down. We need to be making it clear that there are still two DOMA statutes in place that need to be taken down so as I wrote about yesterday, our fight is nowhere near the finish line.
When are they going to use their platform to help organize rallies to help get the word out for LGBT and their families to contact their local and state democrats to do their job and asking them to fulfill the promises made on campaign trials and town hall meetings. They aren’t even showing any signs of implementing strategies for the 37 states where same sex marriage is illegal.
What about transgender rights and GENDA (Gender Expression Non Discrimination Act) so that they have the same protections all citizens of this country should have? We know the history of both these organizations with the transgender community with little to no progress in recent months other than featuring one transgender woman in a t-shirt campaign where we don’t even know where the proceeds will go to help, if they do at all. It’s easy to point fingers when you believe you’ve done something when in all honesty, adding to the complacency that this community is rife with and makes those that are working overtime for solutions have to work that much harder.
People are excited at the possibilities they now see after the Supreme Court’s ruling. Now that people see that being fully realized citizens of this country LGBT men and women are willing and ready to speak out and promote change while looking to see what the next move should be. You have their attention HRC and GLAAD, so please use it to it’s full advantage. So we don’t have to wait for baby boomers to fade out in order for all of us to have the same rights that some of us have now.
What a monumental day in our nation’s history to finally see the wheels of change honor the integrity of freedom. To come closer than ever in making the words written by our forefathers centuries ago guaranteeing of all of us being treated equally. I am beyond ecstatic about today’s ruling. It means a great deal to me to see the joy and love between two people that have built a life together and fought so hard to have the same rights as straight couples finally be afforded the same right. As of today, 13 states have full and equal marriage. To see so many couples today celebrate and look at each other with joy in knowing they won’t have to leave this country in order to share their lives with each other.
The warmth my heart felt knowing the beautiful love and union between Edith Windsor and her wife Thea Spyer, was legal, was recognized and it had given validation to a woman that kept the love of her departed so close to her heart. So much that it brings tears to my eyes with joy to think this woman has inspired us to stand and fight when we have been treated unfairly.
But I did not feel it as much as I wanted to. A part of me held back and tried to reconcile the tension I still felt with the historic moment in LGBT history. And I knew after a few moments what it was. “We are not finished yet. We haven’t even begun to fight.” Maybe that’s why my mood became muted. Because the Supreme Court did not rule completely in our favor as I’d hoped, even with how unlikely that outcome. It made me feel like an outsider because I was holding back on celebrating with passion so many of my friends were exuding.
And then I was angry. Angry at myself because despite the fact that it was not a sweeping victory it was all the same a monumental step forward so I felt this emotion was taking away from the joyous occasion that so many in this community are celebrating. It was giving me a migraine because that phrase kept coming to mind. So I laid down to calm my thoughts and asked why I felt this way. But my feelings were grounded in truth.
Is it because I know that in the remaining 37 states in this country, including my home state of Tennessee has a very long, hard battle ahead now that it is truly up to the states to decide the rights of millions of Americans. That the couples living here in the rural south that have worked their entire lives and entered long-term relationships for decades still do not have those federal rights that the New Colony states now have. Can still be denied the legal right to call the love of their life their husband or wife.
Or that as an African American it will be an even harder battle because of the Supreme Court’s decision to remove some provisions from the VRA. Some believe this means that states like Tennessee can rezone voting populations of any minority or pose extremely stringent regulations to keep other ethnic minorities from voting altogether to scheme and potentially win elections. To also deny us our right to marry. Who’s to say that this tactic wouldn’t be used against heavily populated LGBT areas to further prevent marriage equality in other states? All because enough justices felt that we live in a post racial society. I would say the family of Trayvon Martin greatly disagrees with that sentiment.
Neither I nor any other LGBT citizen of this country should have to move in order to have the same rights and if the deplorable actions of the GOP state senators from Texas last night are any indication of a time table of when all states will see marriage equality may be another generation. Or more. If we stay complacent. So that means that there would be another Edith Windsor, this time from the south would have to endure the same pain of having to fight the government in order for her rights as a citizen to be honored.
And that’s why we have to fight now. That’s why we can’t just celebrate and get to work tomorrow on today’s problem. Because each moment we wait is still a moment too long someone is being denied the freedom to love and share their life with someone. We cannot wait and stop to just celebrate this victory. As we are gathering in bars and rooftop parties and in the streets tonight we need to also be discussing how we move forward because we have so much more work to do.
This doesn’t only pertain to marriage equality. We as a community are being denied more rights that affect our livelihood. We still can be fired for being LGBT in over half of the states in this country. So the decision of the Supreme Court today should give us more wind in our sails not tell us to dock safely at shore and sail another day.
Our persistence has begun to pay off and we are at the allegorical light where we make new beginnings. But we are still in that tunnel. Our journey for true and full equality has not ended. It has only gained momentum. It made me resentful towards the leaders in this community that decided to focus only on marriage equality and completely ignored the other rights that are just as important to our way of life. So we can celebrate our victory tonight but at the same time cannot afford to forget even for a moment how much more work needs to be done.
I felt enormous guilt for my thoughts because again it appeared like I was taking a poignant moment away from those who also deserve it. But I should have no shame in how I feel because we are not done yet because we ALL deserve it. We all deserve the same rights and we all still face more foul, underhanded scare tactics that pretend to be the word of God from the mouths of man and tell us how to live our lives. So until we have completely won we must be willing to fight for ALL our rights.
So I ask everyone that had their marriage fully recognized to continue to fight. I know many have spoken the same words that I am writing today in how necessary it is for us to fight and have vowed to keep fighting. But we ALL must be a part of the solution so there is no longer room for complacency on our part. That means organizations like HRC and GLAAD need to implement more advocacy not just in marriage equality, but ALL other rights we are being denied. Remember that these organizations that are celebrating right now were the same ones that were too afraid to even bring these cases up for the Supreme Court. We are in the middle of it so we can no longer tiptoe around the issues. The GOP is not wasting any time already looking for ways to overturn today’s decision, so we can’t waste time either.
To those couples that don’t have to leave the country to continue to fight because we still need your help for states like Florida, Texas, and Arizona that have higher populations of binational LGBT couples hoping they don’t have to move or even worse separate. Hold on to that joy and use it to help initiate equality so that no other family has to endure what you’ve gone through.
Our fight for equality is not over. We cannot rest until we are all equal.
Today could be one of the biggest days in LGBT history with a decision could change our way of lives for the better. Or the Supreme Court could make it that much harder on the progress we’ve made to enforce equality. Or both cases (more particularly DOMA) could be sent back because of rules and statutes surrounding the case resulting in no progress at all leaving us exactly were we are right now.
There is a somewhat pessimistic view on what the possible outcomes could be after the Supreme Court Justices dismantled a key component in the Voting Right Act (VRA) that kept a system in check to help prevent discrimination at the voter polls due to race/ethnic minorities. Who is to say that the underhanded tactics of the religious, sanctimonious right somehow extend their oppression to other minority groups like the LGBT community that had a hand in reelecting President Obama.
Also last night in Texas we witnessed a paltry disintegration of rules and regulations set in place to govern and maintain order as the GOP ruthlessly and shamelessly broke the law so they could take away a woman’s right to choose an abortion. The bravery of State Senator Wendy Davis served as a beacon of hope and reason as she stood there implementing an over ten hour filibuster until she was unfairly silenced by her male, power hungry counterparts. But Texas GOP decided to push and bully until they called for an illegal vote that was later rescinded.
And here we are, the LGBT community at the epicenter pf the possibly the biggest court decision to affect a group of people since Loving vs Virginia. The climax and the precipice of change has been heavy because we know the impact the decisions nine justices will have on us. With the incredible events that have taken place politically over the past two days, to say tensions are at their apex is a great understatement. We are talking about the lives of millions of families that could be impacted on this decision. So the big political news of the past two days makes it harder for us to pinpoint what to expect. Still, some feel they have a pretty good idea of what to expect. ]
For instance, it’s expected that if Prop 8 is upheld then same sex couples from California will still not have the right to marry their significant other. this could also challenge the other twelve states that allow same sex marriage and give states the right to say marriage is only between a man and woman. If it’s struck down then there’s several possibilities including civil unions, same sex marriage for California only or saying any ban on same sex marriage is unconstitutional. And as I stated earlier the court could decide to not decide the case at all sending it back to a lower court to dispute.
As for DOMA, if the bill is upheld would prevent same sex couples from having the same federal benefits as straight couples. If it is struck down then allow same sex couples to have the same federal benefits as straight couples. It is important to note that the case could be thrown out because the Obama Administration was not the one to bring the case to court.
It is also theorized that today’s decisions could also have long term effects in other areas that affect the LGBT community. For example the progress (or lack thereof) in the case of the Employee Non Discrimination Act (ENDA) in congress that would protect LGBT men and women for being fired solely on the basis of their sexual orientation. A favorable decision for the LGBT community could mean we’d finally see more momentum in protecting our livelihood.
With all the tension and anticipation many have began to speculate what we’ll do after today’s decision. Some have mentioned both jokingly and seriously that they are ready to move up north to Canada in the event of an unfavorable decision for the LGBT community. While the rest of us (myself included) have vowed to make a stand against the tyranny of the GOP who are desperate to strip us of not only the rights we are being denied but also the freedoms we already have in place. We want to show the future generation of LGBT men and women that no matter the outcome, we must stand up for our rights no matter what.
We will keep you up to date on the historic decisions as they happen. Let’s hope the court sees that it is time to move this country forward to equality. Stay tuned