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Opposing NATO and the G8

Why LGBTQs Should Be Involved...

GLN permalink 11-27-2011

Next May 2012 Chicago will host two huge, international confabs. Leaders of the NATO military alliance and the "G8," a group of eight of the largest industrial economies, will gather here.

The G8 is a summit of economic powers that have led the charge for give-aways to corporations and attacks on working people's living standards. NATO is a Cold War relic that the United States has refurbished to give a veneer of international support for military attacks from Libya to Afghanistan.

A meeting by either of these two notorious organizations would be reason enough for large protests. But they are much more so now that Chicago in May, 2012 will see them both meeting in the same city, at the same time, for the first time in over three decades.

Many thousands of social justice activists will undoubtedly converge on Chicago in protest. But why, specifically, should LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer) people get involved in protests against G8 and NATO? What do militarism and economic austerity have to do with us?

First, the NATO and G8 leaders are arguably, in Martin Luther King, Jr.'s words, "the greatest purveyors of violence in the world today," leading to wars and economic austerity measures that cause harm to millions of people each year. Militarism, with its celebration of blunt force, authoritarianism, and repugnance for stereotypically "soft" or "feminine" values like empathy, mercy, and compassion, is an implicit attack on alternative sexualities and gender identities. "Don't ask, don't tell" may mean some extra LGB cadres for U.S. military domination of other nations, but the contempt for real democracy and personal autonomy, including in the spheres of sexuality and gender identity, will remain.

Second, LGBTQ people often expect, and appeal to, other oppressed groups in the United States and elsewhere to link up with us in our struggles for justice. But such appeals fall stillborn if such linkage is not reciprocal. That is, how can we as sexual and gender minorities, expect others---pacifists, socialists, immigrants, racial minorities, Muslims, anti-war and environmental activists---to join us in solidarity for our freedom unless we are prepared to march and rally with them in their struggles?

Which brings us to a third and related point. Most LGBTQs are part of these "other" minorities. Austerity and militarism impact LGBTQ folks directly, just as they do everyone else. Every dollar that bails out a bank or pays for military occupation is one less dollar to meet the legitimate employment, housing, transportation, medical, and education needs of LGBTQs.

Since 9/11, the US military budget has nearly doubled. Spending on current and past wars now consumes 67% of the federal budget. Yet, in the budget debate, both Obama and Congress were agreed that military spending would be largely spared sharp spending cuts, and what cuts there will be will mostly affect veteran benefits, not the cost of current or future wars.

In addition, although the cost to bail out Wall Street in 2008 will never be known precisely, most economists say it exceeds a trillion dollars, not to mention the lost income that comes from massive unemployment, production shutdowns, and the credit squeeze caused by the Wall Street debacle. If "too-big-to-fail" banks were again to totter on the edge, there is every reason to expect that Washington would once again ride to their rescue at the cost of another trillion dollars diverted from working families to the already well-off.

Finally, President Obama with great fanfare recently signed a proclamation that declared that henceforth no serious abusers of LGBT rights elsewhere in the world will be allowed to enter the United States. But will the President enforce this pledge when it comes to stopping G8 visits to Chicago by the leaders of Russia and China, two countries with notorious records of attacks on our rights? We hardly think so.

When Obama reveals next May that this "commitment" to human rights is a cruel joke, what should be the appropriate and principled LGBTQ response to such hypocrisy and chicanery?

There is only one:
Stand up and fight back -- oppose the G8/NATO summits in Chicago in May 2012!

To get involved in organizing LGBTQ-themed actions against the G8/NATO summits, please email LGBTliberation@aol.com

Gay Liberation Network


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