LGBTs: It's time to dump our allegiance to the Democrats (& Republicans)
After 8 long years of Republican rule, most Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people (LGBT) hoped that a Democratic White House and Congress would herald a wave of pro-gay civil rights legislation. The results so far?
· No repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)
· Possible Pentagon veto of Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT) repeal in December
· No end to military discharges
· Trans-inclusive ENDA is dead in the Democratic-dominated Senate once again
· No reform of immigration / asylum procedures for LGBT people, or anyone else
· Continued "faith-based" misuse of federal dollars and no significant improvements for LGBT youth in the nation's public schools.
· A freeze on domestic spending (aside from bank bailouts!), yet record military spending
Democratic Party leaders are telling social justice activists that our issues will have to wait until after the 2010 bi-elections. Then, after the Democrats lose more seats in November, we will be told that as much as they like us, the party doesn't have the votes for us - a virtual replay of the Clinton administration after 1994.
And we'll be strung along for another two to six years.
As we seek a 21st Century wave of civil rights legislation, we should look at how the mid-1960s wave of such legislative victories was won. In compar ison to the civil rights movement then, our current LGBT movement is sadly lacking. "Street heat" - sit-ins, marches and rallies - while essential, is not by itself enough. The true power behind the historic 1963 March on Washington was not its flowing rhetoric but its independence from both political parties, its willingness to cause both parties immense pain when they didn't fulfill African-American demands.
We can win a wave of pro-LGBT rights legislation, but only with a truly independent movement, one which puts our civil rights first, demands action, and isn't seduced by White House rhetoric at black-tie receptions. In response to the failure of the Obama administration and the Democratic-controlled Congress to fulfill their many promises, we must inflict pain. If the Democrats do not fulfill their promises, we need to withhold our votes in the fall elections, refuse to give money to them, and make a full-time commitment to direct action rather than wasting our efforts supporting do-nothing politicians.
With the insults of the Rick Warren invocation and the Justice Department's bigoted defense of DOMA, the Obama administration has, in effect, said to hell with its loyal LGBT base - "we've got you in our back pocket and you've got nowhere else to go."
Well, we do have someplace else to go - out of the embrace of the Democratic Party and into a movement free from subservience to either political party.
We've heard enough empty promises from "pro-gay" politicians. If we are going to win our rights, it will be despite the opposition of those who forthrightly oppose us, and despite the foot-dragging and covert opposition of those who claim to support us. We will have to win our rights ourselves, in the streets, the same way that all great civil rights struggles before us have made progress.