Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Do Justice

He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God.
--Micah 6:8

I can find no better lines from Scripture for the start of the Florida legislative session. I only wish that I’d had them with me all those years that I was a public radio reporter running up and down the stairs from the 5th to the 4th floor of the Capitol in the flurry of “doing my job”. It would have made for a nice way to frame my questions to those in power who, with the push of a green or red button, had control over the lives of thousands of people at their fingertips.

“Senator, do you believe that “Yes” vote which slashes funding for children’s programs shows that you are doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with your God?”

Probably a good thing I didn’t do that. I was already considered a pest for asking them any questions at all!

But today, coming from a place of LGBT activism, I am really curious to know who among the 160 members of the state legislature is hearing the words of the prophet to “do justice… love kindness… and walk humbly with God”?

I can name some: Senators Rich, Sobel, Deutch, Bennett, Smith and Gelber. In the House, Representatives Bradenburg, Abruzzo, Brise, Culp, Heller, Jenne, Kriseman, Pafford, Randolph, Skidmore, Steinberg, Schwartz, Waldman, Chestnut, Kiar, Nehr, Rehwinkle Vasilinda, Rousar, Rader, Sachs, Bullard, Fitzgerald, Garcia, Long, and Porth.

These 31 people have agreed to be sponsors of four bills this session aimed at doing justice for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered citizens of this state. These men and women are hoping to end the anti-gay adoption ban; create statewide domestic partnership benefits; include “sexual orientation and gender identity” in the state’s civil rights laws; and introduce the “Florida Healthy Teens Act”… thus updating sex education from the 1950s ‘abstinence-only’ model. Agreeing to speak out on these issues, these members have already raised the ire of anti-gay lobbying groups in the state, and put their political lives on the line for the likes of me. And not only are we “others” thankful, we are planning to show up and stand up for ourselves.

On Monday, March 16th, fair-minded Floridians, both gay and straight, are rallying at noon in front of the Old State Capitol building and calling on our leaders to show us kindness and mercy under the law.

Today in Florida, it is still legal to discriminate against someone because they are gay. We are allowed to be foster parents, but not adoptive parents because we are gay. And we all know that not only were we statutorily prohibited from getting married here… or elsewhere while residing here, now, by virtue of a popular vote, it is unconstitutional for us to share in the joys and benefits that protect the bonds of relationship that are given to straight couples.

I ask, “Is this how we want to ‘do justice’ in Florida”? How will a state that has intentionally made the LGBT community into second-class citizens be judged?

Join with the thousands that are gathering at the gate on March 16th and demand that our leaders listen to the voices of those who have been shunned long enough.

The time for change is now.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'll try and think of to whom I can send this to. Probably it will go to the same people you know.