Sunday, June 30, 2013

Slaves No More

"For freedom Christ has set us free.  Stand firm, therefore, and do not again submit to a yoke of slavery."--Galatians 5:1

This seems like a fitting epitaph for the grave stone on the struggle against the Defense of Marriage Act.  The body hasn't quite arrived to be lowered into the ground and put six feet under in the annals of history.  Places, such as most of the southeastern United States,  are still question marks as to how one grants federal marriage benefits to people whom the state refuses to recognize as married.  More lawsuits to come.  Stay tuned.

And as we, in those 37 unequal states, gather up steam to fight for our rights which we know are now overdue, we might consider the other parts of the Galatians reading for today, specifically about our single commandment to love one another... but "if, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another."  I think there are several ways a person might interpret what Paul is saying here, but here's how I understand him in the context of "the next steps" for our movement, specifically in Florida.

Back in 2008, when the horrible Amendment Two passed on the same night that the country elected Barack Obama the President of the United States, our community, statewide and nationally, were plunged into a pit of despair.  I know I certainly was bitter.  First, there had been no attention given to our struggle against Amendment Two by any of the national LGBT rights groups.  Instead, all the energy went westward to California to defeat Proposition 8.  As we know, that didn't turn out well, either.  Secondly, I was furious with our own statewide rights group for the campaign it had waged against the Amendment.  Instead of fighting fire with fire and saying to the public, "Do you really want to single out LGBT people for discrimination in the state constitution, too??" they put up this ridiculous argument that Amendment Two would be a detriment to "police officers, fire fighters, and the elderly."  There were messages sent out to the community: whatever you do, don't say this is about 'gay marriage.'  I was even chastised by a reader of this blog for daring to say that it was about 'gay marriage.'  All we had to do to defeat Amendment Two was keep the vote for it below 60 percent.  We couldn't even do that.  Later, I had learned that there had been much in-fighting with wealthy white male gay Republicans wanting control of the messaging and so forth. So, in other words, our campaign was, as they say, "a hot mess."

As we approach this new era and new campaign to topple Amendment Two, we can't make the same mistakes again.  The leaders of our statewide rights group are organizing a campaign to Get Engaged.  I am taking that to mean that, this time around, there will be an actual coalition of various groups standing up for our rights.  That's what it's going to take to take down Amendment Two, and topple the state statutes.  This cannot be just the LGBT community's fight, or just Tampa Bay's struggle.  And it's not about political parties, or religious affiliation (or lack thereof).  Everyone, no matter who they are, who cares about liberty and justice for ALL must be enlisted to get engaged in this march toward light and liberty.

My hand is to the plow in this, and I am not looking back.  How about you?


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