The Cheshire Cat and Gay Rights

As an awesome retelling of Lewis Carroll’s beloved classic story, Tim Burton’s recent remake of Alice in Wonderland has much in common with the terrain of human rights for gays in the USA. To wit:

  • Alice’s befuddlement on arriving in Wonderland resembles many uninformed, uneducated, or simply bigoted politicians’ lack of understanding of the need for attainment of civil rights for gays (gay is here used inclusively)
  • Both the Red and White Queen are distanced from their subjects’ lives, much like the major American political parties
  • Wonderlanders have knowledge of the mundane world, but are also separated from it, just like most Americans have a fleeting knowledge of the GLBT communities and yet far too often isolate family members who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, or questioning, and commonly locate gay folks in a dreaded other status
  • The Mad Hatter’s dual-voiced madness somewhat parallels President Obama’s reversal from a strong and documented supporter of same-sex marriage rights a few years before his election to the myth of separate-but-equal civil unions for gays while maintaining marriage rights for the hetero-privileged
  • Fading in and out like the Cheshire Cat and his fabulous grin, the Democratic Party’s voice and support for real-world civil rights for LBGTs waxes and wanes, based on how they have strategized to use the usually liberal gay vote to further their own agenda

While support for repealing the infamous Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) policy has grown, it is interesting to witness the tired refrain that it will diminish troop morale and unit cohesiveness, which has been refuted with many years of open service in several other national armed forces. Among NATO’s 26 member countries, 22 permit open service, with only Russia, China, and the US not permitting it. Although DADT is in the process of being repealed, on discharge from the military, gays often find that they cannot be open in the workplace or where they live without fear of harassment or discrimination, much like African-American soldiers returning from service during WWII, who faced the same situation.

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, would codify the protection of GLBTs into federal law and affirm the right to non-discrimination in the workplace. Imagine having federal protections against workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation, which would protect any gay man, lesbian, bisexual, or trans-person while employed. However, more is needed, as many states permit or tolerate discrimination against gays in credit, housing, education, and marriage. Adding “sexual orientation” to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is clearly needed and would bring the US into harmony with an emergent paradigm of universal human rights. It would also bring the USA into real adherence to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which America was an original signatory in 1948. In its preamble, the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights clearly states

“…recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world…”

The rest of planetary civil society is recognizing the unique contributions of lesbians, gay men, bis, and trans folks, while the US has languished in protecting us or even tolerated anti-gay discrimination. It is no wonder gay people are fed up with awaiting real progress, even given the avalanche of 35 years of wrong that Obama and his administration are working to undo. We demand to know when our elected officials will demonstrate a real commitment to legalize human rights for LBGT Americans and we reject the complicity of both parties in maintaining the status quo.

So, to the Democrats – because we know the GOP is the party of NO – stop playing the Cheshire Cat with our rights: we are over it.


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