Thursday, August 13, 2009

Barack honors Harvey

Okay -- I know giving Harvey Milk a medal posthumously was a sop to the LGBT community from a President who has offered some access but little substantial accomplishment toward our goals. But you got to love this from the Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony last night:

His name was Harvey Milk. And he was here to recruit us, all of us, to join a movement and change a nation. For much of his early life he had silenced himself. In the prime of his life he was silenced by the act of another. But in the brief time in which he spoke and ran and led, his voice stirred the aspirations of millions of people. He would become, after several attempts, one of the first openly gay Americans elected to public office. And his message of hope, hope unashamed, hope unafraid, could not ever be silenced. It was Harvey who said it best: You gotta give 'em hope.

Harvey was right -- and this President was right to say it. Now let's get to work.

LGBT people want a lot from the ascendant Dems. Victory on a hate crimes enhancement statute is in sight; it is hitched to the Defense Department authorization bill now in conference. A fully inclusive (that means transfolk are in) Employment Non-Discrimination Act has been introduced in House and Senate. We want Don't Ask, Don't Tell revoked -- that takes passing a law also.

And as soon as possible, we need the mis-named Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) repealed. That's the one that prohibits the Feds from recognizing our marriages, even though more and more states let us get legally hitched. Without doing away with DOMA, we usually can't share health insurance with our spouses if we're covered or ensure they can inherit without expensive legal arrangements. For sure they cannot receive our Social Security benefits when we die as heterosexual partners would. DOMA has to go as a simple matter of justice.

A wise friend of mine says we should hope; she has lobbied on Capitol Hill for several years:

It's so different [than under the Republicans]. When we went in to lobby, it was like fresh air. They won't do our work for us. But there are people there who are creating an openness so that we can do our work.

I like that. If we want something from these people, we have to do the work. Harvey certainly knew that.


Darlene said...

I loved the movie MILK about Harvey and his campaign to unlock closed minds. Whether you are gay or heterosexual, he was an inspiration in the league of Martin Luther King. So sad that a gun crazed idiot ended his life.

libhom said...

A lot of us are doing the work, and it's getting us nowhere.