Tuesday, February 20, 2007

A Movement of Personalities

Special interests are just that -- special interests. These interests are often comprised of a select group of individuals who unite around their common interests often at the expense of everyone else. So what does this reality mean? Let's apply this situation to the broader LGBT movement as an example.

The broader LGBT movement contains within it a multitude of activists who are truly devoted to the cause of advancing the rights and the dignity of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people across the United States and around the world. They work tirelessly on our behalf and have secured a number of monumental victories in recent years for which they should be commended. Yet, the LGBT movement, like other social and political movements that have come before it, is often driven by a select group of personalities who place their own agendas above the progress of the broader movement.

There are those leaders put their best faces forward as a desperate attempt to cover up their organization's own short comings. There are others whose only purpose within the movement is to grandstand their own divisive brand of politics and movement disintegration to solidify their own illusion of power. And there are yet others who selfishly court the spotlight -- through strategic photo ops, press conferences and media opportunities -- to further advance their own personal and political agendas. Let's not be naive about whether these situations actually take place on a daily basis -- they do Mary! But hope [and people of course] are the driving forces behind any social movement. The focus should be on those, such as activists here in Bushwick who work tirelessly within the local community to improve the climate for LGBT residents, who have put their own personal agendas aside for the benefit of the broader movement. These are the personalities [and not those driven by selfish personal agendas and divisive politics] who actually build the movement upon which we can all be proud.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Jersey State of Mind

A law that allows same-sex couples in New Jersey to enter into civil unions took effect at 12:01 a.m. today. Couples have already begun to line up at municipal clerks offices across the state to take advantage of this law. This new law, while not perfect by any means, is certainly a giant step forward towards full equality for all couples in New Jersey. But what does the word equality actually mean? New Jersey lawmakers -- and Gov. Jon Corzine -- have defined equality for same-sex couples as a legal union that provides all of the benefits of marriage without calling it marriage. Politically prudent? Perhaps? But nomenclature is important and these couples remain on an unequal playing field until the state recognizes their relationships in the same way that it recognizes heterosexual relationships through marriage. So yes, New Jersey made the right decision to allow gay and lesbian couples to enter civil unions. But there is still much more that it needs to be done in order to treating all of its citizens equally [in marriage].