Thursday, June 08, 2006

Pyrrhic Victories

I love the Human Rights Campaign. I really do. I love the little blue squares with the little yellow equal signs that keep conservatives from knowing what you're all about. HRC has enabled a whole generation of people to be personally supportive without putting themselves in any danger. (Warning: the previous is three parts true, one part sarcasm.)

Apologies to those who don't know what I'm talking about. The Human Rights Campaign is a premier national gay rights organization, which has taken as its symbol the equal sign, yellow on a blue square. People put these symbols on their cars, mainly, but you'll find them on hats and shirts as well. You may have seen them, and wondered what they're all about. (Yeah, that's my problem in a nutshell.) HRC is on the forefront of the campaign for human rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender folks. They really do a lot of great work. No parts sarcasm.

HRC is claiming victory today over the defeat of the Federal Marriage Amendment.

I understand this. Really. When you're not getting a lot of major victories, you've got to take what you can get.

But the defeat of the FMA isn't a victory, any more than it's a victory for me if my dogs to go out when I open the back door. The dogs go out because they like (and need) the backyard. If they stopped going out, I'd stop opening the back door.

Everyone--from Howard Dean to James Dobson--knew that the FMA wouldn't pass. Nearly every news story about it included some caveat about the unlikelihood of a two-thirds vote, or even the sixty votes needed to keep the legislation going this time around. Nearly every news story explained, in patronizing detail, that this was just a political move to shore up the conservative base in an election year.

One part of me wishes it had just passed. Three parts of me are still glad it didn't, of course, but I'm really kind of sick of the two-year cyclical roller coaster.

Since the FMA failed again, despite the president's oh-so-lukewarm support, the back door is still open. And in two years, when we need to choose a new president, the topic of the day will once again not be war, peace, feeding the hungry, abuse of prisoners worldwide, why Johnny can't read, or any of the other really important, pressing matters facing this nation and the world. It will be the dire threat that lesbian and gay people pose to the oh-so-thriving institution of marriage.

Every two years, we get to be a major issue, because our elected officials like (and need) diversions from the mess we're in as a country.

Missouri struck down its gay sodomy law yesterday. This means that my friend and council president Lisa cannot be considered "lacking in moral character" simply because she is a lesbian. That is the argument that the Department of Social Services used to deny Lisa a foster parent license, despite the fact that her education and her entire career have been devoted to caring for kids in need.

Lisa took a stand, very publicly, which surely wasn't easy for someone who doesn't seek the limelight. But she has helped remove the sanctioned bigotry of Missouri state law. Because of her courage, others may not have to defend their "lifestyles" before the courts of this state.

Now that's a victory.

No comments: