Kelly Sans Culotte

Gay Mundo

Marriage Fight Energizes Queers
Republicans and Democrats beware!
By Kelly Cogswell

Bronx demo makes the front page of New York's El Diario.

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MARCH 10, 2004. Same-sex marriage in the United States is inevitable unless the federal government makes legal equality a moot point by withdrawing the 1,049 advantages that it currently awards to heterosexual couples. After all, the 1967 Supreme Court ruling striking down all bans on interracial marriage did call marriage one of the "basic civil rights of man."

Ironically, bigoted attempts to thwart it have galvanized a lesbian and gay civil rights movement that was disheartened, fragmented, preponderantly white, and pathetically grateful for crumbs from the Democratic party.

New York City
If you believe the local Democrats, the sole obstacle to same-sex marriages in New York City is Republican Mayor Michael Bloomberg. At a Sunday press conference, flanked by Christine Quinn and Phil Reed, two of the council's openly gay members, mayoral aspirant City Council Speaker Gifford Miller demanded that Bloomberg instruct City Clerk Victor Robles to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The only fly in the Bloomberg-bashing ointment was absent Democrat, Margarita López, the third openly gay council member. She dumped the problem back in Miller's lap Monday by pointing out at her own press conference that the Democrat- controlled city council appoints the clerk, so they have plenty of responsibility as well.

Accompanied by the new group Latinos Against a Constitutional Amendment (LACA), López also announced she was applying for the right to perform marriages, and promised to marry same-sex couples despite the law "until they throw me in jail." It is Miller who must approve her application to perform marriages.

Democratic Moonwalk
López, herself running for Manhattan borough president in 2005, seems less like one more ambitious politico trying to get airtime, than a herald of a new wave of activists and politicians sick of the Democrats' civil rights moonwalk — that little dance where they appear to be in forward motion, while actually going backwards.

Gay-friendly Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act. Al Gore briefly stood his ground demanding a recount in pivotal Florida in the 2000 elections, but not one Democratic Senator stood up to denounce the proven disenfranchisement of black voters when the Supreme Court awarded Florida and the election to George W. Bush.

Now, presidential candidate John Kerry persists in confusing civil and religious marriage by declaring marriage is between a man and a woman. And some black Democratic leaders, like anti-gay marriage, Jesse Jackson, are going down the same slippery moral slope as those Israelis who imagine their long history of victimization as Jews trumps everybody else's human rights concerns.

Democrats might still get the bulk of the queer presidential vote in November, but after that party hacks should beware.

Speaking Up
Black and Hispanic communities that could often rely on their queer members to keep mum on issues of homophobia, while voting for Democratic minority candidates, should prepare to enter the new era of bigmouthed queers.

Before Bush's antigay amendment hit the airwaves, the lesbian and gay National Black Justice Coalition was a fledgling group trying to establish an identity and purpose after the discouraging 2003 failure of the National Black Lesbian and Gay Leadership Forum.

But with community bigots like Reverend Gregory Daniels telling reporters, "If the K.K.K. opposes gay marriage, I would ride with them" the organization managed to put together a plan to lobby liberal black clergy members to, if not support same-sex marriage, at least denounce Bush's demand for an amendment banning it.

Along with the Gay Men of African Descent and Democratic councilmember, Phil Reed, the National Black Justice Coalition will hold a press conference and rally at 1 p.m. Sunday on the steps of New York's City Hall.

Out In The Bronx
Queer Latinos and their allies were out in force in New York at a counterdemonstration at the Bronx courthouse where a group of Hispanic evangelical pastors were announcing their support for Bush's amendment.

Quickly mobilized by Bronx organizers, including Mark Reyes from the Bronx Lesbian and Gay Health Resource Consortium, protesters held up signs declaring "Liberty and Justice for ALL," "We will NOT be distracted: Jobs. Education, Healthcare — NOT HATE," "GOD is love," "Separation of church and state!" and "Civil Rights are Gay Rights Too."

One activist, Charles Rice-González, connected battles against both colonialism and homophobia by bringing along a painting by a lesbian Latina artist representing the Puerto Rican struggle to gain independence, including the fight to evict the Navy from Vieques. In it, a young man with his fists raised, surrounded by the Puerto Rican flag declares, "¡VÁYANSE!"

That took on new meaning, according to LACA's, Andrés Duque, "as the Bronx Latino lesbian and gay community and their supporters told these Latino evangelical ministers "¡Váyanse!" or "Leave!"" Local homophobe, the Democratic State Senator Reverend Rubén Díaz, who helped organize the evangelical hate fest, should also take their advice.

From the Web

Village Voice: New York City Politics and Gay Marriage
National Black Justice Coalition
Marriage Equality tries to prod Mary Cheney into action

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