Gay and Gray is a monthly column at Time Goes By written by Jan Adams (bio) in which she thinks out loud for us on issues of aging lesbians and gay men. Jan also writes on many topics at her own blog, Happening-Here, and you will find her past Gay and Gray columns here.]
I'm sick of having my rights treated as something to kick around for political gain. It just keeps happening.
Last week, a Republican filibuster, supported and initiated by such "moderates" as John McCain and the two Republican senators from Maine, prevented addition of language to the defense appropriation bill that would have ended the military's ban on gay soldiers 60 days after a study of troop attitudes was concluded and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Secretary of Defense, and the President approved the change.
This is not a hasty or ill-considered process! There are easily more than 50 votes in the Senate for the provision (already passed by the House), but not the 60 needed to get things moving.
In February, polls showed that 75 percent of the country want to end the ban -- but Republicans think they get an advantage by gumming up the Senate so nothing gets done. The issue of gays serving openly in the military provided a pretext. I've never had any desire to join the army; I have opposed most of our wars. But this is just cheap political grandstanding and I am sick of it.
Meanwhile, a federal judge has ruled the "Don't Ask; Don't Tell" (Do Persecute) policy unconstitutional. There will be years of appeals unless the Senate somehow manages to act.
In August, a different federal judge ruled that California's Prop. 8, a state constitutional amendment that bars gay marriage, is unconstitutional because it denies gays equal protection of the law for no compelling reason.
That decision is awaiting appeal, a tortuous process since neither California's Democratic Attorney General Jerry Brown, who is running for governor, nor termed-out Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will file the papers.
Republican candidate for governor Meg Whitman has no such scruples. To prove her allegiance to right wing prejudices, she promises to stick up for Prop. 8 in the courts if her megabuck campaign succeeds in November.
Away from the political heat, opposition to same sex marriage seems to be dying down. There have even been national polls that showed majority support for gay marriage.
Though the Tea Baggers don't usually focus their wacky wrath on gays, getting a hate on about us is often just under the surface. For example, on learning of an ACLU lawsuit to try to win some domestic partnership benefits for gays, Montana Tea Party leader Tim Ravndal wrote on FaceBook:
"Marriage is between a man and a woman period! By giving rights to those otherwise would be a violation of the constitution and my rights."
A commenter thought this confused thought hadn't gone far enough. Someone named Dennis Scranton responded:
"I think fruits are decorative. Hang up where they can be seen and appreciated. Call Wyoming for display instructions."
The comment recalls exactly what happened to Matthew Shepard, left to die strung up on a barbed wire fence outside Laramie, Wyoming in 1998. Scranton could have been dismissed as a loony commenter if Ravndal hadn't replied, "Where can I get that Wyoming printed instruction manual?"
Perhaps no one should be too surprised that the news media have recently noticed that the Montana Republican Party platform calls for making homosexuality "illegal." Some Montana Republicans seem a little embarrassed by the discovery. Good, they should be.
I feel relatively safe as an old, comfortably off, white woman - but this sort of vicious bigotry is still dangerous to young gays who don't conform to conventional stereotypes.
It's a strange time to be gay - on the one hand, there's a lot of both real hate and politically motivated bigotry that can slap one in the face when least expected. On the other hand, positive changes are coming faster than I ever imagined possible. I am reminded of this saying, attributed (possibly erroneously) to Gandhi:
First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, D. Sugar: Revivalist Rant