Now, the real fight begins, say leaders in the LGBT movement.
And it won’t be for the faint of heart.
So-called “marriage equality” is not the end-game, according to the activists. It’s merely a window through which they will push for other rights, in housing, education, health care, employment and religious practice.
An op-ed in the Nation, a left-of-center magazine, provided a playbook for LGBT rights activists moving forward from last Friday’s 5-4 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court proclaiming same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states.
In that op-ed, LGBT activists were encouraged to take the offensive against any individual or group that does not agree with their worldview.
“Create a specific anti-fascist infrastructure of social media, legal, research and watchdog groups to expose and defeat the right wing culturally and politically,” writes the article’s authors, a trio of LGBT rights activists. “In sum, the work ahead for queers is to be transformative, not transfixed.”
A perusal of commentary from LGBT leaders shows that marriage was never the end game. The next step will be for activists to fan out throughout the 50 states, with a special focus on those less-friendly states in the Bible Belt and middle America.
The article goes on to lament that 29 states have no LGBT rights protection, so that is where they plan to strike first.
‘Zones without rights’
Particularly troubling to the three Nation authors were the existence of what they call “zones without rights.” These are place where not enough agitators are committed to persistently push the homosexual agenda.
“Large parts of the U.S. (the South, Midwest and Southwest) are zones without rights,” the authors wrote. “Very few people actually give time or money to queer organizations and LGBT advocacy groups; this over-weights the influence of a few funders. Mainstream parties ‘handle’ rather than support us – the Democrats see us an ATM; the Republicans, as a punching bag. LBT women’s issues are absent from the mainstream movement’s agenda. The leadership of the queer movement is aging, and there’s still not enough investment in young leaders and people of color (POC) leaders.”
They will send activists out as community organizers wearing different hats. Some will come as “faith-based” leaders urging the embrace of homosexuality within traditional Christian churches, while others will focus on housing and employment discrimination and still others on getting the LGBT agenda more firmly entrenched into school systems both public and private.
Just as many major cities have passed “non-discrimination” ordinances forcing businesses and other private organizations to not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, now LGBT activists say they will push for politicians to introduce the same type of laws at the state level in legislatures nationwide.
Below is a roundup of comments from the LGBT leaders.
Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning speaks out
Transgendered Chelsea Manning (formerly Bradley Manning) penned an op-ed in the Guardian from his jail cell, giving his views on the next phase of the LGBT rights movement. Manning came out the day after a military court sentenced him to 35 years in prison in 2013 for espionage.
Same-sex marriage is “just the beginning,” according to Manning. “We can’t let our movement end.”
“There are still queer and trans folks who struggle every single day for the right to define themselves, to access gender-appropriate healthcare and to live without harassment by other people, the police or the government. Many queer and trans people live – and lived – in our prison and jails, in our homeless shelters, in run-down houses and apartment buildings, and on the corners of every major city. Marriage equality doesn’t help them; and the potential loss of momentum for trans/queer rights after this win could well hurt them.”
Manning said coming out and requesting that the media refer to him with female pronouns while also demanding “gender confirming healthcare” from the federal prison system was “an incredibly empowering moment.”
“Nobody can control or define our identities unless we let them, and so I chose to come out and to define myself – nothing more. In the two years since, I am always awestruck and inspired by the queer and trans kids out there all over the world who reach out to me and send letters from very real places like Noblesville, Indiana, Arklow, Ireland and Abeokuta, Nigeria.
“We do have to, as a movement, give hope to these kids, and especially young trans youth like Leelah Alcorn, who committed suicide last year after leaving a devastating indictment of the world that she experienced, or Islan Nettles, who was murdered on the streets of New York in 2013. It’s hope that my younger self, who, like many trans/queer kids, struggled to survive while living homeless in Chicago in 2006, could’ve used.
“We need to send a powerful message to the world in a unified voice: that we can fight for social justice for everyone, everywhere and change the world, not just get married. We can continue to build our communities and address the root causes of queer and trans poverty and deaths. We can work to get queer and trans people out of the prisons and jails and off the streets, and to improve our access to housing, education, employment and gender-confirming healthcare.
“… My name is Chelsea Manning, I am trans woman and I am here to recruit you to the next stage in the equality movement. Join me.”
Magazine offers playbook for LGBT activism
In the op-ed in the Nation by Urvasha Vaid, Tamara Metz and Amber Hollibaugh, the LGBT movement was broken down by strengths and weaknesses, and then the authors presented a list of “opportunities” and “threats.”
Among the strengths listed were “young people’s attitudes,” as they are more open to LGBT rights, and the “vibrant infrastructure of grassroots groups” who advocate for transgenders. These are largely the same activists who advocate for “people of color, youths, seniors, immigrants, criminal justice and HIV/AIDS,” the article said.
The marriage decision was not enough to make life sufficiently “equal” for LGBT people.
And, they say, the LGBT movement has weaknesses that need to be shored up.
“The queer movement is focused on formal legal gay/lesbian equality only and still does not address the economic, racial and gender-based inequities affecting low-income LGBT folks, transgender people, people of color, women and others in queer communities,” the authors wrote.
‘Unify’ all minorities and demonize opponents
They encouraged LGBT activists to look at immigrant rights groups for lessons on how to build coalitions into a progressive voting bloc.
The strategy is to unify all minority groups, including LGBT, youth, women, Latinos, immigrants, blacks, progressive men, labor and environmentalists under one banner, building “a progressive voting bloc for the next five decades.”
“Faith-based organizing in every denomination creates great leaders, new frames and a base of support,” the authors write. “Social media is a queer space of organizing and movement building.”
Among the threats listed by the Nation article? There are many, and all focus on conservatives who still believe some boundaries in the sexual revolution needn’t be crossed. They write:
“The religious, cultural, economic and political right that targets LGBT people, women’s economic, reproductive and sexual freedom and is organized around a racialized notion of national culture. A religious liberty framework is being deployed to undermine all civil rights laws. Social policy retrenchment as economic conditions worsen hurts millions of our people, and requires stronger alliances to forestall. Like what happened with abortion rights, the demobilization of donors and volunteers post-marriage is a risk. Over-criminalization, the national security state and over-policing harm the lives of many in LGBT communities (trans, immigrant, POC, sex workers, youth, HIV+ people, urban-based).”
The next phase: ‘Disestablish marriage’
Tamara Metz, associate professor of political science and humanities at Reed College and the author of “Untying the Knot” wrote a portion of the article under the subtitle, “What’s Next? Disestablish Marriage!”
Now that marriage “equality” is the law of the land, the next phase of the struggle is to work toward the elimination of marriage as an institution, Metz argues.
“Abolish the legal category. Even as we savor the victory for civil equality this week, we should start to push for disestablishing marriage. Freedom, equality and the health of our liberal democratic polity depend on it.
“Get the state out of the business, and let couples (and groups, for that matter) marry under the auspices of what are for them real ethical authorities. In these hands – of their church, their family, their urban tribe, their garden club – the power of the status to transform would be invigorated.”
Metz is not the first to be totally honest about the LGBT movement’s goal of rendering the term “marriage” meaningless as an institution that has limits or boundaries of any sort.
Lesbian journalist Masha Gessen, a Russian-American who wrote a book blasting Russian President Vladimir Putin for his anti-gay stance, said in 2012 in a radio interview that homosexual activists were “lying” about their real political agenda.
Here is what she said in an ABC Radio interview.
“It’s a no-brainer that (homosexual activists) should have the right to marry, but I also think equally that it’s a no-brainer that the institution of marriage should not exist. … (F)ighting for gay marriage generally involves lying about what we are going to do with marriage when we get there – because we lie that the institution of marriage is not going to change, and that is a lie.
“The institution of marriage is going to change, and it should change. And again, I don’t think it should exist. And I don’t like taking part in creating fictions about my life. That’s sort of not what I had in mind when I came out 30 years ago.
“I have three kids who have five parents, more or less, and I don’t see why they shouldn’t have five parents legally. … I met my new partner, and she had just had a baby, and that baby’s biological father is my brother, and my daughter’s biological father is a man who lives in Russia, and my adopted son also considers him his father. So the five parents break down into two groups of three. … And really, I would like to live in a legal system that is capable of reflecting that reality, and I don’t think that’s compatible with the institution of marriage.”
Samantha Allen, writing for the Daily Beast under the headlined article “LGBT Leaders: Same-Sex Marriage is Not Enough,” said LGBT people face challenges with regard to housing, violence, immigration status and other forms of discrimination.
Felipe Sousa-Rodriguez, deputy managing director for United We Dream, or UWD, a youth-led U.S. immigrant organization, called Friday’s ruling “bittersweet” for “the estimated 267,000 LGBTQ people who are also undocumented.”
“The reality for them is that they face unrelenting discrimination for both sexual orientation and gender identity as well as their immigration status,” he told the Daily Beast.
Carlos Padilla, the program coordinator of UWD’s Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project (QUIP), said undocumented LGBT immigrants face high rates of violence and sexual assault in detention centers.
“To make matters worse, the Department of Homeland Security often places these people into solitary confinement for ‘their own protection,’” Padilla told the Daily Beast. “This is torture and we cannot stand for it as a country.”
Illegal-immigrant LGBT people constitute 3 percent of the U.S. LGBT community but account for 8 percent of LGBT hate-violence survivors, a statistic that Padilla finds unacceptable.
But it seems what most LBGTs want is not a change in the laws but a change in people’s attitudes toward them.
“For LGBT people as a whole, a wide range of cultural problems are sure to persist even after same-sex marriages become a nationwide norm,” Allen writes. “A recent GLAAD poll found that, despite majority support for same-sex marriage in the U.S., many Americans still have a fundamental discomfort with LGBT people in their own social circles.
“More than 100 million Americans still say they’re uncomfortable just seeing a gay co-worker’s wedding photo, and staggering rates of hate violence continue to devastate the transgender community,” GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis told the Daily Beast. “We must not only advance policy, we must also accelerate acceptance of the LGBT community – because laws alone don’t end discrimination, people do.”
Focusing on churches, schools, families
The activists intend to make that happen by using the left’s vast community organizing resources. They will focus on re-educating churches, schools and families.
One community organizing group, Believe Out Loud, an online community for LGBT Christians, told the Daily Beast it has “a unique role to play in promoting this acceptance in the context of U.S. churches, particularly within Christianity.”
“As we look ahead to a movement beyond marriage equality, we know that the work of affirming Christians is not yet finished. It’s now time for churches to move beyond simply accepting what we understand, to affirming LGBTQ people as they are,” the organization said in a statement.
While legal rights are seen as “one critical piece of the puzzle,” Dr. Eliza Byard, executive director of GLSEN, an LGBT advocacy group that focuses on reaching public schools, told the Daily Beast. “Education is the glue that holds society together and transmits both opportunity and shared values from one generation to the next.”
Texas a ‘battleground’ state
One of the first battleground states that the LGBT activists will focus on is Texas. They plan to agitate at the grassroots level in churches, schools, city councils, state legislatures and in Congress while also aggressively filing lawsuits against those who do not bend to their wishes.
National and state gay rights leaders convened in front of the Texas Capitol Monday to make a statement: The fight for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people is not over. The next frontier, they told the Texas Tribune, is to push for more protections against discrimination in areas including employment and housing.
“In many states, including my home state of Ohio and right here in Texas, you can get married but then suffer consequences,” Jim Obergefell, the lead plaintiff in the Supreme Court case that legalized same-sex marriage, told the Tribune. “You can get married and then lose your job, lose your home and so much more because we are not guaranteed nondiscrimination protections. … Friday’s historic ruling is a victory, but it’s just the beginning.”
Obergefell was joined by a coalition of community-organizing groups including the Human Rights Campaign, Democrat state Rep. Celia Israel of Austin, Equality Texas, two same-sex couples who filed suit over Texas’ same-sex marriage ban, and others who announced they would be part of a statewide campaign for nondiscrimination protections.
Their announcement came a day after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a written opinion that county clerks in Texas who have religious objections to same-sex marriage can opt out of issuing such licenses, though they should be prepared to face fines or legal challenges, the Tribune reported.
Democrat proposals for statewide nondiscrimination laws have failed to gain any traction in the Republican-controlled Texas Legislature, where conservatives have tried to override city ordinances.
Nine Texas cities with populations of more than 100,000 have passed LGBT nondiscrimination ordinances over the past decade, including Dallas, Austin, Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio and Plano.
As gay-rights activists push for the expansion of these laws at the state level, Republicans are pushing back, and the strength of that push back will soon be tested.
“Our religious liberties find protection in state and federal constitutions and statutes,” Paxton said in a statement Sunday on his written opinion. “While they are indisputably our first freedom, we should not let them be our last.”
Paxton’s opinion followed a memo by Gov. Greg Abbott that directed heads of state agencies to “preserve, protect, and defend the religious liberty of every Texan.”
In Missouri, State Rep. Stephen Webber, D-Columbia, called for the state to pass a law barring discrimination against members of the LGBT community.
“People can still be fired for their sexual orientation. Newly married gay couples can be denied housing,” Webber told Missouri.net. “This is not the end. This is an important step, but we’re going to continue pushing forward until everybody in the state has complete equal rights.”
Diane Booth, who married her partner in Iowa in 2013, said a nondiscrimination act needs to be passed at the federal level.
“You can be fired at will. You can be refused service in a restaurant. Heck, they’re even trying to refuse people selling flowers and baking cakes,” said Booth.
By Leo Hohmann