LGBT Activist Debate: Which Right is Priority?

LGBT Activist Debate: Which Right is Priority?

April 20, 2009 Commentary Thought of the Gay 1

During the April 20, 2009 Twitter Town Hall Meeting for LGBTQ activists and allies, an interesting debate was raised, essentially asking, should LGBTQ activists put all their resources toward one right at a time such as Marriage Equality or Employment Non-Discrimination, or continue to pour our resources into all aspects of Civil Rights?

Upon discussion, the general consensus seemed to be that we should continue fighting for the repeal of DOMA, repeal of DADT, passage of a Federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act [ENDA], Hate Crimes Legislation, Equal Taxation, and the list goes on.

As part of the discussion, I began a poll which gauges the temperature of LGBT Activists and allies. The poll is set to close on April 30, 2009. While the poll is open, we can open the dialogue to discuss our votes. The current results are trending in a surprising results.

I mistakenly assumed that “All of the above, no one right is more important” would win; however, at this moment it is tied with 10 votes for a Federal Employer Non-Discrimination Act and 10 votes for all of the above.

Why is this current result surprising? I expected Same Sex Marriage to be the closest second to “All of the above.”  This was not an unwarranted expectation considering media coverage of the Gay Civil Rights Movement has been restricted almost entirely to “gay marriage.”

Further, it is my belief that federal recognition of same-sex marriage, the rest will quickly follow. For example, if the government says to the people, “we do not discriminate,” the people stop learning to discriminate rendering hate crimes legislation moot and ENDA inevitable [I know, utopia]. In addition, the primary cause of unequal taxation is  the lack of federal marriage recognition; therefore, for me at least, it stood to reason that most would vote for either “All of the above” or “Same Sex Marriage.”

So what are the arguments for why the ENDA is most important? Simple, passage of the ENDA would result in gays being listed federally as a “protected class” resulting in every peice of legislation and/or court ruling in favor of a protected classes being applicable to gay people [ultimately], a reasonable and sound argument.

Thus far, the arguments supporting “All of the Above” seem to only take into account that any violation of a civil right is repugnant and must be addressed. However, with this argument we must step back from our passions and consider proper strategy. Has it been strategic for us to give funds, time and effort to numerous discriminatory practices or would we be better served to “put all of our eggs in one basket?”

My initial response is, put all of our eggs in one basket, marriage equality, and allow the rest to follow; however, I’m quickly finding myself to second guess that. Therefore, as the poll continues, I will continue to examine the issues therein and encourage your feedback.

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