I have to admit, it's been a long time since I've felt the need to be politically active. Like many other LGBT people, I moved to the big city, surrounded myself with many gay and gay-friendly people, and never felt or thought about discrimination during my day-to-day living. Complacency, I've learned, is a horrible state to be in, but according to reality TV, so is New Jersey.
When Mike Huckabee spoke out in favor of Chick-fil-A's anti-gay stance and called for a "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day," thousands upon thousands of like-minded people showed up, including everybody's favorite, Sarah Palin (though truth be told, I think she would probably go to the opening of a car door at this point). That day, the anti-gay establishment reached record-breaking sales.
It woke me up.
Though Huckabee and Palin might not be high on many people's lists of reputable, responsible mouthpieces, the fact of the matter is, when they speak, people listen.
Where is the ringleader on our team?
Though I was young(ish), I remember the days of Larry Kramer, ACT UP, and Silence = Death. That in-your-face kind of activism sparked a fire within me to get involved. I volunteered my time at GMHC, making phone calls and doing mailings. I did every dance-a-thon, every walk-a-thon. Basically, if there was any sort of "gay-a-thon," I was there.
To say I am thankful to all who are fiercely advocating for LGBT equality is a huge understatement, and even I, a humble Broadway chorine with an ample bosom and a mean right split, realize how hard it is to play nice when there are bullies on the playground.
Now that Mitt Romney has chosen Paul Ryan as his running mate, the LGBT community needs the next generation of Larry Kramers more than ever. This time the bullies are not trying to steal your lunch money. No, this time, Romney-Ryan will permanently take thousands from you in tax and social service dollars by denying you the same rights allotted to your heterosexual countrymen.
If elected, Romney-Ryan would maintain DOMA and may even advocate a federal constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. LGBT people could then permanently lose out on the 1,138 benefits, rights, and protections provided to legally married couples. We are not just talking about the 179 tax provisions that take marital status into account, but also limitations affecting social security benefits, health benefits, tax credits, estate taxes, residential sale benefits, family medical leave, immigration laws, COBRA benefits, and employee benefits.
If their past statements and positions are anything to go by, Romney-Ryan would ensure that you are kept a second-class citizen by also denying you federal protection from discrimination in the workplace, denying you federal protection from hate crimes, possibly keeping you from adopting children, and reinstating "don't ask, don't tell." Basically, you'll get screwed, and odds are they won't call you in the morning.
They will, however, gladly take your tax money, ask you to work as hard as you can (as you always have) and continue to make this country the best it can be (as the LGBT community has always done), and, in return, give you a mere fraction of the inalienable rights you deserve.
Take everything yet give nothing. That doesn't sound like the "Christian values" Romney preaches but more like a form of bondage -- and not the good kind.
What happened to the Republican Party? When did it become a group of people (of course not all, mind you) who demand respect for their religious beliefs yet have no tolerance and respect when it comes to the beliefs of others?
While I am a deeply spiritual person and God plays a very profound role in my life, why do the religious beliefs of Romney-Ryan interfere with my rights as an American citizen? It seems Republicans have bypassed "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" and went straight (no pun intended) to "do as I say, not as I do."
It is very disturbing, in a country of many faiths and ideologies, a country that was founded partly to be free from the governing entity (Great Britain) forcing its religious beliefs on its people, that the Republican Party's presumptive presidential and vice presidential nominees' political positions are deeply rooted in their respective religions. How have we gotten further and further away from the separation between Church and State?
While claiming a return to the founding principles of our nation, the Republican Party seems to have forgotten that the Founding Fathers wanted religion to have no part in their government. To the right-wingers who flock to public
orifice office, I offer you this little gem: It was Thomas Jefferson who called "Christian philosophy" the "most perverted system that ever shone on man."
By selectively using biblical passages to discriminate against LGBT people and treat us like second-class citizens, the Republican Party is disrespecting what our Founding Fathers fought for: a government by the people, for the people, free from the tyranny of oppression and religion.
Discriminating against the LGBT community has nothing to do with religion, let alone anything based on the teachings of Jesus Christ. Let's call it what it is: bigotry and hatred.
If you are anything like me, all this hypocrisy makes you angry. Though do not let it anger you in the way that you want to do something harmful. Let it fuel your internal fire to do something great.
Our Founding Fathers put their lives on the line to create this magnificent country. What are we going to do? I, for one, am going to channel my inner Larry Kramer and make some waves. I am going to get informed by learning the facts behind the agenda of the religious right. I am going to get political by contributing what I can to the reelection of President Obama -- the first president to endorse same-sex marriage and the one who has done the most for LGBT equality -- and get proactive by finding what LGBT organizations resonate with me so that I can invest my time, money, and voice to make a difference. While some make change with a whisper, join me in making change with a scream. It's time to make some noise. It's time to get out and shout!