In the The Way of the Cell: Molecules, Organisms, and the Order of Life, Franklin M. Harold says, "To understand what a movement is, you need to ask what it does."
This is a particularly important question today within the human rights movement for fairness and equality around the world. And, this question is particularly front-of-mind right now in my home state of Texas as the Republican Party Platform that attacks gays and the disabled has emerged.
In the face of this public willingness to discriminate and exclude the most vulnerable amongst us, I believe that Harold would ask us: What will you do to create a world that treats people fairly?
Here is what some people are doing. On July 15, 2010, a group of nonpartisan organizations raised their voices to issue a joint statement calling on RNC Chairman Michael Steele and Texas Republican Party Chairman Steve Munisteri to forcefully reject the platform of the 2010 State Republican Party Platform of Texas.
Let me share part of that Platform with you. It seeks to:
- Eliminate those with HIV/AIDS, learning disabilities, behavioral disorders and mental stress disorders from the Americans with Disabilities Act;
- Force Congress to withhold Supreme Court jurisdiction in cases involving religious freedom, abortion and the Bill of Rights;
- State that homosexuality "tears at the fabric of our society, contributes to the breakdown of the family unit and leads to the spread of dangerous, communicable diseases."
- Overturn Roe v. Wade and pass a "human life amendment" to the Constitution, a proposal that would make abortion illegal in all cases and criminalize most common forms of birth control
- Eliminate the Endangered Species Act
- Rescind no-fault divorce laws and support "covenant marriage"
- Eliminate future and repeal past presidential executive orders
- Oppose the Employment Non-Discrimination Act because of a belief that it affirms "sinful and sexually immoral behavior."
- Make the issuance of a marriage license to a same-sex couple a felony to include the civil official who would perform the marriage
As a pastor who performs marriages and counsels people in the midst of painful divorces, the sister of a person with learning disabilities, and the mother of a child living with HIV, I want to really do something about this attempt to destroy the rights of so many people by the Texas GOP.
As a pastor who is often the first to hear about the loss of a job in a workplace where lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are harassed, I want to really do something to stop the painful prejudice that is inherent in the GOP platform.
This platform is going to tell lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender teenagers and their straight friends that there is no safe place for them in Texas -- not at school, not at church and not in the halls of government. This is violence against LGBT people, and it must end.
I really want to do something, so today I join many of my friends and neighbors in asking the Texas GOP to abandon their current platform and adopt a direction that recognizes the basic human dignity of all people.
And I am asking you to check the platform of the Republican Party in your state and see what has been added that is cruel.
The bipartisan statement indicates that since the Republican Party of Texas declared the platform earlier this month, state Republican parties in several others states have adopted tenets similar to those found in the Texas platform.
I am reminded of the times when I wanted to do something careless or foolish that my teenage friends were doing and my mother said, "Would you walk off a cliff if they said go?"
We need to really think about what is happening in our states and in our country and work together as Americans to creatively and collaboratively address the deep economic and social difficulties that we are experiencing and that impact the global economy.
We will not solve these problems with a witch hunt for the most vulnerable amongst us.
I live in a county that proudly waves the Republican majority banner. I cannot believe that my Republican colleagues and friends and our local pastors and faculty members and social workers and counselors want to adopt this platform and see it implemented in our city, which is home to three Christian universities, a large rehabilitation center, and a mental health facility where so many with learning disabilities and mental stress challenges are served.
Our nation and our children will be watching to see if the Republican party continues to invest in divisive and cruel tactics that exclude and marginalize people or if Republicans commit themselves to the America of opportunity and possibilities, free of the hate, bigotry and prejudice found in the Texas GOP platform.
I hope we do something much more than just watch. I hope we will stand and speak out against this platform in any state where it appears.