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Ron Suresha

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Gay Rights on a National Party Platform? The Greens Did That Decades Ago

Posted: 08/14/2012 3:47 pm

After many weeks of equivocation, the Democratic Party finally adopted the protection of same-sex marriage equality as a plank on their national political platform. Unsurprising, most leaders in the civil-rights movement for gender and sexual minorities (G&SM)* have called the news a major breakthrough for the Dems, but honestly, the overcautious, halfhearted way they approached this civil-rights issue was not impressive.

It's been exceedingly painful to watch Democrats grapple with the concept of embracing G&SM equality over the years. At long last, now in 2012, President Obama was "outed" with an admission of equivocal acceptance of same-sex marriage equality due to a preceding statement by Vice President Biden that allowed media to press the issue with the president. This wave of political inertia pitched forward, to more or less force the Dems' hand to adopt some small measure of equal civil rights for G&SMs lest they alienate the middle-left Independents.

Sure, compared with the outright homophobia of the GOP (and the Tea Party), the Democrats seem like angels of deliverance for progressive queer folks. But many queer folks will likely be surprised to learn that the Green Party, an organized international political party based on the principles of environmentalism, social justice, grassroots democracy, and nonviolence, has affirmed the concept of gender and sexual-orientation nondiscrimination since its inception in Europe more than four decades ago and its adoption by the Green Party USA at least 13 years ago.

In the 2000 presidential election I was a registered Democrat who voted for Ralph Nader. When Al Gore handed the election to George W. Bush and the Democrats blamed Nader and the Greens for the loss (though Gore didn't even win his home state), I decided to look at alternatives to the two-party system.

I found that the Green Party embraced fully the concept of equal civil rights for G&SMs on its platform, otherwise known as the Ten Key Values, as clearly and unequivocally stated in the three following provisions (hat tip to David Bedell):

  • We, as Greens, are committed to establishing relationships that honor diversity; that support the self-definition and self-determination of all people; and that consciously confront the barriers of racism, sexism, homophobia, class oppression, ageism, and the many ways our culture separates us from working together to define and solve our common problems.
  • We affirm the right to openly embrace sexual orientation in the intimate choice of whom we love.
  • We support the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people in housing, jobs, civil marriage and benefits, child custody -- and in all areas of life, the right to be treated equally with all other people.

In 2000 these are goals that feminist and LGBTQ progressives should have expected Democrats to embrace, instead of the party being dragged reluctantly to assume a relatively pro-gay position more than a decade later. So I voted with my feet and switched parties.

About two years later, when I met my husband, we discovered that each of us had switched parties from Dem to Green, for many of the same reasons. We both particularly appreciate that the Greens always have been for us a group in which our own relationship, as well as the basic human right to love whomever we choose, regardless of gender or sex, has been affirmed.

When telling queer folks about this, it surprises me how often they immediately discount the longstanding Green Party endorsement of G&SM rights, repeating the same tired trope about progressive third-party candidates draining Democratic votes. The so-called progressive media hardly even acknowledge that the Green Party exists and has been at the forefront of liberal politics ever since it came to America more than four decades ago. Even respectable gay political pundits, when questioned about the Green Party, revert to the conventional wisdom that national third-party presidential candidates are not viable.

Queer folk seem so overjoyed about Obama's limited support of same-sex marriage that they don't recognize that the Democrats are their friends now only because the polling tells them it's politically advantageous to include a very narrow definition of same-sex civil rights -- that of the right to civil marriage -- as a concession to the base. But they continue to overlook the fact that the Green Party has been the true home of progressive queers in our country for quite a long time now.

Believe me, I'm thrilled that Dems have recognized that doing the right thing by queer folks by simply affirming our civil marriage rights on the national party platform will appeal to voters like me. And I wouldn't not vote for President Obama. But please, don't start calling the Democrat Party "progressive" because of this one long-awaited act of kindness to us. The real progressive party in this nation, the Green Party, has always affirmed that our rights as gender and sexual minorities are human rights.

Discover more at the Lavender Greens' website, lavendergreens.us.

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*"Gender and sexual minorities," or "G&SM" (pronounced "gazz-em"), is an inclusive acronym that represents the overlapping communities of LGBTIQQA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, questioning, and ally) persons.

 
 
 

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