On LGBT Civil Rights, New Leaders Emerge, But Not Where You Expect Them
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) is always claiming that her "potential opponents" in the upcoming #2012 election are always at her heels, and she touts this message in all of her fundraising e-mails. This was her message on December 28, 2011 : "I wish I didn’t have to bother you during the holidays, but I’m up against a critical deadline. My potential opponents will be announcing their plans early next year. That means it’s critical that we show how strong we are and make these challengers think twice about entering the race. My campaign has set a goal of raising $120,000 before our December 31 FEC deadline. We must not fall short."
Meanwhile, she is always claiming that it is her progressive legislative agenda that makes her a target of her "potential opponents." Back on October 25, 2009, Sen. Gillibrand gave an interview at the LGBT Community Center in New York City. In that interview, she said that she would support amending the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to make it illegal to discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity (see 7:30 at : Interview with U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) - Towleroad.com), but Sen. Gillibrand has done nothing to fight for LGBT civil rights from this perspective.
Calling for a federal anti-discrimination law is not entirely new. In 1974, then Representatives Bella Abzug and Edward Koch introduced a bill entitled the Equality Act of 1974, which would have banned discrimination against lesbians, gay men, unmarried persons, and women in the realms of employment, housing, and public accommodation. The Equality Act was never passed upon its first introduction. In subsequent Congressional sessions, attempts were made to reïntroduce and pass LGBT civil rights bills. Even with new sponsorship, those bills did not pass. Almost 40 years later, a new grassroots movement is forming to make a renewed push for full federal equality for LGBT Americans.
And until the New York Congressional delegation finds the courage to do what was attempted almost 40 years ago, we have now a new crop of leaders in Brad Hoylman and Lois Rakoff, who are helping to build a grass-roots movement for full, federal LGBT equality.
The Manhattan Community Board 2 Resolution is the first such resolution known to be passed by a New York governmental body. Earlier in this year, LGBT civil rights activist Richard Noble approached the City of West Hollywood for a resolution in support of a concept bill known as the American Equality Bill, which is being touted as an omnibus federal bill that would largely end federal discrimination based on "sexual orientation" and "gender identity." In response to Mr. Noble's efforts, the City of West Hollywood adopted a resolution in support of the American Equality Bill.2011-03-07 City West Hollywood Resolution Agenda (LGBT Civil Rights - American Equality Bill)
And here is another proclamation, which Mr. Noble received from Mayor Jean Quan from Oakland :Oakland Proclamation for LGBT Civil Rights (American Equality Bill)
Mr. Noble has generated more letters, resolutions, and proclamations in support of a federal omnibus bill to codify LGBT civil rights.
Once the larger LGBT equality movement discovers that it is possible to begin to set a vision for what full, federal LGBT equality looks like, more people will begin to add to the growing grassroots movement -- and will create a mass movement for an omnibus federal civil rights law. And nobody will be accepting of empty rhetoric, such as expressed by Sen. Gillibrand in this 2009 interview wherein she expressed support for LGBT civil rights. Note how Sen. Gillibrand has spent over two years doing nothing about filing a federal bill in Congress, even though almost 40 years ago Bella Abzug and Ed Koch had the courage to file a bill to end federal discrimination.
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama, who is still "evolving" on the issue of marriage equality, is setting a cowardly tone for our Democratic Party leaders, because President Obama doesn't want to be a public champion for full, federal LGBT equality, and, in essence, he is hiding in the closet, while his surrogates do the heavy lifting. Politicians, who lack the courage to display bold leadership like that was displayed by Bella Abzug and Ed Koch almost 40 years ago, are not doing the LGBT equality movement any favours.