Guest Blogger

A New Birth of Freedom - Now Is the Time

Filed By Guest Blogger | November 17, 2008 11:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, The Movement
Tags: Cleve Jones, Dustin Lance Black, gay rights, President-Elect Obama

Editors' Note: Cleve Jones, founder of the NAMES AIDS quilt, and Milk screenwriter Dustin Lance Black are today's guest bloggers. They have launched the new site Seven Weeks to Equality to push President-Elect Obama to quickly pass pro-LGBT legislation.

On November 27, 1978, gay rights pioneer Harvey Milk was assassinated in San Francisco City Hall. Thirty years later, his struggle continues.

On November 4, 2008, millions of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans of all races proudly cast their ballots for Barack Obama, helping to elect the first African-American President of the United States.

On that same day voters in Arizona, Arkansas, California and Florida approved initiatives denying basic civil rights to GLBT citizens.

Like other Americans who voted for Barack Obama, gay people of all backgrounds supported our President-elect because we share his vision of a united America and want to move forward to address the critical challenges facing our country and our planet.

We have always been willing to serve our country: in our armed forces, even as we were threatened with courts-martial and dishonor; as teachers, even as we were slandered and libeled; as parents and foster parents struggling to support our children; as doctors and nurses caring for patients in a broken health care system; as artists, writers and musicians; as workers in factories and hotels, on farms and in office buildings; we have always served and loved our country.

We have loved our country even as we have been subjected to discrimination, harassment and violence at the hands of our countrymen. We have loved God, even as we were rejected and abandoned by religious leaders, our churches, synagogues and mosques. We have loved democracy, even as we witnessed the ballot box used to deny us our rights.

Like Barack Obama, we never abandoned hope in the American dream of equality and freedom. We never stopped believing that the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights included us.

We have always kept faith with the American people, our neighbors, co-workers, friends and families. But today that faith is tested and we find ourselves at a crossroad in history.

Will we move forward together? Will we affirm that the American dream is alive and real? Will we finally guarantee full equality under the law for all Americans? Or will we surrender to the worst, most divisive appeals to bigotry, ignorance and fear?

It has been thirty years since Harvey Milk gave his life in our struggle for equality. We will not wait thirty years more. We demand that the Federal Government act immediately, decisively and unequivocally to ensure equal protection under law throughout the United States of America.

We can accept no compromise.

We call on President-Elect Barack Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to draft and submit to the Congress comprehensive legislation protecting the civil rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender citizens in all areas including civil marriage, military service, adoption, social security, taxation, immigration, employment, housing and access to health care, social services and education.

We can wait no longer.

We call on President-Elect Obama, Speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid to speak out against the escalating campaign of harassment, violence and murder directed against our communities and pass legislation extending hate-crime protections to GLBT citizens.

Now is the time.

We call on President-Elect Obama, Speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid to take personal responsibility for involving our nation's religious leaders and the GLBT community in a national dialogue to encourage understanding and reconciliation.

We also call on gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people to heed the call of Harvey Milk, when he spoke thirty years ago on the steps of San Francisco City Hall: "You must come out, my brothers and sisters, you must come out!"

We call on gay people everywhere to seize this moment, to understand that freedom will not come until we are willing to commit the full strength of our own voices, minds and bodies to the struggle. We must personally introduce ourselves to those who would discriminate against us. We must make ourselves visible.

We call on all supporters of equality to sustain and intensify the nationwide campaign of mass protests and non-violent civil disobedience, for seven weeks, starting on November 27, 2008, the thirtieth anniversary of the assassination of Harvey Milk, and to then gather together in mass, from all corners of our country, in Washington, DC on the morning of Tuesday, January 20, 2009, to honor the inauguration of our President, Barack Obama.

We call on all our people and all our allies to carry this message of hope and equality to every corner of our nation, to every place of worship, to every school and factory and shopping center, every city, suburb and farming town. We call on you to march together, demonstrate together, pray together and dream together of a future America where, finally, all are free.

There are rare moments in human history when, suddenly and unexpectedly, the opportunity for great change and progress becomes possible. Barack Obama has shown us the power of hope and the urgency of seizing that moment. Harvey Milk has shown us the power we possess when we make our voices heard.

We can accept no compromise.

We can wait no longer.

Now is the time.

We are equal.

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We can accept no compromise.

We can wait no longer.

Now is the time.

We are equal.

Remember that the next time John Aravosis, Chris Crain, and Rep Barney Frank propose an ENDA that doesn't include transgender people.

I don't ever want another gay person to ever spit the words 'incremental progress' at me ever again in life since it's obvious you're not accepting 'incremental progress' on the marriage issue..

Thank you.

When white gays talk of equality, I cannot decide whether to laugh, cry, or strike out in rage.

Either way, it winds up the same. "oh, we didn't mean YOU..."

Gay rights? The song remains the same. Trans woc need not apply.