Editors' note: Guest blogger David Mixner is former strategist and adviser to several presidential campaigns, including those for McGovern, Clinton, and Gephardt. He currently works as an activist for AIDS, LGBT rights, and wildlife. David writes from Turkey Hollow, his home in upstate New York.
After the passage of Proposition 8, it is even more crucial to look at our national agenda and see if it fits this new century and new president. For almost thirty years we have been pushing the passage of basically the same Employment Non-Discrimination Act and Hate Crimes legislation. While extremely good work has been done on both these efforts, the bills actually might be outdated now. It's time to reorganize our collective thought processes so we don't inadvertantly let our friends in the Congress and the President off the hook.
We have nothing to lose as a community to carefully and respectfully discuss what makes sense as our agenda this coming year. Just simply to pass a civil rights bill that was written decades ago, while symbolic, might not be the correct course. Clearly Hate Crimes continue to escalate in the country but quite honestly with our margin in the senate and President-elect Obama in the White House, the passage of such legislation should be a slamdunk for the LGBT community. If it isn't, then we have to seriously question our Democratic friends.
Is now the time for us to consider an omnibus civil rights bill that includes a great deal more than just employment non-discrimination? If we take our rights one piece of legislation at a time the process could take forever. What about a new all-encompassing bill that would, besides employment, also include immigration rights, social security rights, and a repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell?' This is just a partial list and I understand that with 'don't ask, don't tell' we might want to proceed separately. But surely out of the over 1,000 rights, benefits, protections and privileges denied to us and given to other Americans we can find many of them to include in such a new piece of legislation.
Even some hardcore Republicans now talk about how they believe in civil unions. What about a piece of legislation that repeals DOMA and at the same time requires other states to recognize civil unions that are legal elsewhere? Now, I am the first to admit drafting legislation is not my strong suit but I do know we are ostensibly operating in a different environment and that realignment might give us the edge to enjoy the best political situation that we have had in a number of years.
Let's be bold and think out of the box. Our national leadership should not ask us to settle for just the old standard but instead show us they understand the new political opportunities that are presented to us in the next two years.