LGBT Rights. The Gay Movement. Queer Liberation. Full Equality. The Homosexual Agenda.
All are names that get thrown around in the fight for equal right for LGBTQ people. And all have different connotations and baggage that go along with them. Ask any person what they think the "strategy" for getting rights should be and you'll get a different answer each time. As GW Bush would no doubt say, it's strategery at its best.
The National Equality March, Obama's HRC Dinner speech, lawsuits moving through the courts, Democratic Party foot dragging, and many other events have brought the debate about what the overall strategy should be as we move forward to the forefront.
Do we protest and pressure in the streets or lobby in back rooms? Do we move state by state or bypass it and go to straight to the Federal government? Do we pass pieces of legislation as we can, like a fully inclusive ENDA, or move for a Equality Omnibus Bill?
The debate is always set up as "either/or" when, in my mind, it should be "do it all."
Now before you start sharpening your commenting swords, let me explain.
I'm no pollyanna (well, maybe a little bit). I understand there will always be infighting in any movement. There will always be harsh, passionate debate, especially when it comes to things like basic rights.
What we need to accept is that that debate is okay. There is no one path to equality.
We need the protests in the street and anger from the grassroots to keep pressure on politicians (and our own major organizations) to keep moving forward, even when it isn't convenient or easy. But at the same time, we need politicians and leaders to enact that change- it's the reality of how of government is set up.
The same can be said of the state-by-state vs national strategy debate. I'll admit that as a Floridian, who has little or no hope of getting the rights other progressive states are currently pushing for, I get impatient. Which is why I tend to support national movement. Yet I know that without momentum from states winning victories in employment non-discrimination, relationship recognition, and other issues, national leaders won't have the political will (or courage) to make the change that will effect my home state.
There are legitimate complaints and risks about any strategy people pursue: limited community resources and attention, leaving people behind, setting up bad legal precedent with lost court cases, scaring moderates with sows of anger or frustration, or being too moderate and not moving fast enough. Even within strategies, like the stat-by-state movement, there are disagreements and problems- usually one state gets all the attention and money and others are left to fend for themselves in political cycles (like with California's Prop 8 overshadowing Florida, Arizona, and Arkansas).
That's why we need everyone to balance it out. We'll never get everyone to agree on a "LGBTQ strategy." We aren't a homogenous people. Our strength is our diversity. Let's use it.
Let us protest in streets to create a conversation in the media about our rights, which forces politicians to move. The perfect example it the National Equality March and President Obama's speech to HRC. Do you think it is just chance that Obama addressed HRC the night before a massive protest on his doorstep from the same community? Not hardly.
And the cycle continues: the speech is then dissected and spread online by bloggers and grassroots organizers, who use it to create more pressure on the administration and our national organizations, to hold them accountable.
Which means more movement in political circles, who's natural state is to be more conservative and cautious.
It's the circle of political life and social change.
Progress is never organized or neat. It's a messy, crazy, and, at times, infuriating. There is never one path, just many that head in the same direction, some longer than others.
Find the one the works for you, that you can get passionate about and stick with. But have the wisdom, understanding, and foresight to allow others the same courtesy.
We'll all meet up when we get there.