The governor of California signed two bills into law that:
- designate May 22 "Harvey Milk Day," and
- require the state recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages as civil unions.
He also vetoed two bills that:
- would have added sexual orientation and gender identity to the Sexual Abuse in Detention Elimination Act so that they could be considered in housing decisions in order to reduce extraordinarily high levels of violence against LGBT people in prison, and
- would have allowed transsexual people born in California but moved out-of-state to obtain a corrected birth certificate from their counties of origin.
Let's close our eyes and pretend like each of these bills is equal; he went 2-2. It's progress, but queer activists got all four of those bills through the state legislature and he put a stop to two of them, hardly the actions of an "ally."
And there is this from a couple months ago:
Today's cuts to HIV/AIDS programs include: an 80% reduction in funding for Education & Prevention, a 70% cut in HIV Counseling and Testing, a 50% cut for Early Intervention (that provides primary medical care), a 100% cut in Therapeutic Monitoring Program (the program that monitors the effectiveness of HIV/AIDS drugs administered through the state's AIDS Drug Assistance Program), a 20% cut in Housing and more than a 50% cut in funding for Home and Community-Based Care.
"With a single stroke of his blue pencil, Governor Schwarzenegger has terminated the state's AIDS programs and, along with it, the lives of some of the state's most vulnerable citizens," said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. "The Governor's heartless act is not only deadly, but guaranteed to cost California taxpayers millions more in the future. With HIV testing programs sidelined and the state's ability to prevent new infections stymied, new infections in California will increase--each new infection can mean up to $600,000 dollars in lifetime health care costs. A 100% cut to the Therapeutic Monitoring Program is the definition of penny-wise and pound-foolish--with the ability to monitor the effectiveness of lifesaving AIDS drugs hampered, the state's already cash-strapped AIDS Drug Assistance Program will only end up spending more for drugs."
And this from 2007:
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a same-sex marriage bill Friday, the second time in three years that such a measure died on the governor's desk.
"I support current domestic partnership rights and will continue to vigorously defend and enforce these rights," the governor said in a statement Friday.
In his veto message, the Republican governor said it is up to the state Supreme Court and then, if necessary, voters to alter Proposition 22, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman in California.
So why is the most prominent gay pundit saying this?
The Californian Republican gives out-of-state marriages the full force of civil unions and signs the Harvey Milk Day legislation. He has more of a record on gay rights than Obama.
Sure, his record on LGBT (conscious frame-shift there) issues is great if you don't look all the homophobic and transphobic stuff.
And don't tell me that Sullivan was just talking about "gay rights," so HIV/AIDS stuff, transgender rights, and the well-being of queer prisoners doesn't count. There is about the same amount of chance that I'll need a birth certificate corrected in California as I'll need my out-of-state marriage recognized in California (as in, none), and taking a significant step towards ending violence against queer people in prison will do a whole lot more good for people than a symbolic day of celebration (even though that's important too). All these issues are contribute of the well-being and freedom of the LGBTQ population, and if we're talking about a politician's record regarding that population, they all count.
I know, I know, he's now the voice of the impatient "young generation" because he called for Joe Solmonese's head (as if that's edgy - folks have been calling on Solmonese to resign for years and HRC's never given a hint of care). But maybe, as I've been saying around these parts for a while, we can base our anger, frustration, and impatience on an intelligent assessment of reality and where folks outside the movement - like Obama - are coming from? Because we can't run a movement based on just getting angry and saying whatever angry thing pops into our heads.
Andrew Sullivan became the #1 voice of the LGBT community to mainstream media, in effect, and it doesn't make any sense, it's anti-democratic, and it doesn't help much. His tunnel-vision on which issues count towards a record on LGBT rights and which ones don't is telling.
Along those lines, have you called or written your representatives in Congress yet about ENDA?
(h/t John Cole)
Update: Oops, forgot about this:
Yesterday, the White House announced the recipients of the 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilian honor. The list of 16 exemplary individuals includes Harvey Milk, awarded the medal posthumously, and tennis legend and gender equity champion Billie Jean King. This marks the first time the Medal of Freedom has been awarded to openly gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender individuals. This is a remarkable honor and recognition of two of our community's greatest heroes. I certainly am grateful to President Obama for acknowledging Harvey and Billie Jean among the 16 powerful, diverse, and outstanding men and women whose company they join.
So they're even in the "honoring Harvey Milk" category.