Hope—Not Ho-Hum

As another Pride celebration draws near, one contemplates the consumerism, the crowds, and the assimilation supplanting more rough and rowdy Prides of the past. More communities are celebrating, more GLBT folks and allies, and just plain citizenry, are joining in.

The Stonewall Uprising’s 42nd anniversary is just around the corner (June 28), and while the name has become a catchphrase, the importance of that pivotal event remains. Gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transvestites, and transgender people finally said, “No!” to the cycle of random police roundups, beatings, harassment, and imprisonment.

That crowds now can parade by the thousands through Downtown Minneapolis, can congregate peacefully in Loring Park—however huckster-ridden and politico-laden they may be—is a testament to the dramatic changes initiated that night.

Recently, former President Bill Clinton and his daughter, Chelsea, stepped forward to urge New York lawmakers to legalize same-sex marriage. Chelsea herself is getting trained on the phone system to work with the campaign run by New Yorkers United for Marriage, a coalition of New York gay-rights organizations.

Whether or not one sees marriage as the main focus of gay rights or political activities generally, the rite of and right to marriage is a signal one in societies worldwide, marking the participants’ legal and social standing within the state, village, or tribe. To be denied this status, whether one wants to accept it or not, is to be denied a significant part of what defines a qualified member of a given group.

While the Clintons lend their collective name to New York’s campaign, Minnesota Republicans (backed by religious groups) are introducing bills to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot in 2012 banning same-sex marriage.

Speaking against this effort was Representative Steve Simon (DFL), asking, “How many more people does God have to create before we ask ourselves whether or not God actually wants them around? How many gay people does God have to create before we ask ourselves whether the living of their lives the way they wish as long as they don’t harm others is a Godly, holy, happy, glorious thing?”

Let us, in these coming months, determine to exert as much time, energy, and resources as the Republicans will be putting into stepping backward into a proud step forward.

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