Join “Pink Flu”

Here we go again.

The “Rs” are in trouble with their conservative base—again. Well, they must be, because every time the leadership finds themselves in need of demonstrating to their base that they are, indeed, committed to “the cause,” they haul their favorite whipping boy out of the closet (pun intended) for some public flogging.

The Republican leadership in the Minnesota House and Senate are not cutting the budget enough, proposing further tax reductions, or digging their heels in deeply enough in their battles with Democratic Governor Dayton, and, as a result, the conservative wing of the party is not happy with them. So, to rally the troops, and fire up the base, they turn to gay marriage.

Wait a minute. Doesn’t Minnesota already have statutory language that defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman? The answer is, yes, we do. So, why do we need to devote precious time, resources, and attention to this issue during such a critical legislative session?

Minnesotans are lagging behind the nation in educational standards and outcomes; unemployment is hovering around 7 percent; thousands of people with disabilities are scheduled to lose their life-sustaining services (and thousands more will experience significant reductions in community-based services); the majority leadership is not resolving the current projected deficit with cuts only (as promised), but will borrow tens of millions to finance the projected deficit; our infrastructure is need of significant attention; environmental issues loom; and many other critical issues are still staring this Legislature in the face.

Why, then, should we devote time to the Republican leadership’s need to make a shameless and disingenuous genuflection to their base. It is an unconscionable effort to further polarize our communities. Shame! If a similar move were perpetrated against any other minority population, there would be a tremendous reaction.

Senator Scott Dibble said it best when he asked, “What family does this help in Minnesota, especially during this time of economic difficulty and crisis?”

The national Republican leadership recently tried a similar tactic. After completing a disappointing budget negotiation (the far right and the Tea Party folks wanted even deeper cuts to the 2011 federal budget), they got a spanking from the unions in Wisconsin, and not did fare as well as they would have liked in the health-care debate last year. Congressman John Boehner and his merry band of followers needed to shore up confidence from their base, and appease the Tea Party influence that is overshadowing their broader agenda.

Their first move was to hire prominent DC attorney Paul Clement (he was Solicitor General in the George W. Bush Administration) of King and Spaulding at $520/hour to defend the Defense of Marriage Act. On April 25, King and Spaulding, bending to significant pressure from the gay community, decided to drop the US Congress as their client. Clement promptly resigned from King and Spaulding, and was immediately picked up by Bancroft PLLC, a small firm in Washington, DC, in a lateral move. He is a partner in the firm.

I, and everyone one else who identifies as gay or gay-friendly/supportive, could, again, reiterate just how incredibly demoralizing, insulting, and subordinating it is to have elected officials marginalize us and thousands of others, simply for political gain. But I know the message would fall on deaf and uncaring ears.

So, instead, I would like to take my message to my community, the gay community. As a community, we cannot allow this to be done to us. It is time to demonstrate that we will not accept this. And believe me, this is about a great deal more than just marriage.

So, to that end, I would like to propose that we organize a community-wide event that will send a clear message to St. Paul, and beyond. We need to remind elected officials at the State Capitol that we are not a minority to be taken lightly. They need to be reminded of our social, and more importantly, our economic value and its consequences.

I believe we should stage a “Pink Flu.” Don’t laugh…economic boycotts have been a tremendously valuable tool for civil disobedience. The GLBT community and our nonprofit organizations (The Aliveness Project, OutFront Minnesota, and others) need to spread the word that on June 28, we will all “drop out” for the day.

We will stay home from work, and we will not shop, or purchase goods or services (no grocery shopping, no gasoline purchases, no visits to our favorite coffee shop, nothing). And we will encourage our friends, families, and supporters to join us. This one-day economic boycott will send a very clear message to the legislative leaders—that we are vibrant, contributing, and important assets to our communities all across the state.

Join me….I dare you.

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