Eleven measures passed banning gay marriage. George Bush wins the election. ABC's 20/20 turns tabloid to pander to Christian and Conservative Americans.
How can the American Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Trans and Queer(GLBTQ)communities be optimistic? Its time to start returning to the closet, the end is near. Not quite. There is much to be optimistic about and we must act now.
We do know 50% or more Americans (from recent polling) would approve of gay unions, that even President Bush has said he could support such a measure. We know that younger Americans are much more likely to support gay rights and gay marriage. These younger Americans will be the majority in the next ten years.
The focus of the American GLBTQ rights movement must be directed in at least four actions.
The first action is to build support in state's and cities that do agree with gay rights, where partnership, non discrimination and employment laws are in place. Shore up the home front.
The second action is to continue reaching out to young Americans through a variety of means such as the media, publications and being supportive and active partner on issues younger Americans are concerned about, such as the environment, education and peace.
The third action is to continue to support and elect progressive GLBTQ's to elected office. This does not means supporting a GLBTQ person just because they happen to be GLBTQ. It means supporting those that will work to address our concerns where ever they can.
The forth item is among GLBTQ communities. Where we can, we should be out of the closet. Our best spokespersons are ordinary gay people, living ordinary lives, not much different than other Americans. People that go to work, pay their bills, pay taxes, pay into pension plans, have families, go to movies, pick up their kids after school, look after our aging parents.
We can paint the picture for America, we just need to start using more canvas, more often.
In 2006 more elections will take place, more GLBTQ candidates and those supportive of GLBTQ rights issues need to be elected. Electing people to office takes work and money.
There is so much we can do to help elect someone to office. Get informed on the local, state and national elections. Know what the candidates stand for or against. Call the local or state office of a gay rights group. Ask what they will be doing and sign up to help!
Rick Barnes, 46, is a 25 year veteran of gay rights and social justice issues and has played a significant role in electing GLBTQ and those supportive of gay rights to political office at the local, provincial and federal level in Canada.