Those of you in the know, and you know who you are, do not need me to make you aware of my passion to the cause of civil rights, human rights, equality…you get where I’m going.
The best way to describe this experience is an LGBT rights roller coaster. Every twist, turn and loop made me think I was approaching full equality, but now it is beginning to feel like someone has thrown the reverse switch and the end of the ride is becoming harder to see. I have seen many successes that are a start to addressing long overdue rights, however, I have seen moments that make me shake my head and wonder just how far we are from the true meaning of “full equality”.
The over-arching equation used to acheive full equality in this country inconsistantly factors in the needs of the LGBT community. We bounce around as after thoughts, also-rans and misstepped opportunities, instead of a segment of society readliy considered by officials when place settings are being doled out at the table of equality.
Here’s the part that I marvel at… having to point out to lawmakers the pain we have endured due to a lack of civil rights, we spend millions of dollars each year trying to bend the ear of our public officials who, interestingly, need to be reminded of how few rights we actually do have as citizens in this state, and for that matter, this country.
I went to Olympia last week to hear the state’s proposal to cut costs, yet still protect those represented by various agencies, and in a classic “square peg into a round hole” maneuver, commissions that serve advisory functions for various minorities will be consolidated with the Human Rights Commission and clearly, no one is pleased. This reorganization was proposed with little consideration for the opinions and experiences of Human Rights Commissioners and/or the Office of Human Rights, resulting in the glaring omission of needed protections for the LGBT community. They where nowhere to be found in any civil rights reorganization proposal presented by our state.
Again, as if we are invisible, there is no language that speaks to our lives. Every ethnic minority was acknowledged in the reorganizational charts and in Senate Bill 5557, and each existing commission was addressed by name in the reorganization, but guess who wound up standing outside looking in? Need a hint? That’s because we have never had a commission for our civil rights in this state, so again we have no representation for our rights.
A phrase that I hear over and over in this march toward equality is that we all have to play in the sandbox together, and yes that is true, but in the sandbox I see, we aren’t even allowed to get in.
The struggle for minority rights is nothing new. Our society’s legacy is littered with bigotry, intolerance and, on too many occasions, a stumbling history of not getting it right for many of our citizens. We still have much to learn, and not surprising to anyone, we have those that think they have been “called” by a higher power to justify their discrimination of others. These opinions and beliefs are worn, faulty and regrettable, but what does it say about those charged with ending this behavior when it becomes to challenging to remember all of the groups needing inclusion?
To be continued…
I want to point out that this is my blog and I can speak of my concerns as a private citizen, so just to be really clear that is what I am doing right now.
About CharleneCharlene Strong is an advocate for social justice and marriage equality, she is the subject of the award-winning documentary for my wife… She lives in Seattle, Washington.