Tuesday, May 19, 2009

America Must Realign Itself With Truth, Justice, and Fairness To All Americans

by Scott Foval, blogger and host of ScottsBigMouth.com and contributor to The Huffington Post

There is a sad reality to being in a 'minority group' in the United States.

Despite politicians' and pundits' trumpeting of our nation as being the "most free nation on Earth," Americans still have hypocritical double-standards about Gays, Lesbians, Bisexual, Transgendered, and Questioning Americans.

This is especially true when it comes to 3 of the most visible issues our country is facing--1. Gay Marriage, 2. The U.S. "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Policy, and 3. HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment funding.

For decades every other social group in the United States has been prioritized to make strides in our society. Women, ethnic groups, religious minorities; all have seen major strides in equality and equal protection under the law in the past 40 years. Indeed, where it used to be acceptable to discriminate, oppress, physically abuse, and outwardly harm members of these social groups; today they are protected in ways that other countries have yet to catch up to.

A glaring exception, indeed a group that has not only been ignored, but in fact is still actively shunned and told to "deal with it" today; is the GLBTQ community. Even Native Americans, Asian Pacific Americans, and Latin American folks have greater rights to equal treatment than GLBTQ folks, whereas 10 years ago these groups were largely ignored by the greater political power classes, and barely could get 10 minutes with a major political leader to discuss their issues. When you think of ethnic and religious leaders who preach discrimination against GLBTQ Americans, while simultaneously claiming equality is a fundamental right; such is evidence of how far we have yet to go.

When it comes to Gay Marriage; the religious right has no problem with any other type of 'married' relationship between two people. They have no problem with multi-ethnic, cross-denomination, cross-religious, even cross-class unions. GLBTQ marriages are the sole area where they claim the "sanctity of marriage is threatened." Heck, they don't even make this much noise about 'non-believers' like Pagans, Atheists, non-Christian faiths, or WICCANS. Nope, they only raise caine about GLBTQ Americans' wanting to have legal equality.

On the U.S. Military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, when you compare us to the other top military organizations in the world, we have fallen way behind other countries. From the United Kingdom, to Canada, to Australia, to the UN peacekeeping forces--all see all of their soldiers as equally valuable and equally necessary. The U.S. Military, though, under Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and even William J. Clinton; the creator of the bizzare and outwardly harmful "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy; through George W. Bush's regime, all continued to open up the ranks to all comers except GLBTQ members. They claimed that recognizing the equality and necessity of GLBTQ members would harm troop morale; but if you talk to real troops, real commanders (at least the modern and forward-thinking ones), and real military leaders--they'll tell you that GLBTQ officers and enlisted soldiers continue to be some of the most dedicated patriots ever to wear their uniforms.

When it comes to global epidemics, the media raises all kinds of hyper-awareness about the H1N1 "Swine Flu," Breast Cancer, Diabetes, and Autism; but couldn't care less that HIV/AIDS is still as rampant in the U.S. as it ever was. Last night I watched Uncle Charlie Gibson shine the ABC World News "light of truth" on the 2nd wave of drug-resistant HIV/AIDS and an epidemic of anti-retroviral drug abuse in South Africa, but I can't even remember the last time I saw a network news report about how drug resistant strains of HIV/AIDS, MRSA, Hepatitis, and Syphilis are ravaging the GLBTQ communities in whole new ways. Stranger still is how the local media here in Chicago have outright ignored the reality that Governor Pat Quinn has targeted public health programs that feed the ADAP, Ryan White, and other HIV/AIDS victim support programs as some of the biggest cuts proposed under his new budget. Even after the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, LifeLube.org, The Windy City Times, The Free Press, and Gay Chicago all decried the cuts in their pages, and Gay Liberation Networks' Andy Thayer was acquitted by a jury for allegedly assaulting a Chicago Police Officer; our community's issues are nearly ignored by the rest of our local press and political establishment.

Except, that is, when they want our money. Yep, Illinois political and business leaders have suggested that Illinois should be the "honeymoon destination" for GLBTQ couples who get married in Iowa. Of course, these same hypocrites can't see fit to give GLBTQ Illinoisans equal rights to marry as Iowa does. Nope, they just want the gay dollar without giving us the equal protection under the law against discrimination, tax fairness, or even protecting the salaries that produce it.

Now I'm not saying that America is bad, or that Americans are bad. I'm just pointing out here that America is the land of hypocritical attitudes when it comes to true equality for all people. Straight folks, especially those in the religious and ethnic minority communities, seem to want equality only for themselves and not truly for everyone. Politicians are even worse, because they're willing to ask for gay money, but don't have the political cohones to actually stand up and deliver real equal rights for the GLBTQ folks from whom they almost always have their hands out to squeeze a few bucks.

It is time for all Americans to deal this hypocrisy a fatal blow, and truly level the playing field for all Americans, and it starts at the top. President Obama relentlessly worked the gay community to support him, promising all measures of change under his administration. As of yet, he has yet to deliver. Governor Quinn, Mayor Daley, legislators, supervisors, and aldermen are no better; as they have continued to ask for our wallets, but pretend our money, health, and value as productive contributors to society isn't as important when the heat is on from the religious leaders, corporate beancounters, and agents of intolerance.

It is time for America to realign itself with true equality, to give GLBTQ Americans all the same prioritization; and to give the same amount of respect and dignity to us that they do any other productive and patriotic community in our country. It is time for us to stand up and make them, especially now, when we have been promised change, but have yet to see any happen.

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