By Rob Watson
It was “Dad’s night out” as I watched the end of a huge Hollywood blockbuster. In the movie, a fictional USA was in tatters having just overcome a violent and destructive enemy. Many iconic landmarks had been ruined and lay in shambles, ready to be reborn and refashioned into a greater America. The fictional president stood and gave the final stirring speech of the movie. His words were full of ideals and principles about everything that makes America extraordinary, spoken in the language of the founding fathers characteristic of the Declaration of Independence on the brink of a revolution. .
It made me start to wonder. Where is the LGBT version of this declaration of independence? Our community has been through a real-life version of this onslaught. We have been attacked from all sides and every American ideal that we hold dear has been brought into question. We have come to understand that many others consider us exempt from those ideals.
The election last November was the culmination of almost two years of intense public LGBT bashing and debate. Over that period, indignations that LGBT lives had to endure were glorified on the right and scrutinized by the left. The election itself was a watershed moment that raised new hope for evolution in the popular opinion.
Although government policy seems to be improving and polls show growing enlightenment in the populace, throughout American society LGBT citizens continue to be derided and demoralized. From the denial of service of various wedding support providers to the most recent humiliation of a male married couple at the hands of a medical institution, one thing has become clear. A war of humiliation has been declared on LGBT citizens.
As I sat in that movie theater, I yearned for a counter, and emphatic, declaration of war to be made on behalf of all LGBT Americans, a revolution in the name of human decency, so I wrote such a declaration myself.
I wrote it with deep homage to Founding Father and author Thomas Jefferson. My goal was to stay true to his “voice” and extend that voice to the principles that drive our current civil rights movement.
I, therefore, humbly offer my fellow Americans:
The LGBT Parents Declaration of Independence
When in the Course of Human Events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve their spiritual and emotional reliance which has subjugated them beneath a domineering majority, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the sharing of an equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s Higher Powers entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of Man and Womankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the Separation from destructive standards, nonsensical assumptions and demoralization.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Men and Women, no matter what instinctive companionship needs drive their emotional health or their spiritual intimacies within the age of consent, are created equal. They are endowed by their Ethereal Core with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Henceforth, we expect the privacy of our individual physical beings be under our own determination whether for reproduction purposes or gender identification. This includes how we have our children, where they came from, whether our safe parenting is worthy, and exactly what genitals are beneath our clothing. You have poked, studied and inquired enough. You are done.
We expect to be evaluated by our work and contributions and compensated fairly as compared to others providing the same work and contribution.
We expect the same level of public acceptance and respect as any other members of society. We expect the same dignity for our family units that others rightly receive. We expect the love and care we establish for our children to be as honored as it is in any other family.
We expect to be able to relocate anywhere in our country without having our family protections and stability disappear or be thrown into question. A job offer in another state should not be the equivalent of divorce.
We expect a reasonable notion around the concept of “religious freedom.” The notion should protect all, ourselves included, to choose paths of self-spiritual growth. It should never be applied in such a way as to tyrannize or dictate to others how their lives are to be lived or what legal protections they may enjoy.
We expect the right to love and marry the consenting adult we want and who returns our affection with their own free will.
We expect the same right to home and family as heterosexuals have had.
We expect to earn a living and take responsibility for our lives as other citizens do based on our talents, merits and abilities.
We expect to be equal brethren to contribute and to receive from the common good.
We expect fair play and the chance to do our best.
We, therefore, the Members of the LGBT Community of the United States of America, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good people of this Society, solemnly publish and declare, that the LGBT Community of the United States is, and of Right ought to be, Free and Independent; that our Community may live our lives in Peace and Contentment and to partake in all other life acts that other Americans may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Dignities and our sacred Honor.
Sincerely, the underscored. (To sign, please respond in the comment section with your name,)
By: Tom Butts (No “Ifs” “Ands” or “Butts”)
I was having a conversation with my father about politics; it’s never good or it’s so ambiguous that neither of us can make sense of it. I of course am Democrat, and my father is a “Texas Republican”. Ask me what that is…
Well, it’s quite easy to explain. My father votes Republican, plain and simple. He likes the image of the candidate; it has a lot of pull for him. In 1980/84 he voted for Ronald Reagan. He really had a bro-mance with that president. To this day, I’m sure there’s still a picture of him and “Aunt Nancy” in his house, framed in some black-patent frame from 1981. In 2000 he was very excited that GW Bush won the election, a mental landslide in my father’s head (although Gore captured the popular vote). What these men have in common is two things: Belt buckles and cowboy hats. Yes, it’s actually that simple. You can probably guess who my father supports this year (hint: another Texan, with poor debating skills).
So, back to my point, we were talking about the 2012 election and my father asked who I was going to support in the General Election. I quickly told him President Obama. He said to me, “you are a one-issue voter”. You know what? I think I am.
It bothers me when my gay friends say that they’re Republicans. I say “bother” because I do believe everyone should have the ability to vote for the person they think would best lead the nation. I hear a lot of my gay friends talk about how they are excited about Romney, or Paul. I still don’t understand.
I’m a white guy, my husband and I make a really good living (we’re DINKS – double income no kids). We own homes, we travel, if you were to look at us, we probably look like Republicans. But we’re Democrats. The main reason is that I don’t think you have anything without your freedom. Your freedom to marry, freedom to be respected, freedom to be loved, etc. I can’t think about money saved by voting for a conservative candidate when he or she is saying things like, “we can’t support big government unless it’s to overturn a state’s stance on marriage or abortion.” In addition to confusing me, it offends me to no end.
I tried to explain to my father that without the ability to be equal in the eyes of a secular government, I have nothing. He still didn’t get it. So, I said, “Dad, what if the Republican Party platform said people over the age of 75 should be banned from driving?” – - (Long pause) – - he then says, “that would never happen”, I challenged him again. He tells me that he couldn’t possibly vote for the party (he’s 81 years old). I said, “Wouldn’t that make you a one-issue voter”? – - (Another pause) – - “I get it”, he says.
I think what it boils down to is when you try to get people thinking about things that are important to them and that it could be taken away, they get the AH-HA! moment and it clicks.
So, when people ask me if I’m a one-issue voter, I proudly say yes. Until we get equal rights and the ability to focus on other topics that don’t take our rights away, I don’t mind if people think I’m being narrow minded…
I’m simply being me.
By: Brandy Black
The Human Rights Campaign Gala was another smashing hit this year! Held at the Ritz Carlton in downtown Los Angeles, the stars were hard to spot among the many beautiful guests that were in attendance. Tears were shed as we celebrated the huge steps that the HRC campaign has been making towards equal rights for all.
I got the chance to speak with the fabulous Jesse Tyler Ferguson of Modern Family before the event began.
Brandy: How has it impacted you playing the first gay dad on a major network television show?
Jesse: It’s a huge honor. I don’t take the job lightly, the social ramifications of a role like that of Cameron and Mitchell are huge so we take it very seriously. I’m encouraged daily by people who come up to me and say “thank you for representing my family on TV” or “thank you for changing the mind of someone I care about” or “thank you for changing my mind.” So it’s awesome. I think television is a very powerful medium and I think it makes certain things safe and I think we’ve made certain gay couples safe in a lot of homes and maybe it wasn’t so and if it’s ok for Cameron and Mitchell to raise a baby and live their lives and get married, maybe it’s ok for Bob and Joe down the street…so I think it’s really encouraging.
Brandy: Do you feel a responsibility as a celebrity to speak out for certain causes?
Jesse: I speak out for causes that I feel passionate about; I accept the responsibility. I certainly never set out to be a poster child for everything but I’m certainly more than happy to add my voice to a group. I’m just an actor. I didn’t even go to college. I’m not the smartest cookie in the drawer…how about that? I combined three: (1) smartest (2) cookie in the (3) drawer. I certainly don’t want to be the band leader for anything but I want to be in the band for sure.
Brandy: Are you similar to your character?
Jesse: Mitchell is way more serious than I am…but like he, I have a passion for life. I have family values and I would certainly love to have an adorable little daughter some day, too.
Jesse was one of the opening speakers for the HRC Gala.
“I am so proud to be an openly gay actor in Hollywood and that goes for all 7 of us. The change is happening and it’s getting better all the time.”
The fabulous Chelsea Montgomery Duban introduced her “new gay uncle- guncle” Joe Solmonese to the stage. Chelsea is best known for speaking out and supporting her gay dads. I did a two-part series on her family last year after the 2010 HRC Awards.
The HRC announced its newest LGBT initiative called Welcoming Schools in which they strive to build a school community where all students are welcome and respected. The speakers celebrated the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and the many people on the Human Rights Campaign that helped to make this happen. The President of the HRC, Joe Solmonese, gave an inspiring speech and thanked the many heros that have fought for equality.
Honoree Rabbi Denise L. Egers
Honoree Rev. Susan Russell
Craig Stowell (below right, with his brother Calvin), who served in Iraq, says when he heard about the hearings to repeal gay marriage in New Hampshire, he thought of his 22-year-old brother Calvin and all that he had gone through growing up gay. Craig felt he had to speak out. He took out a full-page ad in the paper to tell the story of his family.
“Until a month ago, I’d never done anything, not even a letter to the editor…let alone conceived of telling my story in a full-page ad in the most conservative newspaper in New Hampshire. In our family, we stand up for each other no matter what and when it came time for me to speak up, HRC helped me find my voice…because I saw what my brother went through for too many years. It was obvious to me. The effort to take away gay marriage was not only wrong but shameful…Calvin, I’m so proud of the man you’ve become and no one has the right to take away your freedom to marry and one day, when you find the man of your dreams, I hope I’ll get to be your best man, just as you were mine.”
It was a truly inspirational evening for all.