photos by Mike Skiff & Dorjan Williams
- LADY GAGA
by: Memo Menos
|LADY GAGA had a nice run though Los Angeles the past couple of days, with her show stopping performance on the AMA's, then an impromptu appearance at a new club promotion GRINDR in West Hollywood Sunday evening at Club Voyeur, culminating with a wild CD signing at BestBuy in West Los Angeles Monday night where the mob scene waiting in line to meet the diva, was treated to pizza, bought by the diva herself, LADY GAGA. Her new release, THE FAME MONSTER is in stores now, with the new single and video, BAD ROMANCE, already tearing it up. The girl is on fire.
It's ironic, that a day after a demoralizing defeat for GLBT rights, the OBAMA administration sent up THOMAS E. PEREZ, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division to testify before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, to argue for legislation ending discrimination in the workplace for gays, lesbians and transgenders. The sentiment is in the right place, if the effort seems a bit disjointed.
"On an issue of basic equality and fundamental fairness for all Americans, we cannot in
good conscience stand by and watch unjustifiable discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual
and transgender individuals occur in the workplace without redress. We have come too far in
our struggle for “equal justice under the law” to remain silent or stoic when our LGBT brothers
and sisters are still being mistreated and ostracized for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do
with their skills or abilities and everything to do with myths, stereotypes, fear of the unknown,
and prejudice. No American should be denied a job or the opportunity to earn promotions, pay
raises and other benefits of employment because of his or her sexual orientation or gender identity, which have no bearing on work performance. No one should be fired because he or she is gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. Period. ENDA would provide much needed and long overdue federal protections for LGBT individuals, who still face widespread discrimination in workplaces across the Nation. For this reason, the passage of ENDA is a top legislative priority
for the Obama Administration," PEREZ told the committee chaired by Senator TOM HARKIN.
The words couldn't be more true. But the very argument supporting ENDA, a federal protection which would supercede the patchwork of various state laws on the issue, could and should be applied to gay, lesbian and transgender rights overall. Certainly, it should apply to marriage laws, which the OBAMA administration seems all too content to be governed by a patchwork of state driven laws, propositions and referendums, essentially leaving that particular right in a state of flux. Worse yet, it is left up to the whims of the majority, a scenario that eviscerates the very meaning of an equal right.
"To underscore the need for a federal statute, I would like to review the current scope of
the law. 21 states – including Connecticut, Nevada, New Hampshire, and Maryland – prohibit
employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. Another 12 states – including Iowa,
New Mexico, Oregon, Colorado, Minnesota, Washington, Rhode Island, and Vermont – as well
as the District of Columbia, prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender
identity. A number of local jurisdictions contain similar protections in their local laws. For
example, in my home state of Maryland, Baltimore City and Montgomery County have
expanded the protections available under state law by banning employment discrimination
against transgendered individuals. In states where no remedies exist, LGBT employees have no opportunity to combat
egregious workplace discrimination and harassment," PEREZ testified.
Isn't this the same or even worse with regard to gay, lesbian and transgender relationships? Yet the President refuses to weigh in on these issues. Equal rights should mean equal rights across the board.
PEREZ continued, "Moreover, although some courts have held that Title VII’s prohibition against sex
discrimination can protect LGBT persons from certain types of discrimination under certain
circumstances, the extent of such protection varies significantly from court to court. Enactment
of legislation prohibiting discrimination against LGBT individuals in employment is needed to
meaningfully and unambiguously prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual
orientation and gender identity and to give victims of such discrimination adequate remedies."
It's nice that President OBAMA and the Justice Department feel the GLBT community is entitled to a discrimination free workplace, and that protection should be federal to avoid gaps or irregularities in enforcement.
If only they valued our relationships the same way.
President OBAMA made a bell ringing metaphor last week on the occasion of the passage of The Hate Crimes Bill. He recalled President JOHNSON who made the reference when he signed into law comprehensive civil rights legislation for minorities in 1968. "We can be proud that that bell rings even louder now and each day grows louder still," the President boasted.
On Tuesday, the GLBT community had its bell rung, by the majority of voters in Maine, who believe, as a minority group, gays and lesbians are not entitled to marriage, are not entitled to live in recognized families, and are not entitled to equality in this country. Voters in Washington state, by a slim margin, allowed civil unions to exist there, but nevertheless, gays and lesbians who seek to live in same-sex relationships even there are still second class citizens.
President OBAMA was silent on the referendums in Maine and Washington, just as he was not to be heard in the battle over Proposition 8 last year in California, where the majority stripped gays and lesbians of the right to marry. That right had been decided, by the state's Supreme Court months earlier, only to be rescinded by a simple majority vote of the people. Can you imagine what President OBAMA'S reaction might have been if, say, Louisiana put up for a majority vote, whether blacks could marry white's in that state? Or, say, if Arizona, decided to have a public election on whether Latinos could buy property in that state? I would say he would have weighed in on the issue. A lot of leaders would have weighed in. Bells would be going off like crazy.
But this is not OBAMA'S fight. In the campaign in 2008 he did not support gay marriage. As a result, church groups in California used his stated positions to convince people that he was in favor of the passage of Proposition 8. He never voiced opposition to the prospect that those rights could be taken away from Californians. And likewise, he did not voice disapproval of the citizens of Maine denying gays and lesbians there to marry, despite passage of the law in that state's legislature, and a signing by that state's governor. The case of Maine was not about "judicial activism", as some conservatives like to dissemble on this issue. It was enacted by the people's representatives, in a law signed by the state's chief officer. No matter.
If President OBAMA is indeed to be our bell ringer, he needs to say the following, fast, and loud, and often, and with feeling:
1. MARRIAGE IS A CIVIL RIGHT
2. CIVIL UNIONS and DOMESTIC PARTNERSHIPS ARE LIKE RIDING IN THE BACK
OF THE BUS. NO, THEY ARE LIKE RIDING IN A DIFFERENT BUS, WITHOUT A/C OR
WINDOWS. NO, THEY ARE LIKE WALKING. THEY ARE NOT EQUAL, PERIOD.
3. THE MAJORITY IN THIS COUNTRY IS NOT ABLE TO VOTE, BY A SIMPLE
MAJORITY, OR BY ANY MARGIN FOR THAT MATTER, FOR THE REMOVAL, DENIAL, OR ABRIDGEMENT IN ANY
WAY OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS OF CITIZENS OF THIS UNITED STATES.
4. CIVIL RIGHTS ARE NOT DETERMINED STATE BY STATE.
5. I WILL NOT STAND BY RINGING SILLY BELLS WHILE CANONS AND BOMBS ARE
GOING OFF IN THE GLBT COMMUNITY PERPETUATING THEIR TREATMENT AS SECOND CLASS CITIZENS.
6. FOR ONCE AND FOR ALL, GAYS, LESBIANS AND TRANSGENDERS ARE EQUAL
CITIZENS OF THIS COUNTRY, PERIOD, AND WE NEED TO START TREATING THEM ACCORDINGLY.
Until then, all the effort and best intentions on signing hate crimes legislation, fine tuning AIDS and immigration policy, adopting regulations that ban discrimination in federal hiring, approximating equality with regard to spousal benefits for gay and lesbian federal employees, referencing gays and lesbians in Family Day and Adoption Month proclamations, appointing gay ambassadors, and including gay families in Easter egg hunts is just a lot of bell.