June 19, 2005—Portland, Oregon
U.S. FSP/RW Gay Pride Statements
Vow to Resist! Galvanize the Grassroots!
Take heart! The international queer community is making progress in the equal rights struggle. In May, actions around the globe commemorated the International Day Against Homophobia — the Venezuelan city of Caracas declared itself a “homophobia-free territory”, and gay and allied groups paraded through Hong Kong. Last year, Spain's socialist government made progress to legalize same-sex marriage. New Zealand became the most recent nation to pass a same-sex civil union law with most of the rights of marriage.
At home and abroad the fierce culture war between the rightwing fundamentalist Christians and the Gay-Lesbian-Bisexual-Transgender (GLBT) community for the right to marry continues. The latest battle is California's proposed constitutional amendment that seeks to bar all legal rights and protections for same-sex couples and their families, including domestic partnerships. Here in Oregon, voters passed Measure 36, defining marriage as between one man and one woman. That was followed by the state court's failure to uphold the validity of over 3,000 same-sex marriages performed in Multnomah County last spring.
On the upside, the Oregon Senate Rules Committee recently voted in favor of Senate Bill 1073 which would legalize civil unions between same-sex couples. The bill would provide all the rights of marriage under state law, such as health care coverage, tax benefits, and custody rights, although none of the several hundred rights provided under federal law, such as Social Security benefits.
In truth, no one should have to get married – or even have a partner – to get health care. We should have equal rights and live free from discrimination. How can we win these fights?
Despite the disappointment of Measure 36, the GLBT community's history in Oregon has been triumphant against bigoted ballot measures through activism in the streets, door-to-door education campaigns and bigot-busting tactics that counter discriminatory propaganda with factual information, and analysis of the rightwing agenda. Locally and internationally this is the prescription for victory.
We cannot passively rely on legislation to defend or advance GLBT rights. We cannot depend on campaign promises – even if they did exist – to win liberation. Democratic Party officials have sold us out repeatedly. It doesn't matter which big-business party has the majority in Congress or sits in the Oval Office.
Winning tactics are education, protest and a militant worker-led movement of fed-up queer folk and allies. We are unionists, feminists, people of color, elders, youth and immigrants. Let's unite GLBT struggles with the fight against CAFTA and privatization, defense of reproductive rights, social security and affirmative action, and opposition to the U.S. occupation of Iraq.
Solidarity calls for getting the low-down on local, national and international organizing. Arm yourself with a source of optimistic reporting that doesn't bed-down with corporations! Accessorize your activist life with a subscription to the only socialist feminist, alternative newspaper in the country—the Freedom Socialist!
Take a vow to resist demoralization, status-quo protectors, and passivity! Get engaged to galvanize a grassroots movement for civil rights!
June 26, 2005—Seattle, Washington
It's time to crank up the heat!
Queer Pride 2005 is the best of times and the worst of times. Our coworkers, friends and neighbors are more supportive of gay rights than ever before. Queer Eye and The L Word are on primetime TV, and openly gay men are seated on the City Council and in the state legislature. But storm clouds are gathering.
Just last year, Focus on the Family took over Safeco Field for a “May Day for Marriage” mega-rally against same-sex marriage. Now they're back, hosting an antigay hatefest in Bothell. The growing power of bible-thumping bigots was felt this April, when the Democrat-controlled state legislature defeated a bill to protect lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered people from discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations.
We can beat the rightwing fundamentalists, but it's going to take a change in strategy. First and foremost, we've got to stop being a doormat for the Democrats. Whatever their platform says, in the end they answer to corporate funders — just like Republicans.
For decades, queer voters, communities of color, and union members have given volunteer hours, money and votes to Democrats who promised to hold back the tide of reaction. But they have not delivered. Instead, they joined with Republicans to launch a bloody war on Iraq, pass the Patriot Act, privatize public jobs and services, defeat affirmative action, and oppose gay marriage. “Bipartisan” efforts have also slashed aid to the poor, diverting tax money to Halliburton in Iraq and Paul Allen here at home.
Thankfully, Seattle voters can help break the stranglehold of billionaire developers and take a bite out of capitalism by voting for Freedom Socialist candidate Linda Averill who is running for City Council, Position 4. A grassroots feminist, pro-gay labor candidate, her platform calls for raising the minimum wage to $17, banning police taser guns, instituting rent control, defending abortion rights and nationalizing healthcare. Talk to Averill campaigners or visit her webpage at www.socialism.com to learn how you can help.
To out-mobilize the rightwing, we also need to be able to tell our friends from our foes. Case in point: at hearings for the state gay rights bill, lavender leaders expected Coors Brewing Co. and Microsoft to make the case for queer equality! But Coors funds the ultra-right Adolph Coors Foundation, which backs antigay initiatives nationwide. And Microsoft was retaining Ralph Reed, former head of the Christian Coalition, as a “consultant” to the tune of $20,000 per month!
We do have real allies to work with. A timely example is the Lake Washington School District teachers' union, which is leading the effort to stop homophobic preacher Ken Hutchinson from using public school facilities for his hatemongering sermons. Show your support for separation of church and state, give the district a call.
Labor, people of color, immigrants, women and queers all face parallel battles — and we are, after all, the majority. Fused into one revolutionary rainbow we can overhaul this economic system and win the culture wars.
Re-ignite the Spirit of Stonewall--Get Radical!
Attention dykes, lesbians, gay men, queens, fags, trannies, bisexuals and queers of all stripes: 35 years after Stonewall, we are out of the closet. We've rallied, sat-in, lobbied, marched on Washington, fought back against AIDS and gone to the Supreme Court. We've made great gains, but all of this hasn't brought us freedom or full equality.
In Pride Month 2005:
• Gay marriage and partnership rights are being attacked and reversed across the country.
• Mayor Bloomberg refuses to enforce the Dignity for All Students Act to help protect queer and other youth from brutish bullying.
• Violent assaults-like the murder and dismemberment of African American gay man Rashawn Brazell-are rampant, and often are slow to get official recognition as bias crimes.
are we sliding back for each step forward?
Bigoted Christian Crusaders
For every action, there is a reaction. We have won some rights, but now face powerful forces that want to push us done again.
Emboldened by Bush's victory last fall, conservatives are jumping on the bandwagon of Bush's so-called "war on terrorism" to cultivate fear and take advantage of economic insecurity to promote racism, war and discrimination against queers, people of color, youth and women.
Democrats Are No Help
We need political leadership that is not tied to the purse strings of Big Business.
For three decades now, the gay movement has depended on Democrats in office to safeguard our interests.
It hasn't worked.
Could anything be more telling than the statements of openly-gay Democratic Party leader Senator Barney Frank from Massachusetts? Last fall, he tried to blame Kerry's defeat on lesbians and gays who sought same-sex marriage licenses in San Francisco and pushed the courts in Massachusetts to uphold queer civil unions. Frank claimed this activism provoked conservatives to go to the polls and pull the lever for Bush, thus sealing his victory.
Excuse us! This is the same party that refused to confront Bush over his illegal invasion of Iraq, even when large numbers of queer and straight people oppose the war. The Democrats are no alternative. They can only make empty promises as Clinton did with his grandstanding about the "Don't ask, Don't tell" military policy.
Go to the Root of the Problem
To win, we must fight back with renewed focus and purpose. We are a part of every struggle for freedom. To meet the needs of all of us, we have to leave our individual comfort zones and embrace a radical program that says that none of us is free unless all of us are free.
To do this, we've got to recognize capitalism as the root of our problems because it depends on homophobia, racism, sexism-and increasingly on war-for survival. Claiming an anti-capitalist program for our movement will forge a radical link to our allies here and around the world. This will put us on the road to our collective freedom.
The current system generates poverty, unemployment, political repression, inequality, and the destruction of human and natural resources. It depends on division. We need unity.
Capitalism's profit-driven economy tries to hide its own problems by scapegoating "outsiders": whether Blacks in the Jim Crow South; Jews, homosexuals, Romanis, and political radicals in Hitler's Germany; or Arab and Muslim detainees today facing abuse and torture in immigration and military jails here in the U.S., at Guantánamo Bay or in Iraq.
Socialism: the only realistic solution
Queers are everywhere, and by calling for the liberation of all of us, we can spark a powerful united front against our opponents.
Just as the militancy and determination of Stonewall sparked the modern lesbian and gay movement in a time of war-the Vietnam War, our determination to achieve liberation today has the same potential to give rise to a movement that could replace this war-addicted system with socialism.
We all deserve a society based on fulfilling human needs, engendering mutual respect, and sharing in an economy of prosperity capable of guaranteeing quality healthcare, decent housing, education, www.socialism.com
employment, and a livable pension for all.
And when push comes to shove, this socialist alternative is more realistic than hoping a Democratic politician will make real social change.
Gay Pride 2005 is the time to lift again the banner of liberation raised by the lesbians and gays of color, youth and drag queens in the original Christopher Street Rebellion and finish the job they began. Full liberation is possible if we are willing to fight for it!
Issued by: Freedom Socialist Party and Radical Women
113 W. 128 St, New York, NY 10027 • (212) 222-0633 • firstname.lastname@example.org