Monday, December 14, 2009
Houston's Gay Mayor...See? They Like Us, They Really Like Us
Beyonce's hometown has elected an openly gay woman as mayor of their city. This past Saturday, Houston City Controller Anisse Parker was elected by a margin of 53%; it's a fascinating development for the reddest of the red states "that overwhelmingly voted to outlaw gay marriage four years ago and in a city where voters have rejected offering benefits to the same-sex partners of government employees." (USA Today)
So, yes, the gays are everywhere. And most Americans don't seem to mind our presence. Except when we start making demands for equal rights and ask for society to confer the same recognition to our relationships as they do to heterosexual couples. Is it simple homophobia? Are all Americans really so obtuse and closed-minded that they'd vote in a near single block to deny (or, in some cases, take away) their fellow citizens' rights?
Or are we the problem? We meaning the gays of course. If Americans have no qualms letting Ellen into their homes everyday and they're electing openly gay candidates to positions of power, what's keeping marriage and domestic partner benefits out of our grasp?
A few years ago I probably would have wagged a finger at some of y'all and had said something like, see? your nasty porcine ways have cost us our rights. But that wouldn't be fair. The older I get the more heterosexual people I've seen pissing all over the institution of marriage (I refuse to talk about Tiger Woods here but you know what I'm talkin' about). So why are gays not allowed into the club? We can mess things up too, if given the chance.
Simply put: we haven't adapted our message of same-ness to the liking of most Americans. There's something missing in the gay/straight dialgoue when it comes to our basic rights. Could things change if we approached the issue from a "may we, too, please?" perspective rather than the current "you have it, so should I" model which annoys many, many people. Granted, there is a significant number of Americans whose faith would make it impossible for them to support our rights. We have to accept that. However, the public can be swayed. I wouldn't have a job otherwise. So I think the problem lies within ourselves. The gay community hasn't really put up a credible case for the recognition of our rights and relationships.
Parker's election is a foreshadowing of the great things that are on the way for gay people in the U.S. There is something to be learned from this victory that can turn the national debate on marriage in our favor.