Tuesday, March 25, 2008

More Than A Wedge Issue By Mark R. Kerr

By Mark R. Kerr

During a recent campaign stop in Medford, Oregon, Illinois Senator Barack Obama, running for the Democratic Presidential nomination, decried how campaigns use wedge issues, “to divide the electorate, but have ultimately done little to make a real difference, especially when there are more important things to worry about.”

Senator Obama went on to state to the assembled crowd that there are campaigns that use Gays and Lesbians to such extent.

One wonders if whether those wanting to repeal Oregon’s Domestic Partner Registry (with its benefits and rights), were just outside the Medford, Oregon auditorium circulating their petitions to get their measure on its November general election ballot. Oregon has a law defining marriage as between a “man and a woman.”

For that matter, will Obama’s remarks be stated in Pennsylvania, which has their presidential primary on April 22, and the Pennsylvania Legislature is considering a proposal to place on its November general election ballot a proposed state constitutional defining marriage as between “one man and one woman,” and barring governmental and legal recognition of civil unions - despite a state defense of marriage law which has been on the books for twelve years.

Wedge issue is one thing, but as we know, read, seen and most likely witnessed, it goes much further. Some recent examples (of the many) include:

Ralph Martinelli, a male employee of Konica and his partner, Robert Ryan, moved from New Jersey to Idaho because of the job and the partner no longer is eligible to be on the company’s health insurance plan because they live in a state which doesn’t legal recognize a same-sex relationship either as a civil union or a domestic partnership.

Elizabeth Hadaway, a Lesbian living in Georgia, faced jail time for criminal contempt of court last year for not handing her daughter over to foster care after she lost custody solely because of her sexuality.

Jason Hair-Wynn is an HIV/AIDS counselor living in Attleboro, Massachusetts, married to his same-sex partner since 2005 and can’t get a passport issued with his hyphenated last name since he received a letter from the State Department saying the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) prohibits it from recognizing his new name. Under DOMA, only heterosexual marriages are recognized by the federal government.

Billy Wolfe being beaten daily at school because of his perceived sexuality. Young people such as Lawrence King and Simmie Williams Jr., were brutally murdered because they were Gay.

People who are HIV+ or living with AIDS cannot travel or move to the United States because of federal government policy prohibiting individuals, which this country is only one of thirteen with such Draconian laws on the books.

This country is facing many, many problems and one cannot let such issues to be marginalized by politics, either by Democrats or Republicans. Answers must be found and implemented to solve all the pending questions since there is no more time for division.

Speaking out in all forms and venues is the first step Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered and those citizens living with or affected by HIV/AIDS must take so that issues are addressed, not spun or used as a “wedge,” because as Larry Kramer and ACT-UP (AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power) put it, “silence equals death.” Silence isn’t golden but is marginalizing, something that is no longer affordable since no issue can be ignored, period.

No comments: