Less than one year from today, the 2012 elections will take place. It is crucial for us to judge candidates and parties to determine whether they are on the right side of history. Today the Republican Party and the majority of its candidates are proving they are on the wrong side. The only candidate for the Republican presidential nomination who dares support civil unions, Jon Huntsman, is at 1 percent in recent polls.
Juxtapose this with the picture of LGBT civil rights leader Frank Kameny lying in state at the old Carnegie Library. The mayor and our congressional delegate delivering eulogies; the director of the federal Office of Personnel Management there; and politicians and former members of a post-DADT military in dress uniform acting as pall bearers. Kameny’s more than 50 years of fighting for the rights of the LGBT community and the work of so many others have brought our struggle to a place where we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. We can envision a time when we will have the right to marry and full civil and human rights everywhere, not just in a few states or localities.
As with the fight for black civil and human rights and women’s rights, there comes a time when you feel victory is around the corner and the tide is with you. But as in those movements there are always those that want to reverse that tide. Those that want to keep you in your place or in the closet. Those that look back and say weren’t times better before people began to fight for their rights? Today we have lunatic author Ann Coulter, anti-Semitic arch-conservative Patrick Buchanan, and the majority of the Republican presidential field telling the LGBT community, women and African Americans that we should go back to the old days. Their collective lack of understanding of what the right side of history will be is always frightening and often sad.
It is frightening because they still have an audience who believe them and sad because they are still have a platform for their vitriol. Republicans have a leading presidential candidate spending days prevaricating over whether he sexually harassed women and 70 percent of GOP voters say they don’t have a problem with it. Many of those voters would rather attack the media for talking about this than the candidate for his actions and response. That is the sad state of the national Republican Party today.
Democrats have their own dinosaurs and many in the Democratic Party share views that put them on the wrong side of history. That is why it is crucial to look at both the party and the individual as we move into the 2012 elections. People need to understand how Congress works. The first vote that any elected member of Congress has is the vote for their leadership. Today the Democratic leadership in Congress, even if not all the members of the party, supports moving us toward the right side of history. The Republican leadership, co-opted by the Tea Party and the extreme right wing, would rather move us back into the dark ages. It appears that the moderate wing of the Republican Party is gone — the Alan Simpsons, Nelson Rockefellers, even the Christie Todd Whitmans.
The fight for our rights and for the heart of our nation makes the 2012 elections so important. For women, African Americans, Latinos and the LGBT community, our stake in this election is about our future. But it is also the about the future of our children and theirs. It is not only about how jobs will be created but whether we will be able to get those jobs. It is about fair immigration laws and passing ENDA.
It is about our ability to fully participate in society and in the economy. It is continuing to march forward for civil and human rights for everyone. If the legacies of Frank Kameny, Martin Luther King, Jr., Bella Abzug and so many others are to survive and be fully honored, we need to unite. We need to speak out and participate in the process because if we don’t we could see the victories that they fought for over 50 years recede or even be wiped out. That would be a travesty of justice and we cannot let it happen. We must make sure that those who are elected in 2012 will be on the right side of history.