Eric Fanning and Xavier High School make us proud; Corrine Brown (D-Fla.) needs to explain herself; the Vatican needs to come into the 21st century; and Kim Davis belongs in jail. The LGBT community was the focus of a series of headlines last week.
In Kentucky it was marriage licenses, “Lawyer for Deputy Clerk: Kim Davis May Be Violating the Judge’s Order.” In New York City it was Xavier High School: “Room in Catholic School for Gay-Straight Alliance.” Then President Obama invited gay and transgender Catholics to the White House welcoming reception for Pope Francis. The Washington Post editorialized about the Vatican raising objections about this, fearing the Pope would be pictured with these guests indicating a support that isn’t there. Then, “President Nominates first Openly Gay Army Secretary.” Finally, Brown changes her vote and says no to same-sex spouses getting benefits in the military.
Despite the Kim Davis’s of the world and the Vatican’s official position, acceptance of LGBT people is moving forward and quickly in many cases. The Kim Davis’s of the world will eventually be hoisted on their own petard. Her claim of her religious beliefs being undermined by doing her job are specious to say the least. Now she is violating the agreement that got her out of jail, promising not to interfere with her deputies who are giving out marriage licenses to same-sex couples. She is requiring them to use different forms and one deputy has gone to court saying this is interference. The view of a legal scholar I spoke with suggested the best outcome would be for the judge to order the office to go back to using the original form with her name on it, she then fires the deputy, and the judge throws her ass back in jail. A good idea all around.
But I take heart learning what is going on at Xavier High School in New York City. A Roman Catholic school that has a Gay-Straight Alliance demonstrates how thinking is being transformed in both the community at-large and in some of the Catholic Church. The column in the New York Times reads, “This is a reflection of a moderating tone from the church.” “Students and their advisors met in a physics classroom and on the walls hung a crucifix and posters of Einstein and Homer Simpson. Two flags flanked the door. One was the American Standard, while the other was a rainbow banner of gay pride.”
President Obama continues to ensure openly LGBT people are part of every event at the White House and are appointed to positions at the highest levels of government. Only a few years after winning the fight to end “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” he nominated an openly gay man, Eric Fanning, to be his Secretary of the Army. Fanning is supremely qualified for the job and it appears whether or not he is confirmed by a Republican Senate, it will have more to do with the politics of all Obama nominations rather than the fact he is gay.
As the LGBT community moves into the future and toward gaining acceptance, there will be many bumps along the road. There will be legal issues to overcome and cultural issues that will be even harder and take much longer. Organizations like HRC and the Task Force, fighting for our civil and human rights, will be fighting different battles from the ones they fought in the past. We will have to reinforce our coalitions with allies in order to move forward.
The Washington Blade recently published a column about an issue we will see more and more often: More than one member of the LGBT community running for the same political office. In this case, it was for mayor of Palm Springs. It is an issue the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund will have to grapple with when issuing its endorsements and it most likely should cause them to look again at their criteria for supporting candidates more closely.
We will continue to make progress in attaining our full civil and human rights if we stick together and commit the needed resources of time and money to the battles ahead.
Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBT rights and Democratic Party activist.