Feb 16, 2012

Why Should You Care About Politics?

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by Brian Boyce, Interim Chair of the LGBT Caucus

Many say that hindsight is 20/20, but in the world of politics much can be predicted. Only 3 years ago, I published a piece that ran in GayRVA on why everyone should care about politics. The state of our world is ever-changing, yet look how backward we are moving thanks to conservative GOP leaders who profess that government should not dictate or govern the lives of citizens. Always calling for less government, unless of course you are speaking about LGBT issues, gay marriage, abortion, and now even the right for a woman to choose birth control. This kind of rhetoric in 2012 must have come from some time machine, landing upon us from long ago when women were property, could not vote, and gay was a dirty word.

Please take time to read this piece from 2009 and ask yourself, “What have I done personally to try to make my district, my state, my country the kind of place where everyone really can live under universal freedoms and the pursuits of happiness.

We have some very conservative people in office, most of them clearly right wing Republicans who are taking over Virginia. They are pushing extremeist conservative agendas and yes, those laws will affect every one of us. It is time for us to stop being complacent. It is time for every individual to take a stand and believe in your individual rights as a person and demand they be heard. We need every one of you to start paying attention. The taxes taken out of your hard earned paycheck each week are being used against you personally. Your LGBT Caucus stands by your side and we are challenging anyone who would treat us with disrespect or disregard.

Please consider joining our Caucus so that we can show them just how many LGBT and allies do live in Virginia. (they think we are small in number- lets show them how wrong they are!)

We have a lot of work to get not only LGBT friendly candidates into office as real leaders, but also those who have real modern views on our state and our world. You have the power and right to vote. Use that power.

Why Should I Care About Politics?
Originally Published by GayRVA on September 17, 2009

I was never one to have any interest in politics myself. I can relate to people who find themselves uninterested or not care what happens in that world. Much like the world of religion, I think that many in the GLBTQ community feel unwelcomed or untrusting and choose to just look the other way.

All of that changed for me when the Marshal Newman act passed in Virginia in 2006. Now prior to that, I had heard some news here and there which was not very gay-friendly. I remember hearing that one of our past governors passed on accepting funding for HIV/AIDS because as he put it “Virginia doesn’t have a problem with HIV”. Boy that really kind of made me angry because I knew people who were HIV positive and I also knew from my career in healthcare that more and more people were being exposed. I also remember hearing about that same governor wanted to limit those who could share house deeds to only those who were married (because he had heard that many same sex couples were buying together). I kept thinking to myself how homophobic one must be to want to go to such lengths forgetting that elderly sisters (who also are same sex) might be affected by such an extreme measure.

Ever since I was just a kid in high school, all I ever wanted was to find a nice guy, settle down together and have a monogamous and loving relationship. (Of course wanting does not create anything and my photo album of memories is still empty.) I suppose that ideal is what stirred my passion in political issues. I certainly am no expert in this area, but I do know wrong when I see wrong. For those of you who still may not know, the Marshall Newman amendment was passed (by a very small margin—which shows why every single pro-gay vote is important) by popular vote. Now Virginia Law, it establishes the fact that Virginia will not recognize same sex marriages (which it never had anyway) but it also refuses to recognize any contracts which would purport any of the same benefits of marriage. Many gay couples left the state, especially those with children.

All you need to do is read the news (minus the right wing supporting Fox) to witness the many goings on related to our community. Gay marriage is only one issue. Hate crimes are still an issue, as well as work place discrimination, school education and bullying, HIV/AIDS resource needs, gay adoptive parents, and the famous “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” military policy that came out when I was on active duty in the Air Force.

There are several organizations working for each of you here in Virginia. The Virginia Partisans http://vapartisans.org/ (part of the National Stonewall Democrats) are constantly interviewing candidates who run for all types of public office throughout the state and give contributions and endorsements for others to vote for those who support our community. There is also a new GLBTQ Caucus (the first ever in Virginia) that has formed over the summer that is working within the State Democratic Party.

Why should you care about politics? Because we have a candidate running for governor who is firmly not a friend to the GLBT community. I have a few Republican GLBTQ friends who insist on voting in their party affiliation, but let’s be real honest about politics. None of us can move forward on any state, local, economic, tax or financial issue until we are recognized as equals by all who make these decisions for the community at large. Like it or not, public office officials carry a great deal of power in what shapes our future not only as a state but also as individuals who live here.

On August 30th 2009, at 9 am, Pam’s House Blend (a very good national resource for actual news and issues) posted a blog about Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell. This man who wants to be YOUR governor:

“”submitted a master’s thesis to the evangelical school he was attending in Virginia Beach in which he described working women and feminists as “detrimental” to the family. He said government policy should favor married couples over “cohabitators, homosexuals or fornicators.” He described as “illogical” a 1972 Supreme Court decision legalizing the use of contraception by unmarried couples. Bob McDonnell believes marriage is the union between one man and one woman. As a legislator, Bob McDonnell was chief sponsor and author of a constitutional amendment protecting traditional marriage (Chief Patron, HJ 187, 2004). As Attorney General, Bob supported Virginia’s marriage amendment and wrote an official opinion explaining that it would not affect the current legal rights of unmarried persons.””

“”The 93-page document, which is publicly available at the Regent University library, culminates with a 15-point action plan that McDonnell said the Republican Party should follow to protect American families — a vision that he started to put into action soon after he was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates.

…McDonnell’s opponent, state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (Bath), and other Democrats have sought to highlight McDonnell’s conservative record, saying he is obscuring a large part of his background to get elected. Deeds recently spoke to women’s groups about McDonnell’s record on abortion, saying that voters needed to know about his stances.

“There is a just a massive effort underway to rebrand Bob McDonnell, and his whole legislative career speaks otherwise,” said former delegate Barnie K. Day (D-Patrick), who supports Deeds. “The voters have a right to know who these candidates really are.””

Some positions stated in his paper:

  • Church state separation isn’t real. “Leaders must correct the conventional folklore about the separation of church and state. Historically, the religious liberty guarantees of the First Amendment were intended to prevent government encroachment upon the free church, not eliminate the impact of religion on society.”
  • Thumbs up to covenant marriage. He wants to make it more difficult to obtain a divorce.
  • Religion in schools A-OK (well, not all). “Traditional Judeo-Christian values” should be mandatory “character education.”
  • Parenting, Bob’s way. Child abuse should be redefined to “exclude parental spanking.” I guess it depends on what the meaning of “spanking” is to Bob.
  • Women, back to the kitchen and bedroom. “Further expenditures would be used to subsidize a dynamic new trend of working women and feminists that is ultimately detrimental to the family by entrenching status-quo of nonparental primary nurture of children. Feminism is among the “real enemies of the traditional family.””

Do you want this person representing you as governor of our state? I sure don’t. I can tell you that Creigh Deeds is much more open to talking with our community, as demonstrated by his request to meet with the Virginia Partisans for their endorsement. He admitted that he had made some mistakes or misjudged some areas and he is surely much more the candidate who will be a governor for all Virginians.

All of us must be able to speak out and secure GLBTQ –friendly representatives. We know that our vote is strong and powerful and we must take a stand by supporting those who are with us. Please vote wisely.