Like many others, I was not sorry to see 2009 come to an end. A lot of misery, great expectations, dashed hopes, deferred dreams, and daily anxiety were packed into those twelve months. While I’ve certainly had more difficult and personally painful years, 2009 was difficult and personally painful for a record number of folks in this country. As 2010 dawns, one can’t help but hope for better this year. But it feels to me that those hopes are not merely cyclically mandated, rather it may just be that we are about to turn a corner. I can’t say I possess irrefutable proof for my budding optimism, but there are some signs, both obvious and nuanced, that positive change may be coming our way.
There are of course some big indicators–an achingly slow, but nevertheless improving economy, finally movement in Congress on health care (what we end up with remains to be seen, but at least some improvements will be made), and, from my perspective, an active LGBT community that recognizes that our activism and engagement are essential if we are to see movement on LGBT issues at the national level. This coming year we must elevate our involvement in national and local politics, understanding that this is the only way we can hold our elected leaders accountable.
I respect and admire our President a great deal. I have some sense of the enormity of his task and the toxicity of his opposition. Even so, there is no reason why he cannot exert his moral leadership and his actual power to make change on behalf of the LGBT community and our families. But as he himself acknowledged, his leadership will only be as good as our activism. He virtually demanded that we pressure him to be his best self on our issues. That is a call we must heed. And not just for President Obama, but for every member of Congress and every other elected official whose voice and courage and power we need pressed into service for our lives. Phone calls, e-mails, in-district and in-D.C. visits, letters to the editor, and recruiting friends and family to also stand with us. This is the language of political pressure, and, believe me, it works.
We await the passage of long overdue legislation ranging from federal employment protections to the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and DOMA, to comprehensive immigration reform that includes LGBT families. We heard plenty of promises about hope and change in 2009, yet little was delivered. We know far too well how the urgent needs of our community fall to the bottom of political priorities. That’s why we need to be as vocal and visible as ever in 2010.
I ask you to make this resolution: every time we send you an action alert asking you to call Congress, please do so. It may seem like a small ask, so small that it can be easily dismissed. But the truth of the matter is Congress is not hearing from our community as much as they need to. Our opponents flood their phone lines and fax machines. They fill their inboxes. We don’t.
If our voices are not heard, we are dismissed. Let us be louder and brighter and bigger than our opponents. Let us shine the light on moral leadership and insist that we are not a disposable constituency who can once again be dropped to the bottom of the list.
2010 is not a long year for Congress. With mid-term elections in November, we have little time to push through LGBT legislation. So let’s start the year off with a shout and let them know loud and clear that we are here and we demand that our equality, our dignity, and our humanity become a priority. That’s a resolution I can
keep. Will you?
Happy New Year,