Op-ed: I'm Tired Of Waiting For My Rights, So I'm Running For Congress
In 2004, 48 distinguished members of the United States Senate voted to end a filibuster and bring to a floor vote a “Federal Marriage Amendment” to the United States Constitution that would have prohibited gay marriage nationwide. The amendment, which stated that marriage in the United States “shall consist solely of the union of a man and a woman,” enjoyed the support of almost half of the federal legislature’s august upper chamber.
Perhaps most disappointingly, rather than stand up and fight for my rights, then-Senators John Kerry of Massachusetts and John Edwards of North Carolina skipped out on the vote to end the filibuster instead of leading out in front on one of the greatest civil rights challenges of our generation. Apparently they were too busy running for higher office than running the country and protecting my freedom to marry.
Ten years later, I am still tired of standing on the sidelines and waiting for politicians to fight for my rights in the White House and in Congress. It took President Obama four years to “evolve” to a position where he could support my freedom to marry the man I love, and he only completed that evolution only after Vice President Biden let it slip on Meet the Press that he wouldn’t have a problem if I went ahead and did just that.
I am tired of waiting for history’s long arc to bend toward justice, as President Obama’s rug in the Oval Office reminds him every day. With all due respect to President Obama and Dr. King, history’s arc may indeed be long, and it may indeed bend toward justice.
But life is short. I want justice now.
President Obama and the Democratic establishment have told me to be patient as they work towards bipartisan resolutions to one of the 21st century’s most important civil rights movements.
I cannot wait any longer. Which is one reason among many that I have decided to run as a fiercely independent write-in candidate to succeed Rep. Henry Waxman in representing California’s 33rd district in the United States Congress.
Even as House leaders refused to bring to a vote an Employee Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) that would save me from being fired in several states simply because of who I am, President Obama refused to sign an executive order that would provide those exact same protections to federal workers.
In May 2012, Newsweek’s cover crowned President Obama the nation’s first ‘gay’ president, complete with a pride rainbow halo hovering over the Chosen One’s forehead.
Yet the first ‘gay’ president wouldn’t take four years after being elected to the nation's highest office to come out in favor of gay marriage. The first ‘gay’ president wouldn’t follow opinion polls when deciding whether to lead or follow the American people on the most important civil rights movement in a generation.
The first ‘gay’ president stands out in front of the naysayers and the civil rights violators and says that “gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights,” as former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton movingly did in an historic address before the United Nations Human Rights Council in March 2011.
Gay rights are indeed human rights, and gay rights, and consequentially human rights, are being violated all over the globe today, from Iran and Uganda to Russia and India, where New Delhi’s highest court recently voted to re-criminalize — not de-criminalize — homosexuality.
When the world’s largest democracy votes to make someone’s identity illegal, President Obama decided sit on the sidelines.
When I get to Congress, I won’t.
One of the first bills I will introduce on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives will impose automatic sanctions on foreign governments that adopt discriminatory, draconian anti-LGBT policies. These sanctions, consisting mostly of narrowly targeted travel bans on certain officials charged with implementing these regulations, are designed to punish those who adopt and impose policies better suited for the stone age than for the 21st century without impacting the people under their care.
And the moment after I take the oath of office on January 3, 2015 (which happens to be my 28th birthday) I will walk across the rostrum of the U.S. House of Representatives and drop into the bill hopper a new Federal Marriage Amendment — one that will take civil marriage out of the hands of the states and place it into the hands of the federal government where it properly belongs.
When marriage laws were first developed in these United States during the horse and buggy era, it probably made a lot of sense to register your marriage with your local county clerk. If you were the family patriarch, the likelihood that you were going to move your family out of your community — let alone out of your state — was slim to none.
In today’s modern and mobile society, where people seamlessly move across state borders all the time, it makes little sense for me to be legally married in the eyes of the federal government after the Windsor ruling, and in some states, but not in others. If I get married in California, my home state, I should not have to worry about whether my marriage will be recognized in Texas, or Mississippi, or Georgia, or Alabama.
The only way to ensure this happens is to amend the Constitution of the United States of America and make civil marriage a federal institution. The Tenth Amendment reserves to the states all powers not explicitly delegated to the federal government. The nation’s founding charter, therefore, will have to be amended so that the power to confer civil marriage licenses on all couples — regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation — is delegated to the federal government where it properly belongs given today’s commuting and mobile realities.
These are the LGBT pillars of the platform for my write-in candidacy, which I formally announced on Saturday at the Simon Wiesenthal Center Museum of Tolerance in West Los Angeles. As a dark horse, write-in candidate declaring my candidacy with just over three weeks before California’s open party primary, the odds of my election are against me.
But with the proper support — with the help of those who will stand up with me and fight for my rights and the rights of their brothers and their sisters and their cousins and their best friends – and by joining me at my campaign launch event on Saturday, maybe — just maybe — we won’t have to wait on history and can bend that arc toward justice ourselves.
THEO MILONOPOULOS is an independent write-in candidate to succeed Henry Waxman in representing California’s 33rd district in the United States Congress.Milonopoulos researched “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal as a Fulbright scholar at King’s College London. He also studied political science at Columbia University. For more information about his campaign, please visit Theo4Congress.com or follow him on Facebook.