Setting the Agenda ... the Gay One 

COMMENTARY: Prior to the election of Barack Obama, the gay rights agenda risked becoming nothing more than a wish list. But after nearly 30 years during which no major piece of gay rights legislation has been passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the president, it is time to make a a real push for true equality. Our time at the back of the bus must end. Now. 

BY Lane Hudson

November 19 2008 1:00 AM ET

 BARACK OBAMA BARNEY FRANK X100 (GETTY) | ADVOCATE.COM

Throughout the
Democratic primary season, we saw major movement on the
positions taken by the candidates. Never before had
candidates supported so many pieces of legislation
that we desire to see become law: hate crimes, repeal
of the ban on gays in the military, the Employment
Non-Discrimination Act, repeal of DOMA, gay-friendly
immigration reform, and civil unions.

So now we find
ourselves fresh off an amazingly historic election, the
second in which Democrats made major gains in the Congress.
Surely, we are on the cusp of major progress. Well,
not so fast.

A recent meeting
of advocacy groups in Washington consisted of talking
about the same old tired proposals and in which order they
would be prioritized. Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin had
a list that was discussed. The same with congressman
Barney Frank.

It seems as if
the establishment of our movement missed the big idea of
this election: Change has arrived. So it's time we change
the ask -- both what we are asking for and how we ask.

From here, until
we are granted all of the same rights and privileges
that every other citizen of the United States enjoy, we will
not ask politely. We will insist.

Rather than ask
for a version of ENDA that is vastly watered down from
the version originally introduced by representatives Bella
Abzug and Ed Koch 30 years ago, we will honor their
leadership and ourselves by insisting that the Civil
Rights Act of 1964 be expanded to include sexual
orientation and gender identity. This will grant sweeping
protections enjoyed by other minorities in America,
in employment, credit, and housing, among other
fields.

Instead of
settling for one piece of legislation at a time, we will
insist that a larger agenda be addressed. It is an agenda
that is in the greatest tradition of our nation:
making people equal. We've done it for
African-Americans and women. It's time for this history to
catch up to our movement.

Tags: Politics

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