By Charles Karel Bouley II
Originally published on Advocate.com October 07 2004 12:00 AM ET
On Friday, October 8, a group of gay do-gooders has decided, all gays and lesbians should drop out of the economy for a day to show our unity, to empower us as a community, to show the impact we have on the economy. Gay businesses have been urged to close for the day, and all gays and lesbians are asked to not spend any money at all.Oh, and we’re each supposed to withdraw $80 from our local ATMs to handicap straight America’s access to cash for the Columbus Day weekend.Why? Well, according to Dale Duncan’s Advocate.com editorial, the reasons are noble:“Because we can be fired in 36 states just for being gay, we must unify,” he writes.“Because our president wants to write discrimination into the Constitution of the United States, we must unify. “Because numerous states will vote this November on whether to ban same-sex marriage in their constitutions, we must unify. “Because many right-wing organizations across the United States use our issues to raise money for causes antithetical to our well-being, we must unify.”Well, all of those things are true. But how, pray tell, does dropping out of the economy for one day solve any of them?It doesn’t. In fact, it stands to make a small-s statement while potentially hurting some gay business owners by eroding their monthly revenue. It’s a Friday, so for a nightclub or gay restaurant, even if they defy the boycott and stay open, receipts could suffer substantially.But my problem with the Boycott for Equality is not that it’s absolutely useless and will show those mean straight people nothing at all; it’s that it doesn’t go nearly far enough.For years now I have pushed for a class-action lawsuit against the federal government that demands tax-exempt status for gays and lesbians based on taxation without representation. We are discriminated against federally--Defense of Marriage Act, anyone?--and therefore should not have to support the government until it supports us.But even that may not go far enough. No, given Louisiana’s recent bigoted vote to amend their state constitution to discriminate against same-sex couples, with 11 other states poised to do the same, it’s time to get a big gay caravan going.Let’s take Louisiana, the sixth fattest state in the land, according to the CDC’s Obesity Trends report, and the 46th smartest, based on 21 factors, from Morgan Quitno’s annual reference book, Education State Rankings, 2004-2005 (with Mississippi, Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico rounding out the dumbest of the dumb in America). These large, undereducated folks found a way to waddle to the polls right after being deluged by a hurricane to make sure them fags and dykes couldn’t get married.This is the same state that derives millions of dollars in revenue from the debaucheries that are Mardi Gras, Southern Decadence, etc. It’s home to the Big Easy, a city of sin on a par with Babylon. This bastion of morality has decided that gays and lesbians shouldn’t get married. So, should we boycott Louisiana, following the lead of the Boycott for Equality?Nope, we should leave.
Yup, it’s time to go. Any gay or lesbian living in any state that bans same-sex marriage or doesn’t offer domestic-partner benefits should be preparing to leave: Sell your homes, move your businesses, transfer your jobs. Get out and stop pouring your larger-than-average disposable incomes into that bigoted state.Why?Money. States spend millions trying to attract tourists and businesses. Many take out TV and print ads to lure people to their state to spend money and open factories and headquarters. Some cash-strapped state would certainly welcome the money we gays and lesbians have, and they would be willing to allow same-sex marriage in order to get it.Let the South band together against gays and lesbians and nonmedieval values. We’ll take our money someplace progressive to buy homes, live our lives.In fact, along those lines, maybe the Civil War wasn’t such a bad idea. Maybe the South just needs to go. Whether it’s the retirees in Florida costing us the election because they can’t figure out a butterfly ballot (with Mother Nature now intent on destroying every Bush precinct in Florida through her relentless series of hurricanes) or Louisiana’s population overwhelmingly voting for bigotry or the antigay laws and politicians of Mississippi, Georgia, Texas—let them all band together and start their own theocratic, backward, ignorant country.The United States of Medieval. The Theocratic Union. Whatever.But I grow weary of these fundamentalist Bible-thumping Neanderthals carrying elections, institutionalizing hatred and bigotry in the name of the Lord, and basically refusing to enter the 21st century. Let them bask in an era when barbers were doctors and the Inquisition sorted out the blessed from the doomed so that God wouldn’t have to bother. Let them claim ownership over religion and profess a theocratic view one step short of Jonestown.But let them do it without our help.What makes me even more weary are those gays and lesbians, or those nongays with a sense of civil rights and dignity, who choose to stay in these states and support their evil economies.“Oh, but that’s giving up,” you say. “What’s next—concentration camps?”No, of course not. But the only thing politicians care about is money. We’ve got plenty of it, as do those who support our causes. We spend it freely. Our houses are nicer, as are our cars and our clothes. We go to upscale restaurants, support the arts, and so much more. Take us out of Atlanta and South Beach and you’re left with a peach-tree-lined sauna and a barren sandbar. Take us out of New Orleans and you’ve got one dull town.If we fled, states would respond. Economies of states that welcome gays and lesbians instead of discriminating against us would flourish. And the rest of the states would want a piece of the pie. Suddenly equality wouldn’t be so far-fetched when it came to basic decencies like marriage.It would take time. And unity. But I don’t know how it hasn’t happened already. Why stay where you’re not wanted? Why fight so hard for so long for so little?It’s time for a new tactic. How about emptying out those nice, newly gentrified neighborhoods, depriving these communities of our property taxes for schools that most of us will never utilize for our children? How about watching fine restaurants close because they can’t get good help, good management, good chefs, or a steady clientele since all the gays skipped town? How about leaving behind all those jobs and showing employers what running a business is like without our help? From administrative assistants to executives, from hairdressers to physicians—whatever the occupation, it’s time to hang our shingles in states that want us there.The change will come slowly, but it will happen. Right now it would mean that we’d all have to move to Massachusetts. I’ve lived there--not bad. But in California, come January 2005, I’ll have domestic-partnership benefits that are equal to Vermont’s civil unions, and that’s acceptable for now. So, California and Vermont are fine. In fact, Washington and New Jersey are fine too, because at least they’re trying. The other 45? Iffy at best.But why should you leave your home? Because your home state doesn’t want you, and it’s time to end the abusive, toxic relationship. Gays are the battered spouses of the states in which they live when that state refuses to recognize their right to love and marry whom they please and grant them equal benefits.Money--not right or wrong, but money. Not moral or principle, money. Not the sanctity of marriage, money is what it’s all about. We’ve got a lot of it. Let’s start taking it to places that value our taxes and acknowledge us by endorsing our relationships.Boycotting the economy for one day does nothing. Letting states know that we’re ready to take our money elsewhere will. Will there be states full of bigots and hatred, verboten to gays altogether? There already are; we’re just too stupid or in too much denial to admit it. We’re like Log Cabin Republicans, too dumb to know that the people we hang out with don’t want us around or care about our needs, even if they smile politely at us when they have to. We’re always knocking on the door saying, “You’d better pay attention to us or else!”--or else what? Republicans don’t care about gay Republicans, and states with antigay laws won’t care about their gay citizens unless they are forced to by the courts, or by budgets.Stop attending events in states that don’t support equality. Forget Mardi Gras, forget Southern Decadence, forget this party or that in South Beach. Move those events, and the revenues they generate, to states that support equality. Make the South and other backward regions the culturally and financially bankrupt wastelands that they are. Take our culture, our art, our dedication as employees, our abilities to be good parents and family members, our disposable income, and our good taste--let’s take everything we can offer to where we’re wanted.It’s time to get out of the courts and start using the power we really have: our purses. Decrease a state’s tax base, its revenue source, its liquid assets--especially in states that are already in financial tatters (with most states already facing huge deficits)--and the battle would suddenly become a lot more winnable.