Op-ed: When Enough Is Enough, Get Out and Shout!

By John Carroll

Originally published on Advocate.com August 17 2012 4:00 AM ET

I have to admit, it’s been a long time since I’ve felt the need to be politically active. Like many other LGBT people, I moved away from my small town and into the big city. I surrounded myself with many gay/gay friendly people and never felt or thought about discrimination during my day-to-day living. Complacency, I’ve learned, is a horrible state of mind.

A few weeks ago, when Mike Huckabee spoke out in favor of Chick-fil-A’s antigay stance and called for an “appreciation day,” thousands upon thousands of like-minded people showed up, including everybody’s favorite, Sarah Palin (though truth be told, I think she would probably go to the opening of a car door at this point). That day, the antigay establishment reached record-breaking sales.

It woke me up.

Though Huckabee and Palin might not be high on most people’s lists of reputable, responsible mouthpieces, the fact of the matter is when they speak, people listen.

Where is the ringleader on our team?

Though I was young(ish), I remember the days of Larry Kramer, ACT UP, and Silence = Death. That in-your-face kind of activism sparked a fire within me to get involved. I volunteered a lot of my time at GMHC making phone calls and doing mailings. I did every Dance-a-thon and every Walk-a-thon, basically, if there was any sort of “Gay-a-thon,” I was there.

To say I am thankful to all who are fiercely advocated for LGBT equality is a huge understatement. Even I, a humble Broadway chorine with an ample bosom and a mean right split, realize how hard it is to play nice when there are bullies on the playground.

Now that Mitt Romney has chosen Paul Ryan as his running mate, the LGBT community needs the next generation of Larry Kramers more than ever before. This time the bullies are not merely trying to steal your lunch money. No, this time Romney-Ryan will permanently take thousands in tax and social service dollars from you by denying you the same rights allotted to your heterosexual countrymen.

If elected, Romney-Ryan will maintain DOMA and likely advocate a federal amendment against same-sex marriage. LGBT people could then permanently lose out on the 1,138 benefits, rights and protections provided on the basis of marital status. We are not just talking about the 179 tax provisions that take marital status into account, but limitations affecting Social Security benefits, health benefits, tax credits, estate taxes, residential sale benefits, family medical leave, immigration laws, Cobra benefits, and employee benefits are also at risk.

Romney-Ryan will ensure you are kept a second-class citizen by also denying you protection from discrimination in the workplace, protection from hate crimes, and by keeping you from adopting children. Basically you’ll get screwed, and I very much doubt they’ll call you in the morning.

They will, however, gladly take your tax money, ask you to work as hard as you can — as you always have — and continue to make this amazing country the best that it can be, just as the LGBT community has always done. And in return, they'll give you a mere fraction of the inalienable rights that you deserve.

Take everything, yet give nothing. That doesn’t sound like the “Christian values” Romney speaks of, but more like a form of bondage — and not the good kind.

What happened to the Republican Party? When did it become a group of people (of course, not all, mind you) who demand respect for their religious beliefs yet have little tolerance and respect when it comes to the beliefs of others?

While I am a deeply spiritual person and God plays a very profound role in my life, why do the religious beliefs of Romney-Ryan interfere with my rights as an American citizen? It seems Republicans have bypassed “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” and gone straight (no pun intended) to “Do as I say, not as I do.”

I find it very disturbing in a country of many faiths and ideologies, a country that was founded partly to be free from the governing entity (Great Britain) forcing its religious beliefs on its people, that the Republican Party’s presidential and vice presidential nominee’s platforms are deeply rooted in their respective religions. How have we gotten further and further away from the separation between Church and State?

While claiming a return to the founding principles of our nation, the Republican Party seems to have forgotten that the Founding Fathers wanted religion to have no part in their government. It was Benjamin Franklin, one of our countries most revered national treasures who said, “Lighthouses are more useful than churches.” John Adams said, “This would be the best of all possible worlds if there were no religion in it.” And to the right-wingers who flock to public orifice… I mean office, I offer you this little gem: “Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man”—Thomas Jefferson.

By selectively using religion to discriminate and treat the LGBT community as second-class citizens, the Republican Party is disrespecting what our founding fathers fought for: a government for the people and by the people, free from the tyranny of oppression and religion.

Discriminating against the LGBT community has nothing to do with religion, let alone anything based on the teachings of Jesus Christ. Let’s call it what it really is — bigotry and hatred.

If you are anything like me, all of this hypocrisy makes you angry. Though do not let it anger you in the way that you want to do something harmful. Let it fuel your internal fire to do something great. Our founding fathers put their lives on the line to create this magnificent country. What are we going to do? I for one am going to channel my inner Larry Kramer, get informed, get political, and get proactive. It is time to get out and shout!

 

JOHN CARROLL is a Broadway performer, and for more information on Carroll, go to TheJohnCarroll.com.