Over the past few days, I've chronicled my displeasure with the course of things over at Progressive Netroots HQ - the Massachusetts Branch, Blue Mass Group. BMG"s most renowned poster, David, took it on himself to
Point taken, procedure is important. A few weeks ago, I fully agreed with him. Then, the legislature did the right thing: stopped discrimination from being written into the Constitution. It may not have been in the way David wanted, but that's the way that happened. Normally, people would move on. People like me would be happy - what happened advanced fundamental fairness, something both David and I agree on. However, David wasn't - hence the broken record attacks.
I don't blame David. He's a legalist. As a trained lawyer, who's in all likelihood very talented (he's worked for more than one US Supreme Court Justice), it would be very difficult for him to move beyond the importance of the legal process. However, as I've said on more than one occasion, it's a good thing we all aren't bound by obeying procedures at all costs. It's a good thing there's a wide range of perspectives. Sometimes the process comes at the cost of what's right - and that's when the process must be slightly bent. That's when hundreds of pounds of tea must be thrown into Boston Harbor; that's when people must hide runaway slaves in their homes as they make their way to freedom.
Over the course of the debate, a few good points have been made. Sco made the best point of all.
The thing of it is, David, that yesterday it was our ox. It was term limits, it was reproductive rights, it was education, it was clean elections -- all killed by the same or similar maneuvering. So, what makes this the line in the sand? What makes marriage equality the sacrifice that must be made in the name of process?
The fact of it remains that when any side is asked to make concessions for the greater movement, it's always expected of minorities. African Americans have been asked to make concessions time after time again - don't rock the boat now, we'll get you your rights later. It'll just take a little longer. Finally, with the help of a broad coalition of people from the SNCC to the NAACP and the likes of great leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr. - the boat was finally rocked and rights were actually gained, even if it was merely being able to register to vote. The gay rights movement is no different, as Anthony eloquently explained.
I am a happy and contented individual, but none the less my life as a gay man has been a series of compromises, personal and political. I had to accept don't ask don't tell because it was the furthest they could go at the time, or so I was told. I had to accept DOMA because if we didn't accept Clinton signing it, his veto would have been over ruled anyway and then he would have lost too much political capital and we needed him.... All the while my husband and I have to prepare 4 tax returns every year and I panic just a little whenever we leave the state because God forbid something should happen when we go to visit family in Colorado this Christmas and they refuse to recognize my rights, even though we have a health care proxy which shouldn't need because we are married. I am done with compromising. It is time to take a stand and say clearly and plainly that the compromises are over.When David wrote his compromise position - that everyone in the state legislature vote to ban marriage equality this time around, so we could vote on health care, I quickly rejected it. Obviously, I didn't think it much of a compromise. Again, the GLBT movement was asked to make all the concessions - and potentially lose everything in the process. Lightiris is right, this whole thing has become a sport and many normally rational people have been doing some great hunt'n of dem gays.
However, all is not lost. As our founding fathers figured out, sometimes you have to throw the baby out with the bath water. David's steamy compromise position was a real pile of stink, sending out fumes both intoxicating and unpleasant. I wrote a counterproposal, which was thankfully front-paged. One of the biggest Health Care proponents I've been debating for the past few days latched onto the idea - something I was excited about, to say the least.
I've been saying this for days: unite or lose. Our new progressive movement is only as strong as the coalition we build. We need to come to certain agreements, mainly that we're not going to stab each other in the back. That we can't have interest groups solely interested in themselves. Finally, I sense people are realizing that. After a few days that have seemed worthless, Massachusetts progressives are learning that lesson. We can unite - protect both marriage and work towards making health care a right - or we can lose, maybe even both rights. Progressives in Massachusetts must commit to a United Progressives of Massachusetts - or all of the hard work during the last election will amount to another steamy pile of stink, as we watch new DINOs reveal themselves, emboldened by divisions within the movement. We must stay strong and work together.