Stopping the Culture of Hate

By Erin Matson, NOW Action Vice President

Yesterday, U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips issued an injunction immediately stopping enforcement of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that prohibits lesbians and gay men from serving in the military. I am holding my breath hoping that the U.S. Department of Justice will do the right thing and not appeal the injunction of this 17-year-old policy of state sanctioned discrimination.

The DADT policy has created an environment in which lesbian and gay service members have to lie about who they are in order to serve — just as teachers and others have to lie about who they are in order to keep from being fired in 28 states. In 28 states it’s okay to fire someone, not based on their job performance, but on who they are. And, according to Republican Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), that’s as it should be.

New York gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino (R), recently stated that homosexuality is not an equally valid or successful option. Obligatory (and weak) apology notwithstanding, can you imagine what an LGBT youth thinks when they hear that they’re “not valid” and can’t possibly be successful?

This is hate speech and it contributes to a culture of hatred and intolerance.

Can you imagine what it’s like to want to marry your partner knowing that most states prohibit it? Those who voted for the Defense of Marriage Act wanted to ensure that only heterosexuals could marry. And even President Obama, by supporting civil unions for same-sex couples, implies that something less than full marriage equality is good enough for certain people. This sends the message that the LGBT community is not worthy of the same rights and privileges as heterosexuals.

Both hate speech and legally-sanctioned discrimination contribute to stigmatizing and dehumanizing the LGBT community, making them an acceptable target.

Almost no one condones the brutal anti-gay attacks in the Bronx, the unconscionable invasion of privacy of Rutgers student Tyler Clementi, or the merciless bullying of at least five other students who committed suicide in recent weeks. In addition to condemning anti-gay hate speech, more elected officials need to take action to pass (or repeal) laws to eliminate discrimination.

Please help end state sanctioned discrimination by working for and voting for NOW PAC endorsed candidates who support equal rights for the LGBT people of this nation.

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