Saturday, October 18, 2014

What Next?

I ask a question, to the Civil Rights Movement of now in 2014, to the LGBT community in the United States, to those who fight for civil rights.  What next?

With the recent legal rulings on gay marriage, one thing that is very on my mind is, when one group gains the rights they have been fighting for, will they stop fighting for the rights of others?  Does the fight end for a group when they get what they are fighting for, or do they continue to fight for others, especially for those groups with less resources or connections so can not fight for themselves as easily as those groups that have already gone through the process to bring change?

I’ve looked at history and watched time after time one group winning great victories and either deliberately excluding other groups or actively speaking against them.  As an example, many of the recent victories for lesbian and gay rights have been battles fought since the Civil Rights movement, but many in the Civil Rights spoke against the LGBT community, and instead of language in law that would have protected everyone’s rights, everything became race related only.  In some cases there was biases against the LGBT community, but in other cases, it was fear that no one would get rights if it was too wide, that is was better to get protection in the race issue and ignore the rest than risk losing the current battle.

It is a great thing that same sex marriage bans are finally being struck down.  It is an amazing thing, and a great victory.  But I hope that it isn’t seen as the end of the battle.

The fight is not over.

And I’d like to point out that having legal rights and protection does not automatically change culture.  There will be back lash and push back from the culture.  Remember that we were unable to remove the bans through legislation process.  If people were not willing to vote it down, we can’t assume they will automatically be supportive after the courts struck them down.

And remember that it isn’t those that are secure and established that are most at risk.  Most of those who will benefit from the marriage equality are not those who are in the most danger.  Those that are homeless, or jobless, or work in part time service jobs might or might not benefit from the changes, but whether they do or not, they are more vulnerable, and often more visible as vulnerable.

Those are the people who are most likely to suffer from the back lash and people trying to take what they think is right into their own hands.  To be blunt, people will get hurt, likely people will die.  Like it or not, this is reality.  There is danger, and likely more than danger, and I’m afraid many people will be too busy celebrating to notice the casualties and people hurt in the fall out.

And I’m afraid the fighting will end here, and those that don’t have rights yet, and those rights that haven’t been won yet even among those that have some rights now.  I repeat, the fight is not over.  Not by a long shot.  And I’m afraid people will forget this or not even be aware there is still a fight.

Will the community step up to help protect those who are vulnerable?  Will the community continue the fight for those who still need it, and for those things that are still not won?  Or will the community settle into apathy and complacency and ignore or turn a blind eye to what will happen, and what continues to happen?

I don’t know the answer.

~Bethany Davis