Monday, January 3, 2011

A Prayer for the New Year: Change in Unison

Posted By on Mon, Jan 3, 2011 at 10:23 PM

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"And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave..."

-Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

In 2010, we were rudely awakened from a DREAM (one of immigration reform, that is) and we won a battle in the war against discrimination through the long overdue repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.' Between the bittersweet echoes of victory and defeat, we hear cries of hope for 2011 and the years to come. DREAMers continue to work toward their concerted goals of higher education and citizenship, while the gay community rallies for continued change by way of legalizing gay marriage. But with new political powers controlling seats in Congress, those of us who aren't ready to surrender begin to wonder exactly how we'll prevail in the face of political, economic, and social challenge. From my vantage point, I can see two communities that are fighting the same fight. For these purposes, I'll call them the queer and the undocumented. They've been met with judgment, pessimism, and impasses that would've stopped a freight train. In spite of the hurdles, they seek to attain civil rights, equality, freedom, and above all, opportunity. There are community leaders on both sides of the spectrum who possess the political prowess that's needed to make things happen in Congress (or at least get people to notice their cause). They each have access to huge social networks and the community organizers that run them. But I can't help but wonder why the two forces haven't yet collided to form a more thoughtful, more effective political and social union amongst each other. As we all know, there is strength in numbers. And throughout the latter part of 2010, I saw a flurry of mailers, Facebook updates, e-mail blasts, and Tweets from everyone from the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center to the Stonewall Democrats of San Antonio pass my sight. However, I noticed that several of the communications from the larger and thereby more powerful social justice and civil rights groups - despite their well-meaning intentions - did not speak to more than one cause in their public media efforts. For example, most - not all - of what I received from the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) in terms of petition-signing work was specific to freedom of speech and religion. If I was giving an award based on most widespread efforts of organization, it would go to those folks. But I'm not, so I won't. While they seem determined to challenge every unconstitutional law and/or precedent put before them, I cannot say that they gave as much press to the DREAM Act as they did to the ever-evolving nature of privacy on Facebook. "Immigrants' Rights" are one of their key issues as evidenced by the list posted on their website, so maybe all of this is perception on my part. Still, I'm almost certain that I never received a letter via snail mail or e-mail dedicated to support of the DREAM Act, or even mentioning its importance as an afterthought. Much of the same seemed to be happening over at the offices of the Human Rights Campaign, more commonly known as HRC. Lots and lots of e-mails from Joe Solmonese came through my inbox, but none - not one - mentioned the important need for immigration reform or spoke to the plight of DREAMers all over the country, some of whom are also gay. I realize that everyone's cause is their cause. I get it. This is not a plea to streamline political and social causes. This is a question as to why the lines didn't cross where they should have. So how will we prevail in the face of challenge in 2011 and beyond? Together, that's how. We have to find a way to marry our causes when its effective and capitalize on the amount of resources that are available to each community. Had we done that in 2010, what other battles might we have won?

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