Last week, District 14 County Commissioner Tommy Vallejos made a series of false, distorted, and wrong statements in opposition to including sexual orientation and gender identity in the City’s nondiscrimination policy. It was a laughable, nonsensical, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink rant, where his “facts” were little more than regurgitations of long-dismissed myths. He invoked a law that specifically says in the law that it wouldn’t apply to this kind of internal policy. He made the silly implication that just because people change their “sexual practices” that their sexual orientation is changed, and others (which will be addressed in future posts).
Because his five minute, pre-written script has so many distortions, and so many blatant untruths, it’s pure candy to someone like me who has real facts and history in my corner. One of these sweet little nuggets of nonsense was a claim that “this kind of law is divisive.”
As he and other anti-gay activists see it, pro-gay politics is divisive because they believe that at least half of the population is as anti-gay as they are. They genuinely hold to the myth that they are the standard bearers when it comes to “righteousness,” and that because they are the “heroes” of faith, that anyone who suggests to give equality to LGBT people is what brings “division.”
Now, in this place that I like to call “the real world,” it’s a wholly different story. You see, society has changed. More people have come out to their friends, families, and co-workers. Americans not only see more gay people — they know more gay people. They realize that LGBT people are perfectly normal, upstanding citizens who just happen to be oriented to the same sex (or both sexes for bisexuals).
Because of this, an overwhelming majority of Americans have moved on from their anti-gay past. When Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell was repealed in 2010, nearly 70% of the general public supported the repeal. Surprisingly, around 75% of those surveyed in the military either supported it or didn’t think it was a big deal. Even a year and a half later, the whole repeal thing has proven to be a complete non-issue.
Americans overwhelmingly support nondiscrimination for LGBT people, and has since the early 1980s. One poll indicates that 73 percent of Americans support protecting gay and transgender people from workplace discrimination. Even a large majority of Republicans support nondiscrimination.
Interestingly, nearly everyone thinks that these protections are already in place at a federal level. They are not. Which is why we have to deal with it at a local and state level.
Clearly, the division on this kind of policy is not in the general public. Most of us understand the importance of LGBT workplace protection, and support it at nearly every level. So where, then, is the division rooted? Perhaps Mr. Vallejos should look into a mirror.
Imagine a school cafeteria (for those of us still young enough to remember how noisy they were), where everyone is talking. They’re shouting over the person next to them who is shouting over the person on the other side. It’s one big mess of noise.
Now, imagine where everyone is talking about LGBT equality. Suddenly, it takes on a fever pitch. There are those on each extreme — pro-gay and anti-gay. And the vast majority in the middle who hadn’t really decided what their view was, with most of them leaning to anti-gay because they can’t understand why two men would have the hots for each other.
Now fast-forward 25 years. More people have come out, and we gays are more visible as a result. That noisy middle — those who had largely been anti-gay — has seen the evidence, talked to their friends and family — and has sided with the pro-gay position. They’re back to having quiet, simple conversations about things that matter — life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
In fact, a majority of Americans even support full marriage equality for same-sex couples — and has for a couple of years.
Gallup’s last poll on employment nondiscrimination was in 2008, where 89% of those questioned supported equal rights. 77% of Americans believe there should be employee benefits for domestic partners or spouses. 78% support inheritance rights. 61% support adoption rights. 64% support some form of legally-recognized relationship.
There’s a reason for this. 78% of Americans have a family, friend, coworker, or personal acquaintance that is gay.
Now, we have those on the anti-gay side — still screeching and screaming like they always were. But since no one is echoing their outlandish claims, they’re shouting louder than ever before. But no one is listening except to marvel at how asinine these anti-gay people really are.
This is why Vallejos’ claim that these policies are “divisive” rings hollow. As a society, the rest of us have moved on. We understand that LGBT people are part of our society, and that “teh gheys” are just fine the way they are. The reality is that we all see just what’s going on.
By making claims that aren’t true, Vallejos and those who push for anti-gay policies in government are the ones who are bringing the division.
In short — We are asking for LGBT equality, and protection from discrimination — that most Americans support. Vallejos is demanding that we maintain policies that allow, and even encourage discrimination.
There’s a dividing line, all right. But it’s not lavender. It’s red.