Milk: The Slaying of Harvey Milk Was Never a Gay Hate Crime

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Milk is the much anticipated new movie from auteur Gus Van Sant and chronicles the assasination of charismatic Harvey Milk in 1978. Milk was the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California. His legacy is still apparent in San Francisco today where Milk is still a hero of the Bay Area.

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On November 27 1978, Milk and Mayor George Moscone were shot and killed by another city supervisor, Dan White. White had recently resigned from his position and wanted his job back and blamed his former colleagues for denying his attempt to rescind his resignation from the board. White was convicted of voluntary manslaughter after using the infamous “Twinkie Defense,” sighting his addiction to sugary foods as a factor of his depression and subsequently a cause of his diminished responsibility in the deaths of these two men. White served just five years in jail and was released in January 1984. He committed suicide the following October 1985.

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Buy a Ticket to “Elsewhere”

It really annoys me when educated men and women use the “marriage is between a man and a woman and has been for the last 5,000 years, so why change.” Sure, why change laws. Let’s take away the vote from women because men have written the law for the last 5,000 years. Let’s not mix the races. Let’s follow a book and not change the contents of that book because our life is no different now than it was 2,000 years ago. While we are at, let’s not have any progress at all and live our lives as it was written 5,000 years ago.

These people are idiots. Get with the times. Do they actually think that gay and lesbian people will just disappear from the face of the earth if they are denied the same rights as the rest of the population? These people pretend that they “tolerate” gay people, yet they don’t want to see them or have them in their own “backyard.” 

Let’s not welcome any gays, let’s not welcome any foreigners, let’s not welcome anyone remotely different.

I feel sorry for these narrow minded people. How boring their lives must be. I have lived in many cities, I have lived in many countries, and I have mixed with different groups in this world society. Without that education and without the guts, I would be still living in a small 1,300 year old village and learning about the world and its people from the media. And I think we all know how much the media distorts people and places. 

Don’t believe what you see and what you read. Instead, buy a ticket to Elsewhere and get yourself an education and an understanding of humanity. While you’re at it, take a trip to San Francisco where gay and lesbians don’t hide away like scared rabbits. Get a life and get a heart.

Prop 8: “Black Lesbian” Writer receives Blowback

Appeared today in the LA Times in response to Jasmyne A. Cannick’s Times Op-Ed article.

 

BLOWBACK

An unfair attack on white gays

A recent Times Op-Ed article exploits a double standard that says it’s OK for certain groups to openly express bigotry.

By Kevin Naff

November 12, 2008

In all the post-election commentary about California’s passage of Proposition 8, perhaps none was more offensive and wrong than Jasmyne A. Cannick’s Times Op-Ed article, “No-on-8’s white bias.”

Cannick’s piece raises important questions about the politically correct double standards that govern debate of gay rights issues. When white evangelical Christians (or Mormons, for that matter) attack gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender people, the response is loud and harsh: Bigots! Homophobes! Haters! But when black religious leaders attack gays, which is a regular occurrence in many churches, the response is muted because, well, it’s a cultural thing and we white people just wouldn’t understand. Bigotry is bigotry, whether emanating from the pulpits of white churches or black ones.

Cannick writes, “But even I wasn’t inspired to encourage black people to vote against the proposition. … I don’t see why the right to marry should be a priority for me or other black people. Gay marriage? Please. At a time when blacks are still more likely than whites to be pulled over for no reason, more likely to be unemployed than whites, more likely to live at or below the poverty line, I was too busy trying to get black people registered to vote, period; I wasn’t about to focus my attention on what couldn’t help but feel like a secondary issue.”

The argument that many black voters are too preoccupied with more practical matters to think too much about gay marriage is not entirely illegitimate. But it’s an argument for apathy, not a rational or legitimate justification for actively supporting discriminatory laws.

She continues, “The white gay community never successfully communicated to blacks why it should matter to us above everything else.” No one ever suggested that marriage should matter to blacks or anyone else above all other things. All that we suggested was that a tyrannical majority shouldn’t strip away hard-fought rights from a minority group. That is never tolerated for any group in this country — except for gays and lesbians. Cannick also puts the blame back on the dastardly rich white gays for not doing a better job of educating black voters. Yes, gay rights advocates (black and white) need to do a better job of educating voters about our issues, but that doesn’t absolve individuals from their responsibility to educate themselves about the ballot initiatives on which they cast their votes.

Cannick also writes, “Does someone who is homeless or suffering from HIV but has no healthcare, or newly out of prison and unemployed, really benefit from the right to marry someone of the same sex?” The answer is yes. Partners in a legal marriage enjoy a support network with many built-in benefits, such as access to a spouse’s healthcare plan.

Then Cannick’s screed takes another unfortunate turn: “To many blacks, civil rights are grounded in Christianity — not something separate and apart from religion but synonymous with it.”

Of course, when white Christians make such statements, they are derided as bigots. Is Cannick immune from that charge because she happens to be black? I think not. This fight, as Cannick ought to know, has nothing to do with religion. It’s about the civil right of marriage that conveys a host of benefits denied to an entire class of people. Cannick is merely parroting the worst propaganda of the Proposition 8 fight that led voters to erroneously believe their churches would be penalized for refusing to marry same-sex couples.

Perhaps the most egregious passage in Cannick’s opinion is this: “There’s nothing a white gay person can tell me when it comes to how I as a black lesbian should talk to my community about this issue. If and when I choose to, I know how to say what needs to be said.” It would have been helpful for Cannick to share her all-knowing and powerfully influential ideas before Nov. 4. Cannick suggests that the marriage movement is about white gays who are “racist and clueless.” Tell that to the multiple black gay and lesbian couples that have been plaintiffs in marriage lawsuits across the country. The lack of equality under the law for gay families leads to too many destructive consequences to enumerate here.

She concludes by stating, “Black gays are depending on their white counterparts to finally ‘get it.’ … Until then, don’t expect to make any inroads any time soon in the black community on this issue — including with this black lesbian.”

I don’t expect to make inroads with someone so closed-minded as Cannick. But maybe next time, she could define for all the racist and clueless white gays just what the “it” is. We understand perfectly well the sting of discrimination, and I certainly don’t need a lecture from Cannick on that topic.

Cannick’s diatribe aside, it’s not fair or accurate to blame blacks for the outcome in California. There’s plenty of blame to go around. Black voters overwhelmingly supported Proposition 8, but so did white Republicans in Southern California. Voter turnout in the gay Mecca of San Francisco was among the lowest in the state. The “No on 8” campaign didn’t respond quickly or effectively enough to the other side’s misleading attacks. Thanks to encouragement by their church leaders, Mormons pumped more than $20 million into the fight, putting the “No on 8” organizers at a huge disadvantage.

Despite all the bad news, there is a silver lining. Too many gay rights advocates, particularly younger supporters, expect Americans to embrace our cause just because it’s fair. They are finally learning an important lesson: Civil rights struggles aren’t won in 30 years. This fight for full equality is going to take a long time, and many of us won’t be around to enjoy the fruits of the labor.

But make no mistake: Minds are changing, and fast. Just eight years ago, California passed Proposition 22 in a landslide vote — 61.4% to 38.6%. Last week, 48% of voters said no to Proposition 8, a 10% swing in just eight years.

And best of all, voters overwhelmingly elected Barack Obama, who will be an ally in the fight for equality even if he’s not there yet on marriage rights. Obama’s views on the subject are far more progressive than Cannick’s. Indeed, change is coming; it’s too bad Cannick can’t see it.

Kevin Naff is editor of the Washington Blade, the nation’s oldest newspaper that focuses on gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues.

Obama: Something in Common

I want to thank  you for your comments. I absolutely agree with the black struggle. That was the whole point of my post. I was still shouting at the “black lesbian” author of the LA TImes article who seemed to think that gay and lesbians have no problems in life because they are “white.” I was annoyed at her for not understanding another minorities struggle and I wanted to list the similar heartaches that gay and lesbians go through, just as black people have gone through and still go through. I was angry at the 70% because through all their struggles they showed no compassion for another group with similar struggles. These struggles should have brought groups together but instead, the bible got in the way. I thought God is love. I was obviously wrong. I also just wanted to point out exactly the kind of struggle gay and lesbians go through -this is not a choice. And why is it still okay for gay name calling in the classroom and in the office?

You say it was tough growing up? Did you ever hate yourself for being different? Did you have to hide your difference from your parents and your friends because of societies hatred of gays and lesbians? Again, did your mum and dad hate you for being black? You still had your friends, right? As a teenager, where you confused and terrified about sex because you couldn’t help the way you felt inside? See. You do not understand.

You say that blacks have to constantly take the views of a white society. Don’t you think that’s also a straight society? The media is mostly straight and talks to straight men and women and their kids. How many big Hollywood stars are gay? How many big Hollywood stars are black? And lets not talk about what was, we are living in the here and now.  Should I begin to tell you how hard it was for women in this world and still is?  As a black man or woman, you say you live in a white world, I’m not disputing that but it is also not a gay white world. Gay and lesbians are not in mainstream society and just because some gay and lesbians are white does not mean that they fit in society. Have you ever been to a straight white party or worked in a straight white office? Did you feel different? Well guess what, gay and lesbians feel that way too. So your point doesn’t fly especially in this day and age. At one time interracial marriages were not allowed. I was hoping that this “black lesbian” writer would remember this point. Oh, and I am mixed race. 

Again, my whole point of my last post was to have a go at the “black lesbian” writer who was quite frankly, racist. And after my rant and rave, I have no room in my life for anyone who is racist, sexist, and homophobic. 

We should all be in this together and I guess gay and lesbians expected the blacks to at least understand, but the gay and lesbians underestimated the power of the bible. And if you notice, I do make a point of having a go at the 70% so your accusation at me for no longer having any time for the struggle is incorrect. All my anger is directed at the bible bashing 70% and the racist “black lesbian” writer in the LA Times.

Just let people live their lives: gay, straight, black, white, blue, red, and green.

We are in this world together.