Posts Tagged ‘civil rights’

by dharmagrrl

THIS JUST IN: In England, Brighton to be more specific, if you play music that promotes violence against gays or lesbians in your club or pub, you will be shut down, according to a licensing proposal announced today.

Now this is a fine example of how laws speak to the values of a society. Brighton cares about it’s gay and lesbian population. They are willing to enact a law that bans homophobic music because of their desire to see a community not tainted by discrimination and violence against any group of people. As reported in Pinknews.co.uk, Councillor Dee Simson, head of licensing, told The Argus: “In Brighton and Hove we have a good record on equalities and we felt is was important to include this licensing policy. We do not want music that incites racial or homophobic hatred.”

So what to do Missoula…what to do? What do we want our own policies and laws to reflect. It is essential that we as a community take a stand, that we speak up against violence in all it’s forms and that we begin to enact laws that reflect our “Missoula values” (to quote Mayor Engen from the speech he gave at the November 26 rally against recent anti-gay hate crimes).

Missoula is a great place to be gay, there are many wonderful straight allies here and yet, we are plagued by anti-gay violence of all kinds. Just last year over the holidays, there was a truck on the Northside that was spray painted with an anti-gay epithet. This is simply unacceptable, yet it has become the norm, not the exception.

Currently our laws exclude LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) friends, neighbors, co-workers and family members from protections against employment discrimination, rights to adopt, the right to marry and the 1000’s of rights afforded to married heterosexual couples. How do we allow this to continue? Are we really going to allow the religious right and garden variety ignorance decide what is fair in our communities? Does Brittany Spears’ less than twenty-four-hour Las Vegas marriage several years ago really mean more in this country than my friends who have been in a committed relationship for 10 years? Is that where you want to live? Is that the community you want to raise your children in?

It is time. Give the LGBT community your ear this holiday season. And in the new year give them your votes as well. We are not a wedge issue, we are flesh and blood. And we are not going anywhere. We are Missoula. Speak up. Stand OUT.

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by Jamee Greer

Roughly three hundred Missoulians came together for We Are Missoula, a rally in response to the recent anti-gay violence here in the Garden City. Monday’s rally began at five, and by 5:01 the L-shaped floor of my favorite establishment, the Badlander, began to fill with a perfect cross-section of Missoula.

Speakers from the political realm included Senators Christine Kaufman and Dave Wanzenried, Representative Michele Reinhart (an honest roll-model for young Montanans), Mayor Engen and County Commissioner Jean Curtiss… and statements were read from Montana Senators, Max Baucus and Jon Tester, as well as State Representative Diane Sands, who wasn’t able to make the event but wanted to show her continuing support for civil rights. Members of the Missoula Police Department, which has made amazing progress in working effectively and openly with the city’s queer community, made rounds through the crowd offering hugs of support and reminding folks of the importance in reporting every act of violence. Mayor Engen was first to take the stage, urging survivors to discuss their stories—and reminding the attackers that hate is not welcome in our town.

Many of the speakers centered on the importance of hate crimes legislation inclusive of gender identity and sexual orientation, something the Montana Legislature has been unable to pass despite efforts back into the early nineties.

Statements from both Montana Senators were read:

(Senator Tester’s statement was kept short and sweet)

In Montana, personal freedom isn’t a luxury. It’s a God-given right. Here—and any place where personal freedom and privacy are sacred—there’s no place for violence spurred on by hate or fear.

Know that I support legislation making attacks like these hate crimes. I’ve done it before. And I’ll do it again.

Montanans deserve no less. They see good in each other, do good for each other and respect each other despite their differences. That’s the Montana way.

(…and from Senator Baucus)

I’m sorry I can’t be with you in person, but I applaud your efforts. As Montanans and Americans, we value freedom and individual liberties. We respect those who have differing views, and we know that personal freedom and privacy is paramount.

That’s why I’ve supported hate crimes legislation in the Congress. And that’s why I stand with you today to make sure that no Montanan has to live in fear.

Jess Keith, a survivor of the attacks on November 4th, took the brave and courageous step of speaking before the crowd. She was introduced by her friend, Melissa Darnell, who made a trip up to Missoula for the rally from California. Reading her poem to the attackers, An Open Letter, Melissa thanked them for igniting a passion to fight such injustice, ending with:

to you I say:

your hate
your fear
your bigotry
your violence

empowers me
energizes me
encourages me
ignites me

and I am not alone.

Love.
Is.
Love.

and that is much
much
M U C H
stronger

than the f o u r
of you

(the piece is available in entirety on her blog.)

As a queer Montanan, I can’t begin to express the feeling of solidarity and support I felt standing with my fellow Missoulians. People were shocked. They were frightened. And they were full of resolve to make a difference in the lives of others they hardly knew anything about. There is still so much to be said of that evening, and so much more to be done in our struggle for civil rights. But I’ll end my first post on 4and20 with one realization from the rally,

I am not alone.




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