Jeff Rothenbach: Who Will Win in the Pink States?

Jeff RothenbachOften, I find myself frustrated at the long list of dividing lines within the gay community. Latinos don’t date Blacks, Whites don’t date Asians, and no one dates someone over forty unless they have money to throw around. For years, I kept my hair military short because it made me look Latino, which is much more desirable in dating world than my true Asian ancestry.

I am happy to put all of this behind me. I have a solid relationship with a wonderful man. But now that I have my happiness, I turn to the rest of the community. When are we going to start blurring these lines and unite? As I write this, the country is watching the race for the White House unfold before us. I can’t see how the GOP will be able to hold the Oval Office, which means that we will elect the first woman or African-American in US history. We would, of course, be trailing behind many other countries around the world that have elected women as leaders, such as Great Britain (Margaret Thatcher), Germany (Angela Merkel), The Philippines (Corazon Aquino), and Israel (Golda Meir), to name a few.

In preparing this piece, I looked at some statistics on the internet. I ran “openly gay mayor” through Google and found that one state has a gay mayor in its capital—Providence, Rhode Island. Yes, Rhode Island would be that tiny little state in the North-East that is roughly 2 1/2 times the square miles and 1/3 the population of the city of Los Angeles. “Openly gay governors” yields one result—James McGreevey of New Jersey, who came out and resigned in the same speech in 2004.

On the other side of the Pond, Paris, Hamburg and Berlin have openly gay mayors, Bertrand Delanoe, Ole von Beust and Klaus Wowereit, respectively. Stack that against the American “metropolises” of Key Biscayne, Florida, Takoma Park, Maryland and Ferndale, Michigan and the sixteen other cities and you might come up with the population of Hamburg. Or then again, no.

By searching for “same-sex marriage,” I found that along with Canada and three European countries, South Africa has legalized same-sex marriage. If the country that first entered my consciousness with the fight against apartheid can legalize gay marriage, why can’t we? When you lower the threshold to civil unions and domestic partnerships, you add New Zealand, Uruguay and thirteen more European nations and principalities. On the American side, you would have ten states and the District of Columbia. Of course America, land of the free and home of the brave, has bans on same-sex marriage or unions in more than half of the states.

They banned gay marriage in Alaska,
and I didn’t speak up because I don’t live in Alaska.
They banned gay marriage in Tennessee,
and I didn’t speak up because I don’t live in Tennessee.

You see where this is going. We may be a minority, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make our voices heard. This issue will be on the ballot in Florida this November. Maybe we can’t vote on it because we don’t live there, but we can keep a close eye on this issue and see who supports it. If one of your local politicians supports the ban, then you shouldn’t support him or her. Find out where your Governor, Senators, etc stand. For example, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has vetoed not one, but two bills, which would have opened up the state to same-sex marriage.

If our community could organize itself and pull together, we could do amazing things. We need to erase the lines that divide us. It doesn’t matter what color you are, or where you worship, we are all one community. True, we are a minority, but if we work together and add all of our friends together, you come up with a sizable number of votes. I urge all of you to make sure that the people who care about you, care about the issues that face our community. Stand behind candidates that support us, and encourage your friends to do the same.

I am not suggesting that everyone reading this article needs to run for public office. But I am suggesting that everyone reading this piece needs to vote. And to vote in an informed and responsible way that brings our community the rights and dignity that it so richly deserves.

Someone once told me that he sees Europe as “…an insignificant, undeveloped country (sic).” It looks to me like they are years ahead of America.

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