June 27, 2009: Stonewall uprising’s 40th anniversary

In a matter of weeks New York, if not the whole gay world, will mark the fortieth anniversary of what came to be known as The Stonewall Riots. (The link takes you to a great panel discussion moderated by Charlie Rose.)

The riots (a response to the latest in a long series of police raids and other harassment of ‘homosexual’ bar patrons, including the Stonewall Inn in New York’s Greenwich Village) have long been viewed as a major starting point in the equality movement for those of us somewhere in the LGBTTIQQ2S community. (That abbreviation looks more Welsh the more I see it.)

We perhaps owe the last straw to the death and funeral that week of Judy Garland, something I grew up in the movement believing, though there is not unanimity on the connection. It does not take much to imagine the emotional upset of New York fans over the death of such an icon. The police could not have picked a worse week to cross the local gay community which, given the times, included a lot of other leftist allies – and still does.


This sculpture celebrating the gay liberation movement is at Sheridan Square Park across from the former Stonewall Inn.

Seems to me like a good time for the United States – be it the President, Congress, or Judiciary – to take a bold move toward equality. Enough of that ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ bullshit, stop firing Armed Services interpreters (and others) who happen to be gay and, whether state-by-state or not, President Obama should begin to weigh in a little more on the equal marriage questions. Right now he’s in the same camp as Rush Limbaugh and Miss California and that’s not becoming of a ‘change’ President.

If Obama and legislators don’t move on this, it seems to me inevitable that the Supreme Court will eventually – I’m not saying it won’t be quite a while – come down on the side of equal marriage as a constitutional matter, as was the case in Canada.

Circle June 27 on your calendar, Mr. Obama, or tap it into your Blackberry.  It’s an important date.   Come out…out from under that protective shell some nominally supportive people wear, saying they agree with sexual equality but doing little or nothing to help advance it in areas of discomfort.

Tell us how you’re going to move equality – for everyone – forward.

If not you, then who? If not at the beginning of your term, then when?

Maybe it will, like in Canada, take court action – all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary.  Equality, however, is not negotiable.  It will prevail…eventually.


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