Mo (mofic) wrote,
Mo
mofic

The Importance of Being Out

Time and again, polls show that support for equal rights for gay men and lesbians is strongly correlated with a yes answer to this question: Do you know any gay men or lesbians? The latest evidence of this is in connection with the current struggle in California.

California's state constitution has strong enough provisions on equal rights that the majority Republican State Supreme Court recently ruled that the state cannot deny same-sex couples marriage licenses. OTOH, California's state constitution is also one of the more easily amendable ones - all it will take to change the constitution and undo the work of the court is a majority voting to deny gay and lesbian Californians equal marriage rights this November.

It's unclear which way the vote will go at the moment, as well as how this issue and the presidential election will intersect. A majority - but a small one - is in favor of the amendment, according to current polls. It may be that the homophobes will come out in force and not only overrule the court decision but also help McCain to the White House. OTOH, Obama's appeal among younger voters (who are more likely to be in favor of equal rights for lesbians and gay men) may defeat the amendment and help him become POTUS.

One thing that is clear, though, is that those people who know that they know gay men and lesbians are less likely to want to deny us our rights. Everyone knows gay men and lesbians - not everyone knows that they know some of us. From today's LA Times:

"Indeed, the poll found that views on gay marriage were greatly influenced by personal connections. Of those who said they knew a friend, a family member or a co-worker who was gay, nearly half approved of the court's ruling -- more than twice the proportion among those who said they were not acquainted with a gay person.

The divide was as stark when it came to the proposed constitutional amendment: 70% of voters who said they did not know a gay person would vote for it, a position taken by just 49% of voters who said they knew a gay person."

The one thing we can do - as individuals - to help our cause is to come out, early and often and every chance we get. It's a whole lot easier to demonise people you don't know. It's a lot harder to deny your neighbors, your relatives, your cow-orkers, your customers, and your friends
the rights you enjoy. Let every day be National Coming Out Day.
Tags: coming out, politics
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