The People on the Fringe

(6 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)


The other day there was a Kossack who told me that Worker’s Rights were what it (presumably the Democratic Party) all should be about:

My point is that we have taken our focus off the core purpose of the Democratic party by elevating fringe interests above the major problems.

Fringe interests?  Aren’t the people on the fringe also workers?  Although numbers about the “least of us” are often difficult to uncover, one source lists the unemployment rate for transgender people at 35% and claims that 60% of us earn less that $16K per year.  Another source “more generously” claims rather that 40% of us earn less than $20K.

Both are appalling, if you ask me.

Anyway, the truth is that I would much rather be working on issues more central to the human condition, but someone has to stand firm for the people on the fringe.

If not me, who?  If not now, when?

There is a simple way to satisfy those of us who are on the fringe.  Give us equal rights.  Then we can work wholeheartedly on those “more important issues.”

    Some people insist that I include some graphics for their enjoyment. I do so in keeping with a general philosophy:

    A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants.

    –Chuckles the Clown

    As always, clicking on an image should yield a larger version in a new tab.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has privately told her politically vulnerable Democratic members that they will not vote on controversial bills in 2010 unless the Senate acts first.

The Hill

Opening 2

Since a trans-inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act is probably one of those “controversial bills,” I don’t expect we will be seeing it move forward in the House anytime soon.

teacherken shared some remarkable words from Martin the other day:

On some positions, cowardice asks the question, is it expedient? And then expedience comes along and asks the question, is it politic? Vanity asks the question, is it popular? Conscience asks the question, is it right?

There comes a time when one must take the position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must do it because conscience tells him it is right.

–Martin Luther King

Conscience seems to me to be fighting a losing battle lately.

Case in point:  marriage equality in New Jersey, where I live with my partner, Debbie.  We have been together since before we moved here in 2000.  When domestic partnerships were established in 2002, we got one of those.  It proved to be generally worthless, except for our mental well-being.  Not even the state accepted that piece of paper for any governmental purpose that we could discern.

So when civil unions came around in 2006, we upgraded to one of those.  we went all out…and into mucho debt…to have a service and everything, with family members flying in from all over the west coast.

Again, since I work for an employer which has had benefits for domestic partners since the 90s, the reality has proved that we have not really gained much in the way of rights.  Maybe if one of us had died, we could claim a more positive experience with being civilly united.  But the truth is they have proven to be remarkably ineffectual (warning: pdf)…except for psychologically, probably.  It means something to us privately.

Kasey probably says it better than I can:

It was not a surprise yesterday when the New Jersey Senate denied us marriage equality.  I wish I could say differently.  But we in New Jersey were prepared for the worst…we thought.  I don’t think we were quite prepared to see some of the folks who were “110% behind you” fail to vote their conscience, preferring that political expediency route.

But Garden State Equality is prepared, along with Lambda Legal, to return to the state Supreme Court, which had originally ruled that we should be accorded something equivalent to marriage, if not marriage itself.  Since even some of the Republicans have admitted that civil unions are not equivalent, and need to be fixed, we may have a stronger footing on that.  On the other hand, the make-up of the Supreme Court has changed in those intervening years.

I don’t have a youtube of the most recent words of Senator Nia Gill, but I have something from last month, and a quote from yesterday:

On its face our civil union law may appear just, but it is in its application, based on what we said in the legislature that we wanted to happen in civil unions that it becomes unjust.

–Nia H. Gill

We also have some words from the man who promised to sign a marriage equality bill, provided one reached his desk:

Most assuredly, this is an issue of civil rights and civil liberties, the foundation of our state and federal constitutions.  Denying any group of people a fundamental human right because of who they are, or whom they love, is wrong, plain and simple.

As was the case when Americans faced legal discrimination on the basis of their race or gender, history will frown on the denial of the basic right of marriage equality.  I regret that the state’s recognition of equal justice and equal treatment under the law will be delayed.  Certainly this process and the resulting debate is historic, but unfortunately, today’s vote was squarely on the wrong side of history.

–John Corzine

As I said, I’d much rather be able to spend my time focusing on the other issues that probably mean more to more people:  education (I’ve been a teacher for almost 34 years), health care (quite important to people who have to interface with medical and insurance bureaucracies much more than they should just to attain physical and mental integrity…I continue to have to teach doctors how to treat me medically), immigrant rights, Native American rights, the climate crisis (got a piece coming out next week for the Greenroots series, about desert tortoises and their environment), and whatever other issues I could help with.

I’d also like to spend more of my declining years engaged with creating my graphics.  It is my meditation, brings me peace, and people seem to enjoy them.

And perhaps I could find some inspiration to write a few more poems.  I seem to have developed a bit of a block in that direction the past several months.

But someone has to be concerned about the people on the fringe.

If not me, who?

Opening 3


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    • Robyn on January 8, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    I’ll be here sometimes and gone sometimes.  I have to get ready for an appointment with a new doctor this even, which is always stressful for transpeople, I think.  One never knows how a doctor will react, from having no problem whatsoever to refusing to treat us.

    The hope is this GI doctor will put me on the road to getting further treatment for my abdominal problems.

    • Robyn on January 8, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    …to the recent appointment of Amanda Simpson to a government position:

    Stop Obama’s Crossdresser Protection Bill

    Dear ___,

       On New Year’s Eve, when most Americans were waiting for the ball to drop in Times Square, the Obama Administration dropped another bombshell in its agenda to radicalize America by appointing its first openly “transgender” person to a high federal post. “Transgender” is an umbrella term for anyone who “expresses” a “gender identity” contrary to their biological sex at birth-in other words, men who claim to be (and dress as) women, and vice versa.

       Mitchell Simpson, a man who had sex-change surgery and now calls himself a woman (named “Amanda”), was appointed as Senior Technical Advisor to the Commerce Department. Simpson announced that “as one of the first transgender presidential appointees to the federal government, I hope that I will soon be one of hundreds.”

       The day after Simpson began work, The New York Times reported that the main website advertising jobs with the federal government now says there will be no “discrimination” based on “gender identity”-even though Congress has never passed a law saying that.

       This new policy applies only to the federal government. But there is a bill being considered in Congress, the so-called “Employment Non-Discrimination Act” (ENDA), which would require every employer in America to open every position to homosexuals (by making “sexual orientation” a protected category) and “transgenders” (by protecting “gender identity”).

       All American employers including Christian owned businesses and potentially Christian ministries would be affected.

       “Gender identity disorder” is a recognized mental illness that should be treated-not affirmed and protected. And the right of employers to set “dress and grooming standards” for their employees should include the most basic standard of all-that people dress in a way appropriate for their biological sex.

       Don’t let Congress and President Obama force American employers to hire homosexuals, transsexuals, and cross-dressers.

       Sign our petition to tell our elected leaders we oppose the so-called “Employment Non-Discrimination Act” (ENDA)


       Tony Perkins


    • TMC on January 8, 2010 at 9:54 pm

    This has to be one of the most eloquent speeches on marriage equality I have ever heard. I am very disappointed and saddened that marriage equality has been postponed (yes, postponed, I believe that it will eventually be legal in all 50 states) in NJ, NY and Maine.

    PS: I worked on this Lady’s campaign. Bravo, Diane

  1. on the important issues. The fringe as they call it is just another part of the whole. Divided we fall means to me that we all must work at what need to and can and that we support each effort and not categorize human rights by defining them as fringe or detrimental to our politics. It’s not even good strategy as it turns all ‘issues’ upside down when they are fought with a blind eye in regards to their basis in equality and human rights. Great essay, I am so stealing that MLK quote for My pet ISSUE. Which only makes the point that there really is no fringe when it come to our human and civil rights.  

    btw.. this diary at dkos about love and affection brought home the point that love is not a fringe issue and hate should not be an issue at all let alone one that is legislated under the guise of a value for society. The pictures of love I saw there reminded me of your art. The best we as humans have to offer, love in visual form is beautiful and wonderful.…              

    • TMC on January 8, 2010 at 10:19 pm

    now recognizes marriage equality.

    Portugal parliament approves gay marriage

    LISBON (AFP) – Portugal’s parliament Friday approved plans to legalise gay marriage, less than three decades after revoking the country’s ban on homosexuality, but rejected proposals to allow same sex couples to adopt.

    The bill passed with limited public controversy in what has traditionally been one of Europe’s most socially conservative countries.

    After less than three hours’ debate, Friday’s parliamentary vote went mainly along party lines, with the left-wing majority backing the measure proposed by Prime Minister Jose Socrates and the right-wing opposition voting against.

    It will now be reviewed in committee before coming back for a final vote in parliament, and could gain final approval before a visit by Pope Benedict XVI, due in Portugal in May.

    Socrates said the aim of the legislation was to remedy decades of injustice towards gays, recalling that as recently as 1982 homosexuality was a crime in Portugal.

    (my emphasis)

    tks to ek

  2. … it did not win its victories on workers rights by being a single-interest Workers Party. It was a coalition.

    It provided income support to farmers, traditionally antagonists of Labor but under such stress that they were willing to take any safe harbor in a storm. So it was a Farmer-Worker coalition.

    Much of its the Job Guarantee jobs provided were Conservation, bringing in a pre-cursor of the Green of the Blue-Green coalition we are trying to form.

    It supported infrastructure development not just for the construction jobs but also to bring new opportunities to parts of the country previously trapped in economic stagnation.

    And lest we forget that even if Truman was not a radical New Dealer, he was still a New Dealer, after WWII it included integration of the Army.

    Your friend has filtered the New Deal coalition through the single-interest-politics filter of the 1980’s, but even if the benchmark is a narrow partisan definition of political success, someone pointing to the 1980’s and saying, “the Democratic Party needs more decades like that”, would appear to be off their meds.

  3. Anyway, the truth is that I would much rather be working on issues more central to the human condition, but someone has to stand firm for the people on the fringe.

    If not me, who?  If not now, when?

    Hope things start looking up for you with all that medical unpleasantry.

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