In a speech to a John Birch Society-sponsored event reported Feb. 4, 2009, in Oklahoma Gazette, state Rep. Sally Kern, R-Oklahoma City, pronounced that she had discovered the “gay agenda.” There is a long-standing joke in the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community ” anytime someone mentions the “gay agenda” someone will say, “Have you ever seen this agenda? I haven’t. Can someone show it to me?” Then, usually, someone else will remark, “We really aren’t that organized.”
The truth is, there is an LGBT agenda and I’m about to tell you what it is, quoting my best friend Rob Howard, “We want all the exact same rights that everyone else has, and we want them now.”
It really is that simple. Nothing radical there ” just boring old democracy.
There are more than 1,100 civil rights heterosexuals enjoy that are denied to those of us who are LGBT. Most of those rights heterosexuals don’t even realize they have and would not be aware of until they were denied access to them ” rights like visiting your loved ones in the hospital or inheriting the home that you and your spouse share when one of you dies. LGBT couples have to spend about $10,000 in legal fees to create the various legal arrangements to get around some of these inequalities, but others can’t be gotten around.
In this state, an LGBT person can be fired from their job simply because of whom they love. They can be denied access to housing. And they can be targeted for domestic terrorism since acts targeting the LGBT community with violence and intimidation are not illegal in Oklahoma.
A couple of years ago, my mother was in surgery and it looked like she would need a blood transfusion. As my family talked about this possibility, they were thankful that my sister and I both match my mother’s blood type. However, my sister was pregnant, so wasn’t able to give blood. They asked me if I would. I explained that I couldn’t, that federal law banned me from giving blood, even to my own mother, and even if she needed it to save her life. These imposed indignities are the sorts of things that LGBT people learn to live with on a daily basis.
What has been the recent “gay agenda” in Oklahoma? Some examples: We’ve sponsored two conferences for educators and mental health professionals to train them in prevention of bullying in order to create safer environments for young people across the state.
In coordination with the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, we met with employees of AAA to discuss their relocation, as they had concerns about diversity and welcome in Oklahoma after Kern’s famous remarks last year and weren’t sure they wanted to move to the state.
We held vigils when one of our own was murdered by a member of the Aryan Brotherhood and supported the district attorney in his call for laws that would criminalize the targeting of the LGBT community for violence and intimidation.
And, most importantly, we live as open members of civil society ” raising our children, doing our jobs, going to school, loving our spouses, caring for our parents, attending church, volunteering and voting. That’s not a threat ” it’s called democracy.
Jones, who holds a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Oklahoma, is pastor of the Cathedral of Hope United Church of Christ in Oklahoma City.