Open letter to Democratic National Committee chairman Tim Kaine

2 June 2010
3:02 pm

Dear [DNC Chairman] Tim Kaine:

My name is Joshua Meadows. I am writing you in response to an email I've seen circulated from yourself to the gay community soliciting their perspectives and opinions about this Pride Month.

I would like to take this opportunity to share some things with you about myself as a gay American.

I'm currently living in Sydney, Australia, going through a lengthy process to secure a partnership visa with my boyfriend of two and a half years. Because my partner is Australian and I'm American, he has few options towards any sort of visa or citizenship in the United States. Although it was not my first choice to abandon the country of my birth, I was forced between that or the person I loved because of habitual failures on the part of our government to accelerate its policies to ones shared by the rest of the 21st-century First World. I have been here for almost two years. The process has been long, expensive, invasive– I have been forced to validate my relationship on a level that heterosexual couples simply take for granted, necessitating court evidence and interviews from friends and family to prove we're actually together. I had to give up my friends, my employment, my home in the United States to come to a foreign country– simply because we had no other choice.

Your email touts some of the accomplishments of the Democratic party in the past sixteen months. While laudable, the US is basically just beginning to catch up to implementing things that countries like Canada, England and most of Europe have had in place for years. Hospital visitation, the ability for gay and lesbian individuals to serve in the military and sufficient protection under hate crime statutes are things that most of the rest of the world made law some time ago, which the US is only just now beginning to pass.

I've voted Democrat since as long as I've been eligible, but it's not out of any sense of loyalty. Each election I– and most of the other members of the gay community I know– feel forced between choosing for a candidate and party who will do nothing for my rights and my equality, or a candidate and party who is actively hostile towards them. Given the two options, getting nothing done is preferable to the erosion of equality, but it doesn't mean I'm happy or satisfied about it. In the past sixteen months, I've watched the Democrats I elected into office consistently drop the ball on LGBT issues despite the fact that they've held their first solid majority since I was a child. I've watched the party sit on their hands, impotent and ineffectual, and once again our rights and our needs are shoved to the side because they're "controversial." Disappointment is an understatement for the emotion I feel.

It's kind of your party to offer promises, well-written statements and press releases affirming your commitment to equality. But when those press releases consistently fail to have any action behind them our community is only going to take your party less and less seriously. It's also foul of the Democrats to preach equality when you, in particular, (to say nothing of most of the other members) are on the record as being against gay marriage or even the right for gay couples to adopt children. It's inconsistent and, frankly, shameful. You will never have to be in a situation where your wife and your three children are prevented from living in the United States with you because of your heterosexuality. Your relationship will never be a potential situation that loses you a career or puts your life in jeopardy. You will never be arrested because of who you love. You take all of this for granted while your staffers write up copacetic blog entries about how much you care about LGBT people and LGBT equality. It's simply words to you, but to me, and to millions of people like me across the United States, this is our lives.

Increasingly, we are feeling disenfranchised. The government of the country of my birth let me down, necessitating that I emigrate somewhere on the other side of the planet to have my needs and the needs of my partner met. All throughout my childhood I was regaled with stories about what an amazing country the United States was and why I should be filled with such pride to be blessed to grow up here. I can't say that now years later, as an adult, I have any pride. I have only a sense of bewilderment for why a country that used to be so great and so at the forefront of civil progress is now lagging behind countries like South Africa, which had racial segregation until 1994 but legalised full gay marriage in 2006. I'm ashamed that the country of my origin could be so consistently derelict on treating humans as humans on something that is ultimately utterly irrelevant to the lives of the people so steadfastly against it.

Forty-one years ago, those "brave Americans" you mentioned fought off riot police to establish Pride as an institution long before President Obama made a proclamation on the subject. The LGBT community has stood up for itself against threats, religious-inspired persecution, rampaging and devastating illness when the government institutions tasked with dealing with the threat refused to pay attention to "gay diseases." We have fought for our place in the world whether here or in Malawi or Moscow. We've sacrificed more than most straight people ever will to be treated as human beings, to love whomever we love, to have equal relationships and equal families. We are increasingly tired and frustrated with being secondary, despite receiving Democratic promises of attention election year after election year.

You rightly pointed out that LGBT Americans have helped build the Democratic party. LGBT organisations raised record-breaking funds for Obama's presidential campaign, and the LGBT community consistently sends its votes to Democratic candidates. But, it's time for your party to stop taking this alignment for granted. It's time that your party do its job, deliver us tangible results and stop trying to placate our community with hollow rhetoric before we switch allegiance to a political party that will deliver on its commitments.

One Response to \'Open letter to Democratic National Committee chairman Tim Kaine\'

    Bravo! And best wishes for every success to you and your boyfriend and for equal rights and opportunities for all gay/bi/straight humans every where.

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