Why I’ll Be Attending an Add the Words, Idaho Rally (And You Should Too)

There’s a line in Tony Kushner’s “Angels in America” that is as haunting to me now as it was when I first read it over ten years ago…

“Homosexuals are not men who sleep with other men. Homosexuals are men who in 15 years of trying can’t pass a pissant anti-discrimination bill through city council.”

Every time I pick up the phone to call a lawmaker to beg them to support or not to support a particular piece of legislation, every time I carry a sign or march in protest, every time I write an email or a face book post or a news article urging my friends and family to get active in the cause of equality I think of those words.

Until recently, somewhere in the back of my mind, I suppose, I’ve always believed Kushner’s Roy Cohn was right.

I believed he was right in 1993 when one of my friends told me they couldn’t come out of the closet because they were scared of losing their job. I believed he was right when I learned that same year that federal discrimination laws didn’t and still don’t protect millions of LGBTQIA Americans from loosing their jobs or their homes simply for being who they are. I believed he was right in 2008 when I first became involved in the effort to help amend Idaho’s human rights act. I believed he was right a year later when a lawmaker told me, “gays already have enough rights.”

Over the past the past couple of year or so, however, I’ve stopped believing that he was right.

He can’t be.

If he is correct, then that means that hundreds of us across the state at any given moment could not only lose our jobs, but be locked up or worse for simply being who we are. It would mean that those who have been bullied or harassed or called hateful names by those who choose not to get to know us as individuals have won. It would mean that those of us who give a damn about the way others are treated would have simply rolled over and given up.

Every year since 2006 the gay and transgendered communities, their family, their friends and their neighbors have asked Idaho lawmakers to add the words “sexual orientation and gender identity” to the human rights act. For the past six years those voices have been pushed aside, ignored, and blatantly disregarded.

As I read more headlines of gay and lesbian teens killing themselves, as I hear of another trans person who is beaten up or who has simply given up, as I hear the same excuses from lawmakers year after year of why they can’t or won’t support this or that legislation, I find that my resolve to prove Kushner’s Cohn wrong grows stronger with every fiber of my being.

There is no logical reason why a LGBTQIA Idahoan should have to move out of state in order to be able to love whomever they choose or to safely be who they are. There is no logical reason why our voices aren’t as important as our lawmaker’s other constituents. There is no logical reason whatsoever that anybody living in Twin Falls, Idaho or in any other city in our great state should ever have to choose between their sexuality and gender or feeding their family.

Why am I lending my voice of support to the Add the words, Idaho rally and sticky note campaign?

Because I have come to believe that the Roy Cohns of this world are dead wrong. Because I don’t belive it’s someone elses responsibility to stand up for my rights if I don’t have the guts or will power to stand up along with them. But perhaps most importantly, because I still belive in the inherent worth of each individual, man and woman, no matter what their skin color, religion, age, sexuality, gender identity.

I ask you, can there really be any more important message or cause then that?

(There will be Add the Words, Idaho rallies and gatherings happening across the state this Saturday, January 28th, at various locations and times. Click HERE or HERE to find one  happening closest to you. To learn more about Add the Words, Idaho click HERE.  )


3 Responses to Why I’ll Be Attending an Add the Words, Idaho Rally (And You Should Too)

  1. Sarah says:

    Love it!

  2. Pretty harsh on the gay community, James. We Allies certainly bear a lot of the blame. Maybe this is the year!

  3. jamestidmarsh says:

    @Muriel: if it puts butts in the seats..or something like that 😉 Here’s hoping this will indeed be the year!

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