Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A time to push, a time to hold back

If you watched the national news today, you saw the story about Ellen Sturtz, a member of GetEQUAL who heckled the First Lady at a private fundraiser.  Mr. Sturtz was upset because the President has not signed an executive order forbidding discrimination based on sexual orientation by the Federal government.  I wish the President would sign such an order, but it's worth remembering it would only cover Federal employees and contractors - and it could be easily withdrawn by a subsequent President.  As a member of the LGBT community, I felt embarrassed by Ms. Sturtz' behavior – as I’m sure members of any minority community feel when “one of their own” does something criminal or just plain stupid.  Did Ms. Sturtz actually believe that heckling the President's wife would persuade him to sign the executive order?

I find this "activist" to be appallingly rude. Mrs. Obama does not control White House policy and did not deserve to be treated in this manner. In its way, Ms. Sturtz' behavior mirrors that of several people in the Save the Mansion Library group, who shout and scream, use multiple sock-puppets to post nasty remarks about whoever disagrees with them, and who have been totally ineffective in getting anything done.

There’s a time to push and a time to exercise restraint.  One of the reasons Hate Crimes Legislation was passed and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was repealed - along with the many other positive things for LGBT people that have occurred during the Obama administration - is that there was a balance of “on the streets” activism along with behind the scenes collaboration.  Both are necessary, but when you heckle the spouse of an elected official, you’re crossing a line.  I don’t care if that spouse is Michele Obama or Nancy Reagan.

I've said it before, and will say it again: the struggle for LGBT rights is a struggle for the hearts and minds of ordinary Americans.  If you want to make a difference, come out of the closet, leave the safe cocoon of your gayborhood, be proud, and make something of yourself.  

That’s how we’ll win. 

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