Dear Newt

“I think, for those for whom the only issue that really matters is the definition of marriage, I won’t get their support, and I accept that that’s a reality. On the other hand, for those for whom it’s not the central issue in their life, if they care about job creation, if they care about national security, if they care about a better future for the country at large, then I think I’ll get their support.” ~Newt Gingrich to gay Iowan Scott Arnold on December 20, 2011

Dear Newt -

For the past week I have been writing and rewriting a letter to you regarding this exchange you had with Mr. Arnold.  It has so infuriated me that I find I can barely put a word on paper without splintering off into the myriad ways you are wrong ~ and I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out laughably hypocritical ~ on the issue of gay rights and on equality in general.

In the above quote not only do you make it clear that you believe equality to be a stand alone issue, you make clear your belief that it is an issue having only to do with gay people and, most disturbingly, an issue at odds with the obviously more pressing concerns of other, “real” Americans ~ job creation, national security and “a better future for the country at large.”

Newt, only in your funhouse-mirror-view of this country are any of these subtle ~ or maybe not so subtle ~ implications true.  You can white-knuckle yesterday’s hatred in an attempt to burnish your credibility with the Religious Right (and considering your own run-ins with the morality police, it is understandable, albeit disgusting) all you want.  You can peddle fear in exchange for a few votes.  You can pit citizen against citizen by painting those who seek equality as doing so in a selfish vacuum while characterizing others as having more magnanimous, altruistic worries like the betterment of the country “at large.”  You can, you have and you will again.  But it doesn’t make you right and it doesn’t make you anything more than a greasy, dime store politician.

Newt, those of us for whom marriage equality is a central issue are, in fact, fighting for a better future for our country – for every citizen.  We understand, as you, apparently, do not, that discrimination against one is discrimination against all.

You mention national security as an issue more pressing than equality.  You have said that you would reinstate DADT.  As you attempt to bundle our equality neatly into a pile off to the side of American politics, might I remind you about the tens of thousands of military personnel hunted down and discharged under that abhorrent policy.  And might I ask you if you can say for certain that no contributions were lost to the witch-hunt of institutionalized bigotry?  Can you say without a doubt that nothing was lost when some of our finest Arab linguists were unceremoniously fired, not for their performance on the job, but solely for being, or thought to be, gay?  Can you say that not one life would have been saved by a discharged medic?  Not one code intercepted?  Not one IED dismantled?  You cannot, Newt.  And yet it is you who thinks that national security comes before, rather than next to, equality.

You mention job creation as an issue of vital importance the voters of this country.  On that point we agree.  I’m sure you’re aware that in 29 states it is perfectly legal to fire someone solely for being gay.  Now I ask you, when someone is fired for being gay, is that person’s need for equality more important or less important than their need to find another job.  Is that person an unemployed homo or an out of work American?  Gay or American, Newt?  You tell me.

Those of us fortunate enough to have jobs find that marriage equality is another issue which reaches into every aspect of our lives.  I’ll spare you the horror stories of couples split apart at the hospital in times of crisis – of the message we send to our gay children by showing them that they will be unable to participate fully in this country when they grow up.  I’ll spare you the issues of the heart and humanity and stick to a language you understand – money.   When an unmarried person has their partner on their health insurance, those premiums come from money that has already been taxed.  If that couple were married, that money would be taken out of their check pre-tax, which means that gay couples have less money to spend than they would if they were in a federally recognized marriage.  That is money we could spend – money that would help to stimulate the economy and grow jobs, no?  Now I ask you, is this money that we could be spending plain old-fashioned money or is it gay money?  Again Newt, gay or American?  Please advise.

For us, civil rights are not an either/or issue.  Either equality or national security.  Either equality or the economy.  They cannot be separated, no matter how hard you might try.  They are not part of a pie chart of issues that we face.  They are, in fact, the entire chart.  These laws reach into our wallets and our workplaces, our homes and our families, and characterizing them as singular shows your unsettlingly simple view of the roadblocks facing gay people every single day of our lives.  Our civil rights are an umbrella under which we live.  They affect every issue.  They are all encompassing.

For your part, it seems clear that you would like to see the chasm between LGBT Americans and “real” Americans widened and cemented in your proposed policies ~ you would see DADT reinstated; you would stop gays from adopting; you would propose a constitutional amendment barring us from getting married.  How this country is made better by blocking an entire segment of the population from fully participating and investing in it is thoroughly beyond me.  Please Newt, elaborate.

It appears, Newt, that you would prefer we just go away.  Sorry.  No matter what you do, no matter what you say, no matter how you may scare people too ignorant to know better and drive up your polling numbers with easy, reliable hatred towards the gay community, we are here.  We are not separate.  We are content to neither go away nor be silent.  And as much as you would like to “otherize” us, we are your sisters (in your case, literally), your brothers, your fathers, mothers, cousins, friends, neighbors, coworkers, etc.  We are everywhere.  And we contribute to and take from this country in the exact same ways as heterosexual Americans – at least insofar as the current laws will allow.  Believe it or not, we are here, affected by the economy, joblessness and national security just like everyone else. In many cases, due to the uneven playing field, more.

Sincerely, Ian

Posted on Dec 26, 2011 by Ian In: Current Events/Pop Culture/Politics, Write the Power
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