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As the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments about the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act and California's Proposition 8, Grindr caught up with Benjamin Cole Beaury (aka the “Grindr sign guy”) at the rally last week in Washington D.C.
Grindr: How did you hear about the Rally?
BCB: Through Facebook groups I follow and friends. I volunteered with Equality Maryland to help pass Question 6 in November, and I regularly volunteer with the D.C. Center for the LGBT Community so a lot of those contacts keep me in the know.
Grindr: What made you decide to go?
BCB: Civil rights are earned, not granted. My parents raised me to be involved and take action when it comes to social justice; that’s my tradition.
Grindr: What made you decide to make your sign?
BCB: I had lots of ideas, but they all seemed so divisive or aggressive against those who disagree. I’m a lover, not a fighter, so I wanted to focus on a message for us - the LGBT community - that we’d get and appreciate. Grindr’s geo-targeting feature and recognizable layout seemed like a good way to express the importance of the Supreme Court’s decisions and what these trials will mean for us.
Grindr: What was the reception amongst the crowd to your sign?
BCB: Everyone loved it! Most people got it as a Grindr reference, but I think many thought it was just a pretty rainbow sign. It looks a bit Dada, I suppose. I had a lot of people stop and take my photo, so I thought I’d end up on a lot of people’s Facebook walls. Then my newsfeed started blowing up with my friends spotting me on the news and various blogs.
Grindr: What was the atmosphere like in during the rally?
BCB: My friend, Tom, and I got there at 7am, and there was already a crowd gathering. There were more supporters then opposition. It was really fun! Our side had music, dancing, and a spirited drag queen. I actually reminded an anti-equality guy near me that if he came all this way to hold his banner, he should smile and at least look like he’s having a good time. He just walked away. When their anti-equality cadre paraded towards us it felt tense. We all countered their “one man + one woman” signs by chanting “2,4,6,8: Kids do best with Love not Hate.” I felt bad for all the children in the anti-equality crowd. It’s unnatural to normalize a child to discrimination at any age.
Grindr: What more, if anything, do you think the GLBTQQIA community could do to help the cause of equality?
BCB: Visibility for one! Edie Windsor said it best after she came out of court on Wednesday, "as we increasingly came out, people saw that we didn't have horns. People learned that we were their kids, and their cousins and their friends."
When you are open in your workplaces, schools, and communities, you make it safer for another to come out too. We need to love ourselves and take care to treat the whole spectrum of GLBTQQIA with absolute kindness and respect. We weaken our cause when we marginalize our own. Also, love your body, know your status, and use protection in sex! And finally, we need your feet on the ground. Make good of that visibility: Volunteer. Donate time. Give back to your community and represent us positively. Washington D.C. is a pretty safe place to be gay, so I think what I did was easy. I really respect those who hold the torch in less-than-friendly parts of our nation. Those people are my heroes.
Grindr: Why is equality important to you?
BCB: I want the American Dream like anyone else. I see myself with a loving partner and as a parent one day. It’s also for the next generation. When a kid can grow up knowing that simple things like same-sex marriage is accepted everywhere, she or he will know they too are accepted everywhere. Our nation has too many homeless queer and trans youth who miss out on their dreams because they weren’t safe where they grew up. It won’t get better until we establish basic equality at a state and federal level.
Guys, we've all just made history. This election was a resounding, record-setting victory for equality in this country. All our hard work is finally starting to pay off on a massive scale. The gay rights movement has just taken a giant leap forward.
For the first time, I personally feel that as a gay man, I was recognized and represented for being who I am. My interests are considered important. I’m no longer a marginalized player in the U.S. political process. I’m just as legitimate a citizen as my straight friends and neighbors.
First of all, the American people reelected Barack Obama, the first president to openly declare his support for marriage equality, the first president to oversee the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the first president who believes we are actually equal – who sees us, acknowledges us, and vocally supports us.
Secondly, marriage equality was on the ballot in four states. And for the first time ever, the voters in all four of those states – Maryland, Maine, Minnesota and Washington – declared that same-sex marriage should be legal. The citizens of those states showed the world that they really care about our rights.
Finally, a whopping four members of the LGBT community were voted into office. Californians chose as one of their U.S. representatives Mark Takano, the first openly gay congressman who’s also a person of color. New York voters went for Sean Patrick Maloney as a U.S. representative – and as their state’s first openly gay member of Congress. Wisconsin voters decided on Mark Pocan, who became the first openly gay representative to succeed another openly gay representative in the same district. And last but not least, Wisconsin voters statewide elected Tammy Baldwin as their senator. She’s the first openly gay person ever elected to the U.S. Senate.
It’s a time to celebrate, to be sure, but we must remember that the fight is not over. We need to hold our elected officials to account and ensure they legislate with our rights in mind. We must see to it that the Defense of Marriage Act is repealed and that the Employment Non-Discrimination Act is passed. We still have work to do.
I’m personally so proud of all the hard work that Grindr for Equality has done in the past few months to raise awareness and get out the vote in this historic election. I realize we sent you guys a lot of messages. But I think it was worth it, and I hope it helped inform and motivate you.
Let us not forget this moment and how it feels to be one huge step closer to acceptance and equality in this society. Voters just struck a major blow to hate and homophobia in America. A day when our sexual orientation will no longer be an issue is truly within sight.
Thank you for making a difference, Grindr guys.
Image via TalkAboutEquality.Wordpress.com.
Have you cast your vote yet?
Election Day is Tuesday, November 6, and it’s shaping up to be one of the most important elections in history. We want to do our part to make sure that every Grindr guy in the nation gets the chance to participate in this election. With your help, we can spread the word.
As soon as you cast your vote, log into Grindr and change your headline to “I VOTED!” Then send a screenshot of your profile to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll feature all submissions in a Facebook photo album dedicated to the Grindr Vote.
Changing your Grindr headline to “I VOTED!” isn’t just a great way to show off your civic style, but it’ll also encourage and remind the guys around you to vote. So go vote! Your future counts on it.
Mitt Romney is no fan of LGBT equality. Let’s take a minute right now to look at a few reasons why.
• Romney opposes not only marriage equality but also civil unions for gay people. In fact, he signed a pledge written by the homophobic National Organization for Marriage (NOM) to add a federal amendment to the U.S. Constitution banning marriage equality nationwide. And most recently, this video surfaced.
• Romney does not believe that the federal government should protect gay people in the workplace. He opposes the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). That means he thinks it should be legally OK for your boss to fire you just for being gay, bisexual, questioning -- anything other than straight.
• Romney supported the U.S. Military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
• Part of the pledge that Romney signed for NOM stipulated that, if elected, he would establish a McCarthy-style “presidential commission” to investigate and possibly prosecute members of the gay community and their allies who offend the religious sensibilities of those who push an anti-gay agenda.
Now let’s take a minute to look at just a few things that President Barack Obama, who is strongly pro-equality, has already done for gay rights during his last four years as president.
• Obama supports marriage equality and ordered his Justice Department to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act because he believes it’s unconstitutional. (And we’re betting that Obama, a Harvard Law grad and former UChicago constitutional law professor, knows “unconstitutional” when he sees it.)
• Obama supports employment non-discrimination. He doesn’t think your boss should be able to fire you just because he doesn’t like your sexual orientation or gender identity. Obama believes ENDA should include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected status. He has repeatedly called on Congress to pass ENDA so that he could sign the bill into law.
• Obama repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which allowed U.S. servicemembers to serve openly and honestly for the first time ever.
• Obama enacted hate crimes legislation, specifically the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which is the first law in American history that protects people based specifically on sexual orientation and gender identity.
To see more of what Obama has done for the LGBT community during his time as president, take a look at this impressive timeline on his campaign website.
We recently conducted a survey of our Grindr users because we were curious to know which candidate they’d be voting for in the upcoming election.
I was honestly a little surprised to see that about 20 percent of the respondents said they’d vote for Mitt Romney. That seemed like a lot. The vast majority of those Romney voters then went on in the survey to answer that when sizing up candidates, policy on the economy and job creation was the No. 1 deciding factor -- more important than that candidate’s policy on GLBT equality issues.
When I looked at the correlation, I understood. Those pro-Romney guys just believe he’ll be the better candidate for economic growth. But that got me to thinking … Romney’s better economy would exclude gay people. Here’s why.
Romney opposes same-sex marriage. He has pledged to uphold the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which explicitly defines marriage as between one man and one woman for the sole purpose of making it impossible for gay couples – couples who are married in states where it’s legal – to enjoy certain benefits that are freely given to their straight counterparts.
The pro-Romney guys who answered our survey must think that’s less important than his economic beliefs. But, gay Romney supporters, if you like Romney’s economic policy so much that you think you’ll vote for him in spite of his anti-gay stance, please consider some facts that directly -- and negatively -- impact your wallet should you choose to get married or if you already are married.
There are 1,138 federal rules on the books that currently give married couples special consideration in the eyes of the law. Those special rules for married couples involve enhanced property rights, additional benefits and tax exemptions. But even if gay marriage is legal in your state, those special rules do not apply to you. They apply only to straight married couples because DOMA makes the federal recognition of same-sex marriage illegal.
That means a gay couple pays more money to the government in taxes and gets less money back from the government in benefits. Meanwhile, their married straight neighbors get to pay less and get back more.
To be more specific, same-sex couples are not allowed to file taxes jointly as a married couple, and they can’t take advantage of the lower tax rate that their straight married neighbors get. They simply have to file as two individuals. And that’s because DOMA doesn’t allow the federal government to recognize their marriage as legitimate.
We also won’t get survivor Social Security benefits when our partner dies, thanks to DOMA. And if our spouse were to die and leave us a fortune, we’d have to pay the estate tax, while our straight widow neighbor would not.
And if you’re worried about job creation, you’d better not live in a state where it’s still legal to fire someone simply for being gay, because you could lose your job any day. Romney won't come to your aid -- he certainly hasn’t said anything about protecting gay people in the workplace.
Guys, the point is this: We're losing money on the current arrangement. Romney is set on upholding this current arrangement. For all he cares, gay people are invisible in today's economy. He’s made it part of his platform. He will defend DOMA.
DOMA has got to go. That simply isn’t going to happen under Romney. A vote for Romney is a vote against your own economic interests – definitely not in favor of them.
Image courtesy Oscar Guzman, some rights reserved.