June 28, 2013
It’s been a roller coaster of a week. There is no doubt that the victories we experienced this week would not have been possible without the strength, resiliency, visibility and activism of our community. But we are reminded by the defeats that there is work to be done.
First, the victories:
We applaud the Supreme Court’s decision on DOMA and Proposition 8. Although some questions remain, the Court’s decision paves the way for same-sex couples to share in the same rights as straight couples.
That decision matters for GAPIMNY member Jason, whose partner Alex is Chinese Canadian. Alex recently came out to his parents, who did not take it well, so returning to Canada was no longer an option for him. With DOMA out of the way, Jason and Alex have a way to keep their family together through the spousal recognition process.
That decision matters for GAPIMNY member Ritchie and his fiance Will. After nearly eight years of being a couple, Ritchie and Will decided to get engaged after marriage equality passed in New York State. Because of the Court’s decision that ruled unconstitutional key sections of DOMA, Ritchie and Will will now have access to more than 1000 federal benefits that are critical for families.
These are real, tangible improvements to the lives of the members in our community and we are excited to see these gains.
But to us, our demands as LGBT APIs have never been limited to marriage equality. Rather, they’ve been informed by the multiplicity of the identities and experiences that we hold collectively and the links we have to other marginalized communities.
This is why we also applaud the passage of the Community Safety Act, which will increase oversight of the NYPD by helping eradicate the practice of profiling and expanding the categories of protected individuals to include age, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, immigration status, disability, and housing status. Both LGBT and API communities have a long and troubled history with police overreach and intimidation. The Stonewall Riots, which sparked the modern LGBT Rights movement in America was in direct resistance to police harassment and discrimination. Today, our Black, Latino, South Asian and Southeast Asian friends, many of whom also identify as LGBT, continue to be targets of racially discriminatory policing. We are reminded that increased police presence may mean security for some, but also increased risk for others.
We are also pleased to hear of the shuttering of Exodus International, the standard bearer of the so-called “ex-gay” movement, which has caused immeasurable harm to LGBT people in faith communities. Exodus International has long been associated with not only the propagation of pseudo-science and falsehoods in the United States, but also of the exportation of these ideas abroad. In 2011, GAPIMNY stood with activists in Hong Kong protesting Ex-gay programs exported from America, and we now stand with organizations like Soulforce, who now call on Exodus to work to make communities of faith safe for LGBT people.
These are just some of the victories we saw this past week (we see you Wendy Davis!)
Now, what we’ve lost:
At the beginning of the week, the Supreme Court attacked tribal sovereignty and left the future of affirmative action unclear.
Soon after, the Supreme Court invalidated key sections of the Voting Rights Act, making it easier for states to impose voter restrictions which would disproportionately impact, the low-income, the young, the elderly, the non-English speaking, and people of color. Six states are already moving forward on voter restrictions. The New York Times also reported that the Court’s decision may also impact New York City. This has huge implications for all of us whose survival and well-being are hinged on policies whose fates can be determined by the election or ouster of just one politician.
We think about how this decision impacts the voting rights of API folks, particularly low-income, non-English-speaking immigrants and refugees. As we saw in the 2012 elections, Asian Americans voters faced numerous barriers at the polls, including inadequate language assistance, excessive requests for identification and voter eligibility, and missing names on voter rolls.
We also think about what this decision means more broadly for LGBT people, people of color and those that lay at the intersections in those states with greater vulnerability to voter restrictions. Many of us are left wondering how marriage equality has gained while one of the landmarks of the Civil Rights Movement, a movement which many gay rights activists have emulated, has rolled back.
A popular slogan of the marriage equality movement is “love is love”. It’s true! And we are elated that same-sex couples will have the option to marry. But we also believe that love means more than just romantic love. Love is what connects us to one another, across difference and across communities.
It’s this love that will help us win bigger and move us toward a world in which everyone, including LGBT API folks, can be their full selves, be healthy, and lead sustainable, opportunity-rich lives, free of discrimination.
We can’t get there as LGBT API folks alone. We need to make sure that all of us get there, including the most invisible and marginalized in our communities and outside of our communities. Now let’s keep the movement going and aim even higher!!
See you at PRIDE!!
In community and solidarity,
Dennis Chin & Jason Tseng
GAPIMNY Co-Chairs 2013
PS — Hope to see you at the Trans Day of Action today and the Heritage of Pride March on Sunday. AND Fifty Shades of Queer: A people of color Party for Pride 2013. Join us! Celebrate! Agitate!