Saturday, July 08, 2006

Saturday In The Park

Today is/was Saturday In The Park, a yearly GLBT festival held at Esther Short Park here in Vancouver. It was a very good event. My wife and her friend remarked that it was a lot bigger than last year, which is good. I honestly don't remember how big it was last year, but there definitely were a lot of people there.

State Representative Jim Moeller told us about how the state legislature had FINALLY outlawed discrimination against people because of their sexual orientation. It was very moving to hear him describe how last year, after a similar bill had been defeated by 1 vote, he had stood before the Saturday In The Park crowd and told them "there will be another spring," and that we should not lose hope. I was so pleased to see him stand before us today and tell us how our hope and faith had been rewarded!!

I was particularly struck by his language in describing this new law. He spoke about how it provided "freedom" to the GLBT community. I found this interesting, and inspiring, because civil rights issues are normally discussed in the language of "fairness." I agree that civil rights is about fairness, but I think we have drifted away from the central idea that is and was the backbone of every civil rights struggle; freedom. Let us not forget that the early slogan of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s was "Freedom Now!"

That's what we're talking about with anti-discrimination laws: that people should be free to operate in this world, obtain housing, employment, access public accommodations, without fear that something they have no control over will be used to deny them that opportunity. That is the essence of freedom, and we should never forget that.

P.S. The icing on the cake of this momentous victory was that Tim Eyman failed to gather enough signatures to challenge the Legislature's action through a referendum to the voters. The people of Washington have spoken loud and clearly in favor of freedom and fairness!


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