Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Shocking Case for Marriage Equality in MD // Plus, RIP Don't Ask Don't Tell

Killed by 7 teens who wanted to “go f*ck with some niggers.”
For those who are still opposed to marriage equality, I have one final plea. It comes by a way of a hate crime story from the racial justice news website ColorLines. If this doesn't help you see the light, I fear nothing will. Notably, this man was not killed because he was gay. He was killed because he was black. But as this story demonstrates, marriage equality is all about families. Here goes:
[James] Anderson was violently attacked and then run over by a group of white teens on June 26, 2011. Deryl Dedmon 19, of Brandon, Mississippi is accused of intentionally running over Anderson with his green Ford-250 and is now facing capital murder charges because of evidence that he assaulted and robbed Anderson, according to Hinds County District Attorney

The civil suit accuses the seven white teenagers of deliberately setting out in the early morning hours of June 26 to go to Jackson to “go f*ck with some niggers.”
So far this sounds like a shocking hate crime. But here's the kicker from ColorLines' 9/9 article:
...the family of James C. Anderson, the black man who was killed in an alleged hate crime in Mississippi, filed a lawsuit agaisnt the seven white teens who participated in the murder. But the state of Mississippi will not allow Anderson’s male partner of 17-years to be part of the family’s civil suit, the New York Times reported.

As the Andersson family lawyer explained to the Times, James Bradfield, Anderson’s partner, is not a plaintiff in the family’s suit because same-sex partners have no claim in civil actions like the one the family is putting forward in the state of Mississippi. (There is no indication that Anderson’s sexual orientation was a factor in the crime.)
Maryland Juice hasn't even gotten to the worst part of the story yet:
"Anderson leaves behind his partner and a 4-year-old girl they were raising together."
When I see politicians like GOP Chair Alex Mooney say he's going to put up a ballot measure to defeat marriage equality -- just because his party needs a shot-in-the-arm -- I get sick to my stomach. If you do, too, visit Equality Maryland. P.S. Unlike the brutality given to the victim, his family is opposed to the death penalty for the murderers.

RIP - Don't Ask Don't Tell:  Nevertheless, we have many reasons to be hopeful that change is coming. Last July, President Obama announced that he would soon end the military's infamous "Don't Ask Don't Tell" (DADT) policy. Remember it? The controversial rule allowed LGBT servicemembers to serve, but only if they lived a double-life. During DADT's 17-year-existence, numerous stories were written about the discharge of outed servicemembers, all while the military was having serious recruitment issues.

The hysteria about gays in the military finally ended this Tuesday. The Catonsville Patch this week had a worthwhile video and article highlighting a range of "man-person on the-street" interviews at a mall in Columbia, Maryland. The video is available below, but before you watch it, I wanted to draw your attention to this gentleman's reaction from the Patch article:
In a phone interview, Catonsville resident and retired Army Sgt. Herbert Brown, 80, said he thought the repeal was “long overdue.”

“One’s sexuality was never a problem where I was concerned,” he said. Brown was an active service member from 1956-58. He said he knew gay service members and, "My attitude has always been that what you do behind closed doors is your business.”
The reason why I think this reaction is so fascinating, is that it reminds us that we are always capable of thinking past the stereotypes of our times. Mr. Brown was apparently able to think clearly about this issue way back in 1956. But amazingly, every time America "gets over" hating a group and begins to accept them, they pat themselves on the back and write off their past hatred as "just how things were then." I hope we can all remember at this precise moment in history, there is a loud, large and vocal group of people who have been fighting this kind of bigotry for years and are puzzled at the heartlessness of our neighbors. That will be "how things were." Now, here is the video:

P.S. To those on the libertarian-right, I feel there is a deafening silence from your community on the GOP's rampant invasion of people's bedrooms. Why? 

1 comment:

  1. Lawyer geek out alert:

    If Anderson and Bradfield were married elsewhere, this tragic case would make a perfect vehicle for making an equal protection claim against Mississippi. On the other hand, unmarried couples in situations like this don't get to make claims for wrongful death.

    Jonathan Shurberg