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Not that I'm one to replay tweets here, but this morning I decided to post a little note about the 40th Anniversary of Stonewall. I did so not only to commemorate the brave men and women who stood up and decided to push back against being targeted by the police. It was a win for dignity. Sure, it wasn't anything to new to most but on Twitter I have some college friends and others who aren't as aware of gay-bear-world, so it was a good thing to mention there.

Now not more than an hour after I post that, I see a notice from the Dallas Voice that the Ft. Worth police along with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC - the states licensers of bars and has an enforcement wing) descended on the week-old Rainbow Lounge last night. They brought a paddy wagon, so they were definitely there expecting to arrest people and make a big splashy raid of the bar.

While I could say that it is possible that the Ft Worth police could be unaware of Stonewall and all that. It's not exactly taught in school. Still, here's a bar that's only been around a week, and you say that there's been enough complaints that it would warrant a raid. It seems awfully strange to me, and naturally my thoughts tend to go to the idea that the police wanted to make a statement, and not a very good one.

It's just one of those things on a day like today you want to say look how far we've come, and all the progress, even if there's still a lot more to be done. Then something comes along and takes it all back.

With Stonewall, there's always the theory that the patrons were mad that it was hot and Judy Garland had died just days before, but I really think that having to hide, and having to be afraid of the police and their raids were the real problem. The fact that getting caught could ruin your life was a factor for a big backlash. Raids were a normal thing then.

While it's an interesting thought that the people at the Rainbow lounge were getting out of the heat, and they were lamenting the deaths of Farrah Faucett and Michael Jackson, but frankly they didn't really make much of a fuss about the raid, and the police did cuff and take people out of the bar so they could charge them with being drunk in public.

Really, I don't think a riot was warranted. Today we should be able to go through the right channels to get answers and we are still waiting for the Ft. Worth police and the TBAC to give us a good reason why the bar was targeted, and why this particular weekend. We have a voice now, where as 40 years ago we didn't, and we need to get answers. If we don't get answers, then it's time to get angry.

Something's fishy here, but let's see what the full picture is, and if it's just the police trying to make a "point" they better be able to defend that point. I doubt that there's really much to stand on for them.

So 40 years from Stonewall we still have to fight and struggle for freedom from discrimination, for dignity, and for the equal rights that we are promised in the constitution. Things are much better, and I'm happy that I can live out and openly, but I know that openness can only go so far as there are not the full protections of the government for me, protections in the workplace, respect for my relationship, and the e ability to pursue happiness just like any other American.

I'm thankful for the people who threw shoes and talked back, I'm happy they got the ball rolling and made it so I could live a better life, but we need to honor them by continuing to push back and strive for true equality.
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I’m looking at the information for this weekend’s rally/protest/gathering here in Dallas and there seems to be a lack of information. All I have is the time, and the place. (Just for locals, it’s 12:30 at Dallas City Hall - check out the join the impact web site of directions)

I’m a member of Generation X. We didn’t protest the Gulf War, not the War on Terror. Perhaps we don't really know how. Although many of our generation have served in the military, there was never a draft for us to be polarized against. Generation X, known as the slackers that we are, never got as worked up about things as the generation before us. I guess we didn’t feel as much need to take to the streets, and we haven’t had the same events, Vietnam, Stonewall, civil rights, as they did. Watching the G8 protests or the protests at the Republican convention seem to be portraits of futility as they are far away from the event and only seem to get minimal attention (and lots of tear gas). Maybe we’re just realists and know that change takes time, and there’s other ways to make that change.

Going into the protest this weekend, my thoughts aren’t about the impact, but more trivial things. Do I need a sign? Do I need to have a big breakfast? How long will it last? Will there be a bathroom? Will I have things thrown at me? Of course there’s the big one: What message are we trying to convey here?

I’ll admit I’m skeptical about the Prop 8 protests. It seems to me that this outrage and concern should have taken place before the vote. I understand the sentiment, but the efforts seem to be rather random and the message doesn’t seem well honed. While I’m skeptical, I support the effort simply because I hope that it will lead to more organization, and a honing of our message.

One of the biggest mistakes I think the gay community has made was not explaining well enough why marriage matters to us, and why full marriage equality is a civil right. We’ve done poorly in arguing that there is a big difference between religious marriage and civil marriage, and it’s the civil marriage we are fighting for. We’ve allowed the religious right blur the lines far too often where you’d almost believe that civil marriage should only be granted by the church. We have to do more to encourage the ongoing conversation of the separation of church and state.

We also need to do more work in bringing people to our side. This is where I’m not sure protesting works. I think our community needs to do more outreach, more works with the religious community and more work with people of color. I think SoulForce that goes out to mega-churches and religious colleges, as well as other groups within various faiths that are trying to work from within are very helpful. I think we’ve missed an opportunity to work with ethnic groups where we seem to encourage gays of color not to engage their communities. I’m probably wrong, but I don’t hear much about this. Perhaps I should read the Pam’s House Blend blog more often.

I think we may have taken too much for granted here, expecting that if we supported civil rights and social programs for others, they would come to help us with ours, but we really haven’t made our case. Perhaps taking to the streets will garner attention, but we need to make this turn into a lasting effort. People will tire of protesting and we need leadership to keep us involved, and the message current. One good thing I heard is to keep placing initiatives for marriage equality on statewide ballots year after year. The pro-life community does this, and though most of the initiates fail year after year, it keeps people talking about the issue.

I hope that the outcome of these protests around the country is that we will see more leaders rise from the grass roots. I believe we’ve gotten to this point because those we look to as gay leaders really weren’t there for the California vote. Groups like Equality California do great work, we need to stop thinking that each amendment is a single state issue, and take it as a nationwide fight. We also need to think longer term than just setting up groups like No on 8 that only work on one specific fight. I’m glad to see the No on 8 organization continue the fight, but the group wasn’t designed for the long haul.

What’s interesting to me is that we don’t seethe nationwide groups taking the lead here. I do see some nationwide groups that assisted including Lambda Legal, The National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Gay and Lesbian Task Force, but they didn’t drive the No on 8 fight, and they could have done more to generate nationwide support. I’m guessing most groups saw it only as a one-state issue.

The one group that I’m really disappointed in is the Human Rights Campaign. Where are they? I looked at their website and if you looked there was a couple of pictures of a protest, but there’s no action being taken by the largest gay rights group – the one that doesn’t have gay or lesbian in its name. I don’t see them organizing or assisting the protests. They stay in Washington and never get involved with state issues. For a group that takes so much money from the gay community, I really don’t think they give much back. I haven’t give them any money directly, and I personally don’t see much value in doing so right now. I’d really like to see more out of HRC, but I’ve learned to expect much less.

I was much too young for Stonewall, and I’ve attended pride parades, not marches. Perhaps we should look at more activism as we have allowed groups like the HRC fight for us while we went about our lives. We should have taken more action, and fight more of these amendments and restrictions, but we waited for others to do it for us. Now is the time that we should take the movement back and fight. It’s too bad it took another loss in a favorable state to bring us out into the streets.

Oh, and another thing, although the courts are supposed protect the minority from the majority, but we can’t count on them to solve all of our problems. We need to work legislatures and the population at large. We need to win referendums and we need to get governors to sign off on legislation. We can’t put everything into the courts and expect to be taken care of.

This Saturday’s protest could be a big win a big win if we follow through. We should celebrate wins like Connecticut nationwide, and condemn failures like Florida, Arizona and Arkansas nationwide as well. We will get more notice if we make it a nationwide fight. We should get motivated. Now we just need to know how to take this groundswell and turn it into something powerful that will outlast Prop 8.

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