One of the key questions that plagues the LGBT equality movement in Wisconsin and beyond is the question about whether it is better to be “grassroots” or an “a Capitol insider” playing the game of politics.
In my opinion, playing one strategy off the other is a red herring that undermines our collective ability to move forward.
In 1973, 10 years before employment rights for LGBTs were adopted by the state, a Dane County judge upheld the firing of Paul D. Safransky by Southern Colony, an institution for children with disabilities, due to Safransky’s homosexuality. Safransky was not accused of any misconduct, yet the judge declared: “We do not think that the institution has to wait for something bad to happen when an employee such as plaintiff flaunts his unorthodox conduct and there is even a hint that he might go farther than talk about it.”
John Smallwood and I thought we’d be able to cool off in the Northwoods.
But John, who is Fair Wisconsin’s advocacy and organizing director, and I found something during our retreat there that’s even hotter than the weather. From Stevens Point to Wausau, and from Ashland to Washburn and Bayfield, people are fired up with enthusiasm for LGBT issues.
Perhaps the most under-worked journalists at the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics were those tasked with spotting any protests by athletes. Since Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps and their fellow, far less famous Olympians didn't yell "Free political prisoners!" or wave Tibetan flags, the reporters had little or no meat for stories.
Next February at the Sochi Games, protest-watch reporters should be free to hit the bars early, too. As in Beijing in 2008, chances are slim-to-nil that significant numbers of winter Olympians will kick up a big fuss against Russia's assaults on gays and their freedoms.
Research suggests that one of the best ways to stop bullying – whether it’s verbal, physical or cyber – is to report it to school authorities and law enforcement, if appropriate.
But bullying also can be countered by taking the power away from the bully through ignoring the taunts or making a joke out of them. Although this might not change the bully’s behavior, it can take away his or her power.
When feminists first wrote about violence against women in the 1970s, they were dismissed as radicals and man-haters. Every one of them, including Susan Brownmiller (“Against Our Will”), Andrea Dworkin (“Woman Hating”), Mary Daly (“Gyn/Ecology”) and Kathleen Barry (“Female Sexual Slavery”), was marginalized.
When Chelsea Manning came out to the world as transgender this past week, the jokes started almost immediately. As Bradley Manning, she had become famous for her involvement with WikiLeaks, for which she was sentenced to 35 years in prison. With the jokes came the confusion, the doubts and the suspicions. Even within the community, people wondered if she was only coming out as transgender to avoid the prison at Leavenworth. People wondered if she is “really” transgender, or just pretending to be in order to avoid the kind of punishment she would receive as a man.
Two elected leaders, two different political backgrounds, one common goal – to build an inclusive community for LGBT people.
Appleton Mayor Tim Hanna, a self-proclaimed “fiscally and socially responsible” leader whose endorsement is often sought from GOP candidates, successfully introduced domestic partner benefits for city employees in 2011. Two years later, Outagamie County Executive Thomas Nelson is leading a similar effort at the county level.