By Michael Dennis
May 17, 2016
Today the world celebrates International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHOT). This “global celebration of sexual and gender diversities,” provides us a space to recognize the struggle against violence and discrimination of LGBTI persons worldwide. I take that opportunity to reflect on the contributions that the Green Party has made to LGBTI persons and call upon my party to challenge itself in helping advance justice for this community.
As far as political parties, the Green Party has been ahead of the curve regarding including LGBTQIA+ persons in our policies and values. In 1984, activists nationwide gathered in St. Paul to write a share statement of belief that would become the basis of the Green Party. That statement put forth the importance of the rights of LGB persons and their families — including equal rights in marriage and adoption. This followed the lead of the original German Green Party — and followed by other Greens globally — in seeing that relation between Social Justice and Ecological Wisdom. Our first national platform in 2000 recognized LGBT equality, and the first Global Greens platform in 2001 acknowledged the rights on LGBTI persons.
Green candidates have brought these values to the campaign trail. In 1998, Bern Haggerty ran for city council in Laramie, Wyoming. He was the only general election candidate pushing for the adoption of a bias crime law — ultimately adopted a few years later. Third parties hold the two-party political status quo accountable on their reactive ideologies. In 2002, Jill Stein, presumptive 2016 Green Party presidential nominee, ran for Governor of Massachusetts. She argued for same-sex marriage the whole campaign — the first gubernatorial candidate to do so in the state that first gave us marriage justice. Jason West, Green Mayor of New Paltz, New York, was arrested, handcuffed, and charged, for marrying 26 same-sex couples in 2004.
I raise this history to show that advancing recognition of sexual and gender diversity is required by our Green Party’s Ten Key Values and vision for putting people, planet, and peace over profit. Currently, our platform speaks to equal rights for the entire spectrum — including queer and asexual persons. These must not be words that remain on paper, but a call to specific policies that we fight for on the campaign trail, in the ballot box, and in the streets.
We need to fight for a national non-discrimination law that protects all LGBTQIA+ and an interpretation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that does not allow medical facilities and public businesses to opt-out of providing inclusive services to the queer community. Government documents must provide an inclusive, non-binary option, and the heightened bureaucracy to obtain documentation that aligns with how one self-identifies eliminated. Following the nation of Malta, Greens should be stronger proponents of our platform position of banning Intersex Genital Mutilation.
The arc of justice for LGTBQIA+ persons is intersectional with other realms that we as Greens care about. The right to healthcare best enacted through Single-Payer Medicare-for-All must be inclusive of psychological care, hormonal treatment, and surgical needs of gender and sexual minorities — including recognizing the higher risk of suicide attempt and addiction. Medication and other means for HIV-prevention and HIV/AIDS treatment must be affordable and accessible worldwide, which means allowing generics. Our healthcare system must recognize that individuals know best who they want at their bedside and making medical decisions with them, which may not align with blood relation and legal recognition. The LGBTQIA+ community knows well the live-giving strength of chosen family and friendship as a component of survival and resistance.
The right to education must intersectionally recognize the bullying, harassment, and violence in our schools against LGBTQIA+ youth. The Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education in North Carolina recently agreed to allow students to carry pepperspray. In light of HB2, this is an incitement of trans panic and violence against trans/queer youth. Education reform must include a demand for preventive measures such as staff training, comprehensive sex education, and removing weapons from our schools.
An economy policy that puts people before corporate wealth is the same economy that is more likely to leave LGBTQIA+ persons homeless or jobless. It is the same economy built on racial discrimination through its current form of an incarceration state. LGBTQIA+ persons — especially those of color — are more likely to face police violence and harassment. Many then have difficulty being placed in safe correctional facilities aligned with their gender identity and receiving necessary medical support such as hormone treatments. The right to a job, to a living wage, to food and shelter, to a community-based safety system, are Green issues with a required LGBTQIA+ perspective.
Finally, our political system prevents LGBTQIA+ persons from having a better chance at voting for and electing persons that represent their interests. The two major parties impose high barriers to get on the ballot and be included in debates. Control of the ballot box and media means queer persons fighting for survival and equality are scared to step out of line with the Democrats lest Republicans be elected. That may prevent a greater evil, but this short-sighted strategy of fear slows or even makes us regress on the path towards the greater good of justice for all LGBTQIA+ persons in the United States and around the world. Ranked-choice voting, open debates, inclusive polling, proportional representation, and popular vote, are LGBTQIA+ issues.
The Green Party may have a history of being ahead of the curve, but this fight against oppression is not over. We may be the only current national-level political party that will advocate most or even some of these policies, but for me — and I’d guess for many friends and comrades in the Lavender Caucus — that only raises the moral imperative to continually challenge ourselves and our party in advancing queer issues and queer voices in the streets, on the campaign trail, and in elected office.
Happy International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia!