The Rostow Report by Ann Rostow

“Whatever you may think of our allies in the business world, they are picking up most of the $12 million in costs associated with the dozens of mainstream GLBT pride events scheduled for New York alone… Like them or not, American businesses are not the enemy.”

FIFTY YEARS LATER…

Is it really that time of year again? Are you feeling proud? Do you still have that fancy beer hat with the plastic rainbow straw that lets you walk around and drink with both hands free? Check your hall closet. I think I saw it there along with that cute little boy from your scout troop’s overnight camping trip in ‘92. 

I was just bitching to a friend about some of you Gen Z youngsters who either a) wish you had experienced more of the fun times back in the day when we all enjoyed a colorful queer community of bars and parades, or b) think we’ve all bought into a corporate culture and have forgotten our roots as victimized members of a despised minority. Hint: it wasn’t all fun, we haven’t forgotten, we’ve come a long way and some of those corporate sponsors are powerful allies in our continuing fight for civil rights.

In New York, for example, some four million people are expected to celebrate Pride on June 30, yet different organizers will hold two separate parades; one, the standard pride parade we all know and love, and two, a more political event reflecting the activist values of the Stonewall raid on the occasion of its fiftieth anniversary. Here, as in other American cities, one of the main fractures involves corporate sponsorship. Whatever you may think of our allies in the business world, they are picking up most of the $12 million in costs associated with the dozens of mainstream GLBT pride events scheduled for New York alone.

But their support goes beyond finances. Tons of Fortune 500 companies have lobbied against the many antigay proposals leeching out of the various state legislatures, and indeed, corporate opposition is one of the main firewalls protecting us against North Carolina-style bathroom bills and Indiana-style religious freedom measures. Both of those states were forced to ratchet down, if not basically repeal, their nasty laws a few years back, to a large degree in response to boycotts and corporate activism. Other states took the hint and declined to pass such bills.

By contrast, Texas has just enacted a religious freedom statute as the legislative session comes to a close, although the Lone Star State is an exceptional case and who knows how this bill might fare under certain circumstances in the courts. Meanwhile, think about how corporations will react to a law like the one we just saw pass in Alabama. Can you imagine companies like Amazon or Apple investing in big facilities in a state that basically criminalizes abortion? No one can, and that includes many GOP lawmakers who are aware of this dilemma.

Finally, look at the federal Equality Act that just passed the House by a vote of 236-173. This, our signature civil rights effort, drew strong support from business, organizations and professional associations, most of whom recognize that history is on our side and that their employees and members welcome GLBT diversity. Like them or not, American businesses are not the enemy.

OXYMORONIC

Speaking of the Equality Act, which is destined for a tough time in the Senate, USA Today just ran an op-ed by a right-wing gay college Republican, who called the bill dysfunctional. “From my vantage point as a gay conservative,” wrote UMass senior Brad Polumbo, “I can see that the Equality Act goes too far for any level-headed gay rights advocate to support, and its blatant disregard for the basic right to religious freedom is appalling.” 

First, I’ve never been a fan of amplifying contrarians, like the one lesbian who opposes marriage equality or the only Black guy who thinks the Charlottesville demonstrators were fine people. It’s contrived, and these folks are anomalies for a reason.  It’s easier to stand out when you simplify and defy the common wisdom in a jarring fashion, and it’s thus tempting to do so, particularly when you’re young. It may be “common,” but indeed there is often wisdom in the opinions of people who have thought about a shared experience for a long time and reached similar conclusions from their complimentary perspectives. 

Further, Polumbo is correct when he refers to the basic right to religious freedom, but he misses the point. Religious freedom is a core tenet of the First Amendment, and no Congressional act can ever tamper with its mandates. So cool your jets.

Just as opponents of the Equal Rights Amendment back in the day warned that men would be allowed to use the ladies rooms and women would be immediately sent into combat should it pass, so the opponents of the Equality Act raise the alarm for Christians everywhere who would be forced to transact business or treat transition-related health issues in violation of their faith. Newsflash, the Christian faith does not mandate hostility against GLBT people, conservatism does. 

And conservatism is not a religion. If you don’t want gay customers, don’t sell your wares in the public square. If you don’t want transgender clients, find another medical speciality. As for church groups offering straight-only adoption services, that’s fine if you don’t take public money or you don’t claim to be serving as a public charity. 

Enough of this subject!

AMERICA FIRST

Faced with a court deadline of May 24, the Taiwanese legislature legalized marriage equality last month, after a year or so of confusion and acrimony. You may recall that the Taiwan voters rejected a marriage equality proposal in a referendum last year, or maybe you don’t recall that. Maybe you’ve just been ignoring the politics of Taiwan while you continue with your busy lives and social schedules down in southern California. I know you too well, don’t I? 

But it’s newsworthy nonetheless because it’s the first marriage breakthrough in Asia, so, um, yay! I myself have been guilty of rabidly following and reporting on the fight for marriage rights in the U.S., only to drop the subject like a lead balloon in 2015 and pay scant attention to progress elsewhere in the world for almost four years now. Sorry about that dear readers.

Every now and then I get a list of marriage developments in, say, Ireland, Costa Rica or some Mexican state, and you know what? I can’t follow it anymore. I put a good twenty years into marriage equality starting with frigging Baehr v Lewin and I feel I’ve done my time. In this same vein, I just read an article about good things happening for our GLBT comrades in East Timor, and it made me happy. But it’s so far away! I had to google it to find out that it was a former Portuguese colony just north of Australia. 

MARRIED WITH CHILDREN

Finally, you may have read about the married men in LA who shockingly find themselves fighting for their son’s citizenship. The bi-national couple had twins through a surrogate in Canada. Moving to LA, they applied for citizenship only to be forced into mandatory DNA tests that proved one son had biological ties to the American guy and the other was linked to his Israeli husband. A court overturned the State Department’s rejection, but the Trump administration has now appealed this decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. For God’s sake why? 

I figured the story would already have earned a lot of coverage in LA, but I hadn’t quite realized that there are several similar families, all under attack from Trump and company. One Atlanta family, two married men who are both American citizens, had a daughter born abroad using sperm from one of the Dads, who was born in Britain. This man is a U.S. citizen because his mother is American (please stay with me), yet the State Department insists their daughter is a foreigner. Remember, the other father is born and raised in the United States and the two are married!

Then there are two married lesbians with two kids, one born to the American mom and one born to the Italian mom. They are also in court fighting for the rejected child. The list of these battles goes on, adding to the many horrific exploits from the Trump/Pence faction of the deep state. 


arostow@aol.com