The Brave Frontier

lionStephanie’s Last Stand

Stephanie Donald—Publisher, LGBT-Today

There once was a horrible zoo in Kenya. They had a very small cage they kept the lions in and they allowed them to just breed and breed until there was hardly a square inch of room left inside the cage.

When the Kenyan Wildlife Authorities finally had enough of this zoo they seized all the lions and transported them to a wildlife preserve. When they opened the cages to release them, none of the lions would come out because they were afraid of wide-open spaces. Even no space is better than the unknown.

In a not so dissimilar situation, the prattle around the Facebook watercooler about the SCOTUS marriage equality hearing yesterday appeared like a whole community is afraid of wide-open freedoms. In short: I’ve never seen so many pessimists in my life!

But as President John F. Kennedy once said, “Things do not happen. Things are made to happen.” We must trust that ourjohn f kennedy“Things do not happen. Things are made to happen.”--President John F. Kennedy (Photo of portrait courtesy of White House) arguments were true and powerful and that this sociological change is inevitable and is overdue. While Stonewall isn’t the only reason or impetus, it ignited the inevitability of our full equality 46 years ago. We might have gained another 12-15 years of traction on this issue had we not had to face the age of AIDS.

Now we have to ask ourselves if we’re going to be good winners or bad winners. It’s not a hard question to ask but it is a very difficult one to answer as I’ve found out from the general tone of our community on social media. It sometimes amazes me how much power it gives attentive journalists who look at what our segment of the demographics have to say.

Now if I were most editorialists, I would divide the groups, evaluate the arguments and make a decision about what the majority—or a compromise from the top opinions—has to say about the issue of how we’re going to react to heinous anti-gay laws that have been laid in our path for decades and more importantly; quite recently, in retaliation for the recent advances we’ve made.

I’m so glad I’m not most editorialists!

Just to let everyone in on the majority opinion; most people in the LGBT community want to hold those who have discriminated against us criminally responsible for hate crimes. That’s the worst thing we can do.

Although most people reading this column were never taught about World War II, you’re about to get a very small lesson of what happened to explain why I think holding fundamentalist Christians and others who have discriminated against criminally responsible for hate crimes is a horrible idea.

World War II caused millions of deaths. More than 3,800 people died at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on December 7, 1941 when the Japanese bombed the Navy and the Army Air Force installations there to start the war. President Franklin Roosevelt called it “A day that will live in infamy!” The Germans bombed London with V-1 and V-2 rockets in a “Blitzkrieg” that lasted for nearly 6 years and killed tens of thousands with very little to no warning as these weapons of mass destruction come flying out of the stratosphere at supersonic speeds and took out whole neighborhoods. The Germans also rounded up and either shot or gassed Jehovah’s Witness, Gypsies, black people, gays and lesbians and Jewish people. Almost 10 million people were killed (maybe more) in Germany’s racial cleansing project. Did the German people know about this?

franz schlegerbergerFranz SchlegerbergerDuring the Nuremberg Trials following the end of the war, one of the last phases of those trials were Nazi judges who made horrendous rulings under dictatorial laws handed down by Herr Hitler on high. One of the most dramatic of those tried was that of Franz Schlegerberger, a man who was highly respected as a jurist prior to his involvement with the Third Reich. At first Schlegerberberger refused to speak at all in either his defense or in his prosecution. Then all of a sudden he came forward and gave an impassioned and heartfelt confession about the horrors that most Germans had at least a nodding knowledge of. Here is one part of that speech:

"I am aware. I am aware! My counsel would have you believe we were not aware of the concentration camps. Not aware. Where were we? Where were we when Hitler began shrieking his hate in Reichstag? Where were we when our neighbors were being dragged out in the middle of the night to Dachau?! Where were we when every village in Germany has a railroad terminal where cattle cars were filled with children being carried out to their extermination! Where were we when they cried out in the night to us. Deaf, dumb, blind!!"

Yet, our policy toward the German people, despite the fact that most of their population were registered as members of the Nazi Party, we allowed them to retain their dignity and we only prosecuted the highest ranking members of Hitler’s staff and the highest ranking officers of the military. We simply kept the peace until the German Parliament could reform and write a new set of laws.

Meanwhile, across the globe in Japan, the devastation caused by the atomic bombs we dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki pretty much broke the back of not only Japan’s ability to make war but on their spirit and pride. Still it didn’t touch their belief that the Emperor of Japan was their God.

When General Douglas MacArthur took over as the military governor of Japan he was determined not to disturb that image of hirohito1General Douglas MacArthur & Emperor Hirohitothe Emperor and not to punish the people of Japan for the actions of their leaders. In those days just after the war ended he wasn’t sure if he had to hold to the Emperor responsible for war crimes, either.

In the end it was decided that in order for Japan to survive and not hold a permanent grudge or feelings of revenge against the United States and its allies, the best solution was to work with the Emperor instead of against him.

The LGBT community is faced with the same challenges today—or at least in the near future.

We should never agree to bow to any of their demands for “religious freedom” because to do so is allowing our own civil rights to be shattered into a fragmentation that we may never recover from. African Americans went through this same bigotry in the name of religious freedom more than 50 years ago and had they backed away and allowed their rights to be shattered in the same manner that religious fanatics are demanding now they would still be waiting on their civil rights as we are.

We need to stand firm now and be compassionate later so the religious community can’t say that we wish to put them in jail for hate crimes or end Christianity in America (one of their favorite battle-cries) when a majority of LGBTQI people are Christians themselves—of course their Christianity and the LGBT Christianity aren’t the same because they consider us “unclean” just as they black people prior to 1968.

We’re sing this but we need to retain an air of inflexibility regarding Religious Freedom Restoration Acts and once we get our full equality we must be absolutely magnanimous about forgiving them once they find their lost way.

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