Monday, March 22, 2010

Two Reasons to Believe

The level of discourse -- if we can even call it a discourse -- reached a new low this week when anti-health reform protesters yelled racial and homophobic slurs at our elected officials.  One member of Congress was spit at.

Yet two gay protesters this week showed us how to state a point without ever lowering oneself to these demoralizing tactics.

Lt. Dan Choi didn't call anyone a name when he handcuffed himself to the fence in front of the White House.  He didn't spit or swear.  He made his statement with poise and self-respect.  He also did something none of the other protesters did: he put his freedom on the line, knowing that he would be arrested.  And while some of the health care opponents were threatening the use of weapons if the bill passed, Choi, a soldier, never once resorted to violence. His didn't call anyone names even as a retired general ridiculously blamed the greatest massacre since World War II on gay soldiers.  Dan Choi just stood tall and spoke softly.  A class act, yes.  But also an effective act.

Constance McMillen is another LGBT person to be proud of.  Instead of showing up to the prom in her Mississippi High School with a boy, she wanted to be true to herself.  So she told the principal she was planning to attend with a girl.  Nothing doing, said the principal.  The school board called off the prom while the parents planned another one to which Constance McMillen isn't invited.  McMillen has a right to be furious, but that's not what we see when she's interviewed.  We see a centered, steady young person who quietly states her beliefs.  (Just look at the video below.) Another class act.  And she's been just as effective.

I've thought about these two often while watching the spit and the guns, the slurs and the violence of the anti- health reform folks.  And I couldn't be prouder that Lt. Dan Choi and Constance McMillen represent me and my aspirations for the country.

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