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Magazine Features in this issue:
Switzerland's Capital Cool
Prop 8 trial set to resume in mid-June
Gays speak out against Arizona
A league of their own?
Not just a riot
Northern Latitudes
An about-face over Don't Ask¸ Don't Tell?
 Magazine Feature Features Archive  
June 2010 Email this to a friend
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Gays speak out against Arizona

By Rex Wockner

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The backlash has begun. Arizona passed an immigration law requiring police to check the nationality of people they suspect are in the country illegally, and people around the country urged a boycott of the state.
Companies canceled conventions, cities banned official travel, and the hometown basketball team, the Phoenix Suns, expressed its opposition by wearing jerseys that read "Los Suns." People across the country joined demonstrations wearing T-shirts that read "Todos somos Arizona," or "We are all Arizona."
Gays have joined the chorus of voices expressing outrage about the legislation. Although it does not touch on gay issues, at least not overtly, the new law has drawn criticism from a wide range of gay community leaders.
Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, a national gay legal group, was among the first to harshly criticize the law. Executive director Kevin Cathcart said the law was just another form of bias.
"As we pursue our lawsuit against the state of Arizona for its elimination of health insurance benefits for the partners of its lesbian and gay employees, we condemn the state government's further manifestation of bias in its new immigration law," said Cathcart.
Cathcart said the law would further marginalize gay immigrants.
"LGBT undocumented immigrants are among the most invisible of the invisible," he said. "Many inhabit a double closet, afraid of disclosing their sexual orientation and/or gender identity and afraid of disclosing that they are undocumented."
Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF), also spoke out against the law.
"Arizona's new immigration law is draconian and inhumane," said Carey. "It has no place on the books anywhere. The potential for racial profiling, infringement of civil liberties, and violence and harassment against individuals and their families just going about their daily lives is enormous."
Carey acknowledged that reform is needed but said the Arizona law strips people of their human rights.
"Our political leaders must work toward reform that is fair and humane," she said. "This law is neither. It is a cruel, quick fix that demeans our country's values of freedom, justice and equality."
NGLTF has drawn criticism in the past for addressing non-gay issues. When it spoke out against the Persian Gulf War in 1991, some big-ticket donors pulled their support, saying that the organization had strayed from its mission.
The opposite was true in 2002: when NGLTF did not speak out against the US invasion of Iraq, it took a tongue-lashing from peace groups.
The Arizona law requires police to check an individual's immigration status whenever an officer suspects an individual may be in the US illegally. The law has been dubbed, "Papers, please."
Latino singer Ricky Martin, who recently revealed that he is gay, denounced the law at the Billboard Latin Music Awards.
"I want to send a warm greeting to all our Latin American friends who live in the state of Arizona," he said. "The SB 1070 is a law that doesn't make sense. You are not alone. We are with you. Stop discrimination. Stop hate. Stop racism. Enough already. Long live love. Long live peace."
On the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, openly gay officials David Campos and Bevan Dufty are supporting a resolution calling for a city boycott of Arizona.
"We in the LGBT community know what it's like to be the target of discrimination, and we have to stand firmly in support of other groups that are also impacted by discrimination," Campos, who introduced the resolution, told the Bay Area Reporter. "I think that's the only way all of us collectively are going to have full rights and full equality, if we make a point of standing together when one group is targeted."
Campos called the law "horrendous" and said "people of good conscience" need to "speak up."
Gay blogger Joe Jervis called the law "racist." Gay blogger Andy Towle called the law "heinous" and noted that Gov Jan Brewer, who signed the immigration law, also took away domestic-partner benefits for state employees, which had been extended by the previous administration.
Gay conservative commentator Andrew Sullivan summed things up this way: "A society where one minority feels under surveillance is not a truly free society. This is beneath America, in my view."
Under the rainbow. San Diego gays protest a new immigration law in Arizona that some have called draconian.

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