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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Immigration and Gay Rights

Pam Spaulding has an excellent post responding to Jasmyne Cannick's controversial "Gays first, then illegals" column in the Advocate. Jasmyne also has the column posted on her blog. The responses are interesting. Jasmyne's column is also posted on the Stonewall Democrats blog. They have a response written by Marta Donayre, a Stonewall member in Silicon valley.

Jasmyne is from California. Many Gays in California are well aware that immigrant precincts voted in disproportionate numbers for the anti-gay proposition 22. I've participated in the USQueers list for quite a while. On that list, there are some who strongly support Tom Tancredo's immigration policy. I've also participated the Conservative Think Tank list - and a hispanic member of that list used to argue that part of the reason to support Bush's immigration proposals is that many immigrants are socially conservative and would support Republicans for that reason. In my opinion, speculating how immigrants would vote - whether democratic or republican should not be the issue when dealing with the immigration issue.

Pam writes:

Our economy at present is dependent on the backs of this particular group of immigrants to a frightening degree now realized in full flower, and we have a president offering up a plan to ensure that these immigrants work in a defined second-class status, able to be exploited legally. This is not right.

Our elected officials have been mute about the matter until now, and have never been held accountable by voters to solve the problem because we too were participating in the don't ask/don't tell charade of supporting the underground economy grinding along on undocumented labor - gay, straight, all races, rich, poor and middle class.

While I support legal immigration and efforts to enforce the laws of the land, the reality is that we cannot simply round up all these people and send them to their homeland. Once the anti-immigrant folks finally get this through their heads, maybe we can have a sane discussion.

Does any of this rigamarole mean gay rights are any less important? No. But what if you are a gay U.S. citizen involved with an immigrant who could be deported at any time? That's the plight of many gay couples as well, how does this fit into Jasmyne's equation?

Kate and I were thinking about this issue we both noted that you could compare civil unions and Bush's guest worker BS as analogous. Both are simply poor, diluted offerings to the respective groups that cannot and will not provide the benefits of marriage/citizenship. What these mechanisms are intended to do is to placate the groups, and to institutionalize second-class status, making it infinitely harder to achieve full equality.

There are too many simply gray areas here to begin pitting one disenfranchised group against another when the stakes are so high for both.

Go read the whole thing.

As I've said before, the religious right is reaching out to Immigrant communities. Gay organizations need to do the same. When you go to the notoriously anti-gay Fred Phelps website, there is the option of viewing "God Hates Fags" en espanol. When you "enter" the site after looking at the spanish front page, the rest of the site is in English. So they only translated the rantings on the front page to espanol.

Andre Duque has some insightful comments about this issue and coverage of the Gay presence at the New York Immigrant Rights rally.