Marriage equality is finally being addressed in the United States Supreme Court. DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) has a chance of being repealed with the United States vs. Windsor case. DOMA states that a marriage is classified as between a man and a woman. Additionally, DOMA denies gay couples over 1,000 marriage benefits including tax benefits.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has taken a lead role in campaigning for marriage equality. They have had many marriage equality victories such as in Maine, Washington, and Maryland. The HRC has also prevented constitutional bans that would have stopped further dialogue about marriage equality in Minnesota. While they have been successful in pushing the conversation of marriage equality, what exactly is their messaging?
Recently, during a rally in front of the White House, the HRC asked the Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project (QUIP), a project of United We Dream, to speak out against DOMA. As Jerssay Arredondo, an Undocuqueer activist and member of QUIP, walked up to read an already prepared speech, he was asked to not share his struggle as a queer undocumented person. According to Arredondo, he was forced to go back into the closet.
The HRC’s message is that the LGBT inequality in the U.S. only impacts middle to upper class white couples. The HRC tokenizes the involvement of people of color at the intersection but refuses to give them the opportunity to truly voice their experiences. It was made clear to undocuqueer activists that they need to keep HRC and other LGBT organizations accountable to all communities.
Queer people of color experience issues not only with marriage equality but with poverty, homelessness, educational inequity, bullying, health care access, deportations, and now the “birth-assigned sex” bathrooms in Arizona.
During the same rally in front of the white house, HRC asked folks in the audience to not wave their trans* flag because marriage equality isn’t a trans* issue.
This sounds like HRC has a specific message they want the U.S. to understand by romanticizing marriage equality to be an issue of love and not of discrimination. If the HRC was concerned about issues of discrimination then trans*, people of color, undocumented and working class would be represented fairly in the campaign for marriage equality.
HRC feels it is necessary to continue the same tactics that perpetuates their white privilege and excludes entire communities that have had to be creative in order to fight for issues that impact them since before marriage equality was even an issue.
HRC has a very white-only community oriented messaging that is problematic to their stance on diversity. As a progressive organization, they need to learn how to be inclusive to communities who are typically alienated from mainstream politics.