Al Gore was the keynote speaker at the Human Rights Campaign Gala on March 25, 2006, at the Century Plaza Hotel here in Los Angeles. What he said back then is just now being duly noted in Greater Blogistan as all eyes look to the future. The ever-intrepid Jane Hamsher is convinced Al’s gonna make another run for the White House. Others think otherwise. “TIme will Tell,” as Joan Crawford famously said (that’s deep Gay Jeopardy, folks. Most of you aren’t expected to know it.)
But first, here’s Al —
“Abraham Lincoln once said, “I do good and I feel good. I do bad and I feel bad, and that is my religion.” As a Christian, I was taught at an early age that the single most important departure in Christianity from the Judeo-Christian tradition as a whole was embodied in the simple teaching — God is Love.
We’re told that there are many kinds of love — but I thought of that when I looked at the amazing controversy and varied reactions to that extraordinary period of time in Northern California when the marriage ceremonies were conducted at [San Francisco] City Hall. One couple after another. And some reacted with hatred and anger. What I saw that was just overwhelming was the love, the joy, the purity of the excitement that that love was being honored.
It is that love, after all, that is at the heart of why everybody is here. That is what must be honored and respected. Your right to fall in love with who you fall in love with. And your right to expect that that will be recognized with the same dignity and honor that love is recognized for other couples. Love is transcendent and fulfilling and powerful and any force on earth that endeavors to make you feel that you should be ashamed for feeling genuine, deep love for another of your choosing is a form of oppression.
Thomas Jefferson said, “I have sworn on the honor of God, eternal hostility to every form of tyranny over the mind of man.” Any force that tries to make you feel shame for being who you are, and loving who you love, is a form of tyranny over your mind. And it must be rejected, resisted, and defeated.
Much has been made of the second simple truth — the first being that love … that transcendent feeling is at the center of all the debates. The second simple fact is that — it’s been mentioned here — is that when your fellow Americans come to know you for who you are, everything changes. But the so-called Catch 22 that discrimination and oppression put you in, is that the law requires gays and lesbians in the military or in job settings where they have no protection or in other settings where discrimination is rampant — if the law and the culture of society requires you to be closed and secret and inauthentic and to pretend that you are not who you are, then you are not allowed to use your basic humanity to change the minds and hearts of those around you. You must have the right to be who you are, just as I have the right to be who I am.
As I was on the way here, I reflected on why is there so much controversy about the question of equality for gays and lesbians. Why? This fight has been so long and so hard for something that is so simple and so right.
President Harry Truman once said in the White House, “I spend 95 percent of my time trying to persuade people to do what they ought to be doing in their own best interest anyway. And the Human Rights Campaign has the right to say the same thing. After all, for God’s sake, you’re asking for monogamy and military service. Is that too much to ask for? You’re asking for the simple right to be who you are and to be free from intimidation and persecution and discrimination and injustice designed to make you hide from who you really are. You’re asking to make your life alongside the person you fall in love with. You’re asking for the right to have full and equal recognition for that relationship and to form a life-long bond. That’s not too much to ask for. You’re asking for the right to fight for our country and if necessary, to die for our country. That’s not too much to ask. You’re asking as Americans for individual dignity and that’s not too much to ask. This cause, this vision of what is right and what is just seems controversial because it does trigger a vulnerability to those fears that are continually inspiring.
[A] future generation will look back and truly wonder how this could have happened [this controversy], just as we look back and wonder how some of the strange practices that embody such horrific injustice in ages past but never have been tolerated — they will look back at this period of time and feel puzzled and they will see and understand that the vision that has brought all of us here inspires a passionate devotion to justice and necessary change and the feeling of camaraderie among us all.
Teilhard de Chardin, one of the greatest theologians of the 20th century, wrote this: “There is almost a sensual longing for communion with others who have a large vision. The immense fulfillment of a friendship between those engaged in furthering the evolution of consciousness has a quality impossible to describe.”
There is that feeling here. You know that what you are engaged in is the furtherance of a vision that is true and just and it does require the evolution of consciousness along a pathway that is a logical extension of what the United States of America has always promised to humankind. You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free. And the United States of America will, at some point say — what you are asking is what you shall receive.”
Quite a mouthful, coming as it does from a former Vice President who supported his then-President’s signing of the (Oh Prunella!) “Defense of Marriage Act.” So props all around.
No props to Al, of course, but to the glbt community which has never given an inch on this issue — and as a result has won.
I’ve known a number of truly teriffic couples who might well want a marriage contract. Al’s illustrious cousin takes a dim view of the whole business. I’m for anything that annoys the Cathy Seipps of this world on principle. But let’s back up just a bit for a moment —
“After all, for God’s sake, you’re asking for monogamy and military service. Is that too much to ask for? “
Uh, not exactly, Al.
Monogamy, a mass hysterical fantasy, is a cornerstone of social order our very existence as glbt’s interrogates. As regards military service it’s for the few, the proud, the cripplingly naive (and I say this as a longtime fan of the Navy.)
We want marriage because you don’t want us to have it.
Yes, it’s just that simple. W’re standing center stage now. Hit us with the amber spot, Hog-eye.
You know the number, doncha folks?
“Well, you see, I’ll pretend I’m at home getting ready for a date.
I take a comb, comb my hair
Take a flower, smell it, put it in my lapel
And I spot the audience!
Once my clothes WERE shabby
Tailors CALLED me, “Cabbie”
Got so rough I TOOK a vow
Said this bum’LL
Be Beau Brummel
Now I’m smooth and SNAPPY
Now my tailor’s happy
I AM the cats meow
My wardrobe is a wow!
Paris silk! HARRIS tweed!
There’s only one thing I need…
Got my tweed crest
Got my best vest
All I need now is the girl
Got my striped tie
Got my hopes high
Got the time and the place
And I got rhythm
Now all I need is the girl to go with’M
just appear we’ll
Take this big town for a WHIRL
And if she’ll only say, “My darling I’m yours”
I’ll throw away
My striped tie
And my best-PRESSED tweed
All I really need
Is the girl.
I start off easy, you see?
Now I’m more debonair…
Ssssssssssssssh! Aaaaah! Break … Now! Yeah!
And I settle here… I start this step, see?
And then I build it… Double it!
She appears all in white and I take her hand,
Kiss it and lead her on the floor…
This step’s good for the costume…Astaire’s pat!
Dah dah dah dah…Dah dah dah dah yah dah…
Now we waltz, strings come in
And I lift her…Again… Once more!
And now the tempo changes and all the lights come up
And I build for the finale
Louise, that’s it!
Come on over here…
Follow me… Faster! Charleston…
Again… Do it again!
And as we all know, Tulsa is gay.