We must learn to live together as brothers, or we will perish together as fools.~ Martin Luther King Jr.
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT DISCRIMINATION AND EQUALITY IN THE UNITED STATES TODAY?
"I think that we still have a long way to go before certain groups of people have what I would consider to be true "equality".
DO YOU THINK THAT WE HAVE MADE ANY SIGNIFICANT ADVANCEMENTS IN RECENT YEARS? I MEAN LOOK AT DR. KING AND THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT, OR ERA AND WOMEN'S RIGHTS. THAT HAS TO COUNT FOR SOMETHING, RIGHT?
"Oh absolutely. I mean, no we're not seeing lynchings anymore, and women don't have to be barefoot and pregnant unless they choose to be- for the most part anyway, but there is still no way that people can say that all groups of people are existing right now in a time of total equality."
AND HOW DO YOU THINK THAT YOU, AS A GAY WOMAN, FIT IN TO THAT?
"Well for starters, I was with my wife for 13 years before we could be legally married. We watched heterosexual couples, friends, neighbors, married and divorced, some multiple times, while we stayed together. But, because of the inequities that exist for same-sex couples, we couldn't be married. Now here we are married and still together. But, let's not forget, gay couples are immoral and detrimental to the true definition of what marriage is all about (laughter).
DO YOU FEEL THAT YOU ARE STRUGGLING WITH INEQUALITY TWICE AS MUCH- BEING A WOMAN AND BEING GAY?
"You know there's two different sets of inequality there. As a woman I struggle with the fact that men can still advance further and faster in their career than I can, even if I am better at the job. As a women, my commitment and dedication to our daughter is questioned because I work full time outside of the home. When a man works full time outside the home, no one questions his dedication to his family. he is touted as a good provider, just doing what he has to do. As far as being gay, that's more legal inequalities, rather than societal views. Not being able to be married, not being able to put my partner on my health insurance, not being able to get information when she was in the emergency room (that was many years ago though). Being gay, the inequality that I feel, I feel comes from the laws of the land. I don't usually feel discriminated against as a "gay" woman."
WHY DO YOU THINK THAT IS?
"Probably because I don't really associate with too many people that would behave in that way. My friends, neighbors, colleagues, are all fine with my sexual orientation. I don't go to places where I know there's going to be a lot of homophobic types of people."
BUT CAN YOU REALLY KNOW WHO IS HOMOPHOBIC- WHO IS LIKELY TO DISCRIMINATE AGAINST YOU OR OSTRACIZE YOU?
"Well I don't have a detector in my pocket or anything, but I have a general idea. If we go out, we tend to go out with other gay couples. We frequent businesses owned by gay people or in gay communities. Sure I go to Whole Foods and there may be a woman picking out apples across from me that thinks that dykes are scary and manly and wants to protect her daughters from the likes of us (laughter), but I don't really consider her actions discrimination. For her or people like her, it's just ugly behavior. It's just unjustified prejudice and hatred. But she has no control over me, over my life. She doesn't pay my mortgage. She doesn't sign my paycheck. She doesn't determine my placement in my classes. So what she thinks of me is irrelevant."
BUT WHAT ABOUT THE PEOPLE WHO DO- THE PEOPLE WHO SIGN YOUR PAYCHECK OR DETERMINE YOUR COLLEGE PLACEMENT. DO YOU FEEL AS A GAY WOMAN YOU ARE TREATED EQUALLY IN THAT REGARD. DOES YOUR STATUS CREATE AN INEQUALITY?
"Yes and no. I mean, there are certain laws in place to prevent that type of discrimination. I'm not talking about with gay people, but just anti-discrimination laws in general. Obviously my boss knows I'm gay, but I certainly could hide it if I chose to. I'm not likely going to be discriminated against by people who meet me once or who cross my path routinely, the receptionist at the DMV or the guy changing my tire at Pep Boys. Because they don't have time to even determine a reason to discriminate. I don't wear a sign. They can speculate, but that's about it. Now as a women, if someone doesn't like women, or wants to try to discriminate against me for that, well that can't really be helped"
SO ARE YOU SAYING THAT YOU MAY NOT FACE AS MUCH DISCRIMINATION FOR BEING GAY AS YOU WOULD FACE AS A WOMAN, OR IF YOU WERE SAY AFRICAN AMERICAN OR ASIAN, BECAUSE "GAY" IS NOT SOMETHING THAT IS DETERMINED BY YOUR APPEARANCE? IN OTHER WORDS, YOU CAN HIDE GAY, BUT YOU CANT HIDE BLACK, IS THAT RIGHT?
"Yes! I mean, I'm not saying that I do that. I'm just saying that I'm not going to get pulled over driving through a nice neighborhood because I'm gay, you know what I mean? And that is part of the continued inequity of society. Judging a book by it's cover. Judging one person based on the preconceived notions you have about an entire race or ethnicity or judging an entire race or ethnicity based on your experience with one person."
SO WOULD YOU SAY WE STILL HAVE ROOM FOR PROGRESS WHERE EQUALITY IS CONCERNED?
"As a gay woman, yes. Gay people still need and desire equality on many fronts, including the ability to marry, which is still denied in many places. And women are still struggling to get fair and equal pay and treatment in the workplace even after all of the years of hard work on the part of women who worked for the ERA (Equal Rights Amendment). People who really believe that all people are created equal are living in a fairy tale. Either that or they are probably old, white, Republican, men (laughter.)"
AND WHAT ABOUT THE REST OF THE LGBT COMMUNITY?
"I can only speak from what I know, but I'd venture to say that in terms of straight up inequality, the LGBT community has it the worst. I mean as far as discrimination, prejudices, one can argue that there are minority groups that have it really bad, and that is true. But there is so much wiggle room within the law based on sexual orientation. If you are African American and you go for a job, you can't be prevented from obtaining that job, if you are qualified, based solely on your race. In some cases, quotas and such, minorities are even offered jobs based on their minority status. When was the last time you heard the head of a company say, you know, we haven't met out bisexual quota for staffing yet. Or, we really need to get someone who is transgender in here to be eligible for that big grant. Yes, they've added is "or sexual orientation" to many discrimination laws that used to read only "based on race, religion, gender..." but the truth is if you're a company or organization that has conservative practices, or that has a CEO or COO who is a very strict conservative individual, sure if they had their druthers they'd like to hire a white male. But if they've got a choice between hiring an African American, a Latino, or a post-op transsexual, I'm telling you they'll be last every single time. Too much misunderstanding, too much stigma still attached to it. People are afraid to make equal what does not appear just like them. The funny thing is that people who engage in this racism, this sexism, ageism, classism, if they could looks beyond their own tiny box for a minute, they'd see that once you get past the exterior, people are way more alike than you realize."