To show solidarity with West Germany against the Soviet threat during the Cold War, the United States declared that “We are all Berliners” (or jelly doughnuts, depending on your translation of President Kennedy’s German). To show solidarity with the United States after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the French declared that “We are all Americans.”
And now, to show solidarity with those at John Carroll University who are being discriminated against for their sexual orientation, I’m declaring this: We are all LGBTQ.
Social change tends to take place at a glacial pace. Think about how long it took to end slavery and discrimination against African Americans. Think about how long it took to give women the simple right to vote. Sometimes, if you want your message to be heard, you have to ruffle some feathers. That’s what the colonists did when they dumped Britain’s tea in the ocean. That’s what Rosa Parks did when she sat in the front of the bus instead of the back.
Without using these types of methods, social change might never have come at all – which is why the tactics being used by the LGBTQ members to spread their message are not only justifiable, but absolutely necessary.
They’ve received a lot of flack for their sit-ins at sporting events, their stand-ins at Mass, their signs around campus and, of course, for the infamous campus tour interruption.
I’ve even heard some students say that they’re embarrassed by what’s going on at John Carroll.
I am too.
The fact that there actually has to be a debate on whether a certain group of people deserve the same rights and protections as everyone else in a Catholic institution is embarrassing.
This should be a no-brainer for the Board of Directors. But their apparent opposition to extending the Equal Employment Opportunity Policy to protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation all but forces the LGBTQ community to resort to drastic action.
Otherwise, this whole situation would have ended with an apologetic e-mail from the Rev. Robert Niehoff, S.J.
I’ll stand up for anyone who is facing discrimination. There’s nothing more American than fighting for your rights, and that’s exactly what the members of the LGBTQ community are doing. Don’t make them fight two battles by criticizing their strategy – the same strategy that has been used by countless groups of people that have faced discrimination throughout history. And don’t make them fight for equality with one hand tied behind their backs. In the uphill battle for equality, they need to be able to make use of all the tools they can.