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Tuesday, Dec. 09, 2008 at 5:53 PM
[ Like non-whites and women,
queers must keep marching
on a very long road.]
Are you upset about the (narrow) victory
of queerophobic Cal Prop 8?
Try taking a longer view of history.
America's movement for woman's rights organized itself in 1848,
at a small convention of women and men, whites and blacks,
in a Methodist Church at Seneca Falls, New York.
Of the civil rights they sought,
suffrage was considered the most
FORTY years later, Frederick Douglass looked back,
in a speech to the Woman Suffrage Association,
observing that "it is not so easy to venture upon a field untried,
with one-half the whole world against you,
as these women did."
(Actually, far more than half of
American men AND women opposed woman suffrage in 1848;
and in some Muslim countries,
suffrage advocates might have been killed.)
Douglass explained that ancient customs, however unjust,
may be revered merely because they're traditional:
"Time itself is a conservative power -- a very conservative power....
Those who oppose a re-adjustment of this [man/woman] relation,
tell us that what is, always was, and always will be,
world without end.
But we have heard this old argument before,
and if we live very long, we shall hear it again.
When any ancient error shall be assailed, and any old abuse is to be removed, we shall meet
this same old argument." (Woman's Journal, 14 April 1888).
After his four-decade anniversary speech,
suffragists would struggle on
for three more decades,
before their woman suffrage amendment
of our national Constitution in 1920.
Compared to struggles of blacks and women,
America's out-queer movements are just beginning.
In 2009, we'll observe the 40th anniversary of Stonewall.
We're on a long journey, and some steps will take decades.
But Douglass never gave up,
and neither shall we.
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