Bermuda considering Equality Act can be an example to USA Gay leadership

Can the Gay Movement in the USA learn from Bermuda

By Melanie Nathan, November 02, 2012.

While the USA enters this critical election  week with its anti-gay same sex marriage ballot initiatives in various States and its two prominent parties at opposite ends of the spectrum on the issue LGBTI rights and equality, the world finds itself led by smaller countries.  We all know that South Africa has an all inclusive constitution and now we are hearing that Bermuda plans to join the list of the enlightened legislatures. All this while the USA gay movement remains stuck in its quest for piecemeal legislation, through a failure by leadership to form coalitions to establish this ultimate goal.

According to the BDA Sun, Governor George Fergusson in Bermuda, made an  announcement that Government will address sexual discrimination with a new bill that will offer protection for a range of characteristics including sexual orientation and age, calling the current Act “outdated” for a 21st century democracy.

In the 2011 Throne Speech Government said it would look at “the feasibility of introducing an Equality Act to address the outstanding areas of discrimination, in particular, discrimination related to sexual orientation.”

The Governor added: “Justice is about fairness and equality of access for all. Bermuda does not have that standard and it is to our collective discredit as a democratic country in the 21st century.

“Bermuda Human Rights Act 1981 no longer meets the standard for human rights in a 21st century democracy. Government proposes therefore to replace the outdated Act in this Parliamentary Session with a new broadly based Bill that will address protection for a range of characteristics including age and sexual orientation.”

The problem in the United States with our own LGBTI movement, is that our equality leadership has never found this ultimate form of attaining equality, a one stop benchmark.  USA leadership has never set the mark, nor embraced or pushed for an Equality Act. Our movement has focused on the back door and remained stuck in old strategies, by virtue of  fragmented organizational leadership.

Our fight has been for same-sex  marriage, the repeal of DOMA,  military’s DADT repeal, and employment’s ENDA.  We have continued to be led through piecemeal legislation and as important as these U.S.bills are, LGBTI Americans will never be treated with parity until mainstream LGBTI takes the helm with an Equality Act, just like Bermuda and South Africa. we have heard President Obama speak about marriage equality, but we have not heard him speak about an Equality Act and that is because we have yet to establish the latter s a goal of our movement.

While fringe groups have tried on some level,  HRC, NCLR, The Task Force, AFER, Courage Campaign, MEUSA, GETEQUAL, Congressional LGBT caucus and the many more in leadership roles  have yet to awaken to an LGBTI civil rights benchmark and agree to take their individual missions into a coalition conference to establish the ultimate benchmark.

While the political landscape is indeed different here in the USA and of course much more complicated, at the very least we ought to set the goal.  We must dignify our movement and lead toward full equality with one imperative piece of  EQUALITY legislation and an OMNIBUS, or we will forever remain marginalized in our quest.  Until we ask for full equality, we are perceived as not being worthy of it.   Our leadership must make this critical change regardless of whether we have an Obama or Romney presidency.


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