The other day, I was walking down the street and went past an American Apparel store. In the window on a mannequin was one of their “Legalize Gay” shirts. I looked at it and noticed that it said “Repeal Prop 8 Now.” (By the way, some of the images of the shirt on that link are NSFW.)
First of all, I wondered why the shirt didn’t say “Legalize Gay Marriage.” Having “Legalize Gay” implies to me that it would be in support of decriminalizing homosexuality in various countries. Second, I was annoyed that it said “Repeal Prop 8 Now.” Yes, I was angered by the passage of Proposition 8 because I felt as though it stripped gays and lesbians in California of equality. However, several states have legalized gay marriage since the passage of Proposition 8, including my home state of Iowa. I know that American Apparel is based out of Los Angeles, but they’re all over the nation. Why can’t we just focus on legalizing gay marriage everywhere in America? If Iowa can legalize same-sex marriage, why can’t it be legalized in Illinois? (There is a bill presently in the State House in Illinois to legalize same-sex marriage.) Is it truly helpful if you focus on legalizing same-sex marriage in one state where it was legalized, but then overturned? I would like to be able to marry someday and I intend to stay in Illinois. The legalization of same-sex marriage in Iowa was like a beacon of hope; a signal that legalization in other states could someday be possible.
On top of that, if we just look at the phrase “Legalize Gay,” which is an awkward sentence fragment, why not focus on the problems facing gays in not just America, but also in the world. The gruesome violence occurring to gay men in Iraq is despicable. There has been coverage of it in New York Magazine, The Advocate, and Der Spiegel. It is horrifying that these things are occurring to gay men in Iraq, especially when you read in some articles that LGBT individuals are worse off in Iraq than they were under Sadaam Hussein’s regime. Why isn’t there more outrage over this?
So, as I continued walking down the street, my annoyance became evidently the result of how narrow some people look at gay rights, ignoring the issues in their own state or the larger issues in the world.