Monday, January 19, 2009

MLK vis-à-vis MiLK

Two men, worlds apart, gave their lives for a cause so similar, yet by today's standards seen dissimilar. Today, on the holiday commemorating Martin Luther King, Jr., I reflect on another man who also gave his life for his cause, a cause of mirrored reflection to that of the civil rights movement. Both men fought, and made the ultimate sacrifice, so that their people might be freed from hatred borne of ignorance.

Just as MLK fought for the civil rights of African American and all people of color, Harvey Milk fought for the same rights for the unjustly disaffected GLBT community. Both communities suffered the hatred by those who seek to diminish their value in society.

Both causes share the same desire for freedom from prejudice, and entitlement to basic civil rights. The primary difference, at least to society (not to me), is that being born black is not a choice one makes. Unfortunately, too many in our society falsely believe that homosexuality is a choice, a conclusion I could not disagree with more ardent fervor! I firmly believe the origins are biological, and hope someday that modern science will prove this. But, truly, even if it was a choice - why should that matter?

Until that day when GLBT individuals are accepted as an equal member of the fabric of our humanity, I hold little hope that they will attain the equal rights that they deserve. In the same vein, I believe that we will never truly become a post-racial society until there remains not one soul who sees people as any less because of the color of their skin.

However, the fact remains that we (people of all colors) have broken an incredible barrier in the election of Barack Obama. In the past week, I've read several articles that posit the premise that MLK's sacrifice paved the way for Obama's presidency, that without his vigilance and sacrifice, our society would not have been ready to elect a black president.

I don't know if that's true or not, but it does have me wondering what triumph awaits humanity in the fight for GLBT equality? Was Harvey Milk's assassination that codifying event to pave that road? Perhaps now that his story is being told much like MLK's has been told, we can begin to educate and eradicate the ignorance.

So, today I honor Martin Luther King, Jr. for opening so many eyes, and showing the way to create truly meaningful discourse for change. I don't know if Harvey Milk was inspired by MLK, but I hope someday our society honors Harvey Milk as it does MLK!

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