Making Proud Strides Toward Equality

Baby steps. It’s a phrase we’ve often heard when people talk about progress for LGBT rights. For years, people have said: Don’t ask for too much too soon. Accept one small step at a time.
We’re not hearing it as much these days. Granted, there is still much to be done – repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, create a national Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA), establish equal marriage across the nation, and more.
But it’s been amazing to watch the tides turn. We’ve witnessed the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and watched as, for the first time, an American president stood up for equal marriage and included the LGBT community in his State of the Union speech.
How many people were stirred with emotion when they heard the president say:
It is our unfinished task to restore the basic bargain that built this country – the idea that if you work hard and meet your responsibilities; you can get ahead, no matter where you come from, what you look like, or who you love.
On Feb. 22, the Kansas State Supreme Court made history with its decision in a case of two women facing a custody dispute after they separated. The court ruled that the non-biological mother has the same parenting rights as the biological mother when it comes to the welfare of the children. The biological mother, Kelly Goudschaal, had contended in a lawsuit that her former partner, Marci Frazier, had no basis for visitation rights.
Earlier in February, the Boy Scouts of America were expected to make a decision on removing the ban on openly gay and lesbian people serving as Scout leaders. They have since postponed the decision about removing the ban to their annual National Council meeting in May.
This reconsideration of the ban has been prompted by ordinary citizens and parents of Scouts – one more example where baby steps have moved into giant leaps.

Here in Kansas City, the Country Club Congregational United Church of Christ in the Armour Hills subdivision made the news when they posted a large rainbow-colored sign outside their church stating “We Welcome ALL Boy Scouts.” There it is, proudly making a statement for all the people traveling up and down Brookside Boulevard to see.
In this issue of Camp, you’ll read about a tragic reminder of hate – the exhibit at UMKC about the Nazi persecution of homosexuals. We’re also covering the one-year anniversary of the LIKEME Lighthouse LGBT community center in Kansas City. We interviewed two volunteers who chose to help that center create a safe and welcoming place for LGBT people and allies, young and old alike.
This issue of Camp will reach you just as many activities in the Kansas City LGBT community are really getting underway. The AIDS Walk Open miniature golf tourney will be March 2, a day after this issue hits the streets. AIDS Walk is April 27, but that organization has many other activities on the calendar between now and then (and even later into fall). The Missouri Gay Rodeo Association is making plans for their big September event. Plans for Pride month in June are developing quickly.
People are making huge strides for equality in Kansas City. If you’re on the fence about volunteering or joining a group, this might just be the right time to stop by the LIKEME Lighthouse or give them a call and find out about the myriad social, political, athletic and other organizations where you could help make a difference.

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