Santa Cruz Good Times

Tuesday
Sep 02nd
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Fighting for Equality

event_FreeheldLocal event sheds light on discrimination against LGBTQ people and others

Comedian Louis C.K. has an unforgettable routine that underscores the absurdity of legal battles related to gay marriage: “How do they argue it in court? I can imagine when they get to the Supreme Court, and the lawyers for the gay side are like, ‘Well, your honor, we pay taxes; there’s nothing illegal about what we do; we’re the same as anyone else. Why shouldn’t we get the same protection under the law that the heterosexuals get?’ And then they ask the other lawyer, and he says, ‘Your honor … THEY’RE F***IN’ QUEER!’ That’s it, isn’t it? Isn’t that the whole argument?”

What might be funny coming from Louis C.K., however, is tragic in many real-life contexts. Nowhere is this illustrated more poignantly than in Freeheld (freeheld.com), the 2008 winner of the Academy Award for Best Short Subject Documentary as well as a Special Jury Prize at 2007’s Sundance Film Festival. The film chronicles Det. Lieutenant Laurel Hester’s battle against the Ocean County, New Jersey Board of Chosen Freeholders to give her earned pension to her domestic partner Stacie Andree after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. In one of many moving scenes from the movie, Hester’s first police partner Dane Wells is seen passionately appealing to Hester’s elected officials, “What we are talking about here is no different than separate drinking fountains or a seat at the back of the bus. Gentlemen, you have in your hands right here and right now the awesome power to decide whether Laurel Hester will die a peaceful death.”

Freeheld will be shown at Aptos’ Jewish Community Center/Temple Beth El on Thursday, Jan. 28 as a part of “Social Equity through an LGBTQ Lens,” an event presented by the local philanthropic organization The Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County (cfscc.org) for the promotion of civil and human rights. The presentation will also feature a talk by Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), a national legal advocacy organization that’s been working for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) community since 1977 (nclrights.org).

Kendell, a nationally known speaker, says of Freeheld, “You watch that movie, and you can’t help but feel that the trauma of the cancer and the death was made so much more egregious and painful to deal with knowing that they had no legal protection. To have to worry about that at the same time that you’re taking your partner to get chemotherapy—it’s really unconscionable that gay and lesbian couples are in that situation.”

Kendall, who believes movies like Freeheld can be a powerful force for changing hearts and minds, observes, “Every civil rights struggle is marked by the uncommon courage of folks who came together not because they identified as the particular marginalized group, but because they shared a vision of what the country should look like or how history should remember this moment.” She cites as examples the women’s suffrage movement, the fight to end discrimination against Irish Catholics and the African-American Civil Rights Movement. “And I think this is a particular moment when we’re called to think about what kind of a country we want to be, and how much more there is that we share than what divides us.”

Kendall points out that the LGBTQ community is unique in that its constituents belong to every social demographic. “We are poor; we are wealthy; we are everything in between,” she says. “We live in rural areas, we live in big cities; we’re represented by every racial and ethnic identification; we’re scattered all throughout the country.” In spite of this, the Will & Grace stereotype persists, with a huge portion of the popular media representing LGBTQ people as wealthy Caucasians living in big cities. “That can make it very hard for gay people who do not identify that way to feel like they have a place in our very own movement, and for us to have strong allies with people of color, people of faith, working class and working poor Americans who may feel that they have nothing in common with us,” Kendall states.

One way for people to help fight for social equity is to be more politically engaged. “The Obama administration is an administration that absolutely responds to public pressure,” Kendall states. “I think that much of what Obama promised he would do has not been done, and we have to hold him accountable at a greater level.” Kendell encourages people to write letters and make phone calls to congress and to the White House. “I’m telling you, that is how people respond,” she insists. “Politicians, elected officials, are only accountable if we make them accountable. We only make them accountable by talking to them and telling them what we expect them to do. If everyone who ever thinks about these issues did that, we would see a break in the logjam in D.C.”


“Social Equity through an LGBTQ Lens” takes place at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 28 at the Jewish Community Center/Temple Beth El, 3055 Porter Gulch Road, Aptos. Tickets are $10 general, $5 for students and seniors. For more information, call 477-0800 or go to cfscc.org/DPSocialEquity.

 

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Mercury Enters Libra

It’s the week of Burning Man, the temporary, intentional, alternative, art-filled community on the playas of Nevada. Mercury, messenger of the Sun, enters Libra this week. Libra is the equalizer, a sign of balance and right human relations. Sometimes with Libra, we can be indecisive and confused while learning how to make balanced and right choices. Sometimes to keep the peace we communicate only what others want to hear. Eventually, we learn how to speak from the heart.

 

Final Cut

Cedar Street Video to close after 10 years at downtown location

 

Banter and Spark

Engaging actors, wry script distinguish lightweight rom-com ‘What If’

 

Back to Silicon Beach

With a new wave of startups, the future of Santa Cruz tech looks more promising than ever
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

 

Foodie File: Beer Thirty

Cups runneth over at Soquel’s new beer garden

 

What’s the nicest thing you’ve done for someone this week?

Germany  |  Beekeeper

 

Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

A Cab To Be Coveted

I first tasted Villa del Monte’s 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon at a Fourth of July party, where the hosts had bought a case of it because they love it and didn’t want to run out. It’s one of those wines that will grab you—in the best way—with its full body and rich fruit characteristics.