By Lori Sokol
Friday, February 17, 2012
Gay rights are going strong, but Lori Sokol warns lesbians not to let male allies set the agenda at this critical time. From breast-cancer screenings to LGBT campus curricula there's a lot the male-dominated gay rights movement can overlook.
This tendency is so marked that, as in the straight world, it can become necessary for women to form their own breakaway, and somewhat subordinate, subsets. A leading professional gay organization, Out Professionals, has formed an "other" division for women (Out Professionals Lynx).
This trend needs to be addressed quickly and decisively at this crucial time, while gay rights are advancing with support from the highest levels in government.
Who is best suited to lead this charge? I cast one of my votes for U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, a Wisconsin Democrat. As the first (and thus far only) out lesbian elected to Congress, she has been a champion in the fight for full equality as the founder and co-chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus. Now that Baldwin is a candidate for U.S. Senate, she could be the first woman to represent Wisconsin in the Senate, and the first openly gay senator in the country.
I also cast a vote for Christine Quinn, speaker of the New York City Council and the first openly gay person to hold that job. As a policy maker and long-time advocate, she is committed to ensuring full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.
Both these women stand in a prime position to address the unique challenges gay women face. If trendsetting women like these don't articulate the agenda, our special issues -- from funding support for breast cancer screenings to the shaping of college curricula -- can easily get overlooked.
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Lori Sokol, Ph.D., is publisher of Work Life Matters magazine and a regular contributor on women's issues to the Huffington Post and Slate.com.
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