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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: SAME responds to commentary by Arlon Jay Staggs

Editor's note: San Diego Gay & Lesbian News welcomes commentary, opinions and letters to the editor from a wide spectrum of political thoughts and beliefs. America was founded on the principle of freedom of the press, which guides us at SDGLN. Today's letter to the editor was written by the membership of San Diego Alliance for Marriage Equality as a rebuttal to a commentary by SDGLN contributor Arlon Jay Staggs. The opinions expressed by SAME and Staggs are their own and they are entitled to them.

In the name of “freedom” and “the Constitution,” Arlon Jay Staggs engages in an ugly and fear-mongering attack on SAME and on SAME members who are also Socialists.

Not only does this sound depressingly like Sarah Palin or “some scary Republican,” as Staggs himself admits, but it does their dirty work for them, playing into the hands of the enemies of LGBT rights.

For the record, SAME is an open democratic organization that has members with a diversity of views. We welcome everyone - Democrats, Greens, Independents, Socialists or Republicans – who want to work with us to build a grass-roots movement for marriage equality and full LGBT rights from the bottom up.

As Arlon would have known if he had bothered to come to a SAME meeting, everyone who attends has a voice and vote and is encouraged to help shape the politics of the group. SAME is one of the most dynamic new groups to emerge in San Diego in the aftermath of the passage of Prop. 8 and anyone who has observed our activities in the last year and a half knows that our commitment to LGBT rights and our community is beyond reproach and has not be “hijacked” by anyone.

Socialists in SAME are among our most dedicated members and have made wonderful contributions to our movement-building work. In fact, Socialists both in and out of SAME have been among the strongest and most consistent supporters of LBGT rights. Unfortunately, the same cannot always be said for some Democrats and Republicans.

Staggs’ misinformed impression of what modern day Socialists, such as members of the ISO, stand for is best addressed by members of that group. However, suffice it to say that Arlon holds an abysmally distorted view of history, denying the extremely positive role Socialists and other leftists have played in the movements for equality and social justice throughout American history from the black civil rights movement to the earliest days of gay liberation. He appears to have no awareness of the destructive role that red-baiting attacks like the one he has engaged in have played in weakening such social movements, and undermining the freedom that Arlon claims to hold dear.

Arlon may want to research, for example, the history of McCarthyism in the 1950s, which targeted both gays and “Reds” with equal rabidity. We suspect that Arlon doesn’t have a clue that Hitler – who was not a Socialist, by the way – actually sent Socialists into the camps along with Jews and gays.

One part of the Constitution that all SAME members, Socialists or not, enthusiastically support is the First Amendment guarantee of separation of church and state. Ironically, Arlon is closer to the religious right on this question, opposing a secular government’s role in defending rights and freedom, and preferring to leave this question to “the creator.”

Finally, everyone in SAME, regardless of our political views, stand solidly behind the right of Socialists to participate in SAME and in the LGBT movement as a whole. We refuse to be divided.

Submitted by the membership of SAME