Since the "boycott" began, I've seen a lot of people say that we (the gay community) are being unreasonable and need to be patient. That there are a lot of important issues out there like health care reform, Iraq and Afghanistan, the economy, and so on that need to be addressed first. That 2010 is coming up fast and the mid-term elections are important... that making LBGT civil rights an issue now only helps the Republicans. So how long are we supposed to wait? How long are we supposed to be 2nd tier citizens in our own party let alone country? How long should we remain silent until it is a convenient time for the party and the nation to decide that they can throw us a bone so we'll continue to open our wallets to the Democrats while we hope and pray and donate and vote so that things will get better?
And before you answer those questions, consider where we've come from and how long we've been working for this...
The Stonewall Inn riot in 1969 is generally considered the beginning of the gay civil rights movement. By and large these are the people that started the push for gay civil rights by saying "enough is enough". At the time of the riot, police raids on gay bars occurred on average once a month for each bar. Women in the bar were required to wear three pieces of feminine clothing and would be arrested if found not wearing them. Men without identification or dressed in full drag were arrested. I'm saying this so you understand where we started from.
In 1969, having consensual sex in the privacy of your own home was a crime in every state in the United States except Illinois (who repealed their sodomy law in 1962). Gay marriage wasn't even a pipe dream. The end of being classified as having a mental disorder was still 4 to 6 years away. And hate crimes were likely committed more often by the police than they were by ordinary citizens. In 1971, Connecticut was the next state to repeal their sodomy law and they were followed by 34 other states, the District of Columbia and 4 territories up until 2003. On June 26, 2003, the Supreme Court struck down the Texas same-sex sodomy law and in the process invalidated the state sodomy laws of the other 13 states that had kept them on the books. That these laws were selectively enforced by this time is true... but it made us fugitives in our own country. Worse still were the punishments for our "crime":
Alabama - up to 1 year and a $2000 fine
Florida - up to 60 days imprisonment and $500 fine
Idaho - felony punishable by imprisonment for 5 years to life
Kansas - up to 6 months imprisonment and $1000 fine
Louisiana - felony punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment and $2000 fine
Michigan - felony punsihable by 15 years in jail for the first conviction, and life imprisonment for the second conviction
Mississippi - felony punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment
Missouri - punishable by up to 1 year's imprisonment or a $1000 fine
North Carolina - felony punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment and discretionary fine
Oklahoma - felony punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment
South Carolina - felony punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment and $500 fine
Texas - misdemeanor punishable by up to $500 fine
Utah - punishable by up to 6 months imprisonment and $1000 fine
Virginia - felony punishable by 1-5 years imprisonment
Although the 8 states that classified sodomy as a felony were bad enough, Michigan stood alone as actually having a greater minimum sentence for a sodomy conviction than murder although it was joined by Idaho in allowing for a life sentence. These laws were on the books as recently as 6 years ago. Let me make this clear... Just six years ago consensual sex between adults was a felony in 8 states and a misdemeanor in 6 more, in other words almost one third of the country. And it wasn't an elected official that ended it, it was the judiciary.
From the beginning of the "gay civil rights movement" in 1969 until 34 years later in 2003, that was pretty much all the improvement in things that we saw... at least we're not criminals any more. Even "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" just moved things from it being "a punishable offense" to it being "a punishable offense if they find out". And yes, that's a big part of why repealing DADT is such a big deal... it's the last remnant of our criminal past. The last place in the United States where being gay is punishable, and DADT is worse in some ways as just being gay at all is punishable. In fact the Supreme Court decision in 2003 invalidated Article 125 which made sodomy punishable by the military except in cases where there was a clear problem in maintaining military discipline. So having two men having sex in the military is ok, but being gay isn't.
But it's 2009 now and we're at the stage where it's still ok to discriminate. Only 21 states (and the District of Columbia) have laws preventing job discrimination against homosexuals (and 9 of those don't protect the transgendered). Pay attention here, 40 years in to the "gay civil rights movement" and it's still hunky-dory to fire homosexuals for no other reason than their being gay in well over half of the country.
Hopefully at this point, you'll understand why we're a bit tired of being put on the back burner. 40 years of literal blood, sweat, and tears and pretty much the sum total of our progress is that we're not criminals any more and we can keep our jobs in about 42% of the country. While marriage equality is a big deal and I long for the day that I can marry my husband, there's a reason why we're a bit ticked about DADT and ENDA being set aside and put off for another election cycle or two or three.
Just for reference, I was born about 5 weeks after the Stonewall riots (yes, I'm 40 and I've earned every one of my gray hairs). For 29 of those years I would have been considered guilty of a felony in the state in which I lived (Tennessee and then Georgia). To this day, I can be fired from my job if my employer decides that my being gay (not any action I do or don't take, just the fact that I am gay) is a problem or more likely as I am in Georgia, that it's a sin. So yes, I'm a bit ticked. It's annoying when politicians court my vote and make promises to help our community to get a bit closer to equality only to have them tell us that there are more important issues or that we're too controversial once they're in office. And it's offensive when other Democrats tell me that my issues can wait. I've been waiting 40 years now. So let me ask you, how long are we supposed to wait? When will it be "the right time"?