I watched the movie Gettysburg again the other day. It is one of my favorites because the producer was a Mexican American and it is about the real reasons why democracy exists. In the movie, there is a scene where a New Hampshire officer is talking to two rebel soldiers. He asks them why they are fighting. They reply, “for our Rats.” He says, “What?” They reply, “for our Rats, our civil Rats.” The Northerner finally translates this into his language and understands what they are saying. I love this scene because it so vividly describes what is going on in America today over the issue of gay marriage.
Let me explain. For years the Civil Rights movement focused on issues like voting, segregation and education. Recently, the whole issue of immigrant rights and the rights of workers to good housing, health care and worker protection has come to the forefront. These are not considered to be historic American civil rights. Among the historic civil rights not considered is the right to be free to marry whomever you wish to marry. It was a Mexican American woman in California who established that constitutional right. She destroyed miscegenation in a case that was cited by the California Supreme Court when it overruled the law citing that marriage was only between a man and a woman.
Of course, this was 40 years ago and has been ignored by gay activists who are mostly middle class and white. I know that there are, of course, gay Latinos and African Americans and Asians, but when you turn on the TV, it is the white guys and women that you see out in front.
This is one of the reasons why Proposition 8 in California passed so easily. Many “progressives” do not know what to do with Latinos and other minorities when it comes to gay “Rats” (rights). They — the gays — have not figured out that they need to be part of our fight for the human rights of immigrants, rights for non-documented students who are the innocent victims of poverty and want to go to college in California.
The gay “progressives” have not addressed the economic inequities in agricultural and other industries that keep immigrants and first generation Americans at the bottom of the barrel. You are willing to eat the food we pick and the meat we slaughter, and wear the clothes we make, but you are not willing to help us with our human “Rats”.
Many so called “progressives” refuse to march with the millions of Latinos in the streets with identifiable banners and rainbow flags because it was not their “Rats” the Latinos were marching for. So no wonder the Latino voter did not vote in favor of Prop 8!
If the “progressives” want us to be on their side, they must first be on our side.
Here is the question of the day: What does it take to get the Latino and other minority voters to be on your side?
The answer is simple, be on our side. Why are you so silent when that fat fascist “Limbost” calls a great judge a racist because she is a Latina? How can you allow “Rover” and an unemployed Republican wife cheater attack Judge Sotomayor, who is the pride of our community?
When you remain silent on these issues, you confirm that you are what they are.
If, however, you learn that our human “Rats” are your civil “Rats,” maybe the next time you call on us to vote we will understand why you need us to help.
Steven J. Ybarra
Steven J. Ybarra JD is a retired civil rights attorney who operates a consultant company in California. He is a member of the California Democratic State Party and is Chair of the Chicano Latino Caucus Voting Rights Committee and a long time political activist. Contact Steven at: [email protected] This article is copyright by Steven J. Ybarra JD, originally published in www.Hispanicvista.com but permission is granted for reprint in print, email, blog, or web media if this entire credit paragraph is attached.