Legislation and Real Life

December 21, 2010 5:33 PM

Too many historic votes in the Senate this past weekend. Some good. Some bad.

So maybe it's appropriate that my week began by attending a funeral of a young Asian American.

My nephew Brian Francisco was just 31, an American born Filipino with a little "rasta" accent thrown in.

A "Rastapino," we called him.

My nephew always did the right thing. And he didn't have the same problem as undocumented kids whom the Congress shunned by defeating the Dream Act.

But Brian has had dreams delayed, altered and denied in his young life too. After college, I was surprised that one of the only jobs he could get was as a TSA screener.

No knock there. He got a uniform and was proud of what he did to secure the country.

One day on a recent trip, I even got him as a screener.  He was a total pro. No wink-wink free pass for Uncle.  It was one of the few times we connected. A generation apart, we never had the chance to have that heart-to heart talk where we look into each other's souls.

But that day, he did look into my bag--and declared me no threat to America.

Now that Brian has passed on, I've found a way in my sorrow to be happy for him.

With that tax compromise that was also passed last weekend, what kind of country, what kind of economy are we leaving for young people?

We have already declared Brian's generation the one that may never surpass their parents. And now we saddle them with an outrageous national debt, threaten the concept of Social Security, and give them the false hope of tax cuts to create the jobs and opportunities that are unlikely to appear.

We've certainly created no heaven on earth.

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

The other bit of legislation that weighed heavily on me was the repeal of the military's anti-gay policy.

Don't get me wrong.

I'm happy that this piece of legal discrimination concocted as a compromise in the Clinton administration was voted down.

But the fight against discrimination is not over, you know.

I found this out when I dealt with a lesbian client recently in one of my business dealings.

She let me know she had a same-sex partner, and I told her it really wasn't a concern of mine personally, that I had many lesbian clients and could help them both.

The meeting continued and I thought everything was fine.

But then the next day, the client called my business partner (a woman) and said how she was uncomfortable with me and wanted to deal with someone else.

My partner said there was a heavy implication that despite my fondness for women, I wasn't lesbian enough.

We referred her to a lesbian friend of ours and that was that.

We lost the business. And maybe even worse.

Was I just discriminated against? Whatever it was, it didn't feel good. I lost a client, some income. And it made me wonder if there was something I did that could have made her feel more comfortable. (Wear more lavender? Tell her I watch "Ellen"?) 

If I were a landlord and didn't do business with her, that would be a definite no-no.

If she walks away, I suppose that's her prerogative.

Still, if I were genial and knowledgeable and showed no bias, why does she get a free pass to then dump me? Is there a good kind of discrimination? 

I am glad the military got rid of its policy. It's an historic move and worth celebrating.

But on a personal level, we still have these little bumps in the civil rights road that happen every day. They don't require a Senate vote to end them, but we are still a long way from being totally free of them. 


Posted by:Emil Guillermo

The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the views or policies of AALDEF.


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