“Do you know what the Gays did to me now? They took away my right to vote!”
As much as I hate to admit it, that is what my father called to tell me when the Supreme Court overturned California’s Proposition 8, an amendment to the California Constitution banning Same-Sex Marriage in the state, deeming it unconstitutional. It was his belief that since he had voted for it to pass—which it did—those overturning it neglected his vote, effectively stripping him of his right to do so. I quickly pointed out to him that they didn’t take away anything and what he was really upset about was that he—or anyone else—did not have the right to deny the LGBT Community of their rights. Realizing that he did not understand what I had just told him, I brought up the other civil rights movements in the United States, specifically women’s rights and suffrage, which seems like a no-brainer nowadays, but their fight for suffrage alone took the better part of a century, and I asked him if he thought we should have the right to vote against their right to vote. It was the first time my father didn’t have a rebuttal. It wasn’t until after the argument ended that I realized how similar the two movements truly were.
While the women’s suffrage movement was none violent and mainly carried out by organized meetings, lobbying congressman, and picketing protests, the women that participated in it could do nothing to stop the violence of their oppressors from coming to them. In January 1917, the National Women’s Party, led by suffragists Alice Paul and Lucy Burns, began to picket, six days a week, in front of the white house for their right to vote. At first largely ignored, they became under frequent attack with no help from the police. Then starting that July, the police began to arrest the women, mostly under the charge of Obstructing Traffic, and giving them three to six months sentences in the Occoquan Workhouse, It was here that Paul, after trying to hunger strike, was forcibly fed milk and eggs through a tube three times a day; and in what would later be coined the “Night of Terror”(One Women, One Vote) by 73 year old prisoner suffragist, Mary Nolan, all the suffragists held in the prison suffered, as historian Louise Bernikow describes in her article Night of Terror Leads to Women's Vote in 1917 “Forty-four club-wielding men beat, kicked, dragged and choked their charges… Women were lifted into the air and flung to the ground. One was stabbed between the eyes with the broken staff of her banner… Women were dragged by guards twisting their arms and hurled into concrete ‘punishment cells.’”
The LGBT community is no stranger to violence as well, with the most recent FBI statics for hate crimes showing that in 2012, 19.6 percent of hate crimes resulted from a sexual orientation bias. In contrast to the women’s movement however, most violence against homosexuals is against individuals, as in the case of Matthew Shepard’s murder. In October of 1998, Shepard, an...