SFGN’s “Speak OUT” is a weekly feature giving a regular voice to South Florida LGBT leaders.
This week’s news has been dominated by the Syrian refugee crisis, especially those slated to come to America. Is this an issue the LGBT community should care about? Some LGBT advocates have urged the White House to allow 500 LGBT Syrians to resettle in the U.S. in 2016.
Below are some of their answers:
History favors those who, in times of conflict and war, choose compassion and humanity over fear and xenophobia. After World War II, people shook their head that the U.S. would not accept at least Jewish children refugees - e.g., Anne Frank was a refugee denied entry. Even if people don’t care about compassion, it will be in the interest of national security to help the Syrian refugees now, be sure they don’t have any reason to raise their children to hate our country. Most of the violence and death that comes in the U.S. is from Americans with guns, not from foreign terrorists - don’t fear the refugees, whether they are LGBT or not.
— Toni Armstrong Jr., Founder/Director of BLAST Women of WPB.
I think everyone should be concerned when there is a prejudice put on whole communities of people when there are few who are dangerous. That being said, I am concerned either way. The best way to create dangerous situations is through abuse and neglect. The Syrian people have suffered both. When these elements are present, it creates desperation and that leads to vulnerability. The way to keep people safe is to show compassion and love for fellow human beings.
“Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness. We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
— Meredith L Ockman, community activist and a director of NOW
Refusing vetted refugees from any country is outrageous. LGBT or not this new hate stance makes little to no since. When I heard the Governor of Indiana proudly state he's keeping Hoosiers safe by turning away a family that spent three years and has had clearance turned my gut. We have little back ground checks on gun ownership and we know far too well how that turns out.
This is sad policy built on fear and ignorance.
— R. J. Hadley, community activist and blogger
The refugee crisis is something we all should care deeply about. Our nation does its due diligence to combat terrorism and we owe it all Americans - those of our country's past as well as our posterity - to remain a beacon of hope throughout this world for others and to recognize we are great enough to neither compromise our national security nor close our borders to refugees properly screened who are fleeing their homelands for their lives and the promise of a better life. In so many places throughout the world LGBT people face persecution and even death. We must not blanketly discriminate against refugees and immigrants simply because they are from Syria. As custodians of our great nation and as the issues of immigration and security are raised, WE THE PEOPLE must not succumb to fear and shrink from the promise of America. We are better and braver than that!
— Justin S. Flippen, J.D., Wilton Manors City Commissioner
What if Wilton Manor and the Pride Center sought designation as a relocation site for LGBT refugees? If there are 500 gay Syrians seeking to immigrate, why not make sure that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services knows that there is a community that promises to help the LGBT refugees settle and integrate into American culture? I'd be glad to participate, and imagine that there are many others who would also be willing.
— Brian McNaught, noted columnist, author and LGBT activist