Giffords' Life-Saving Intern is Gay and Latino, And Why It Matters
Daniel Hernandez, the 20-year-old intern who likely saved Congresswoman Giffords' life on Saturday, is an out homosexual and active member of Tucson's Commission on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Issues. He's also Latino. But why does it matter?
Salon's Mary Elizabeth Williams has a great piece up about this very issue. She notes that one of John McCain's arguments against repealing DADT was that homosexuality affects the ability to serve -- clearly not the case in this heroic example. Her most salient point is about the social and political climate of Arizona -- which recently signed in SB 1070, an outrageous, possibly unconstitutional immigration law -- and Tuscon in particular, whose school district is the prime target in a recently implemented statewide “ethnic studies” ban.
It matters because last week, when Arizona banned a Tucson district's Mexican-American studies program, state's Attorney General Tom Horne referred to it as "propagandizing and brainwashing." It matters because just last year Arizona enacted a law that would not merely allow but require immigration officials to determine the immigration status of anyone "where reasonable suspicion exists" that the person might be in the country illegally. And "reasonable suspicion," as many civil libertarians pointed out, might just boil down to having a darker shade of skin or speaking Spanish.
I would add to Giffords' argument that, in a national climate that seems obsessed with portraying Latinos as nefarious border-breachers, dead set on having “anchor babies” so that we may bilk the system created by America's great (white) forefathers, the mere fact of Hernandez's representation is important. That there is a high-profile gay Latino in the media who risked his life to race to a Congresswoman's side may not change Sharron Angle's ability to tell a Mexican from an Asian (East, South or otherwise)... but it does add another dimension to the way Latinos are showing up in the news cycle. At least for now.