Monday, March 3, 2008

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE IS ESSENTIAL


In a New York Blade article entitled, "Reconsidering Marriage Equality," by Zack Rosen, he cites the views of Nancy Polikoff, in her new book, "Beyond (Straight and Gay) Marriage: Valuing All Families Under The Law,” who states the following:

“Marriage for same-sex couples will give same-sex couples what married people have, but that’s often the problem in the law,” says Polikoff, an American University College of Law professor who also helped develop the laws governing second-parent adoption and joint adoption for same-sex couples in D.C. 'A gay man and lesbian … may make a commitment to raise a child that may or may not be a biological child of both of them, or two un-partnered people decide they're going to retire to a home together and need a certain set of protections for the wellbeing of their relationship.'

“'Somebody on my own faculty is angry about having to marry her partner in order to get health insurance, because at my university the only domestic partners who can cover each other are same-sex — different-sex couples have to get married. That is the wrong way to think about employee benefits. It's better to think that if we have to cover families, let's cover families the way we decide them.'”

[I thank my friend, Don Charles for sending the article to me. The full article, see here.]

If I didn't know better, I'd think people like her are agent provocateurs. "I discovered that a generation of young adults had
grown up never knowing that the gay rights movement was part of a movement in support of diverse forms of family," she says. "They grew up believing that if you support same-sex marriage they had addressed all they needed to in support
of the needs of LGBT family."

The fight for LGBT rights was always for equality, and not second class status or anything other than full and equal civil rights! Although incrementalism had to be settled for in the 1960's and 70's, there was never any question in those years that LGBT people wanted a seat at the table and not some back bench.

She says, "Somebody on my own faculty is angry about having to marry her partner in order to get health insurance, because at my university the only domestic partners who can cover each other are same-sex — different-sex couples have to get married. That is the wrong way to think about employee benefits. It's better to think that if we have to cover families, let's cover families the way we decide them."

Sure, although I believe that any configuration of people can be a family, and in a sane world would be considered a family, that argument is not likely to win over the majority of people to our cause in the foreseeable future!

Moreover, I can see opposite sex couples bringing suit, and winning, by making that very claim that unless unmarried heterosexuals receive the same benefits that currently accrue to domestic partners or those in Civil Unions there should be no such benefits accruing to same-sex couples.

And it's likely that someone, maybe even someone who fancies him/herself a "liberal," would be testifying on their behalf! We know that the homophobic reactionaries would so testify! And that might be a contention for which they might easily find support by many people who might otherwise be in favor of full equality for LGBT people in society.

Polikoff even talks about the fact that the quest for same-sex marriage rights deflects our attention from such issues as poverty and the like. As if the Bush administration, or any administration for that matter, would more assiduously concern itself with issues of poverty were it not for those of us advocating, and working for, full marriage rights for same-sex couples who want to make a lifetime commitment to each other.

Right now, in California, the immediate fate of same-sex marriage in California is before the California Supreme Court. My friend, Rev. Troy Perry [Pictured], and his husband Phillip DeBliek (They were married in Canada.), are among the plaintiffs in the case demanding that they and, by extension, all same-sex couples be allowed to marry in California. So, this issue is even more personal to me than would even normally be the case! (And it has always meant a great deal to me!)

And the hateful, homophobic religious and secular reactionaries, and even some who fancy themselves as being "progressive," would dare deny him and his husband, Phillip, and all similar same-sex couples, the dignity and rights of marriage!

The institution of "marriage" confers not mere legitimacy upon a committed relationship, but is inextricably bound up (in ideology if not in fact) with the conferring of dignity upon that relationship. By institutionalizing same-sex marriage we are saying that same-sex love is just as viable, just as noble, just as legitimate, and is in no way inferior to heterosexual love!

Moreover, once same-sex marriage is in place, we can expect all other civil and sacramental rights to follow suit! The institution of marriage, although debased by many heterosexually married people, nevertheless, despite some rhetoric to the contrary, still has inestimable symbolic value.

Once that value is conferred upon same-sex couples, the normality of same-sex love will become both recognized and legitimized, and we can expect that all other impediments to full equality will rather quickly be removed.
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4 comments:

DON CHARLES aka "STUFFED ANIMAL" said...

Jerry,

Somehow, I have the feeling we haven't seen the last of arguments like this. Why doesn't anybody find it strange that so-called progressives and Right Wing bigots would be on the same side opposing marriage equality? And why is this absurd false dichotomy of marriage or societal well-being not challenged more often?

Jerry Maneker said...

Don Charles: I think that many, if not most, in the LGBT community are too self-absorbed with short-term issues that they perceive affects only them, that they don't have the inclination, energy, or even the time to address this issue.

Straight people too, of course, are all too often self-absorbed with their own issues, and usually only deal with issues that are goring their own ox. However, Straight people can get married, and are not in the position of suffering indignities attendant upon being treated as second-class citizens as a group.

When one group is so treated, it is up to the members of that group to become motivated, solicit allies, and fight for the same rights that others have. However, if many members of that group really feel the self-loathing that so many LGBT people feel, many really don't consider themselves "worthy" of equal status, so many hunker down into their own subculture and become apolitical when it comes to demanding equal rights.

And some self-styled "liberals" seek to justify why Gays shouldn't get married either because they love academic exercises, or because they cater to the lethargy that ensues when members of a despised minority group are beaten down.

The false dichotomy you correctly point out is not addressed by many because "societal well-being" is too abstract a concept for many, whereas "psychological self-protection" is first and foremost in the minds of those who live lives of quiet and not so quiet desperation born of persecution and years of false messages telling them that they really are people who don't belong in society in the first place.

At least, that's my take on it.

DON CHARLES aka "STUFFED ANIMAL" said...

" . . . so many hunker down into their own subculture and become apolitical when it comes to demanding equal rights."

So true! But if you ask them, they tell you they're "radical queers". Which is worse, Jerry: Empty liberalism or empty radicalism? Personally, I think it's a toss-up.

Jerry Maneker said...

Hi Don Charles: "Which is worse, Jerry: Empty liberalism or empty radicalism? Personally, I think it's a toss-up." I agree with you that it is a toss-up. The operative word is "empty," and that says it all.

Moreover, the term "radical queers," by its very connotation, shows that those who view themselves as "radical" when they have clutched the oppressors' epithet against them to their bosom, and identify with that word, are anything but "radical."

In addition, when they use the word "queer," they are saying that they are "abnormal," and naively think that by appropriating a derogatory epithet called them by their oppressors is "liberating" and defuses the hateful nature of that word, merely show that they have bought into the lie that the oppressors have visited on them.

They're not "queer" and they're not "radicals." The use of these epithets merely show them to be very psychologically damaged people, immune to that knowledge, and hostile to people who would point these truths out to them.