Sunday, March 1, 2009


Having civil rights is a lot like being pregnant! For many reasons, one can't get incremental civil rights and still be viewed as a full-fledged citizen, anymore than a woman can be "a little bit pregnant." She is or is not pregnant!

We have equal rights or we don't have equal rights, and there can be no such acceptable compromise with full-fledged citizenship as exists in the acceptance of incremental civil rights, such as Domestic Partnerships or Civil Unions!

As you know by now, I've always been against incremental civil rights because they provide no allowance for the person to be viewed as having dignity and deserving of full and equal civil rights that are accorded and guaranteed to all citizens of the U.S. as demanded by the Constitution.

Just as there is no such thing as being a little bit pregnant, there is no such thing as equality when it is partial, or partially gained through incrementalism! We are treated equally under the law or we're not treated equally under the law, and incrementalism, by definition, nullifies the existence of equality under the law for Gay people.

Moreover, such incrementally gained rights can be easily removed by the mere stroke of a pen, be those rights Domestic Partnerships or Civil Unions.

Here is one example:

The Incline Village General Improvement District board has decided to rescind health care insurance benefits to domestic partners of district employees.

The action, taken on a 3-2 vote Wednesday, reverses a similar board vote last August in favor of offering domestic partner benefits.

Board Chairman Ted Fuller says he voted to rescind the benefits because of the need to cut costs and the potential for abuse.

[For the full article, see here.]

There is no substitute for full marriage rights with the designation of "Married" accruing to same-sex couples who seek to make a lifetime commitment to each other. No substitute will do! And no substitute can be accepted!

It doesn't matter if we're told that every single right that married couples enjoy will be conferred on Domestic Partners or those in Civil Unions. The fact is that those expediently and politiclly manufactured institutions can be easily rescinded if and when the political and/or social and/or economic climate is viewed as conducive to their removal.

Moreover, to substitute those institutions for marriage still consigns same-sex love to being inferior to opposite-sex love, even if all marriage benefits are given to those couples with those other, lesser, designations. By accepting such incrementalism, it shows that the dignity, the legitimacy, and the normality of same-sex love is consigned to a nether world of second-class citizenship (despite rhetoric to the contrary); indicates the acceptance by the minority group of that inferiority, that "otherness," that still maintains the institutionalized belief in the inequality of same-sex love with opposite-sex love.

We are to make no mistake: any other designation than "Marriage" makes what civil rights that exist for Gay people up for grabs; dependent on the economic and/or social and/or political climate of a given time; institutionalizes the inherent inequality of same-sex couples and the nature of same-sex love.

Moreover, it is my contention that only with the institutionalization of "Marriage" for same-sex couples will virtually all other civil rights accrue to Gay people! "Marriage" confers a basic legitimacy to same-sex love and to the people entering that veritable and historically esteemed institution!

In this connection, it must be noted that it is heterosexuals who have tainted the institution of "marriage" through divorce; same-sex couples who seek marriage are a major hope that the institution of marriage will once again be accorded dignity and viability!

Gay people deserve no less than do Straight people!

And no amount of settling for inequality in any way, for any reason, be it for political expediency or for what is perceived to be the lesser of two evils, justifies the capitulation to anything less than the designation of "Marriage" for all same-sex couples who must expect and demand full and equal civil rights and the dignity that those rights are accorded and will afford them.
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Things like willingness to settle for civil unions and domestic partnerships, willingness to excuse a President's endorsement of hatemongers like Rick Warren, and insistence on adopting derogatory self-identifiers while campaigning for Gay Rights make me despair of ever seeing our equality struggle reach its goals. In fact, I don't believe I shall see it in my lifetime. I often wonder, how long will activists like yourself have to pound the meaning of true equality into these hard-as-granite LGBT heads? When will the truth finally dawn on them? What will it take to ignite that fire in the belly you've bemoaned the lack of?

Jerry Maneker said...

Thanks Don Charles. Beautifully put, and I wish I had the answer. Best wishes, Jerry.