Saturday, September 29, 2007

This isn't about marriage

By this, I mean this post. Surely, at this point, you are all familiar with my position on gay marriage (indifferent) as opposed to civil unions (support).* However, I find this video encouraging:

Why do I find it encouraging? Not because I care that much about marriage, but because Mayor Sanders is a Republican. Another Republican who is more amenable to gay rights is someone everyone loves to compare to Emperor Palpatine, the Vice President. What do these two men have in common? Gay daughters.

These kinds of things show that while it may easy for some people to think of gays and lesbians as "the others," proximity and experience causes second thoughts. This isn't the case of "we're queer, we're here, get used to it" being shouted from outside their homes. Rather, the proximity comes from inside the home, the office, the country club. It's not a question of numbers or visibility, per se. The experience comes from the happy times they spend with people before realizing they are gay. It's about people learning that gays and lesbians are their sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, parents, friends, neighbors, colleagues, etc.

It's quite difficult to be gay and then get close to someone who is a homophobe. Instead it seems to be more effective to be close first and then come out as gay. Sure there are still cases of "no son of mine," and I personally dread coming out to my old-guard Republican family, but seeing things like Mayor Sanders have a change of heart because he realized he loves his daughter more than the party line gives me great hope.

On a grander scale that's why I still refuse to leave the Republican Party. If I leave and become an elephant hunter, it's like my shouting gay pride slogans right outside their home. Republicans won't change their minds from angry outside opposition, instead they will get defensive and even more steadfast in their homophobia. I honestly think that well within my lifetime we are going to see the Republican fear of gays and lesbians go the way of opposition to fear of interracial marriage. But that it's only going to happen through relationship and bridge building; it's positive experience with gays and lesbians that will make the difference.

P.S. This isn't the post I can't remember. I fear that one may have evaporated forever.

(H/T: Richard J. Rosendall at Independent Gay Forum)

* According to Towleroad, some New Jersey same-sex couples are reporting that civil unions as opposed to marriage are not enough. An excerpt:
Craig Ross, of Somerset, said his employer refused to give health coverage to his partner, Richard Cash, after the two formed a civil union in April. They were one of several couples who described how business have cited federal laws that refer to 'marriage' or 'spouses' in order to deny health coverage to gay and lesbian employees who have tried to obtain benefits for their partners under New Jersey's civil union law. "They're looking at it as a ceremony, not even a relationship or a legal status," Ross said. "It's just words."
This seems like a) poor drafting of the New Jersey law or b) poor lawyering by the businesses. I don't have a copy (and am too lazy to find one) of the New Jersey law, so I cannot say for sure. Simply creating a ceremony recognized by the state called a civil union but does not afford that union equal legal status with a marriage, is as Craig Ross argues, "just words."

If, however, it does afford civil unions the same legal status as a marriage, then I am not sure how citing Federal statutes that refer to "marriage" and "spouse" will help these businesses. State law may (usually) afford more rights to its citizens than does federal law. I doubt that any judge is going to accept the argument "regardless of what the state of New Jersey says about health coverage by companies doing business in New Jersey, since Federal law requires no more than to recognize opposite sex spouses, our business must only meet that standard."

Before you worry about the cost of litigating the issue, let me assure you that this would be ripe for a non-profit gay law group to do pro-bono.

Another, whinier excerpt:
Tom Walton, of East Brunswick, said the difference in name — civil unions versus marriage — sends a message that gay couples are inferior. "Having to explain it automatically devalues it," Walton said. "Even if it gives us the same rights marriage, it doesn't give us the respect."
The government can't make people respect you (and whining like this won't help either). If people don't respect same-sex unions, they probably won't respect them if you call them marriages either. The minute a male talks about his "husband" instead of his "wife," people are going to hear "partner." Whether they respect the coupling has nothing to do with what it's called.

1 comment:

Michael in Norfolk said...

OMG Pink - I love the Emperor Palpatine comment on Dick Cheney. I guess I will have to stop referring to him as Darth Vader since Vader came back from the Dark Side. I doubt Cheney ever will.

On your main point, yes it is a great thing that the Mayor put his daughter and his love for her ahead of the GOP's party line gay bashing. I truly hope that when the time comes for you to come out to your parents that you are pleasantly surprised. My dad was one cantankerous son of a bitch much of the time, but as my mother said to me after his death, his view on me being gay was that I was his son and that is all that mattered. I know how worrisome it can be thinking about how your parents will react. But be true to yourself. For so many years I was not and the result was unhappiness for me and chaos for my children.