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01/23/2008

Indiana: Please listen to reason, not rhetoric!

by Jeremy Hooper

It's no secret that we find any attempt to amend a state or federal constitution so that it bans marriage equality to be misguided at best, patently evil at worst. However, we often come across passages in far-right media outlets that don't strike as intentionally offensive or aggressively ignorant. Instead, they demonstrate to us that a pure fundamental misunderstanding of the marriage issue is often what is really guiding our opposition's endeavors.

Consider this little quip from Focus on the Family's Citizenlink. They are talking about a proposed marriage ban currently making its way through the state legislature:

Supporters of same-sex "marriage" say Hoosiers don’t care about marriage and are focused on property tax reform. [The Indiana Family Institute's Sue Swayze] said both property tax reform and a marriage amendment can be accomplished.

To the writer of this coupling of sentences (Devon Williams), it's likely just a benign mention. But to us, supremely staunch supporters of same-sex marriage (no fear quotes), it is a GLARING misrepresentation. For they are making it sound as if the issue of marriage equality is simply a matter of legislative importance and citizen priorities, with those opposed to the constitutional ban simply saying that now is not the time to write discrimination into the state's most precious governing document. But in reality, those of us who are opposed to this or any marriage ban are saying something completely different. We are saying that citizens SHOULD care about marriage -- the kind that includes us ALL! And we are saying that citizens SHOULD care about protection of freedom and equality -- that kind that is free and equal!

The quoted Indiana spokesman counters the straw man claims by saying that "both property tax reform and a marriage amendment can be accomplished." Well yes, they technically are outcomes that could jointly fit within the given time and space constraints; but so are blowing up the state capitol and electing a salamander to the Indiana Senate! The "can" does not make the "try" right! And the issues run much deeper than political opportunism!

The way these folks so often talk about these sorts of measures as if they are simple pieces of legislation about which we can debate politically and then "agree to disagree" fully highlights their refusal to listen to the true tales of heartbreak that make up our side of the debate. They aren't hearing just how hurtful these bans are to us. They aren't giving any credence to our pleas to keep their personal faith beliefs to their selves. They aren't listening to the reasons we cite in opposition to their bullsh*t. They see this as them opposing a political force, and not a community of humans. If they would just put down their stones and listen to what we are saying, then maybe they would see that this issue is not one that should be likened to fiscal matters, but rather one involving basic human decency!

Indiana Marriage Amendment Stuck in Legislature [CitizenLink]

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Your thoughts

Same-sex marriage with all of the rights, benefits and obligations of marriage cannot exist in the United States in the near future. Here is why: Forty-five states have laws (19) or constitutional amendments (26) prohibiting same-sex marriage. (Source: Human Rights Campaign) Almost two-thirds of 48 million votes cast on same-sex marriage in 29 states were against us. As the noted gay historian and professor at the University of Illinois, John D'Emilio, observed in his 2006 article, The Marriage Fight Is Setting Us Back, "The campaign for same-sex marriage has been an unmitigated disaster. It has created a vast body of new anti-gay laws." There has already been, in effect, a national referendum and we have lost......BIG.

There have been no successful direct challenges to statewide domestic partner or civil union policies. Domestic partners and civil unions have been overturned only when they were included in ballot propositions whose primary purpose was to ban same-sex marriage. As a result, one hundred million Americans already live in states where civil unions are prohibited. This is the "collateral damage" of our failed fight for "marriage."

All of the rights, benefits and obligations of marriage are attainable, with public support, under the title civil unions or domestic partners. Same-sex marriage is not. We may not like that fact, however, it is none-the-less a fact. Why the leaders of our community do not see the obvious is beyond understanding. It is time that someone in the lesbian and gay community tell our leaders that their strategy on same-sex marriage has failed. Same-sex marriages void of federal rights is not marriage equality.

Our community has lost it’s way. We must tell our leaders to abandon a policy which, primarily, has brought us defeat and more legal barriers. We can choose to return to a more successful strategy, which in the short run may appear slower but, in the long run, will help us achieve our goal of marriage equality much quicker.

Who among us will be brave enough to say, "The emperor has no clothes" before we are all stripped naked of our rights.

Posted by: Leland Traiman | Jan 24, 2008 10:57:48 AM

Leland: You are totally overlooking that in some states, we are one decision away from marriage equality on the state-level. Also, in New Jersey, it is expected that the civil unions system will be bumped up in the next few years (due to its failure to fulfill the court-mandated parity). In NY, we have voluntarily passed marriage in one chamber and have a governor who is more than ready to sign once the Senate comes around (as they very well could after the 2008 elections). We are making GREAT progress!

True, we have lost at the ballots. But this is not where this issue is going to be decided. We in the minority have to be protected from the tyranny of a majority. And that is what will ultimately happen -- as more and more states get on the full marriage equality train, the tone will change even more rapidly, the right-wing lies will be less and less accepted, and we will see more and more courts invalidating the in-place marriage bans.

We have overcome the worst of this fight, and are heading into a new and optimistic time. There is not one reason to abandon the fight. Instead, there is EVERY REASON to keep on pushing!

Posted by: G-A-Y | Jan 24, 2008 11:07:54 AM

Federal Civil Unions = Marriage Equality, State-enacted Same Sex Marriage Does Not.

Anecdotal reports of inappropriate or anomalous implementation of New Jersey's civil unions & California’s domestic partner laws would not be solved by changing the title to marriage. Lesbians and gay men in Massachusetts have reported problems with their state’s implementation of same-sex marriage. Like California & NJ, Massachusetts's legislature is having to plug some holes because these policies are new. Any new and comprehensive policy, no matter how well written, will have bumps along the road to implementation. (The Gay & Lesbian Review 5/2007 page 6, Marriage Equality Not a Reality In Mass. by Dale Mitchell, Cofounder, LGBT Aging Project, Boston, MA)

Separate but Equal Argument is Historically Incorrect
Same-sex marriage activists will say, “Separate is not equal.” Analogy to Brown v. Board of Education (1954, US Supreme Court) is a common error which ignores the historical facts. “Separate but equal” was invented by white supremacists in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896, US Supreme Court) to oppress African-Americans. Domestic Partners was invented by a gay man, Tom Brougham, in 1982 and advanced by lesbian and gay organizations to obtain the benefits of marriage when most lesbians and gay men viewed marriage as a discredited patriarchal institution. Indeed, the acceptance of civil unions/domestic partners is more comparable to Brown than to Plessy.

Posted by: Leland Traiman | Feb 28, 2008 12:11:00 PM

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