The other day on another diary I had a short discussion with a man who believed that we should hold off on the "gay marriage issue" until the political climate was more appropriate. Democrats would lose more than they gained by pursuing this issue now.
That's when I had my idea: a modest proposal for politicians to demonstrate support without having to actually say "I support these people."
That's right. You heard me. Get divorced.
The point raised against mine is a valid one. The general thrust of the argument is that I feel a principled stand by politicians is necessary: if they don't commit to supporting us today, what guarantee do we have of that tomorrow? Sly winks and nods in backroom conversations inspire little confidence. But if the political atmosphere is so against us today, then what (we are asked, by those with shining and innocent eyes) could our Democrats do against the darkness? For those of us who demand some sort of commitment: how can we expect politicians to take such a risk politically by declaring support for us lepers outcast unclean? (And of course there's always the Promised Land of tomorrow, when Democrats will be in power and King Arthur will take that sword out of that stone and the taste of steel will scare those bad guys away. Because we've never been betrayed before. Have we?)
If you are going to ask us to be patient while we dangle our freedom over a pit like a pendulum made of squeaking hearts, join us in suffering. Show the solidarity you claim to have. And not only that, but voluntarily place yourself under all the restrictions and encounter all the pitfalls gays and lesbians must, as long as we do not have equal rights.
What are these restrictions and pitfalls? See below, from Scott Bidstrup's website:
One of these is the fact that in most states, we cannot make medical decisions for our partners in an emergency. Instead, the hospitals are usually forced by state laws to go to the families who may have been estranged from us for decades, who are often hostile to us, and can and frequently do, totally ignore our wishes regarding the treatment of our partners. If a hostile family wishes to exclude us from the hospital room, they may legally do so in most states. It is even not uncommon for hostile families to make decisions based on their hostility -- with results consciously intended to be as inimical to the interests of the patient as possible! Is this fair?
Upon death, in many cases, even very carefully drawn wills and durable powers of attorney have proven to not be enough if a family wishes to challenge a will, overturn a custody decision, or exclude us from a funeral or deny us the right to visit a partner's hospital bed or grave. As survivors, estranged families can, in nearly all states, even sieze a real estate property that a gay couple may have been buying together for many years, quickly sell it at the largest possible loss, and stick the surviving partner with all the remaining mortgage obligations on a property that partner no longer owns, leaving him out on the street, penniless. There are hundreds of examples of this, even in many cases where the gay couple had been extremely careful to do everything right under current law, in a determined effort to protect their rights. Is this fair?
If our partners are arrested, we can be compelled to testify against them or provide evidence against them, which legally married couples are not forced to do. In court cases, a partner's testimony can be simply ruled irrelevant as heresay by a hostile judge, having no more weight in law than the testimony of a complete stranger. If a partner is jailed or imprisoned, visitation rights by the partner can, in most cases, can be denied on the whim of a hostile family and the cooperation of a homophobic judge, unrestrained by any law or precedent. Conjugal visits, a well-established right of heterosexual married couples in some settings, are simply not available to gay couples. Is this fair?
Let you who love also as we do, you who claim to sympathize with what we bear, bear these crosses also: only then will I be patient. If you really think I and my compatriots should wait to fix this great wrong in my government, then wait also, with us: and I'll be patient. I'll go along with everything Hillary says and doesn't say if she goes back to just being a Rodham. Fair's fair. You ask us who have sacrificed - who have been prisoners in Nazi camps and beaten senseless in the streets of every city in the world - to sacrifice, wait for a little longer, until we have the legal recognition of our right to marry, as other groups have. Read down that list of rights. Read down that list of privileges. Understand how horrible and uncertain a future can be without having the legal rights of marriage. Go read Scott's webpage and the dozens of others.Think of your gay and lesbian friends. Think of the relationships you have with your own husbands and wives - the great trust you develop and build with each other. Think of having that trust violated by the strictures of a discriminating government. Think of having everything you have built with your partner seized because their parents don't like you because you're something they don't like.
Let those who have built things with your families - let those who have bought homes and built lives together - consider the pain gay and lesbian survivors go through when their partners past and all that is seized, when love is rendered meaningless.
It's almost a kind of rape, having them control us that far inside: insofar as rape is about power more than sex, and this power is wielded just as capriciously.
I find myself wondering about the issue. Is this really a "single-issue," as many Kossacks have hinted? (But it's about civil and legal liberties! It's about our lives! It's about being prevented from being by the side of people I love!) Or is it a "keystone issue," which contacts many other issues on each side, and ends up being turned into a "single issue" by virtue of its association with a single minority group? (I'm pretty sure abortion isn't one of these "keystone issues" too; control of the bodily reproduction system equals control of health equals control of self equals ability to govern one's own life.) After all, the definition, by Bernice Reagon, of a single-issue person is someone who can't, no matter how they try, see the big picture. I see the big picture; it's just maybe my interpretation of it is slightly different from others.
So: support gays? But can't fight for civil rights politically? Fine, don't get married. It's a modest proposal, and about as serious as John Swift's, and one I could apply to a lot of other issues (Support women but don't want to fight for equality? Fine, voluntarily deny yourself 20% of your pay, and send it to women's groups.) But I have no sense that many people here understand the nature of the sacrifice they ask us to make when they say, "Wait for the next election, wait for a better political climate, wait, wait for-"
How long are we supposed to wait, anyway?