Wednesday, February 18, 2004

surely by now you've heard that new san francisco mayor gavin newsom, who once looked like yet another pro-corporate shill in liberal clothing, has done an amazing thing & showed some of the democratic presidential candidates a thing or two by granting actual marriage licenses to gay couples! naturally, reactionaries nationwide started flipping out, but so far the courts have not been willing to grant a stay. it's a wonderful day to be gay in the bay.

prez bush is "troubled". gov schwarzenegger has chimed in, telling sf to stop (despite allegedly being in favor of gay rights & having said during the campaign that he didn't care what gay people did... although google news refuses to give me any news links from back then, so i can't offer any quotes right now). schwarzenegger cites prop 22, the "only straights deserve to get married" law, as the reason san francisco is in the wrong. newsom is standing tall, saying that equal protection means equal protection, therefore prop 22 is unconstitutional.

what's really astonishing is how well conservatives have framed the debate. you can find tons of stories that are just drowning in quotes about how marriage is "between a man & a woman" (which sounds to me like a slightly more PC version of the "adam & steve" speech)... but how many articles have you seen that even briefly mention why gays want to get married in the first place? i can't think of any... if you know of some, i'm looking for some link love baby, so give em to me.

just like the public never got an honest answer to "why do they hate us?" back in '01, they're not being told "why do them queers want to get married?"

i was raised catholic & they taught us all about the sacrament of marriage, so i understand the religious significance. but marriage is more than just a religious thing. it's also a civil institution: the state grants all sorts of special legal priveleges to married persons, & right now if you're not in the bay area, gays do not legally have those rights. they don't want to destroy anyone's religion: they just want the same rights that everyone else has. really important stuff like basic access to health care.

if you're married, you're eligible to sign up your spouse for health benefits under your insurance plan. then if your spouse falls deathly ill, you can help make important health care decisions regarding your spouse. gays can't do anything like that unless they're lucky enough to get a forward-thinking hmo. & if your gay partner falls deathly ill, you'll be locked out of any important health decisions, no matter how long you've been together or how estranged your partner might be from their "blood" relations. hell, gays are even lucky if they get hospital visitation rights. & the same basic rules apply to just about every other area of law... inheritance, social security, you name it. in effect, if you're gay, the state doesn't care about your relationships. but if you're straight, you can get all those nice perks, regardless of whether you actually care about your spouse or not.

check it: There are more than 1,000 benefits on the state and federal level associated with marriage that are currently denied to same-sex partners, including numerous tax, insurance, hospital visitation and bereavement rights. so why is it every time we hear about the gay marriage issue, all we hear is quibbling about defintion of terms?

some people understand this & try to pussyfoot around the issue with things like "civil unions"... wherein gays would be kinda, sorta married (at least legally), but not actually married. i can appreciate that these people don't want a bunch of rabid fundies spitting all over them, but it doesn't change the basic truism that the massachusetts supreme court pointed out: the fact that brown v board of education proved that "separate is seldom, if ever, equal." civil unions might be a step in the right direction, & are obviously better than nothing, but i can't believe it's not butter is not butter, and civil unions are not marriage. to quote again from the court decision, civil unions creat "an unconstitutional, inferior and discriminatory status for same-sex couples."

most importantly, even if the govt legalizes gay marriage, it doesn't mean your church has to do the same! if you belong to the church of "god hates fags", the state is not going to bust down your door & force you to start experimenting with homosexuality. you can keep on being as bigoted as you want. hell, divorce & remarriage are quite legal, but not all churches recognize them. (the catholics sure don't.) legalizing gay marriage won't force anyone into opening their minds, their hearts, or their crotches. so if it doesn't affect you but helps millions of people, how could that possibly be wrong?

No comments: