As we near the date when the Supreme Court will hear both the challenge to the constitutionality of DOMA and finally will hear, after twice declining, to hear the case involving Proposition 8, California’s contentious ban on same-sex marriage.
But what are the real issues involved with marriage equality?
A good deal of our community seems to think that marriage equality is somehow linked to basic and fundamental civil rights, which is a fallacy. Their argument is that we must in some way take “baby steps” toward full equality.
The last I checked, I shed the need for diapers about 56 years ago: How about you?
Even some so-called experienced LGBT writers and activists think that somehow marriage equality is the quest for the Holy Grail and we have sent our Knights of the Round Table, heterosexual, money-hungry lawyers, out into the legal ethereal plain looking for it but all they seem to be doing is pillaging and plundering the coffers of the Human Rights Campaign and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. To make matters worse; the HRC and the NGLTF are actually telling them, “Come and get it! We have plenty!” Because like the Ark of the Covenant and the destroyed cities of Jericho and Sodom and Gomorrah, these are things that man was simply not intended to find.
Religious allusions aside, since I’m not Jewish or Christian, our community thinks we’re running headlong toward salvation when we’re in fact just running at warp-speed into a super nova of more and ever-increasing pressure for the LGBTQI community to assimilate into the heterosexual culture and allow ourselves to be subjugated into giving up and forgetting that we ever had a culture.
Today’s Washington Post contained a wonderful example of this drive toward assimilation with the story Jeff Zarillo and his partner Paul Katami who live in Burbank, California.
The opening paragraph illustrates how the drive for marriage equality is rapidly evaporating the real issues of LGBTQI civil rights in the first paragraph of the article: The last words of that paragraph strike me with almost as much terror as walking into a room and seeing someone stab a victim repeatedly with sharp knife.
Have we really become so complacent about our history and culture that we would choose to forget about hard-fought advances that the LGBTQI community has fought through the past 60 years in America?
Are we really ready to settle for simple marriage rights but allow the 29 states in the South and other scattered places such as North and South Dakota where it’s legal for our brothers and sister to be fired from their jobs, evicted from their homes, harassed by the police, discriminated against when purchasing homes and getting business loans by banks and other institutions and persecuted by state, county and municipal authorities and picketed and persecuted by churches and all of this is completely legal in more than half of the United States.
The only reason why those who are active in LGBTQI civil rights in states that have protections against this sort of treatment never hear about these issues is because those who feel the sharp point of this steel-toed boot the most in those unprotected states are far too afraid to speak up, exactly the same way many African-Americans felt when the Civil Rights Era began.
In 1986, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s right hand man and gay icon, Bayard Rustin gave a moving speech that has become known as “From Montgomery to Stonewall” where he gave the moving epitaph, “Today, blacks are no longer the litmus paper or the barometer of social change. Blacks are in every segment of society and there are laws that help to protect them from racial discrimination. The new “niggers” are gays. … It is in this sense that gay people are the new barometer for social change. … The question of social change should be framed with the most vulnerable group in mind: gay people.”
I doubt seriously that Mr. Rustin was discussing the issue of marriage equality when he gave that speech.
By Stephanie Donald
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