Dealing With Gay Marriage

Friday, June 17, 2005

Dealing With Gay Marriage

I just read a piece over at The Liquid List by Tarek on what an asshat Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is-- and I fully agree. But then Tarek addresses the "problem" gay marriage poses to Democrats and progressives and it got me thinking.

Last year I found myself saying more than once that I wish gay marriage would go away as an issue, would come back later, that there are far more important issues to contend with that impact far more people. I especially felt that way prior to the election. I may be a lesbian in a 6-year relationship who believes in and needs legal recognition of my partnership, but I didn't want to sacrifice progress in other areas for the sake of my own equality.

But guess what, I'm over that.

I'm sick and tired of progressives wringing their hands over gay marriage, spending more time talking about "oh, how I wish this wasn't an issue" than figuring out how to use it to their advantage. Instead many just try to run from it, fumble with awkward positions like anti-gay marriage, anti-FMA, and pro-civil unions, mincing their words, convincing no one that they truly mean what they say. (cough-cough, ahem, Kerry.) Meanwhile gays like myself are supposed to just accept this, believing that they're secretly on our side but we can't expect their open support now, because strategically it's just not a good idea.

Well, screw that. I'm sorry if the battle for the basic equality of my family is inconvenient for so many of my fellow progressives. I transfer the blame for this situation from the gay people who could have waited to press the issue to the Democrats and progressives themselves. We have all all allowed Republicans and the right to make us afraid to even touch the issue, to take a clear stance, because we've bought into their strategy of perpetuating homophobia to scare people. Yes, the very people who claim to value family and marriage so much think it's "radical" when we want it too because their religious views should the basis for our laws. They are willfully ignoring that there are religious folks who support gay unions as well as plenty of religious gay people who have been married by clergy in churches, synagogues, meetinghouses, etc. But as Dems and progressives we haven't done an effective job of letting the public see the reality of gay and lesbian families.

I don't mean we should make gay marriage/civil unions a central issue, but for god's sake people, stop treating the issue-- and by extension, us-- like some kind of pariah. It only serves the right-wing's purposes. I even sort of wonder if the Dems weakness around this issue makes them look like dishonest wimps who won't stand up for what people think they privately believe anyways. I think it's possible it could be hurting them in other ways that few people have considered.

Frankly, if through courage we could turn the GOP's anti-gay marriage weapon from a bloody axe into a mere rockhammer, we'd disarm them in more ways than one. It's the biggest weapon in their social issues arsenal, after that they really don't have much left.

I think Tarek, whom I know personally, really nails it:
My point is that progress comes at a price. When I look at the medium scale, I worry that the negative impact of the high profile of gay rights will hurt a lot of other things that I support, like electing Democratic senators some places, or whatever. But we do need to address this. It is about civil rights, and the fair treatment every American is guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution (and that's why an amendment to the Constitution is the only thing right-wingers feel will 'solve' the problem). If we don't go through this now, we'll just have to go through it later. What choice do we have?
Yes, what choice do we have? Gay marriage is not going back into the closet so I wish Democrats and progressives would just learn now to comfortably deal with it. Perhaps they need to be reminded that sometimes in politics their job is to lead the people, not just follow.

(stepping down from my soapbox)

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