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United Front on Same-Sex Marriage

At this critical time in which all civil liberties are in peril and a fanatical cabal of right-wing zealots is desperately trying to ram their theocratic agenda down the throats of Americans, it is critical that we stand with the queer community against the Christian Right when it comes to this attempt to thwart same-sex marriage.

The political dynamics behind this particular assault on the queer community have implications that go far beyond queer rights or the so-called "culture wars." There are three main reasons that I think a united front with more conservative LGBT advocacy organizations is appropriate:

1. We cannot sit idly by as theocrats claim that our civil rights can be subject to the whims of an election.
In America, many bigoted and discriminatory practices have been justified by appeals to "democracy," "majority rule" and resistance to "tyranny." The anti-gay lobby in this country is no different and they find themselves in a long line of hateful ideologues who use populist rhetoric to legitimize injustice and discrimination.

In addition, the American electorate is not representative of the American people. Of course, it is well known that most Americans do not vote--especially in local elections. The electorate also tends to be wealthier than the population as a whole and numerous people in this country are not even eligible to vote due to disenfranchisement (felony records, for instance, disporportionately disenfranchise black and Latino communities). We know that the 2000 election was stolen and there is reason to suspect that the 2004 election was also stolen. To say that voting is an expression of "democracy," especially in this country, is disingenuous.

No one here would argue that voting is not an important aspect of any democratic society. But no one's civil rights and freedoms should be subject to something as fundamentally flawed as voting. We fear our civil rights being subject to a vote not because we fear the will of the people, but because we know how elections and the political system in this country are used to circumvent the will of the people.

Elections and voting in America are about money, obfuscation and propaganda--not truth and democracy. If the question of same-sex marriage gets put on a ballot, we can expect a lot of misleading, deceitful, and demoagogic thirty second ads and soundbytes from those who wish to use the State to punish queer people for their non-conformity. We should fight very hard so that we are not in a position to be "swift-boated" by the Christian Right.

2. We have no illusions about the judiciary in America, yet we must defend an independent judiciary against assaults by the right-wing.
The attacks on the judicial branch and the maligning of them as "activist judges" are particularly insidious at time in which the President believes he should be able to do anything and everything in the name of his so-called "war on terror." The courts are one way in which the President's attempts to roll back civil liberties can be checked. But the attacks on the judicial branch by the right-wing play right into the hands of an Administration that seeks to erode civil liberties and act with impunity.

At the same time, we must also recognize that the judicial branch is conservative and more often than not makes the wrong decisions. We cannot rely on the courts or the law to provide us with our civil rights. We must make consistent and compelling moral, social and political arguments for our cause. This is something that we, as queer people, and our allies can do only in the context of a mass social movement. Even appeals to "activist judges" require an appropriate political context in order to be successful.

3. They don't really care about democracy.
Let's face it. "The people" cannot vote on things that have a far greater impact on their real life than same-sex marriage ever could. For example, "the people" cannot decide whether or not to bring the troops back from Iraq. "The people" can't even decide whether or not they want a Wal-Mart in their community because corporations supposedly have "rights." No one on the Christian Right ever suggests that people should have more control over important political decisions, except when they want to whip up bigotry to deny people their civil liberties.

Their selective "concern" for the people is dangerous and reminiscent of other authoritarian political movements that stir up mass support for bigotry and discrimnation while allowing for the erosion of democracy and freedom in other areas.

In sum, though we criticize the prioritization of same-sex marriage within the movement, we should recognize the importance of defeating the Christian Right in this battle. We are not just defending our community from attack, but stopping the Right from a major attack on the judiciary, democracy and civil rights. Be sure to contact your legislator and show up at the State House on Wednesday to show your support for our community!


Chris Mason said...

Right on. Very well said.

John said...

You might find this ineresting:

According to the legal experts at SCOTUSBLOG, there is now a federal issue that will need to be resolved:

Anonymous said...

It is unfortunate, but we do need a united front. However, the reality still remains that the gay community put their eggs all in one basket, and that basket could be crushed. The reality still remains that queer youth are being attacked, more people are getting infected with HIV, etc. Way to go gay leaders, this is the mess of a trap you have fallen into.

laurel said...

To anonymous and others of similar perspective: the marriage issue has been an excellent means of de-demonizing gay people in the public's eye. Rest assured that this is having a positive domino effect on all other LGBT issues. Marriage equality is the gateway to full civil rights for LGBTs. Whether you care about marriage per se or not, you should recognize this. What are you, Anonymous, doing to make our collective LGBT lives better and safer? There are many orgs working on queer youth, HIV and other LGBT issues. There is no dictator preventing you from working on non-marriage issues with them. Stop bitching and get to work.

John said...

Thank, Laura, well said.

I know a lot of people who were hostile or indifferent to gay marriage. Some still are, but I am seeing something different, suddenly.

A close friend of mine, formerly a stauch opponent just the other day, for the first time realized that this is about real people with real relationships.

Light dawns on Marblehead

Blue-Xela said...

Not only that ... but if we do compromise on marriage rights, what else will we have to surrender? Anti-discrimination laws in the workplace, funding for violence and suicide prevention, the right to organize, protest?

The way I see it, too, whatever the immediate and long-term outcome of the Mass. marriage debate, at least GLBT citizens are getting politically sophisticated and locally active like never before. We can use this savviness to our advantage when we want to address other things, like saving the environment.


Anonymous said...

does anyone know where i can get updates on this stuff today? i'm stuck at work but i wish i was there, i want to see how its all going and how many people are protesting and stuff. thanks

Anonymous said...

Bay Windows is blogging live. go to

Mark D. Snyder said...

I heard channel 2 and necn are live video too...

Mark D. Snyder said...

Laurel I agree marriage is very important to secure and keep legal. I disagree that it is the gateway to full equality, and I disagree that the fight for gay marriage has had a positive trickle down affect on other LGBT issues.

laurel said...

Ok Mark. I don;t mind that we disagree. We are probably both correct. The problem of lgbt equality is so complex that I doubt there is a single truth that applies to all situations. To me of prime imporatnce is that we are both working towards the same goal of better lives for lgbts. If we prefer to approach it by different routes, well, here's to all roads leading to equality! (i'm happy to resume respectful debate later, but am just too tired at the moment)

John Hosty said...

One course of action I have not seen anyone do is unite gay people and their supporters in this state. What our effort needs is a common resource where we can dicuss what we want to do, and who has already done what. Outarguing the silver haired fighters for Christ is going to get you less bang for your buck than if you went to all the campuses across this state and found out who the student leaders were that support gay marriage. Now you would have a network of supporters that could keep each other informed about upcoming events, and could rally when needed. Statistics show that the age group 18 to 25 are 70% likely to approve of marriage, but only 10% likely to vote. Motivation in this area is critical for winning a popular vote in this matter.

Next you go to the bigger organizations and ask the same, until we have a common line of communication between all. This has not yet been done.

The gay community is divided, and its inability to work together for a common good may deicide our future. Instead of having many little camps all overworked and spinning their wheels, we should all bond together, at least in spirit for two reasons;

1. To leave no stone unturned in our effort to reach, motivate, and maintain communications with those who support us.
2. To make sure that we are not duplicating our efforts.

Thus far I have seen no group try to tie the others together, and I can't give you a good reason why. We would clearly benefit by this, so who will end up being the "great uniter"?

Anonymous said...

we will always be divided as long as some of us are shameful

John Hosty said...

We need not be ashamed of the way we were born.