Yasmin Nair

Equal Rep.com/Nation-Wide Campaign to Create a New Secretary of GLBT Affairs. Or, How To Silence Queers and Still Love the Idea of Democracy.

Filed By Yasmin Nair | January 18, 2009 2:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Media, Politics
Tags: Commission on Civil Rights, Facebook organizing, gay marriage, Internet Organizing, marriage equality, Mary Frances Berry, Nation-Wide Campaign to Create a New Secretary of GLBT Affairs

Oh, this is too amusing for words.

Following, perhaps, on the heels of Mary Frances Berry's idea that we should just dump the Commission on Civil Rights in favour of a new organisation that will focus first on, yup, you guessed it, GLT (no B, no Q) issues comes this new group that you can find on Facebook.

The recently formed group calls itself the Nation-Wide Campaign to Create a New Secretary of GLBT Affairs. It also has a website, http://www.equalrep.com/. I was invited, like thousands of others, but ignored it as just another FB rumbling. I was contacted by people who told me that any critique was being quickly taken down, which seems to contradict the idea of a Democratic-politics-with-a-capital-D that the group claims to believe in (since it's so clearly invested in conventional electoral politics).

So, I posted a note on the group's wall stating, in essence, that I wasn't interested in any group that asked me to prioritise one identity over others, and that we needed to pay more attention to pressing issues like economic inequality.

In the spirit of a so-called agenda of "civil rights", the new mantra of such groups that have come about in recent months following Prop 8, my post was quickly erased. So were all my subsequent posts.

My friend Tim Salemme made an excellent point, among many: "the language they use about gay people as the "only minority group with laws discriminating against them" is incredibly ignorant." Tim's post was quickly yanked as well.

There's been a lot of discussion lately about Facebook in particular. This new group demonstrates the pitfalls and limits of assuming that the web is democratic, with or without a capital "D." You could argue that any group has a right to do what it wants with postings, but then why masquerade as an open forum with a wall? Why not just restrict membership and posts? The group is also asking for donations. Before you click on their links and give your (doubtless limited) money, ask yourself and the group: What does Equalrep.com stand for, and how is this really a politically engaged movement? If even their Facebook page can't endure critiques, what are the chances that your voice will be heard?

But there are, of course, bigger issues than censorship (although that one's pretty big). At this point, they appear (appear is the operative word here) to have reversed their policy on erasing posts they don't like. The bigger issues have to do with Equalrep's politics. Equal Rep actually believes that LGBTs comprise the only group that suffer from discriminatory laws: "We are the only minority group to have outright discriminatory laws against us." Not the poor, the incarcerated, the undocumented immigrants. Just our sad selves. They've since amended that, and removed the "only" and I'll take credit for having brought about that change, along with my compadres like Gender Just and Tim Salemme and other posters who raised their voices. But I'm still troubled by the larger politics of a group that thinks it warrants specially appointed officers at a time when millions are suffering from multiply interconnected causes of poverty and oppression.

This isn't to throw a hissy-fit of FB proportions (if a group falls in Facebook, can you still hear the sound?), but to prompt us to think long and hard about the politics and efficacy of Facebook organising and to wonder about what kinds of political agendas get by without the transparency of face-to-face, real time questioning and discussion.

Furthermore, the group's politics echo the usual litany of "gay causes" that are in danger of being written in stone as the gay agenda: marriage and DADT. I haven't found anything on the website that specifically addresses hate crimes legislation, but I have to assume that the group's founder Paul Sousa is referring to that issue when he writes about being "denied all federal recognition that we even exist just to name a few laws." If it turns out that Sousa and his compadres are against hate crimes legislation, I'll applaud them for that, but for now I have to assume, given their mainstream politics, that they are as enthusiastic about the issue as groups like HRC.

None of those issues can be seen in isolation from the social and economic inequality that exists today. Marriage as a goal to guarantee benefits like health care is pretty useless if neither one of you has a job or health care in the first place. Hate crimes legislation that enhances penalties and polices thought? Sure, go ahead. But who do you think is more likely to be dumped in jail for the rest of their lives: the indigent person who might yell out "fag" while beating up someone for $20 or the corporate executive who hates queers and won't hire anyone who's visibly LGBT/queer? How do you legislate thought, what counts as "hate" and its consequences, and who gets hauled in for their degree of hate? And why add to the prison industrial complex? As for DADT, I'm not sure how you can be anti-war and anti-Republican war-mongering and also want to wage war.

It's important to keep the pressure on such entities and question their fealty to what Tim has referred to as an "elitist gay movement." It's bad enough that mainstream gay groups have decided that gay marriage is the only cause that matters, regardless of the fact that a lot of us don't care for that issue. Or that people shouldn't have to get married for basic benefits like health care. It's worse when a group like Equalrep.com can just emerge seemingly from nowhere and portray itself as a "grassroots" group. We have to remember that a Facebook group does not automatically equal a grassroots movement.

If this is the new world of Gay Democracy, be scared. Be very, very scared.


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Now I see why you have posted so many vitriolic posts on Equal Rep's facebook page. It's because you're a cocksucking/pussy eating bisexual that is homophobic. Honey, Equal Rep and other grassroots groups are a grassroots movement. If you haven't already heard, Paul Sousa has gained widespread media attention and he's even been on CBS News on Logo currently being featured on 365gay.com. That's nice that you don't care for gay marriage since you can just switch sides and get your health benefits from your "Queer" husband. But for those of us who won't sell out and marry the person of the opposite sex because we're gay or lesbian, that privilege is something we're currently denied. It's also very revealing how insensitive you are when it comes to hate crimes. I can only imagine what your thoughts are on the murders of Matthew Shepard, Brandon Teen, Gwen Arauho as well as Larry King. You are shameless in your transparent attempt to hijack the gay marriage equality movement for your personal gain and in your desperate desire to gain attention so you can make yourself a legitimate critic. Try again!

Yours,
Nakhone Keodara
Gays United Network
Founder/Community Organizer

I'm actually appalled that you would call yourself a gay community organizer. Your hateful biphobia does not help the community and you should really reexamine many of the negative stereotypes about bisexual people you've bought into. Also, bandying about homophobic slurs like "cock-sucking" doesn't advance an agenda for equality, it just gives the other side ammunition.

I also don't even know if Yasmin identifies as bisexual or if she plans on getting a husband (doubt it); she can speak for herself. But bisexuality isn't about just picking whichever team suits one's needs at a given moment, it doesn't mean that someone is just going to marry a person of the opposite sex to get health care benefits (nothing's really stopping lesbians and gay men from doing the same, either, and straight folks are already doing that at alarming rates without criticism), and it doesn't make someone inherently promiscuous, not that there's anything wrong with that.

As for the names of hate crimes victims you brandish cynically to silence legitimate questions about hate crimes legislation, I have to wonder how you'd feel about their deaths had they turned out to be bisexual instead of gay, lesbian, or trans.

Like Alex said. And he's right - I don't identify as bi and will never marry. You can check my other posts for more. Great point asking N. would feel like if bis were killed.

And now back to the regular broadcast. Nakhone, if you have something to say about my ideas, I welcome your thoughts. Otherwise, let the rest of us have a conversation, thanks.

It's because you're a cocksucking/pussy eating bisexual that is homophobic.

Way to raise the level of dialogue. Attacking the person and not the idea is always a sign of weakness.

If I wasn't warned already, you've done a great job of doing so.

It's because you're a cocksucking/pussy eating bisexual that is homophobic.

How PC of you! Obviously, you are out to oppress, by ignoring that we exist, people like me who also like to eat asshole. I can't speak for Yasmin, but it is clear to me that your propaganda is geared to glorify ventral sex and demonize dorsal sex, so obviously you must be some Judeo-Christian nutjob who wants to appoint himself (herself? itself?) as the next Great American Peter and Pussy Pontiff. You're just a greedy, ladder-climbing, power-hungry homofascist, out to spew your erotiventranormative babble all over the planet so that dorso-divers like me end up in your concentration camps ... or maybe even the local Cracker Barrel restaurant.

God, please save me from all these radical left crazies. Obviously, we do need a Secretary of GLT Affairs --- let's hope he or she is a damn good psychiatrist.

(And yes, "erotiventranormative" is a word --- I just invented it three minutes ago.)

Pussy Pontiff? Love it. T-shirt! :-)

Nakhone - whatever side you're on, include me out.

Language and insults like yours means I want nothing to do with you, nor any organisation that would have you in any leadership capacity. We get enough of that kind of thing from Focus on the Family or Concerned Women of America.

You may have a viewpoint worth considering, but it's lost in the incoherent rage that you obviously delight in.

It's GLBT. Not GL. Not G.

As a Lesbian activist who HAS been married in the past to a man before coming out and is now married to a woman, I find your remarks unconscionable.

Further, Ms. Nair is, in my experience, a woman of integrity, a firm feminist committed to the equality of all, a woman whom I am proud to count as a sister Lesbian.

So, to summarise inelegantly, bugger off.

Hey, Maura,

Thanks for your comment. If you want to see a brown girl turn scarlet (blushing), now would be the time :-)

This whole issue has also prompted me to think more about the pitfalls of internet organising. For more on that, watch this space.

Well, Nakhone,

I appreciate your, ah, candour. And thanks for exposing your politics for all the world to see. It's always interesting to me that people with your kind of bile also claim that they'd like to see an end to violence against LGBT bodies. If I were you, I'd examine your rhetoric a bit more closely.

Also, I'd appreciate it if you would actually engage with my piece. Rather than engage in these kinds of personal attacks. Although I'd like to make it clear that I don't consider cock-sucking and pussy-eating dishonourable activities. Quite the contrary. CS and PE for all!

Yasmin... I actually wrote about EqualRep a couple days ago. I applaud Sousa's effort, but the "Secretary of the Gay" thing is more ridiculous than serious.

Matt,

Please feel free to post your thoughts on EqualRep. For myself, I don't see the point of "Secretary of the Gay" either, but I'd welcome a sustained conversation on what gay politics are/should be. And what the "gay movement" represents now.

I just think it is all laughable really.

From my post at InterstateQ a couple days ago:

"There’s no need for minority departments. The U.S. Justice Department, if operated correctly and with tools given to them by the president or Congress, is the office in charge of protecting the civil rights of Americans. And, let’s just face it, the LGBT community hasn’t yet gotten any federal civil rights legislation. That’s just a simple fact of life. If we can’t get a simple bill passed, what makes you think your proposal for a Gay Secretary is going to be taken seriously.

"There are better ways to address our representation in Obama’s administration and the government, and I’m sure the Victory Fund and others are working diligently away to find it. One way to address equal representation is supporting LGBT people who run for elected office. The more out elected officials we have, the bigger a pool there is for a president or governor to appoint from. Hell, even taking the initiative to run yourself, if no one else is running, is a solution. You might not win, but you make it possible for someone else to win down the road.

"But, the reality is that a Gay Secretary isn’t possible and isn’t the answer.

"And, no, the Secretary for Veterans’ Affairs is not similar to any idea for a Gay Secretary. Sorry."

Thanks for posting your thoughts Yasmin. I agree... there's nothing wrong with cocksucking and pussy eating. In fact, I'm appalled another queer folk would use language that implied that.

Thanks for sharing that, Matt.

As cynical as I tend to be about conventional electoral politics, I agree that going about voting for elected gay reps. (and we have a small number of them in Chicago and Illinois) is a far more better method than simply asking wholesale for a Secretary of Gay Affairs. That's just putting the cart before the horse (does anyone use that phrase anymore?) Also, an electoral would be far more transparent than a Facebook campaign which, as we've seen on the group's FB site, is likely to be occlusive and censorial!

I'm also curious about the extent to which the group was formed in response to or in tandem with Mary Frances Berry's recent NYT Op-Ed. I'd like to address her words in a future piece.

I agree. A cabinet level position to "handle" us? There isn't a cabinet level position for any other minority or group, and individual facets of oppression, like employment discrimination, etc., are better handled by specialized offices in the executive.

Oh, I just scrolled down and see that you said the same thing. Yes, it's ridiculous!

Alex - I'm appalled by the Bisexual community's irresponsibility with regards to the civil rights of gays and lesbians.

Jasmin, what's even more interesting for the world to see is how you've exposed your disdain for the plight of gays and lesbians as it relates to hate crimes and violence against one of our own. My life is an open book ever since I dedicated my life to public service. I have nothing to hide. I am not just claiming, I took action and started a grassroots organization and we're empowering our community to get ready to fight this fight on all fronts. We've organized protests, letter writing campaigns, canvassing and fundraising. What have you done for our community but try to tear us down for your personal gain? And, before you go and demand that other people take a look at their actions and motives, you take stock of your ownselves. All I have to say is if you spot it you got it!

Of course I give a damn if a bi is killed. When I said us I meant ALL of US. Yasmin, you're the one who started this whole tiff. And, I was quoting your self-description about the "I'm a lesbian who likes cock." I would think when someone describes themselves that way it would mean they're bi, correct? You seem to miss the point of your own rhetoric and are coming off as being really hypocritical. That's what pisses me off to no end here. Your statement that Hate Crimes Legislation is of no important speaks volume about how you feel about gay and lesbian people getting killed. And, your other statements about DADT and any other gay rights issues are less important than economic inequality is enough for me to know how you feel about the Gay and Lesbian community. You're also missing the point that there is 'economic as well as social' inequality in the lack of Gay Marriage. It's all a point of view. Opinions are like assholes, we all have them. Don't try to tear down what Paul and I and other gay rights activists are trying to build and we wont have a problem. I know your politics and I don't wish to know any more.

Ah, no. A lesbian who likes cock is a lesbian who likes cock. And, hmmm, I thought I'd written "loves" cock ... must amend that if that's not the case. And again, I don't share your biphobia, just to be clear.

I never stated that Hate Crimes legislation is of no importance, but I am, yes, critical of what it implies. A more considerate response from you would address my concern about legislating thought and adding to the prison industrial complex. But you've got nothing there. The rest of your post is the usual rant, so I'm not going to address your comments any more if you can't calm down and actually make points, instead of spewing bile.

Of course I give a damn if a bi is killed. When I said us I meant ALL of US.

Hm. You also said:

It's funny how you Bi's can be critical of us Gays and once we speak up (and, I plan on speaking up LOUD and PROUD) and ask critical questions of your Bi's we Gays automatically become Fascists!

Something tells me you don't really see bisexuals as part of "us." I don't know what it is....

RLOF! Alex, you're killing me :-)!

Well, something has been telling me that the Bisexuals of the world have chosen to separate themselves from the LGBT soup.

Wow. I guess it just goes to show that grassroots isn't always a synonym for "awesome."

Yeah, we are beginning to get the picture. Sometimes "grassroots" is a synonym (euphemism?) for "wackoqueer psychotic word salad" --- but fortunately, that type of grassroots activity tends not to reach critical mass.

But it can be entertaining, as this whole post is --- just sit back and enjoy the show.

Yasmin Nair is an academic, activist, and writer. Which mostly means that she struggles to pay rent while living the glamorous life of a freelance writer. Her work appears in Windy City Times, where she is a columnist and book reviewer, and has appeared in Clamor (deeply beloved and deeply mourned), Discourse, GLQ, Mediations, and Time Out Chicago. Her writing and organizing address neoliberalism, inequality, and the politics of rescue and affect; the immigration crisis; queer politics and theory, and the contours of a ridiculous gay movement that pretends that the right to marry, the right to kill, and hate crimes legislation actually constitute some kind of leftist agenda.

Nair writes frequently and explicitly about and for sex, and identifies herself as a queer lesbian who loves cock. But she does not believe that sex -- having sex; wanting to have sex; or fighting for the right of people everywhere to have sex -- actually leads to any kind of revolution. While there is a politics to sex, it cannot be mistaken as a political project unto itself and there is nothing inherently radical about sex. She argues that the central problem facing us today is that of economic inequality. Nair lives and works in Chicago and has friends there and elsewhere whom she adores, and who will gladly tell her when her work and life seem to stray away from the left to the “progressive” side.

Hmm, well thought out post, but I'm not sure I'm 100% in agreement with you.

In particular, I'm not sure how you seem to dismiss DADT and marriage equality as both mainstream and elitist.

You say that "a lot of us don't care for that issue [marriage]," but I suspect that it's the mainstream, most visible issue simply because MOST gay and lesbian people do consider it a top priority right now. Agree or disagree, it's a little dishonest to paint this as elitism.

DADT is about nondiscrimination, not a desire to wage war. And since the military is and has been a mechanism for the poor to access education and training to escape the cycle of poverty, I believe this to be an economic justice issue as well.

I have no intention of getting married or joining the military, but I should have the option of doing either if it available to someone else whose only difference from me is gender or sexual orientation. The question of our glorification of the military and institution of marriage is a separate issue from our right to access them. Maybe it shouldn't be a separate issue, but it is.

Regardless, I agree that a Secretary of the Gay is a silly idea, although I do think a watchdog group like the original Civil Rights Commission (which had the freedom to challenge and confront the administration in a way the Justice Department does not) might be useful in holding the federal government accountable for progress that is 30+ years overdue.

Jere,

Thanks for commenting. I think the issue of gay marriage, and how it's been propelled as *the* issue for "us" is by now a hugely complicated one and deserves a history of its own (though not George Chauncey's). I don't think it means the same thing for everyone, in all fairness. I know a range of people who would like to be married, and their reasons vary. The question of "gay elitism" springs from my following of the mainstream gay organisations, and their casting of gay marriage in terms that only benefit the elite donors who benefit them directly. That doesn't necessarily mean that everyone who wants to get married is part of the gay elite, but we're all being sold the idea that the supposed economic benefits we'd like can only come about through marriage, as opposed to fighting for them on more equitable grounds.

As for "And since the military is and has been a mechanism for the poor to access education and training to escape the cycle of poverty, I believe this to be an economic justice issue as well." That's one where I'll disagree completely. Here in Chicago, a number of progressive - and queer - educators have pointed to the fact that ours is the most militarised school district in the country. This isn't about economic justice; it's about funnelling the poor, especially immigrants and people of colour, into the military via a system that should guarantee that noone has to feel that the military is the only option for economic freedom. You can read my article in WCT for more:

http://tinyurl.com/7s658z

The fact that the military is the only option for many students doesn't mean that it should be, especially when a lot of them feel compelled to fight in a war they don't believe in. I know of what I speak: one my saddest days in my teaching career was watching a pacifist student drop out of college and join the military because it was the only way she could pay her monetary debts.

I do see your points in "the question of our glorification of the military and institution of marriage is a separate issue from our right to access them." I've wrestled with that myself. For now, I've chosen the stands I have because of the way they're framed and construed in such a way as to increase the likelihood that the rest of us are supposed to, no pun intended given what's being said here, suck it up and reconcile to inequality because we're not married or don't want to be in the army.

Re: Civil Rights Commission - I believe that's the one that Berry would like to see dismantled (see above for my query to Matt). Very interesting bit of background there, if we can figure it all out :-)


You're a hypocrite and a liar! A lesbian who loves cock is not bi? Puleez Sistah. Spare me! And, umm, just to be clear. No, I don't share your homophobia! It's funny how you Bi's can be critical of us Gays and once we speak up (and, I plan on speaking up LOUD and PROUD) and ask critical questions of your Bi's we Gays automatically become Fascists! That's ridiculous. Let's be fair. If you can criticize us and want to hold us accountable then we should be able to (I know I will) ask those hard questions as to what happens to the Bisexuals in this fight for equality for gay people? Yasmin, it's not that I don't want to address your "how do we legislate thought" pretentiousness. It's just that what's important to you is not important to me just like what's important to me is not important to you so end of conversation. Actually, some of what's important to you is important to me but not on my priority list as you've managed to piss me off. Gay Marriage Equality is number 1 priority for this Gay Asian Man.

I'm still traditionalist enough to place a fairly high value on marriage as an institution. The benefits it confers correspond to the obligations it imposes. The legitimate public interest is community stability. The high divorce rate makes me question this, but I still believe it.

What I don't get is the claim that it is an avenue to benefits to which others are not entitled but should be. The two most frequently mentioned on Bilerico being health insurance and immigration. Health insurance/care is available to anyone with the resources to obtain it, the issue is resources no marriage. What's with immigration?


Health care? Single payer national health - full stop.

Greg,

Ah, immigration - one of my favourite topics! I gather you're asking how it plays out as an issue vis-a-vis gays and marriage, yes? The issue, as it's framed by the LGBT mainstream community is this: since straight citizens and permanent residents can sponsor their spouses for citizenship, gays should be allowed the same privilege. Since gays can't marry under Federal law, they're not able to access the benefit of immigration via marriage. To that end, there's a push for the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), which would allow non-married but "committed" same-sex partners who are citizens or permanent residents to sponsor their partners for citizenship.

Sounds simple, on the face of it. But there are several problems. For those, like myself, who argue and work for comprehensive immigration reform that focuses on labour and doesn't prioritise marital status, the UAFA is a retrograde measure. Furthermore, gays who support UAFA ignore the fact that even straights who come into the country as spouses have a rough time; the situation leaves you so economically and legally dependent on your spouse that it can be hugely exploitative, even dangerous.

For more details, check out my bilerico post, "Queers and Immigration Reform: Where Do We Stand?" at

http://tinyurl.com/93exy5

That also takes you to previous pieces, especially one I wrote for the Windy City Times about a lesbian caught in a straight marriage, a situation which exposes the problematics of spousal sponsorship.

Let me know if that helps or not!

beergoggles | January 18, 2009 5:44 PM

the situation leaves you so economically and legally dependent on your spouse that it can be hugely exploitative, even dangerous.

You know, I've not paid much attention to this issue, and the point you've made is a very valid one. Thanks for bringing it up, I'm gonna have to go read up on it; got any links?

Hi Beergoggles,

Sure!

You can read my piece on bilerico at:

http://tinyurl.com/93exy5

That should also take you to some other pieces that appeared in Windy City Times. The WCT piece also cites an Indian newspaper report about Indian immigrant women caught in dangerous situations, both financial and economic.

Feel free to shoot me an e-mail via bilerico if you'd like to know more (the e-mail is on the contributor page, I believe). I've done a lot of organising around this issue, and have looked at issues like the HIV Ban and issues around labour.

Wow! I really wasn't as aware of this stuff as I should be. I had always assumed (yes, I know about ass u me) that married meant nosey investigation and bingo you're in.

I've always thought that national borders should be a porous to people as they are to money and air pollution. I guess we've been supporting cheap OJ since the Tower of Babel. Bout time for a change if you ask me.

Greg,

Yes, you're right on that - immigration via marriage is complex, complicated, and often only compounds issues for people.

This is another lie. My little brother went home to Laos and brought back a wife within a month and then applied for a greencard. She entered the country as his wife. They're now living happily with a kid. It wasn't complex or complicated at all.

My cousin married a Danish woman he knew from the internet. He got out of the army, married her in Denmark, and she came to the US. He couldn't get a job with a big enough income to get her a greencard (he worked at walmart), so she went back after her tourist visa expired. He joined the military again and was shipped off to Iraq so she could come to America.

Sounds a little complicated to me.

Oh, gosh, Alex,

That's terrible! And that's part of the issue - not everyone can afford to cover the basic legal fees required. And I don't mean to swallow up your story here, but that bit about Iraq especially reminds me of my student who had to go to war to repay her debts. It's awful that we've essentially created a war economy, where war is actually seen as the only kind of economic alternative for people.

The way he told the story, he made it sound like he had to prove that he had enough income to support two people, and that was never going to happen at Walmart. Is it true that someone has to prove they have enough income to support the sponsored person to get into the US? I never looked it up - I just took him at his word. Maybe it was a special case.

Either way, I don't know if he sees it as that terrible since he liked the army the first time around. He got to implode buildings in Iraq, and I guess that was exciting for him. I don't know, I'm not really close with this cousin!

But I do know that in France they're talking about how their civil unions get same-sex partners into the country, even though one has to prove 12 months of living together to apply for a visa based on the civil union. Which is so easy to prove, you know, what with not being able to live in the same country and all.

Yes, as I understand it, that's true, because the spouse isn't supposed to be financially independent (he/she isn't coming in on a worker visa)and the government wants to be sure it won't have to step in to take care of the person. The same is true if you enter as a student - you have to prove you/your family has enough assets to support you, even if you're coming in supported by a student stipend. You also have to find someone who'll agree to take care/dispose of um, your body, in the event of your death, though that's slightly off-topic:-). And then there are the legal fees to consider, because you really need a lawyer to help guide you through the labyrinth.

This website gives some indications of the procedures. I don't endorse this lawyer or know her; it's what came up when I did a search. Fair warning, it can make your head spin!

http://tinyurl.com/953flj

If you scroll all the way down, you'll see that it gets even harder for undocumented immigrant spouses. I know it can take up to 10 years for things to get settled, in some cases.

The French situation is quite odd. Prove that you've been together, but we won't let you live together in the first place?!?!? Has anyone publicly discussed how contradictory that is??? I mean, if they're going to allow people to sponsor partners, why not let them in in the first place and see what happens for, oh, 13 months?

And then, of course, there's the whole issue of economic dependency of spouses/partners. I think it's fascinating that immigration law generally insists on treating conjugal/romantic relationships as if they're completely divorced from labour issues. They must think people can live on love alone :-)

It's been a key issue for many immigrant brides, regardless of their class status. You come in as a sponsored spouse, and suddenly you're nothing other than a spouse, with no or limited opportunities to work, and that leaves you quite vulnerable to this one person...

If President-elect Obama is telling people that he can, and will have to, deal with more than one issue a time, why can't we, the LGBTQIetc community do so too? I would rank (T-inclusive, "gender identity and expression" language) ENDA #1, Hate Crimes #2, adoption rights #3, federal civil marriage and immigration sponsorship #4, DADT #5 in importance. I don't see why only one issue has to be discussed at a time.

It IS true that civil marriage provides some benefits that are more meaningful to some people than other people. Inheritance spousal tax advantages don't mean much if neither person has anything to inherit. Other inheritance rights may be important even to the couple with few assets. Burial rights go to the legal spouse in all instances that I know of, and neither parents nor children can interfere. The right to remain in a rent-controlled apartment is available to a legal spouse but no other people (admittedly, this applies in few areas of the country). If the deceased was a writer or other artist, the legal spouse can hold the creative works and publish/ sell without interference from family-of-origin members who would like to suppress work. Inheritance rights may be useful even in situations involving very few assets, such as basic furnishings - imagine having a fire and losing everything - that could be the case with a vindictive family of the deceased, if there are no legal documents and the deceased had purchased the furnishings. Even if the couple had bought everything from a joint account and held title to cars (and housing, if any), there is a will assigning inheritance to surviving partner, and family doesn't wish to contest, I'd imagine that the survivor would be responsible for the same very high tax rate for gifts to strangers - possibly a disaster, depending on how tangible assets are valued. If the total valuation of the household goods, car, etc is $20,000.00, the survivor inherits the other half of the goods ($10,000.00), and would have to pay the IRS $6,000.00 immediately for the privilege of continuing to use the family car, bed, etc.

So, even the inheritance rights of civil marriage may affect people of modest means.

Yes, there are plenty of resources that could be doled out on a basis other than marriage.

As for binational couples, most that I know (ie, that have reached the Midwest) are professional level, with citizen partners fully able to support the foreign partners and with foreign partners generally having high educational levels and English fluency. It is true that the prospect of marriage and immigration to the US might result in "mail order bride" problems not an issue for current couples.

NancyP,
You're right to point out the issues that come about with issues like rent-controlled apartments and inheritance rights. But every one of those issues could be dealt with by formulating laws that allow us to designate our beneficiaries, without the law assuming that only spouses or biological family can count as such. I think the larger issue is to push for a society where we *don't* assume that it's only natural for spouses/partners/bio-families to have precedence over other relationships. Nancy Polikoff's book, Beyond Straight and Gay Marriage, provides numerous examples of how we can go about changing laws without depending on the notion that bio-familial and spousal ties matter above all else.

As for the issue of binational couples, I'm shocked by your statement. There's plenty of evidence that many people, not just "mail order brides" (about whom people tend to be dismissive) suffer from being dependent on their spouses. Are you suggesting that wealthier/professional class people are just incapable of being abusive? And are you suggesting that we shouldn't care about "mail order bride" problems because they're not, according to your logic, relevant to the couples you know?

This brings me back to my frustration with LGBT organisers around immigration and any other issues - their refusal to see beyond their narrow interests, often construed in class terms. And just by the way, plenty of people in bi-national couples are *not* professional class - I'd encourage you to look beyond your own class status.

One last point: One of my biggest problems with the UAFA is the way it asserts the idea of dependence as a natural form of a relationship, which is a completely anti-feminist way of thinking. Unfortunately, your phrase "citizen partners fully able to support the foreign partners" only replicates that language of dependence. Why is the idea of being entirely supported by/dependent on a partner considered a good thing? Where did our feminism go?


“You're a hypocrite and a liar! A lesbian who loves cock is not bi? Puleez Sistah. Spare me!”

Nakhome Keodara

And, I was quoting your self-description about the "I'm a lesbian who likes cock." I would think when someone describes themselves that way it would mean they're bi, correct?

Nakhome Keodara

“I embrace both the male and female energy within me. I have no qualms about putting on a dress for work, to entertain friends or compete in a pageant. I'M BEAUTIFUL, DAMN IT!!! It doesn't mean I'm living my life as a woman. I'm not a Tranny by any stretch of the imagination.”

Nakhome Keodara Myspace page


Given that most people would consider your description of your gender variance to be included under the definition of transgender; you might consider being more open to the variety of identities and descriptions of their lives that people can have.

By the way – most of us who do identify as transgender and transsexual consider “tranny” a slur akin to calling someone a “faggot”.

You might want to review the GLAAD media guide if you’re going to write about us. Or bi-folk.

http://www.glaad.org/media/guide/transfocus.php

Wow, Kathy - you researched Nakhome!

Thanks for finding and posting that material - very interesting and illuminating :-)

Nakhone's Quote from Myspace Profile:


ON A PERSONAL NOTE, I have worked very hard to get to where I am at in life and I've persevered through many obstacles. Booker T. Washington once said that "Success is not to be measured by the position someone has reached in life, but the obstacles he has overcome while trying to succeed.” By his standard, I am a successful spiritual being having a human experience. To be sure, I wasn't born with a silver spoon in my mouth. In fact, my parents brought our family to America as refugees seeking political asylum. Yeap, it's true. We even lived in a Refugee Camp for 2 years and then making a stop in the Philippines (who are beautiful and gentle people, by the way) for six months before migrating to this Country. With that said, I am more than one particular thing. I embrace both the male and female energy within me. I have no qualms about putting on a dress for work, to entertain friends or compete in a pageant. I'M BEAUTIFUL, DAMN IT!!! It doesn't mean I'm living my life as a woman. I'm not a Tranny by any stretch of the imagination. I am an actor and can be a drag queen on command. I have lots of and love all of my Transsexual friends. They're the ones who jump-started the Gay Revolution and I'm grateful for them that I can live my life as an openly out gay man today. It's taken a long time and a lot of pain for me to grow into who I am and I am quite proud of the person I've become. For better or for worse, I look forward to examining my life so I can ultimately say that I've been to me...Namaste!!!

The only self-serving, manipulating,condescending wacko psychotic witch is you.

Mr. Keodara, do you realize how insanely hateful your words sound to the neutral observer? You are doing incalculable damage to your credibility and the cause you espouse. Perhaps you should step away from this topic and let a friend do the responding.

Thanks for the suggestion Dale. They started it and I'm just mad and you're right. I need to step away from all this madness!

Hah, that's funny. My description of my feelings toward some people in the gay community who have a problem with their feminine qualities is being used to identify me as being gender variant. I don't have a problem with gender variance or transexuals or bisexuals. I do however, have a problem with bisexuals or Transgenders who twist things around to serve themselves. Thank you for educating me about not using the word "Tranny." I have to admit that I was ignorant of that fact. See, we all have a lot to learn from each other. It's true that it is my responsibility to learn things about other members or the LGBT community but it is all our responsibility to educate each other as well. I also have a problem with people, like Yasmin, who's intentionally misleading the public for her personal agenda. We all have our own personal agenda as to why we do things. Let's just not try to be sneaky about it. I, for one, am not fool by it.

Gotta agree with you, Yasmin. The idea behind EqualRep is good, but the way they want to go about it is ludicrous.

"Hah, that's funny. My description of my feelings toward some people in the gay community who have a problem with their feminine qualities is being used to identify me as being gender variant."

No - you're description of your behavior and feelings outside of any reference to anyone else was used to show how one's self identity can be different from what many others might choose to use to describe their own self identities who might have the same behavior and feelings that you do. And to point out that you should cut others some slack and be less insulting when they describe themselves.

You call yourself a drag queen futher in your self description and note going to work in the clothing most usually associated with the sex & gender that you weren't assigned at birth. This is termed by almost everyone other than yourself as gender variance.

As to inclusion of gender variance, cross dressers & drag queens in the umbrella term of transgender - this is from the training materials developed by the National enter for Transgender equality:

======================================
"Transgender is an umbrella term that refers to people who live differently than the gender presentation and roles expected of them by society. There are many kinds of people who fit this term and the rest of terms describe some of them.

-snip-
Crossdressers refers to people who choose to wear the clothing generally associated with the opposite gender. They do so because they find it fulfilling in emotional or sexual ways. Crossdressing is about more than sexuality—it is a way that a person expresses all of who they are, both masculine and feminine.

Drag Queen is a term historically used by gay men who dress in the clothing usually associated"
======================================

The Task Force & HRC use the same descriptions. Your organizations Exec, Paul Sousa is the Diversity Officer of Cambridge Ward 1 Committee. The City of Cambridge non-discrimination law includes the same behviors under transgender.

I agree there's some humor here - but of the unintended variety.

Wow, Nakhone yu have just given us so many reasons to avoid your group and even reasons to go well beyond silently avoiding. I was looking for examples of biphobia for the media summit which we have planned this year and I was looking for specific examples of groups which are gay and hate bi people.
What a marvelous example you have given for me to use and so recent when I present your positions to assembled media reps.

You know you're not the only ones who have access to the Media. I will contact the media as well and we'll see how this plays out. Maybe this is what is needed for our community in order for us to move on.

This has been a hard thread to follow...
I am so bloody confused now, I need a drink..

The one fact that remains clear is that people like Yasmin Nair and Alex Blaze are people of tolerance, acceptance, patience and integrity. I am not convinced of Ms? Keodara being the same....

I've been thinking aboput this a bit more.

I think that a "Secretary of Queer" would be a great idea.

President Obama will be able to select a figure of note to symbolise the community and given how he chose the Suregon General, I would imagine that he will choose Melissa Etheridge, with Peter La Barbera as assistant secretary to provide "inclusion."

So, Nakahone, this ought to be a great thing, right?

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Nakhone,

Your outburst against Maura Hennessey is entirely unjustified; I don't think that her misspelling was intentional. And I think you need to ask yourself why you feel the need to return to a nearly 10-month-old post and post a rant like this.