Alex Blaze

Intervention

Filed By Alex Blaze | June 02, 2009 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, The Movement
Tags: bisexual, federal court, lesbian, LGBT, love exiles, rights marriage, transgender, uafa

I know this has been pointed out before, but can I just add my voice to the swaths of people questioning the painful psychic dissonance going on in the heads of folks who just a year and a half ago were saying that transgender people should be happy with "incrementalism" and were pointing to the fact that the gains made in the Civil Rights Movement took time are now many of the same people who have found "full equality now" to be the best rallying cry they can muster in response to Obama's "feet in the mud" position on LGBT issues? If now is the best time to push for marriage through a federal court case that will eventually be argued in front of Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, and Alito, then how could a year and a half ago have been too early to push for a Democratic Congress to even vote on a trans-inclusive ENDA we were sure was never going to be signed into law?

And am I the only one who thinks that "full equality now" doesn't even make sense, since even if hate crimes legislation, ENDA, and same-sex marriage were all passed nationally, and DOMA and DADT were repealed, we'd still be unequal and discriminated against? Especially within our population - some people who are L, G, B, or T have it better off than others now, and they'll have it better off than others in the future. Are we really convinced that that list of legislation will make us completely equal, that we'll be able to pack up our bags and leave the world of LGBT organizing after it's all signed and delivered?

One more mini-rant before I let you all throw eggs at me in the comments: does the gay immigration slogan "Current law makes people choose between the person they love and their country" make any sense at all? Being the son of a binational, heterosexual couple and a person who's in a relationship with someone who isn't American and whose brother is seeking to move a relationship with a non-American forward, this issue is close to me. But I also know that in every binational couple someone has to choose the person they love over their country, no matter the sexual orientation, marital status, or nationality of the participants. UAFA's not going to change that.

Why is it that the non-American person in a binational couple will be part of a "united" American family if he or she comes to the US, while the American going abroad means that he or she is living in "love exile"?

Have at me. I just want to make sure our arguments make sense before we start complaining that Obama isn't moved by them.


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diddlygrl | June 2, 2009 6:26 PM

Bravo Alex, at least in spirit I stand beside you in this. Some spoiled brats are seeking to make the whole movement self-destruct just because they are impatient about not getting their way.

Maybe their trust fund check is late and they are getting a little cranky about it.

the painful psychic dissonance going on in the heads of folks who just a year and a half ago were saying that transgender people should be happy with "incrementalism" and were pointing to the fact that the gains made in the Civil Rights Movement took time are now many of the same people who have found "full equality now" to be the best rallying cry they can muster in response to Obama's "feet in the mud" position on LGBT issues?

So um... hold up. Without getting into the question of whether either of these two "dissonant" positions you outline here are actually right-- are you sure that the groups holding these two positions actually overlap in any noticeable way? The "incrementalist"/"come back for the Ts later" thing seemed to mostly be coming from the establishment/HRC type groups, all of whom stalwartly oppose the Olson lawsuit. The people attacking Obama for not going fast enough from where I'm sitting seem to be mostly the same people who were attacking HRC, etc over ENDA lacking trans inclusion. Who exactly are you seeing attempting to hold both of these positions in their head?

Are we really convinced that that list of legislation will make us completely equal, that we'll be able to pack up our bags and leave the world of LGBT organizing after it's all signed and delivered?

I think the list of legislation there (and maybe a federal court ruling declaring sexual and gender identity to comprise suspect classes) is what would be needed to make us legally equal. I'm not sure whether I expect legislation to be able to do more than that.

The groups overlap definitely, but I really don't want to name names of people... But I will anyway. When I wrote that, I was thinking mostly of John Aravosis and Andrew Sullivan, who are both on "Obama doesn't care about us" tours right now, and who were both vocally in the "incrementalist" category. I'm assuming that there are more people like them since they're rather influential.

About legally equal, I disagree. The entire point of hate crimes legislation and ENDA is to make us creatively unequal, that is, to make us legally unequal to make up for prejudice and hatred.

What I'm asking is whether the call "full equality now," which contains items that make us literally unequal and which won't account for inequalities within the community, shows a deep commitment to bettering the LGBT community or just a lack of patience with the list of legislation we apparently decided we wanted at some point.

I mean, there are employment protections for women and black people now, but I'm under no delusion that black people and women are treated fully equally right now.

Ok, isn't it obvious that you live in "love exile" only if you wanted stayed in your home country but, in order to be with the person you love, you had to leave it? I don't think anyone is suggesting that a person who voluntarily moves from a country has been forced into exile, whether we're talking about people coming from or moving to the U.S. Similarly, this country has a long tradition of basing immigration decisions on the concept that uniting family members is an important public policy. That's why we allow this sort of thing for heterosexual couples and don't require husbands or wives of U.S. citizens to go through the same procedures required of someone who isn't married to a U.S. citizen. It should be a basic American principle that we value our citizens enough not to effectvely kick them out of the coutry if they choose to enter into a relationship with a foreign national.

I'm not opposing the UAFA with this post. I'm more concerned that our arguments don't take into account the complexities of immigration law and the realities that similarly-situated heterosexuals live, considering that they could be the biggest allies on this legislation.

Ok, isn't it obvious that you live in "love exile" only if you wanted stayed in your home country but, in order to be with the person you love, you had to leave it?

You see, that describes my mother perfectly. She had a masters, a career, her family, everything in Argentina, but she gave it up for my dad. She was perfectly happy to stay in Argentina and wasn't looking to move.

My brother's girlfriend who might be going to the US is similarly situated and will probably be taking a step down from her current status should she go to be with my brother, whose job is in the US (military).

Are either of them "love exiles"? Don't worry, you can talk about my mama in the abstract and I won't be offended. :)

I'm thinking about this as right now my boyfriend and I are fine. But if I pursue a career I've been wanting to for a while now, I'll have to go back to the US. And his job is here in France. UAFA or no UAFA, our problem is still there: who'll be the love exile?

Thank you, Alex, for articulating (better than I could) exactly what I have been thinking.

And am I the only one who thinks that "full equality now" doesn't even make sense

But it makes perfect sense - as yet another hollow slogan designed to con people into donating money to the Joe Solmonese 'If no real progress ever occurs I can milk this gig until I retire' Fund.

beergoggles | June 2, 2009 7:21 PM

Well, we need rational heads to run the movement. We need the cranky queens to yell and keep pushing. I think they both work out pretty well together :)

I don't know about the people demanding "full equality now"—maybe they are being convenient, though clearly for some it's nothing new. But you're right, whatever the legislation is, it won't fix everything.

You asked, "Why is it that the non-American person in a binational couple will be part of a "united" American family if he or she comes to the US, while the American going abroad means that he or she is living in "love exile"?

I think you're confusing rhetoric/marketing with attitude. The advocates of UAFA, for example, are Americans trying to influence the American Congress on an American law. As such, they need to put it in exclusively American terms.

I'd never talk about being a "love exile" in New Zealand, even though it's arguably true, and I don't personally know of any Americans in a bi-national relationship in another country who would—in that country, anyway.

The difference for me is that New Zealand—like many other countries—recognises same-sex relationships in immigration law while the US doesn't. Whenever there's that difference—one country recognises, the other doesn't—one partner will be a "love exile". For advocates of UAFA, that's a useful, if a bit emotive, name to slap on it, something even the obtuse memebers of Congress can grasp. If UAFA passes, I bet the use of that term by Americans will disappear.

I think you're confusing rhetoric/marketing with attitude. The advocates of UAFA, for example, are Americans trying to influence the American Congress on an American law. As such, they need to put it in exclusively American terms.

Actually, that does clear up a lot. If it's all a marketing campaign that we don't really believe, then I can understand it.

YES to "..."full equality now" doesn't even make sense, since even if hate crimes legislation, ENDA, and same-sex marriage were all passed nationally, and DOMA and DADT were repealed, we'd still be unequal and discriminated against?" Yes, exactly, because we are more than the sum of our sexual identities.

We'd also be unequal in terms of economic access (as are many non-queers) and because economic inequality and insecurity in a country where 50 million of us are uninsured makes life pretty hellish, even with ENDA and GM in place and DOMA and DADT being repealed.

Alex,
NOT going for full rights, I believe, lets the opposition feel we aren't serious or that it is just about selfish personal needs.
And if our own are willing to toss some to the back of the bus then we are discriminating just as much as the opposition.
The activists that went after the very conservative California Supreme Court last May, had very rational reasoned arguments. They won them over now didn't they? You want to have it piecemeal? Take the few crumbs offered?
What are you afraid of? I think our case is excellent. The only thing that worries me about going to the US Supreme Court right now is that it is half Catholic. With Sotomayor, they will be 67% Catholic, don't know their personal views but that is a bit dicey given how Catholics are raised to view LGBT.....

Thanks for commenting Rebecca. You raise two important points.

First, about the Court, I base my calculus on losing on the facts that the Supreme Court has repeatedly refused to make sexual orientation a suspect class, that the Court refused to even rule in favor of interracial marriages until a majority of states had legalized those, that the last time the Court ruled in our favor it was 5-4 and on the much less far-reaching issue of sodomy laws (in their decision they mention about 30 times that there were only 9 states with them when they ruled... do we have anywhere near 41 with same-sex marriage?) and the Court has become more conservative since then, etc.

The California court did have mostly Republican nominees, but they aren't crazy conservatives and open homophobes like Scalia and Thomas.

Anyway, there's that and the fact that pretty much every lawyer's opinion of this case that I've read, other than Boies and Olson, has been that it's ridiculous. Here's William N. Eskridge Jr. and Darren Spedale, who've studied marriage laws both in the US and abroad for years:

Also relevant to the merits of bringing the California challenge now in federal court are the long odds against success. Five of nine current Supreme Court justices are conservative Republicans. In 2000, five justices said that the Boy Scouts could exclude gay people and even struck down a state law barring such discrimination. Their reasoning was that a private group has a First Amendment interest in expressing an anti-gay identity and that the government could not censor that expression. Yet when universities asserted the same freedoms to express their pro-gay identity by treating anti-gay military recruiters differently from other recruiters conducting student interviews, a unanimous Supreme Court ruled against the universities.[...]

The bottom line is that even the moderate justices would be disinclined to require marriage equality today or even three years from now. By then, more states will have recognized same-sex marriages, but it is unlikely they will be anywhere close to a majority. Consider this parallel. In the mid-1950s, when 30 states still had laws barring people of different races from marrying, the liberal Warren Court refused to overturn this blatant race discrimination. The court did not act until 1967, when only 17 states retained such laws. So long as interracial marriage intensely divided the country, the Warren Court was not prepared to insist upon a norm of equality. Would the current moderates on the Roberts Court be any bolder? It's hard to imagine.

About "full equality now," I think that is the problem, at least that I raise here, since a lot of those people have been fully willing to throw trans people to the back of the bus in the movement, just a year-and-a-half ago. And they'll keep on doing it as queer youth homeless shelters get shut down every week in this economy while someone in the gay community is paying for two of the most expensive lawyers in the country to lose.

We're pretty much always throwing someone to the back of the bus, to borrow your phrase. And, after that list of legislation is passed, will no one be left in the back of this proverbial bus? Or will we have just polished over everything and made it seem like the battle's over?

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | June 3, 2009 8:08 AM

"And, after that list of legislation is passed, will no one be left in the back of this proverbial bus? Or will we have just polished over everything and made it seem like the battle's over?"

Given human nature, sadly, although nobody may be left in the back of the bus, those now near the front of the bus will begin to notice that some are being relegated to the back row of the front. And so on ad infinitum ad nauseam.

Rick Sours | June 3, 2009 6:59 AM

It is unsettling to see and feel the unjustified hate that some individuals have.
The reason we moved from Tucson was due to Gay harassment.

Brad Bailey | June 3, 2009 12:08 PM

I quit the Democratic Party because they dragged their feet for thirty-five years in the area of gay rights. I perfectly understand why so many gays proclaim "equality now," especially older gays like me who have lived virtually their entire lives in second-class citizenship. The misconception that laws should eliminate prejudice is anathema to conservative thought, which recognizes the futility of social leveling through legislation. I'm ok with being hated by heterosexuals, just as long as I have the same rights they do. Where do younger gays get off thinking that we must either have perfect legislation or none at all? A start must be made somewhere, and gay marriage and hate crimes laws are just as good a starting place as any in my book.