Monica Roberts

Gay Marriage Reality Check

Filed By Monica Roberts | January 20, 2011 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics, The Movement, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: ENDA, gay marriage, GLBT issues, intersectionality, LGBT civil rights, Monica Roberts, SNDA, transgender

Now that the DADT repeal has been signed into law, there has been chatter in GL world and the Gayosphere about shifting the positive momentum gained from the historic win to renewing the push for gay marriage.That would be a mistake.

gay marriage.jpgAnd don't let the poll numbers showing increasing support for same-gender marriage and your giddiness over the DADT win spur you into making another tactical error.

Did you not forget why you shifted to a full-court-press effort on getting DADT repealed in the first place?

Remember the marriage loss in Maine? I do, and so do many politicians. 0-31 is the number the politicians are looking at. That is the current record reflecting the GL community's success rate in fighting the implementation of statewide anti same-gender marriage amendments when it's put to a vote.

It loses more right now than the LA Clippers.

I support same-gender marriage, but I'm a realist. To have a chance of reversing that you will have to neuter the right wing hater's ability to use the referendum process to implement those bans. You will have to engage and get the support of a plurality of the African American and Latino/a communities.

The key to that is getting your African American and Latino/a GL brothers and sisters on board. We GLBT POC's know how to frame the arguments in our communities to make that happen. It's been obvious for a while that predominately white-led GL orgs demonstrably don't.

Frankly, from where I sit, two years after Prop 8, the gay community still hasn't done the legwork and education necessary to make the case in the African American community as to why same-gender marriage is the right and morally correct thing to do.

NBJC logo.jpgYou have an organization whose mission it is to do that in the National Black Justice Coalition but fail to use it. Is it because that organization also has a strong trans equality message as well?

We Black TBLG/SGL peeps see ENDA as a much higher priority than getting married. You can't get married if you don't have a J-O-B to pay for the wedding ring, the marriage license, and the wedding.

ENDA is also an issue that can be used as an intersectional organizing tool to pull in straight peeps who wish to help on TBLG rights issues. It's also one of the few GLBT rights issues that affect straight people as well.

And for you GL peeps who desire to send in-your-face middle finger messages to the Forces of Intolerance, the Black and Latino/a TBLG communities would submit that one way to do so is to take away their ability to legally discriminate against you.

Remember the GBLT suicides everyone in the community was doing much weeping and gnashing of teeth over just two months ago or discrimination aimed at GLBT high school students such as Constance McMillen and Juin Baize we blogged about with depressing regularity? There is federal legislation such as the Student Non Discrimination Act of 2010 and the state-level Dignity for All Students Acts to address this problem that is another intersectional issue that affects straight people as well.

No marginalized group can do it alone without broad-based support. Immediately returning to pursuing "all gay marriage all the time" as the central focus of the movement may be what the HRC-Mattachine gays want, but it's not the smart political play.

You have three issues in ENDA, school discrimination and school bullying, which not only affect the entire GLBT rainbow, but straight people as well.

It gives the LGBT community an opportunity to show politicians it can build a broad-based coalition on issues that don't just benefit them. The TBLG community also gets to practice working with a multiethnic coalition to pass legislation that it sorely needs and get more legislative victories under its belt in the process.

Hopefully by the time ENDA, the SNDA and the DASA are passed, the Prop 8 case will have percolated through the federal court system and cleared up some of the uncertainty around same-gender marriage. You will also, by that time, hopefully have done the legwork you desperately need to do in communities of color before you further tackle the marriage issue.

Because if you don't, you will fail once again.


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Chitown Kev | January 20, 2011 4:08 PM

Good post, Monica.

I have an alternative.

If activists must carry on with the marriage battle, than Maryland is the right place.

A state where 30% of the population is black.

The LGBT community will be forced to build broad based coalitions, then.

If they're smart that is.

I wonder if people are aware that Equality Maryland pretends to have two priorities, marriage equality which gets all the press coverage, and Gender Identity anti-discrimination which if it is mentioned at all it's mentioned with controlling expectation wording.

Kathy Padilla | January 21, 2011 1:53 PM

I wonder if people are aware that pushing exclusively for marriage in Delaware, NH, Hawaii etc where trans people don't have employment protections but GLB people do.....say .....is there some kind of pattern here?

Please excuse my ignorance, and possible unintended racism and condescension (spelling?), but I am a little puzzled. I thought there was still a huge lack of acceptance of gay ppl in a lot of black communities (I mean more in terms of cultural communities that geographic ones, though both may apply)? Are you talking about getting gay ppl of color involved, or POC in general involved?

For example, Kev says 30% of the population in Maryland is black, as if that is a positive thing for same-sex marriage. I think this may have challenged to some degree during the backlash to Prop 8 passage, but my impression is that in general POC tend to be fairly socially conservative in general, and more religious in general, which tends strongly toward anti-gay attitudes? So I don't understand how 30% black is an advantage? Or am I totally wrong here?

My personal experience as a middle-age, middle-socioecononic-class, transsexual Caucasian has been that black ppl I know at work were much kinder and more supportive of me than most Caucasians (and still are, really). My therapist (also a middle-socioecononic-class Caucasian lesbian, though non-trans) ascibes this to the empathy that black ppl with other ppl who are judged based on 'what' they are (or the color of their skin) rather than who they are as ppl. Which all seems to contradict the 'black ppl tend to be anti-gay' thing. So I am pretty confused...

I appreciate anything you or Kex have to say about any of this, and again apologize if I have been a jerk in what I have said.

Carol :)

Chitown Kev | January 20, 2011 5:42 PM

Carol, let me clarify what I was trying to say.

Monica said this:

"Frankly, from where I sit, two years after Prop 8, the gay community still hasn't done the legwork and education necessary to make the case in the African American community as to why same-gender marriage is the right and morally correct thing to do."

I agree with Monica. My only point, really, was that if LGBs choose to pursue same sex marriage in Maryland, that will trigger a Maine/Question 1 type referndum in 2012.

In a state that's 30% black, organizations will have to do grassroots work in the black community to win that campaign.

Given the 0-31 record in terms of referenda on marriage, it's more likely that the battle will be lost than won in Maryland. But it will be impossible to win a marriage campaign in Maryland (given the already slim odds) by avoiding the black community altogether as was done up until the very last minute in California.

My point wan't about winning or losing, it was about the willingness of LGBT groups to do the work in the black community that needs to be done.

Work that wasn't done in California (even though white LGBTs were lightning quick to blame the black community for the Prop 8 loss).

All I'm saying is that win OR lose, doing that work would be worthwhile if (as it appears) LGBT groups are going forward with plans to win marriage equality in Maryland.

Ok, I understand a bit better now. I fully agree that the visible gay enterprises, like a lot of feminism, is run by middle/upper-middle-se-class white ppl, and that to get them to actually think about and engage with poorer white and POC communities (again, social/cultural communities, not really geographical ones) would be a wonderful thing:

I am a huge fan of Audre Lourde's work (in case you don't know about her, she was big on intersection, and pointed out that she was in many more oppressed communities than just femeal--black, poor, gay, and so forth) and the idea that 'none of us is as good as all of us'.

And I also believe that any of us who 'move ahead' by pushing aside/leaving behind the rest of us hasn't gained much of value.

Bigot (oops Bishop) Harry Jackson, fresh off his repeated failures to stop same gender marriage from happening in DC, will regroup at his Lanham, MD megachurch and be the drum major for injustice in that anti-same gender marriage campaign.

So Maryland Equality better get busy now in Baltimore and Prince Georges County.

And if they want the trans community's help, they'd better get busy helping the trans community passing a statewide rights bill as well.

If activists must carry on with the marriage battle, than Maryland is the right place.

A state where 30% of the population is black.

And a state where 100% of the trans population- and all who might have been inclined to fight for trans inclusion - was blatantly lied to by the loudest-mouted pushers of the gay-only rights bill ten years ago via the 'oh...you're already covered' canard.

The word "marriage" has no business being uttered in Maryland until the gay-engineered political hate crime of 2001 has been fully rectified.

Chitown Kev | January 21, 2011 6:45 AM

I don't necessarily disagree with you kat, and I do need to apologize to Monica for derailing this into a discussion about Maryland but...maybe not.

After all, it seems as if all of the faultlines of the movement are there.

Monica as a trans sister I totally agree with you. Hope you'll be in Minnesota it would be nice to meet you.

In spite of what people might think, there are TWO trans issues that are smaller in proportion to the issues Monica Roberts mentioned, and probably much easier to accomplish. For the last 18 months, the VA has been sitting on a draft of a policy that would greatly improve how trans veterans are treated in the VA. We need some political "dynamite" to loosen it up and get it implemented. They are using antiquated reasons for holding on to it.

The other is allowing trans people to serve openly in the military. With the repeal of DADT, gay, lesbian and bisexual people are now at the same level as trans people, with just a Presidential signature between them and the right to serve openly. We need to be included when that signature touches paper.

Justus Eisfeld Justus Eisfeld | January 21, 2011 7:27 AM

It says a lot about gay malestream organizers if they go from one trans-non-inclusive issue (DADT) to the next. Trans people are not profiting from DADT, and trans people will not profit from marriage equality. We need job security and healthcare coverage more than anything else. That is where the energy should be going!

Very interesting post and discussion. I'm trying to become better informed about trans issues myself so this helps a lot.

Kev,
It's a valid point you made about Maryland. It's not only on the doorstep of Washington DC, it's a laboratory as to whether or not the GL community can put together a multiethnic coaltion.

Because GL people, the African-American straight community is watching how you treat your TBLG brothers and sisters, and they ain't liking what they see right now.

The perception that this is a 'white's only' movement may be one of the underlying factors as to why predominately white run orgs have had a tough time fighting anti-marriage amendments and why they haven't picked up the support they should in Black communities.

When it comes to a referendum, Baltimore and Prince George's County will be key as to whether or not the repeal effort passes or fails.

If GL groups are serious about getting more AA peeps involved in the rights struggle, they need to have Sharon Lettman-Hicks' number on speed dial right now. They need to be putting together a coalition of progressive AA ministers at a 5 to 1 ratio to counter the AA hate ministers that Bigot Harry Jackson will assemble.

Yeah, I know y'all hate 'identity politics' but news flash people-all politics in the USA is identity politics. The sooner the GL community realizes that and adjusts their game plans to deal with that reality, the better.

I don't know if I really buy the theory that the move is straight to marriage after DADT repeal because both were trans exclusive. It seems to me that it's been marriage, marriage, marriage for a decade, DADT was do-able and got people's attention for about 8 months, and now people want to go back to marriage. If anything, we just had a breather, it's not like anyone's trying to change the object of affection.