Yasmin Nair

Prop 8 is a Distraction, or: NOW can we Dump Gay Marriage as a Cause?

Filed By Yasmin Nair | May 27, 2009 7:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, The Movement
Tags: California State Supreme Court, gay marriage, health care reform, Prop 8, victory

Note from Bil: I've pushed Yasmin's post back up to the top because comments are still going strong, but it had fallen pretty far down the page. I've pushed it back up so others can check out the conversation and participate. Kudos to Projectors for making this the most civil, engaging and intelligent comment thread I've seen in a long time.

Today's decision by the California Supreme Court will, no doubt, cause gays and lesbians to gather to express their anger over the recent decision. But in the midst of all the emotional outbursts, a lot of us are left to silently wonder how and why either Prop 8 or marriage became the raging issues of the so-called gay movement. The recent ruling will re-energize gay marriage advocates, but I suggest that we use it as an opportunity to drastically alter our course: Dump marriage now.

Let's be clear: Prop 8 was a measure that should never have passed. Today, the California Supreme Court has ruled that the measure itself will stand, but that the 18,000 or so marriages that took place in the meantime will remain legal.

I'd like to suggest that we end this drain on resources that we call gay marriage. The fact that the measure is wrong does not mean that the fight for gay marriage is the cause we should be battling for. There are, believe it or not, many, many gays and lesbians, and yes, a lot of queers and straight people, who don't feel the need to marry. They resolutely object to the idea that marital status should determine whether or not they get health care or validation from society.

Despite the hoopla surrounding today's decision, this is not a dramatic turn of events in gay history but a distraction from the real issues that face us all, whether gay or straight, single or married/coupled. Gays - and the straight allies who have been told that this is the most important day of our lives - should know that Prop 8 is, in the long run, a mere blip in history. Contrary to what the gay mainstream and the press have decided, gay marriage is not the movement.

Over the last decade or so, well-endowed gay organizations and some influential gay commentators have manipulated media attention to make the world believe that there is nothing that would make our lives happier than the attainment of gay marriage. Gay marriage is now presented as the only way to gain benefits and rights. Today, the biggest rationale for gay marriage is that it would provide health care and benefits for spouses. Over the years, we have seen the gay movement withdraw its support for universal health care - which is what we fought for in the years of the AIDS crisis.

We're allowing ourselves to be distracted by the tactics of the Right and forgetting that marriage should never have been our goal to begin with. At best, the goal of marriage is a symbolic and sentimental one. Over the last many decades, gays and lesbians were beginning to forge interesting and productive social networks outside marriage. Remember when domestic partnerships were actually seen as sexy and desirable and a really good alternative for those who didn't want to marry? Today, ask any major organization: If civil unions or domestic partnerships could be crafted so that they provided exactly the same benefits as marriage, would you accept them? The answer is usually a resounding no. As for the issue of health care, why should marriage be the way to guarantee something so basic? And as for the argument, that some make, about marriage being the only way to have your love recognized - really? If your love can't abide not being recognized by the state, perhaps it's time to consider that you might have bigger problems than simply getting a piece of paper to validate your relationship.

So Prop 8 stands. Gay marriages in California are not nullified, but new ones are unlikely to be sanctioned by the state any time soon. The fight for gay marriage, despite its wins in a few states, promises to be a long and bloody one. It's time to insist, to our self-appointed leaders, that we are now done with marriage, thank you. That it makes more sense to direct our attention to the ways in which our lives are mandated through onerous anti-gay-adoption laws like the ones in Florida. And perhaps we can now fight more closely with the health care reform movement and guarantee health care for everyone so that nobody, gay or straight, married or single, has to worry about something so basic.

There's been much talk about how this ruling will now make it easier to take rights away from all minorities. This assumes, of course, that ethnic/racial identity is the only way through which people identify themselves and ignores the fact that several groups in California and elsewhere have already watched their rights being eroded. For, instance, California's prison system is notorious for its ill treatment of prisoners. But, ah, of course, gays and lesbians have nothing to do with the prison population. Or with rights other than the right to get married and retreat into the safety of our normal lives. As we quibble about marriage, it's easy to forget that a rise in poverty and the lack of health care means that large segments of society are already denied their rights to decent education, housing, and a sense of security about their well-being.

As for the famous line about the 1000+ benefits that can only come through marriage - what about those who are excluded from those benefits simply because they're not married? And here's the basic question: Why should marriage guarantee any benefits that aren't available to those who don't want to marry? Why build up the power of the state to coerce people into marital relationships they don't want just so that they can get the basics like healthcare?

Marriage has, for too long now, been held up as the only solution to a host of problems, including the lack of health care. The fight for gay marriage, in granting that institution so much importance, is slowly eroding the possibility that the rest of might get rights and benefits without marrying each other. The fight over gay marriage has emerged as a progressive cause that all progressive straights should join in when, in fact, it's a deeply conservative movement that strips our movement of any imagination. Instead of asking for one way to grant rights and benefits, we ought to be advocating for a multiplicity of options.

Let's dump marriage now.

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My short answer to this, as one of the privileged 18,000 is NO. I am entitled to marriage and so are you.

The long answer is that marriage has meaning - legally, socially, culturally - and that access to that meaning is specifically prohibited to gays is the very essence of discrimination.

It isn't just about marriage, it's about a thuggish decision that gays don't count.

Kelly Slye | May 26, 2009 3:43 PM

Thank you ! I agree with you completely, and often try to use this reasoning with many people I know who seem to wear blinders and only focus on "marriage equality", as if that is the be all and end all. They never seem to listen.. I'm glad to know I'm not alone with my thoughts on this topic!

Just out of curiosity, do you have a life partner with a chronic and potentially fatal health condition who is unable to obtain health insurance through your employer and instead has to get inferior state coverage because your employer doesn't provide coverage to same-sex domestic partners, and you can't get married in your state?

If not, then speak for yourself, and spare me your pie-in-the-sky, "why should marriage be the way to guarantee something so basic" utopian idealism.

And if so, then speak for yourself, and spare me your pie-in-the-sky, "why should marriage be the way to guarantee something so basic" utopian idealism.

Silliness | May 26, 2009 3:59 PM

"Just out of curiosity, do you have a life partner with a chronic and potentially fatal health condition who is unable to obtain health insurance through your employer and instead has to get inferior state coverage because your employer doesn't provide coverage to same-sex domestic partners, and you can't get married in your state?"

ummm neither of my parents have healthcare, and my dad has a chronic medical condition. why should someone marrying a rich gay man have healthcare based on their relationship while my parents don't? why should people in a relationship have healthcare while i don't?

"why should people in a relationship have healthcare while i don't?"

And why do you think that's what I'm suggesting? Where in my post did I say that health care ought to be a luxury for people in relationships?

I would love it if we had universal health care in this country, but there's just one problem: We don't. And considering that this country is about $10 trillion in the hole with the state in question close to bankruptcy (despite being one of the wealthiest states) and programs like Medicare facing insolvency, I don't think universal health care is likely to happen any time soon.

Believe me, I empathize with you, but forgive me for not being in favor of the idea of abandoning reachable goals for unrealistic ones.

"Unrealistic" is the narrative gay marriage advocates have been using for the basic needs of pretty much everyone who isn't in the position to care about marriage. It's awfully easy to proclaim that gay marriage is the answer to your insurance problems when you or your partner have insurance, but for the rest of us it wouldn't do jack. So when you say the goal of making the world a better place for everyone and not just those who would, aside from a symbolic gesture, actually benefit from same sex marriage, you are saying that the rest of us don't require and/or deserve that consideration because we are "impeding" you.

But if you ask me, it's the gay marriage mafia that's doing the impeding.

Jackson, I'm going to reiterate a point that someone else already made: Gay issues are not a combination meal menu where you have to choose between Option A and Option B.

I actually do give a shit about issues other than gay marriage and have even supported them.

What Yasmin is asking us to do, however, is not simply think about other issues, but give up on same-sex marriage completely and act as though Prop. 8 and other amendments are no big deal.

You accuse me of having some selfish, privileged focus on same-sex marriage to the exclusion of someone else's issues. Because you might not have health insurance, I should stop worrying about my own life. But maybe you should consider that some of us are in long-term, committed relationships and have a lot to think about -- not just health care, but taxes, inheritance, etc. etc. etc.

The steadfast and uncompromising insistence on the concept of “marriage” as opposed to “civil union” was a flawed approach to begin with, and destined to failure at the hands of the religious institutions who successfully manipulated the vote in their favor. Civil unions afford similar privileges (notice I didn’t say “rights”) to marriage, while avoiding the religious implications that aroused so much ire. A small semantic point, to be sure, but one that might well have determined more success with this issue, and may even have prevented Prop 8 from even existing. Not to mention that matters of religion have no place in government to begin with, and should one find that their church is intolerant of their personal relationships, it might be time to seek a church that will sanction their marriage.

If employer insurance coverage for domestic partners is such an important aspect of this issue, there might be other solutions available, such as approaching the HR department to explore a change in their policies. These policies are not established by the insurance carriers, but by the employers. Failing in that, it’s possible that one might examine their relationship with their employer, who, it would seem, is distinctly GLBT unfriendly, and begin working on a resume and searching for employment in a more benign workplace. People who do have affordable health coverage through their employer are damned lucky to have it in the first place, anyway.

In the final analysis, why continue to go hat in hand, or pitchfork and torch, for that matter, begging or demanding validation from society? This affords them a power over us that they do not deserve. Government/society is not our caretaker. We have the ability to control our own lives. If some people spent as much time and energy creating their own solutions as they do demanding that government provide them, we might just be halfway to where we need to be.

And you couldn't wait to put up this post until today, when you could be the most inflammatory.

As a die hard marriage equality advocate, I totally appreciate what you wrote.

I think there are many ways to the mountain top- and you should go for what you think is the best way.

I'm going to go for what I think is the best way- I have kids, a wife, and marriage equality really means something to me on a deep level.

I do not think of it as the end all and be all of equality. Just simply a step. a political, strategic step. I respectfully disagree with you.

It's not about being right, but about doing what we each can, in the way we can and feel strongly about, in the movement.

Go for it.

but I'm not giving up on marriage equality. Not today, not ever.

Thank you, Sara, for the best response to Yasmin I've read so far.

Thank you for this post. I like that those who disagree with you will do so by putting up examples that only really strengthen your argument.
Yes marriage has meaning, but only the meaning that we give it. Historically, such meaning has been deeply exclusionary and flawed. We are now fighting for the right to enter the institution and properly join in the exclusion.

No, rest assured - you are NOT alone! There are lots of us out there who don't buy into GM as "the movement."

Your refusal to engage any kind of critique of gm is typical of those embroiled in the movement. Your question implies that someone who might, in fact, have a partner in such conditions is incapable of being critical of GM. And your response doesn't get to the heart of the questions I've posed: the issue is not that someone can't have health care via their partner. The issue is that millions of us don't have health care, and that millions of couples - including straight married couples - are driven to destitution because they don't have health care. Marriage doesn't do much to help them either.

And, trust me, I'm not going to get embroiled in a debate about which one of has personal circumstances more deserving of recognition.

I think we were doing quite well with knocking marriage off its pedestal. The meaning ascribed to the institution is not some natural life-force to which we have to bow. It's one thing to ask that marriage be sanctioned as a private ritual with specific meanings, but quite another to argue that it should become yet another way for the state to pass benefits based on your marital status.

No, my words are those of someone who has a deep, personal stake in this matter and is not fond of people trying to confuse the issue with Jasmyne Cannick-style contrarian nonsense.

They are also the words of someone who would love to see universal health care but has a fairly good sense of this country's fiscal position and the fact that universal health care is fiscally unfeasible and would require large-scale reforms that would take decades worth of legislation and litigation to accomplish.

CailleanMcM CailleanMcM | May 27, 2009 4:07 PM

Employment Rights, Housing Rights, Hate Crimes protection would have been nice as a priotiry as it would have affected the entire commiunity as opposed to Same-Sex Couples interested in marriage and have no impact on others.

I lost my job during transition, just prior to surgery, spent 9 months unemployed despite two post doctoral fellowships and a valid medical license, and spent another 6 months underemployed.

Would marriage have made a difference for me then? No
Does it make a difference for others in my position? No.

Now, I am employed and in fact in high demand, legally female, married in Canada to a woman, working in New York where we live part time and are considered married. Have I benefitted from the state's recognition of marriages performed out of state?

Would I have been better off to have had employment protections way back when?

There were and are more pressing issues than marriage.

Thank you, Ceili, for using your own life-experiences to illustrate this point.

Wow! Yes, Yes, Yes! Fair play for posting this. Your right. Marriage isnt the be all and end all.

Have been trying to use this argument in Ireland. Hopefully your post will help.

THE two biggest issues for Gays, lesbians, bi, and trans people are: marriage equality and Don't ask, don't tell. Everyone knows what marriage means.Domestic partnership means something different, normally much much less, everywhere it exists. What's wrong with EQUALITY? I will settle for that. These are the two issues that tell the world how we wish to be viewed, that we are equal, and that we do not belong in the closet. Too many in the GLBT community have become so accustomed to the closet, to second or tenth class status, that they can not imagine themselves as equal. Marriage equality and ending DADT will eliminate "outsider" status to us in a great many ways. Anyone who wishes to remain an "outsider" may do so, but I do not expect many GLBT persons to fight against my rights. No one is forced to marry, if you do not want it for yourself.
With all the momentum that has been building on these issues, even with today's setback, NOW is the time to fight on. Never before have GLBT issues caught the attention of society at large like this. I was amazed that in The Wall Street Journal either this past Friday or Saturday, there were 5 stories on GLBT topics. This would not be happening except for the marriage debate. It has grabbed the attention of society at large.

Wow, not to speak for trans people, but to respond to another person speaking for trans people: do you really think that the two biggest issues for trans people are marriage equality and DADT? What about employment discrimination and hate crimes protections? Or access to necessary medical or legal procedures?

And for the LGB, not to get too off topic, but DADT? I know it's hard to be discriminated against because of your sexual orientation, but soldiers aren't the only LGB people who experience discrimination on the job. Most states don't offer protection for us and federal legislation would be helpful.

I mean, debate marriage as the end-all, be-all if you want, but DADT?

I did not say or imply that there are not other important issues. I ranked the 2 that are most important, the 2 where the GLBT community can get the biggest "bang for the buck" in the foreseeable future, the 2 where there is already a great deal of momentum for change. The repeal of DADT will instantly act as a non-discrimination law for at least some workers (military, and likely all the military contractors) in all 50 states and DC. That is a whole lot of people. Also, DADT, when enforced, will act as a model to train people while they are in the military that they can not be gay-bashers and get away with it. It will civilize some individuals before they are elrased from the military back into society. There would instantly be a national impact for all states and DC to notice, have publicity about GLBT issues, and be a model for the local GLBT rights law. A local rights law, while important, gets a little attention locally, until it dies in that year's legislative session. I was not originally for putting same sex marriage at the top of the list of our priorities. However, it is undeniable, that no issue has ever gotten so much coverage, and bright so many GLBT persons out of the closet at once. No issue has ever had such an impact. This is why it is THE most important issue.

Alex is right. Trans people I know support the fight for equal marriage and the repeal of DADT, both because we believe in fairness and also because many of us are gay. But the most important issue for the T part of LGBT is an inclusive ENDA. No issue is more important for trans people in the US than that, probably followed by the need for the APA to stop calling our gender issues pathological and to start treating them the way the AMA and ApA do -- as conditions to be treated medically.

There are lots of reasons to include T with LGB, because we all suffer similar forms of discrimination, but we have our own issues that are far more important to us than equal marriage and DADT.

PhyllisMs | May 27, 2009 1:30 AM

I need a job, NOW, not in ten years after DADT. Marriage doesn't do me much good if I can't pay the light bill or buy "new" clothes at Goodwill for my kids. I would deem ENDA right up there at the top, personally.

Paige Listerud | May 28, 2009 1:55 AM

I feel the need to respond to your comment, Alex, only because last week I read this news story--that I can't find now, damn it!--that reveals one way in which marriage equality, or lack of it, can impact transgendered people's lives.

A marriage between a transwoman and her husband has just been dissolved by a court in a Southern state (sorry that I forgot which one). She had gone through full sex reassignment, had married a man as a woman, but the court totally disregarded all that. As far as the court was concerned, she was still a man, having been born a man. The court dissolved her marriage, since the law only recognized marriage between one man and one woman.

So here is a court totally denying her self-determined gender and her marriage and her family. Having said that, I agree with you that, but for a few exceptions, like this transwoman, marriage equality may not be the most urgent issue for transgendered people.

As for Yasmin's position, I too am tired of same-sex marriage being given higher priority than ENDA or hate crimes legislation or universal healthcare.

Now, I will go and try to find the source of that news story again.

I agree with Drake. In addition there is nothing preventing anyone for fighting for the things they believe in. If universal health care is "the" issue for someone then they can go out and do the same things the gay marriage advocates and people who wish to repeal DADT are doing. My concern for universal health care advocates is the same "leave it to someone else to do" mindset many of them have is what makes so many of them prone to not take responsibility for their health or for funding the system that pays for promoting their health.

What isn't considered - marriage is a choice. Same-gender couples are not given a choice. Is marriage the path to full equality? No, it's a stepping stone - and a big one! It opens the door to federal benefits being denied. Now, I realize a lot of people have no desire or want to get married, but wanting to do something and being able to do something are two very different things. This line of attack is the most infectious route available. Passing an Employer Non-Discrimination Act does not have far reaching legal ramifications - marriage does.


I think Yasmin would respond that if there were universal health benefits, then you nor your ill partner would be faced with the sort of unfair and unjust situation that you are regrettably in.

And Lucrece,

Why shouldn't this be discussed? Why not today given how much coverage same-sex marriage receives in the lgbt online world and everywhere else?

I think what many people are missing (not just here mind you) is that when everyone has basic civil rights - affordable quality health care, safety from bullying and intimidation, equal protection for housing and employment, ability to adopt, etc. then much of what would be gained from same-sex marriage would accrue to a much wider swath of people under the lgbt umbrella.

Mind you, I would always support same-sex marriage, the repeal of DADT and DOMA, changes in religious institutions towards us. But, the lgbt civil rights movement - of what there is of it - seems to have its priorities dictated more by the Religious Right and less by what we determine would be in our own best interests.

Because the post was contrived.

To bring this rhetoric in the face of people that right now are suffering these terrible news just screams "sadistic attention whore".

Wow, Lucrece...

I don't agree with Yasmin, but neither do I consider her to be an attention whore. She has valid points. I disagree with them. I think they are utopian and unrealistic, but worth working to nonetheless.

But I would never allow my anger at injustice give voice to personal anger.

Take a deep breath. A lack of respect for other people is what got us into this mess to begin with.

Lucrece - I'm shocked. Did Yasmin find your sacred cow? I would never have thought you'd be the one saying, "Today of all days?" Seriously. I'm amazed. Not in a bad way - I just never thought you had a sacred cow and would argue anything any time. LOL

Seriously off topic tho - aren't all bloggers attention whores of some degree? Otherwise why right down your thoughts on issues and share them with anyone else who will read them? :) Spoken as a true attention whore...

I'm a lovely troll, but I know my boundaries ;).

Using such a hurtful event as an opportunity to bait people into a post challenges my acceptance levels for being crass.

I'm slightly amazed (and incredibly proud) that so many folks have had a serious discussion rather than a flame fest so far. I think the post is rather cathartic for those who share Yasmin's feelings on marriage and for those (including me) that simply wants the focus to shift elsewhere as Issue #1. She's far and away got the most traffic, comments, and people talking on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Conversation is good as long as it's (mostly) civil, right? :)

*pokes you in the arm*

Lucrece's sacred cow. Who knew?! ;)

Don't tease me, boy!

Or else, I'll be tempted to make it my mission to send packages of food to put some weight on you. I'll put overbearing matrons to shame.

Phyllis Austin | May 27, 2009 2:37 AM

The religious right are luring us into their fight and seems we expend lots of energy and money on one front. We need to support one another an all fronts in a continous battle.. DADT, DOMA, GM, DOMESTIC PARTNERSHIP, ENDA, HATE CRIMES, Etc. Seems to me we are fragmented, each for our own issues more than a concerted effort on all. As a Transsexual, living in my target gender, I felt simply alone when ENDA was stripped before my eyes on C-SPAN, with Barney Frank and HRC leaving me behind. Seems the only glue to hold anything together now is "same-sex", since we don't have gender expression and now Bi-sexuals along with the "T" rarely have a voice for our civil rights. Have we forsaken the other fronts for the one? Not good. Much easier for the religious and political right to fight one front than many.

I do agree that ultimately the answer is not marriage but rather providing these basic rights to everyone. I also am from the field of thought that though the ideal may be the outright abolition of marriage as a civil institution - actually doing so is likely to be too large of a battle. There is the ideal and the reality. Reality is that the fastest way to make progress right now is to continue fighting these battles. It's the low hanging fruit and the branches are drooping lower with each passing day. There is just no way around it; ensuring the right of people to marry regardless of sex is going to be a much quicker road to success than attempting to re-codify all of those "1000+ benefits" on local, state, and federal levels.

Chromatest | May 26, 2009 4:22 PM

No. Now may we drop you as a contributor to this blog?

Um, no. I don't see why we'd want to, since the point of this blog is diversity of opinion and experiences. You don't have to agree with her, but I do have to ask why you'd think her point of view is so offensive that you shouldn't even have to look at it as one opinion among many.

Chromatest | May 26, 2009 8:03 PM

lol alex. i was being sarcastic. hard to convey over the interweb.

Thanks, Stephen,

Glad this is useful, even among the brethren in Ireland!


Who decided that these were the two biggest issues? Was there a secret ballot?

Why should domestic partnerships mean something "less" - why not just expand the range of options so that you can married or have DPs without being penalised via taxes?

And, you can't get away with the whole "No one is forced to marry, if you do not want it for yourself" because gays and liberal straights are creating a situation where marriage will be the ONLY way to gain certain benefits. You can't a) decide that one institution should be the only way to get something as basic as health care and then b) pretend that marrying for health care is still somehow a choice.

If you took away your identification as a gay person (I dare surmise such), there wouldn't be much separating your words on marriage from those of a right-wing conservative. "Everyone knows what marriage means?" Yes, to some of us, it means the outright tyranny of the state, notions of people as property, and outdated gender norms (yes, even in same-sex marriages).

So, we should abandon the fight for equality so that we can pursue what exactly? A generally liberal social agenda that will do nothing to remove the distinctions that separate us from legal equality with the heterosexual world? No one is going to fight to repeal DADT, to end employment discrimination and bullying, or to secure marriage equality for us. So, sure, we could ignore those issues and fight for universal healthcare, but at the end of the day, you will still lose your home when your partner dies, you will still have no remedy when you are fired for being gay or lesbian, you will still be unequal in the eyes of the law. You can't expect people to give up on the fight for their own equality. I think your idea is terrible.

Phyllis Austin | May 27, 2009 3:00 AM

or transsexual...? I lost my job for gender expression!

I find it odd you advocate for fighting anti gay adoption laws instead of anti gay marriage laws, when 40+ states ban recognition of gay marriages (with 19 banning civil unions), while only one (Arkansas) bans LGBT people outright from adopting.

Regardless of where we think the emphasis should be, we need to fight any attempt to make us second class citizens in our own country. Maybe the Religious Right did make the focus gay marriage, but that doesn't mean we should let them win it because we have other priorities. I think it sends a very bad message to let the anti gay forces run around and pass these anti equality laws, because it makes straight people think "If they don't care, why should I?"

PS - Florida's ban was struck down in court.

I think that church marriage and taxes should be separate just as all other things 'church' should be separate from all other things 'state.' I think that marriage sets up inequality that stands regardless of who is permitted to get married.

What I also believe is that a disgusting amount of money has been spent on this issue while so many other social issues are ignored. I don't know how responsible it is of people on either side to put so much energy into this. I have been thinking all day that I would like to figure out a way to get all of the LGBT community to suddenly stop funding lobbyists and organizations and to see the impact that would be made by those organizations suddenly being silent. Sometimes one must simply walk away.

I see that a lot of my community is not in agreement but what I also read makes it clear they didn't read the full post. I have a sadness that Prop8 was upheld. I have a greater sadness that the government has manipulated so many into supporting a failing state economy. I am even sadder still that this is the most important thing in our lives even while I hold it high on my own list.

Bill Vayens | May 26, 2009 4:40 PM

I'm sorry, but I have serious problems with this notion that as a community we can only deal with a limited number of issues facing our community.

I believe that wherever we attack the injustice and inequality that any of of us face, we only serve to advance all of the causes we face.

Of course each of us sees these issues in a different light, primarily colored by those issues that most impact us personally. As such, I have a difficult time telling anyone that it's time to move on from their issue and put their efforts behind other issues that may be of more importance to others.

I also believe that by trying to advance those issues that may be the most difficult for society as a whole to embrace, we serve to make it easier for them to consider those less controversial issues. Who would have thought even a few years ago that we would find such a level of acceptance for marriage equality. The changes in attitude on this issue have also raised the level of support for other issues of equality.

So please feel free to be entitled to your opinion. However, please don't expect all of us to say that those issues we have at the top of our lists are somehow less deserving than those at the top of your list. And please don't try and make me feel guilty because marriage equality is the one issue that would have the most significant impact upon my life. I can assure you, I have the ability to fight for justice and equality on more than one level. I don't expect any less from others in my community.

I just wanted to point out Sara's comment above. I think it's a great example of how to disagree yet do so with respect. Thanks, Sara!

Thanks, Darren, Will, and Sara and others for your sustained thoughts (I wasn't aware that the adoption ban in Fl had been struck down). I'm against anti-gay adoption laws because I think those are, in the long run, more detrimental to efforts to form social networks of our choosing. The AR law, as I understand it, also rules against unmarried straight people. I think that the ability to form families has nothing - and should have nothing - to do with marriage.

Aaron, you're conflating a lot of different issues with marriage, as if the right to marry would resolve any or all of the issues you raise. Being married, for instance, is not going to help with discriminatory firings.

I'm off for a bit to see Outraged, but will be back to respond to comments. In the meantime, I think, this looks like an already productive discussion (with the rare exception of silly personal insults hurled at me or others). As I see it, there's a broad spectrum of opinion on the issue of gay marriage - and it's not one that's visible in too many places. I do think we need to have more of these - and wish we had had them before getting into this mess.

Dave in Northridge | May 26, 2009 4:44 PM

Well, I presented a paper on the problem of initiatives that deal with the civil rights of minority groups at a conference on citizenship in March, and my co-panelist was objecting to gay marriage for some of the same reasons you propose, Yasmin. When she learned that I was a member of one of the 18,000 same-sex couples in California who had been married when it was legal, she fell all over herself to say that what she REALLY meant was that the state should get out of the marriage business.

Fine, Yasmin. Explain to me how not discussing marriage and second-class citizenship is going to get health care reforms passed, and then tell me how happy you'll be when gay and lesbian couples in the many many states who don't have marriage or even California's domestic partnership laws can't benefit from it. It's like the people who rail about abortion -- if you move to a state where gay marriage is legal or if it becomes legal where you live now, don't get married. Just don't trivialize the people for whom this has some real impact.

GrrrlRomeo | May 26, 2009 4:48 PM

Marriage doesn't matter that much to me on a personal level. I've been with my partner for 12 years and we've been okay. But we did not start this. Gavin Newsom did not start this. This was started by the Anti-Gay Rights Movement which has frankly been pwning us for over a decade ever since Hawaii in 1993.

Do you really think they want to stop with banning marriage? This is just the front line. Banning marriage is HOW they oppress us and we have to fight back.

Do you think blacks did sit ins at white only restaurants and lunch counters because the food was really good and they wanted to eat there? No, it was to push back oppression.

I agree, Yasmin. Marriage sucks all the oxygen out of the movement for the benefit of a select portion (a minority, I believe) of the LGBT equality movement as a whole.

Plainly put - we should be working first and foremost for those things that affect equality for all LGBT people. Employment/housing/public-accommodation non-discrimination is needed before marriage.

What good is the right to marry if you lose your job and your home when you out yourself by tying the knot?

It's just frustrating to me that this argument so often devolves into "why should I wait for YOU to get what you need for me to get what I want?"

It's not about waiting. On a state level, it makes sense for the places that CAN attain marriage equality to do so. If that's where you are, great, go for it.

It's when the national discussion, focus, and most importantly the finite resources all get focused so heavily on marriage.

If marriage is the end goal, then it's more important than ever to start working on getting the entire country up to speed on non-discrimination laws. We can't have marriage nationally without non-discrimination laws nationally.

It's what we call putting the cart before the horse to work for marriage without discrimination protections in place.

It's not a matter of stopping working toward marriage. It's a matter of putting some priority into getting the rest of the country's patchwork of laws up to speed and getting us all on equal footing for the battles ahead.

I'd like to see 1% of the resources spent on prop 8 be filtered into my state. That 1% would be more money than we've ever seen for LGBT rights here.


A rounding error for the Prop 8 campaign would be equal to 5 years of our LGBT org's current budget. There are many other states in the same position.

That rounding error could have a lot more impact in the places that are starving for cash and need basic rights first.

Then go out and fundraise. If you want more money, go out and get it. Don't complain- that's not going to get you dollars. Have a great campaign, powerful message and sell it.

people in the Prop 8 campaign worked hard to get donations.

what's the line? don't hate me because I'm beautiful...

go do it.

I think Yasmin at least put together an eloquent argument. Your complaints feel bitter and accusatory, Jerame. I'm not saying ME FIRST. I'm saying, this means a tremendous amount to me. I'm willing to work for it, fundraise for it, put time into it, knock on doors, pass out flyers, make phone calls...

work for what you believe in, and I'll work for what I believe in. the beauty of our community is we are so different, in so many ways.

no one is right. and no one is wrong. we just have different ways to achieve the goal of equality.

Sara, no offense, but I have found that people here in Washington State are tapped out from fighting Prop 8 and are contributing any time and energy they have to fighting to keep our DP expansion, if they are giving at all.

It's hard to get people to split what time and money they have available to two or more causes when we live in a state that already has anti-discrimination and anti-hate laws on the books it is even harder, because they have to be motivated to look over the state line at the bigger picture.

While I agree with Sara that the end result is that you have to go out and fundraise yourself, I think it's also important to point out the financial discrepancies that exist between some places like California and Massachusetts and Indiana and Arkansas. Our states are much poorer than those - fewer big money donors, no organizational structure really and no help from national orgs that poured money into California. Hell, we have counties here in Indiana with 18-19% unemployment. Are those folks going to give money for gay rights or use it to feed their families? I'm not trying to quibble - just pointing out that the financial climate is vastly different.

Sara, I agree with you to an extent. We DO fundraise here. A lot, in fact. That doesn't change the reality that Bil pointed out, which is that money is tight in places like Indiana.

It also doesn't change the fact that Bil still holds the record for being the most successful fundraiser in this state to date. His grand total in 1 year? Just under $80,000. That was nearly double the previous year's total and still stands as the record fundraising year.

If the money is here, as you keep insisting, then perhaps we need help developing it. Maybe we need one of those power fundraisers to spend some time here developing major donors and showing us what we're doing wrong.

But I don't think that's it either because the reality is that CA and the Prop 8 campaign wouldn't have raised all the money they raised if they hadn't reached beyond their borders. There were a number of Indiana donors to Prop 8 (we donated as did some of our friends).

The point is: we're in this together. Marriage in individual states won't mean a whole lot until we get federal recognition and every state in the union recognizes those marriages. What good is your Massachusetts marriage if you or your spouse has an accident in Kentucky? You think there aren't hospitals there that won't let you in to see your wife?

As I've said more times than I care to: don't stop fighting for marriage...Just realize that you're leaps and bounds ahead of the vast majority of states and that WE need some of those resources to further the overall goal of LGBT equality for ALL Americans, not just the coasts plus Iowa.

And you've got to admit - 1% of prop 8 being 5 years of our local budget is a HUGE discrepancy that isn't easily made up by just working harder. We work our asses off here. So do the other states with paltry budgets.

We have no paid staff (well, IE did hire their first employee this year, but that's a joke in and of itself) so the work is done by volunteers. Those of us who sit on boards of orgs also tend to bankroll the orgs work because fundraising is so tight.

So, we do the work, front the money, and get told to quit whining and work harder? Not a very uplifting message.

I sympathise completely—I used to be an activist in Illinois, and we faced the same financial and volunteer issues. But it's always been that way with community-based organisations working for change—at least, it's been true for organisations working on our issues. If the marriage equality movement were to disappear tomorrow, this wouldn't change and local organisations would still have a lack of cash and a lack of people. That's definitely not an uplifting message, but it's a fact.

I'm saying the way you are approaching it is very different that Yasmin. She has made an eloquent argument.

You sound bitter and angry.

If you want to attract national donors to your cause, I don't think telling them they suck for funding marriage or they are ME FIRST thinkers is going to work.

My message is, get a better message. frame it better. that's all.

Great post Jerame!

Jerame, this is the simplest and most elegant formulation I've heard all week:

"Plainly put - we should be working first and foremost for those things that affect equality for all LGBT people."

That's my new political mantra.

And Yasmin, thanks for being so consistent and insistent in putting these ideas out there. I've shared this piece and talked about it for days.

Thanks, Paige, and thanks for sharing the piece.

Marriage is the antithesis to my goals as an activist. 'Equality' in the eyes of an oppressive, murderous state derails efforts of queer/trans activists. Gay liberation initially had nothing to do with marriage, in fact, one of the only perks of being queer was not having to get married. I do not deny the terrible pain of having an ill partner and the other numerous situations listed in which marriage benefits operate. However, seeking inclusion in an institution that is, by nature, exclusive is a distraction from ways our power and energy could be channeled into meeting our own needs and the needs of those most often forgotten (the prison example is good since the amount of queers and transfolk in prison is disproportionate to straight people but no one is talking about that because they are poor and often of color and the state makes them invisible). None of this, of course, has to do with the fact that I'm a filthy polyamorous queer anarcha-feminist dyke who'd much rather see the state be dismantled than fight to be included in any of its ridiculous bullshit ;)

Oh how I wish that a tiny percentage of the energy around gay marriage rights would be diverted to LGBT health... just a bit more focus on say, HIV among gay men, especially gay black men, who are experiencing cataclysmic rates of HIV infection that rival sub-Saharan Africa. Where are the nationwide protests calling attention to the 1/3 to 1/2 of gay black men who are infected with HIV???

The two biggest issues for trans people are getting hate crimes and ENDA passed.

In fact, the GL push for marriage equality has had a negative effect on our ability to get married.

And I see somebody couldn't resist taking a potshot at Jasmyne Cannick because like Yasmin, she has a dissenting opinion on marriage equality.

That's right, Monica, I took a potshot at Jasmyne Cannick. It's not just because she and Yasmin have "dissenting opinions," but because they seek to minimize and trivialize those of us whose preoccupation in same-sex marriage stems from a genuine, personal interest in the matter.

I took a potshot at Jasmyne and Yasmin because their selfish, narrow-minded attempts to throw red herrings into the mix (Yasmin's "Forget gay marriage! We want universal health care!" and Jasmyne's "I'm proud to say I did nothing to support gay marriage because it's only for white people, and you're a racist if you don't agree!") do nothing to help anyone or anything but their own egos.

And guess what? This is about same-sex marriage, not issues for transgendered people, so please don't try to change the subject. Not to suggest your issues don't matter, but you're not helping by throwing in yet another red herring.

It's a little hard to follow along with comments coming in quickly, but I think Monica was referring to another comment thread going upstream that said marriage and DADT were the most important agenda items for the LGBT community. (Marriage, obviously isn't most important to the trans community in most cases.)

As for the Jasmyne reference, I'm not going to pass judgment because I share your frustration with Jasmyne, but I do find it interesting that both of them are women of color. I don't find Yasmin's post to be of the same lines as Jasmyne's excuses though...

In fact, I tend to agree that rights that affect all members of the community - like employment, housing and public accommodation protections, for example - would be more helpful than marriage. I'm not knocking marriage advocates; I'm not a fan of the military, war or the like either but I'm not going to knock the DADT advocates...

But I think that's what's missing from the discussion in our community often. Just because you don't think marriage should be Issue #1 doesn't mean your anti-marriage. It just means - as Sara points out so eloquently earlier - we have different priorities.

Drake (above) is right, that the two issues which have put the gay and lesbian agenda on the front pages of every newspaper in America, and made countless lead stories on TV and radio are marriage and DADT. Face it, nothing, but nothing, has ever come close to getting American engaged in our debate. I think that the perfect poster couple for these issues would be gay veterans who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan, and who want to marry each other. Can't we find such a couple? I also heartily agree that these are the two issues which have brought an incredible number of people out of the closet, which in itself helps all gay issues. Never have so many Americans talked about rights for gays, and it is because of these two issues, on every talk show, and every place that you look. This kind of attention has taken a lot of effort, money, and strategy to get. It should not be abandoned. Of course, the rest of the agenda is important, but BIG MO, momentum, is on our side for a change. Let's keep it going.

"As for the Jasmyne reference, I'm not going to pass judgment because I share your frustration with Jasmyne, but I do find it interesting that both of them are women of color. I don't find Yasmin's post to be of the same lines as Jasmyne's excuses though..."

What are you insinuating here?

I didn't say Yasmin's post was of the same lines as Jasmyne's; I referred to both as people writing "contrarian nonsense" with respect to the gay marriage debate. Provide a link to a post by a gay white guy writing the same kind of thing, and I'll say the same thing about him.

Phyllis Austin | May 27, 2009 3:40 AM

Your HRC through in the red herring, may I remind you, when ENDA and gender expression fell through the floor supported by HRC and Frank.

"My" HRC threw in a red herring? Sorry, but I have nothing to do with that organization and generally consider it too weak. Try again.

"Your" is a figure of speech. Don't be so literal (Phyllis confuses me all the time with her colloquialisms--and I am married to her!)

Okay, point taken.

Monica, I agree completely on your first two points (don't know enough to comment on the third).

My wife and I are one of those lesbian couples, one of whom is trans. We could have flown under the radar years ago, but can't now. Yes, we absolutely support marriage equality, but it is not our first priority. ENDA and anti-hate legislation come first.

Lest anyone think that we don't understand the importance of marriage equality, we are recognized as married in Idaho (six miles from home), while here at home, in Washington, people can legally refuse to recognize our marriage--they cannot invalidate it, but they can choose to ignore it. (When I posted about this issue before, someone replied that if we fought in court to have our marriage recognized, we would win [and that is probably true], but in an emergency situation, who has time to go to court? So, yeah,we want marriage equality and we have both fought hard for it, but married transfolk have gotten caught in the blow-back and very few of the non-trans LGB folks I have discussed this with have even considered that.)

Brad Bailey | May 26, 2009 5:44 PM

If you don't buy into GM as "the movement," then what should the issue be? Quality affordable health care is important, but it's not a purely gay issue. This is after all a gay website. You obviously don't think that hate crime laws should be the central issue. And Alex doesn't think that DADT should be the issue because millions of employers discriminate aganst gay empoyees.

It is precisely because marriage is a conservative institution that gay marriage has come this far. Yes, Virginia, conservatives do exist and represent a sizeable portion of the U.S. voting electorate. So what if marriage is a flawed institution? What institution isn't flawed? Marriage still holds incredible significance among most people. Until I hear someone suggesting an alternative rallying point for the gay community, I see no reason not to focus on GM as "the cause."

Amen. I agree that the gay marriage movement has become a total distraction. The poster who responded with the first comment seems to sum it all up for the staunch proponents "...it's about a thuggish decision that gays don't count."

This is the argument I hear most proponents fall back to. Implicitly they are saying, "if the state gives me marriage, then in the eyes of the (straight) state I exist."

It's a notion laden with shame. Gay people who believe they only exist and are validated when recognized by straight people for mimicking a straight insitution are admitting that they can otherwise take no joy from their relationship.
The rights they refer to can easily come from civil unions and other legal arrangements. While those legal arrangements are sometimes expensive and difficult to obtain, there are family lawyers and organizations in our community who could facilitate that process and make it more accessible. However, they won't do so because it contradicts their political agenda for full marriage at all costs. Well, one of the costs they have incurred is a major setback in California.

And all the while there has been no movement on DADT, ENDA, etc. etc. etc.

Unfortunately the people who finance all these gay rights oranizations are rich white men who think that marriage is the holy grail of gay politics. And unfortunately we've been backed into a corner on this one. If we back down, it will only embolden our enemies.


Brian: "Implicitly they are saying, "if the state gives me marriage, then in the eyes of the (straight) state I exist."

Kevin: Actually, Brian, I am neither implicity nor explicitly saying that.

I do believe that marriage as a legal entity is important. And I not only want access to that but I do not want to have to lie what it is.

Brian: It's a notion laden with shame. Gay people who believe they only exist and are validated when recognized by straight people for mimicking a straight insitution are admitting that they can otherwise take no joy from their relationship.

Kevin: I checked in. I get a lot of joy from my relationship. So does my husband - he told me so. So this is not true, at least not universally.

Brian: The rights they refer to can easily come from civil unions and other legal arrangements.

Kevin: No, actually you can't under current law.

Brian: And all the while there has been no movement on DADT, ENDA, etc. etc. etc.

Kevin: Which is completely shocking and by no means an either/or question. And related on a very profound level to our fight to equal protection and respect in all aspects of our lives.

Brian: Unfortunately the people who finance all these gay rights oranizations are rich white men who think that marriage is the holy grail of gay politics.

Kevin: I'll have to get back to you on that. In this joyful, married, racial and ethnic minority household, I don't have any immediate sources for knowing the minds of rich white men but I'll check around.

Yasmin, did you really intend to imply that it's a question of fighting for marriage equality OR health care reform? What on earth makes you think that if it wasn't for the "distraction" of the fight for marriage equality we'd all be out fighting for universal health care? I agree with you that marital status shouldn't determine who gets health care, but that doesn't invalidate the struggle for equality. Nor does it mean that all GLBT people support universal health care. We have conservatives, too, you know.

And adoption? Seriously? By your logic, I shouldn't care about that because "most" gay people will never adopt children and have no desire to. By your logic, I shouldn't care about adoption because it reinforces outdated notions of family.

The thing about this post and especially some of the comments that disturbs me the most is the leftists' classist assumptions about supporters of marriage equality. Clearly some believe that we're all rich, probably white, privileged men who don't care about anything or anyone else. You may not like supporters of marriage equality, you may hate our politics, but when you smear us to make a point you debase yourselves.

The fight for marriage equality is a fight for equality—not "validation", not "privilege", not "status", but about same-sex couples being treated the same before the law as similar opposite sex couples—that's it. You can try and assign other, hidden motives all you want, you can, like the right wing, derisively and dismissively refer to this as "gay marriage", but that doesn't change the fact that it's about equality for straight and gay alike.

So, no, we can't "dump" marriage equality as a cause as long as the inequality persists.

i'm curious how we can talk about this as "equality" with a straight face when marriage in general is an unequal instutution, a punishment for *anyone* who doesn't have it. there's a reason this fight looks like a "special right" to marginalized straight people, and very little of that sentiment is grounded in homophobia.

You hit the nail on the head.

I said this is "about same-sex couples being treated the same before the law as similar opposite sex couples". Since that's the definition of legal equality, that's how I can talk about this as being about equality.

I agree: there are inequities faced by unmarried couples and some singles; for example, treating straight married taxpayers differently from single ones, nor can I see why married people can get cheaper healthcare for their spouse and unmarried partners can't. But neither of those means we shouldn't have equal treatment before the existing laws or whatever laws eventually replace them.

You wrote: "There's a reason this fight looks like a 'special right' to marginalized straight people, and very little of that sentiment is grounded in homophobia."

I don't know what you mean by that. Are you saying that because single straight people are treated differently by the law than married ones, it becomes a "special right" for gay people if same-sex couples are treated equally by the law as opposite-sex couples? Wouldn't that make all marriages a "special right", and not just same-sex marriages?

I never said a word about homophobia, but since you brought it up, I'm sure you're aware of the huge role that homophobia does play in opposition to marriage equality generally. I don't think you have grounds to suggest that "very little" of the sentiment against marriage equality among "marginalized straight people" is grounded in homophobia.

Same-sex marriage might afford some extra benefits to some couples, but it doesn't bring us that much closer to a fair society. Massachusetts does a survey of its schools every year, and they find LGBT students are 4 times more likely than straight students to commit suicide. Marriage equality has helped so much there, eh?

When same-sex marriage comes, domestic partnership goes away (MA and CT have both done it state-wide). Companies stop offering benefits for both same-sex and mixed-sex couples because they should get married instead. Marriage isn't a right; it's a requirement. So unmarried mixed-sex couples benefited when people pitied same-sex couples and now suffer when same-sex couples got the "right" to marry.

Our kids are killing themselves. Our adults are still discriminated against at work and in public. Inside our community, we can't seem to acknowledge that bi and transpeople exist, let alone strive to protect them. When Gay Rights tries to include gender identity protection, they wrap it up inside the definition of sexual orientation because, legally, it works. Yet transfolk can't go up to a poster and see they're protected as LGB people can in some places. Kids are still harassed at school. And I'm not suppose add to my resume my LGBT advocacy because it makes it harder to get a job. I have a difficult time finding community outside bars. And -marriage- is our top concern?

I don't like that in order for me to be involved in activism, I have to keep my mouth shut about marriage. Not all of us seek government recognition of our intimate lives. Some of us just want to go to work and walk around our towns without nasty looks.

(Though, I don't know why I should care about gay marriage or straight marriage so much. Being bi, it seems like no one wants me to get married anyhow. /semantics)

Uhhh, did you forget that it's possible to focus on more than one issue at once? I support programs to combat suicide among gay teenagers, and I've donated to the Trevor Project and the Ali Forney Center (shelter for homeless gay teenagers here in NYC).

And with your argument about companies getting rid of benefits for unmarried couples after legalization of gay marriage, thanks for Red Herring #4.

One of the main reasons for providing benefits to unmarried couples is the fact that same-sex marriage is impossible. When same-sex is legalized, the need to have a special arrangement for unmarried couples is eliminated, and those couples can simply marry to get benefits. If they don't want to marry, then that's their choice.

Okay, Alaric,

I'm going to wade back in here because you're getting redundant (actually, you may have passed the point of redundancy a while back, but I've been too swamped to look too closely at your points - all of which seem the same). And also, quite meaningless. "One of the main reasons for providing benefits to unmarried couples is the fact that same-sex marriage is impossible." No, really? Um, what about straight/queer couples who don't identify as same-sex?

"When same-sex is legalized, the need to have a special arrangement for unmarried couples is eliminated, and those couples can simply marry to get benefits. If they don't want to marry, then that's their choice."

Okay, seriously - how does any of this make any sense to you? We'll compel people to marry for benefits, and we'll pretend that they have whether to a)have insurance which could save their lives b)be without insurance, hence putting their lives in jeopardy. Have you not been reading anything here? The point is that people should NOT have to marry for health insurance.

At this point, you're just chasing your own tail. It might be time to take a breather from commenting since, unlike most of the others, you're not doing much to advance a discussion here.

"No, really? Um, what about straight/queer couples who don't identify as same-sex?"

Let's avoid the PC nitpicking, m'kay? Companies provide domestic partner benefits to make up for the fact that some couples are forbidden by law from marrying. Obviously, if sex and gender are no longer a barrier to marriage, then this is no longer necessary. Other companies only provide them to married couples.

"The point is that people should NOT have to marry for health insurance."

Yes, I've been reading, and I'm aware that was your point. But I have news for you: People at many companies DO have to marry for health insurance, and employers and health insurers aren't going to change that policy just because of how you think things should be. Providing health insurance just for an employee -- not to mention for non-employees -- costs a lot, and it's not an investment that any company will make lightly, especially if it's just someone wanting to help out a roommate or friend.

As for universal health care, that's not fiscally possible in this country, not on a nationwide scale. If you know of a way to make it happen without driving the national debt through the roof, I'd love to hear it.

I think it's charming that Alaric wants to remind us that we can "focus on more than one issue at once", unless, of course, it comes to universal health care, which, as everyone knows, is simply "not fiscally possible in this country".

I'm saying that it's possible to focus on multiple issues facing the gay community without simply dumping the marriage issue and acting as though these constitutional amendments are no big deal and that those of us in committed partnerships with numerous related issues to think about simply shouldn't care.

And no, universal health care is not fiscally possible, especially not in the short term. How would we pay for it, what with the national debt at $11.3 trillion (I estimated it at $10 trillion yesterday before checking this morning), budget deficits in the trillions and even Medicare facing insolvency? If we paid for it with deficits, how would we prevent the credit ratings of our Treasurys from being lowered, sinking the dollar and making paying for health care (and everything else) even more expensive? How would you deal with the health insurance companies and the powerful lobbies that support them, considering they would likely oppose any policy that would eat away at their profits?

For the moment, getting marriage passed in a few states and repealing DOMA at the federal level are far more reachable goals than universal health care.

This reminds me of an allegorical story I once heard about a guy who was given a choice between immediately receiving $50,000 in cash with no strings attached and the chance to receive $2 billion on the condition that he burned his house down. He chose to burn his house down, but didn't get the $2 billion.

I agree with you.

Does it not occur to you that if the financial conditions are such that universal health care is not possible, then, ahem, neither is health care, period. In other words, you could pass gay marriage tomorrow and most couples will not receive health care anyway. Their companies are going broke or cutting back on health care costs.

See why universal health care makes sense?

What good does fighting for marriage do when it can't give you the basics?

Alaric - come clean. What you're really advocating is a world where married people should be entitled to benefits by sheer dint of being married, period. And you have no interest in health care for anyone. If you don't receive it through a job that you've already got, tough luck, hey?

Okay, I'm done with your circular posts. Bye now.

What are you talking about? I never said universal health care doesn't make sense. Of course it does. I support the idea in principle and would love to see it in this country. The problem is that we have a much bigger population than countries that have universal health care (more than 300 million and around 44 million who lack insurance, compared to a total population of 33 million in Canada, 9 million in Sweden, 61 million in France, 16 million in the Netherlands ...). If there was to be universal health care in the U.S., it would probably have to be on a state-by-state level rather than federal.

I'm not being "circular" or "meaningless" -- I'm being realistic. You come off like one of those people in New York who thinks the MTA can just charge huge road and brige tolls and make all the buses and subways free without any consideration as to the actual cost of running and maintaining the system.

But maybe I'm getting ahead of myself. Why don't you share your grand, great plan for universal health care in this country? Obviously, you're much more knowledgeable than I am. I'm sure you have everything figured out, including how to pay for costs of everything from annual physicals to heart surgery, how to reduce prescription drug costs without discouraging innovation and how to deal with retirees and disabled people who can't work.

Oh, and guess what: It's not just about health care. Maybe you're forgetting about the >1,100 federal rights and benefits afforded to married couples.

Paige Listerud | May 28, 2009 2:34 AM

Because marriage and healthcare benefits are being linked in these arguments, I would like to know if either of you have seen the last episode of Bill Moyers Journal on PBS?

One of Moyers' interviewees is a single-payer healthcare advocate and RN who is straight and married; who had health insurance, AFLAC, and a separate healthcare savings account. Between her and her husbands illnesses, THEY STILL WENT BANKRUPT! I am a single bisexual woman who has always supported herself. I have a bare bones health insurance plan with a $5000 deductible, no AFLAC, barely any savings. I know that even with my coverage, I'm going to the poor house if I get sick. It shocked me to see a straight family so prepared to face illness get wiped out all the same.

So linking healthcare benefits to marriage is a shell game. Unfortunately, it seems to be a shell game the LGBTQ community is falling for.

I know full well organizations can focus on more than one issue at a time, but marriage dominates calls for money. And the money is coming in from all over the country which lessens how much is donated to local organizations.

How is disappearing domestic partner registries a red herring? They are, in fact, disappearing. It would seem society isn't recognizing other relationships, just temporarily giving benefits to second class citizens until such time some of those citizens become first class. It reminds unmarried couples they are undeserving of benefits because they *can* get married. It's not much of a choice to make.

There are other issues. So why is my news feed dominated by Prop 8? GLSEN worked with some members of the US House of Representatives to get sexual orientation and gender identity bullying recognized along with other forms of violence in schools. Where is this news? Marriage rights do not provide all protections for LGBT people so why is it *the* issue? Why is it *the* issue that defines commitment to "the cause"? Marriage is the litmus test for LGBT activism. Getting people to look at other issues is difficult.

Alaric, I find it hilarious that you seem to in your infinite wisdom and vanilla flavored privilege presume to know what's on Ms. Cannick's mind or what her motivations are.


I talk to Jasmyne more often than you do and even I don't make that statement.

Some of you are still hatin' on her because of her November 8, 2008 LA Times op ed.

I'm in favor of marriage equality before you start trying to attack me on that point.

You have 29 states that have constitutional amendments in place to ban same gender marriage versus 4 northeastern states that approve it.

But whether you want to admit it or not, there are gay peeps who feel that the GLBT movement has been sidetracked because of the 2003 shift in focus from attainment of federal rights which benefit the ENTIRE GLBT community to marriage which only benefits a narrow slice of it.

And hatin' on people in the community that have legitimate concerns about the wisdom of that strategy shift isn't going to help the community come up with a coherent strategy to help make that a reality.

And I find it hilarious that you decided to play the race card, as if my criticism of Ms. Cannick had to do with her race rather than the substance of her arguments.

I don't care how well you know Cannick, but considering how easily you played the race card, I'd say you probably know her pretty well! What's on her mind is obvious from her writing.

Another thing obvious from her writing is that she's not a responsible journalist. She wrote a deliberately provocative and race-baiting column for the LA Times and then got all defensive when criticized for it. Maybe next time you see her, you can remind her that part of journalism is having everything you put out there open to scrutiny.

I could care less if Yasmin or Jasmyne are personally concerned enough with gay marriage to fight things like Prop 8. But by putting out this sort of divisive, contrarian rhetoric, they're doing a huge disservice to the community. Maybe you forgot, but this isn't a fight we asked for. The religious right brought it to us, and don't think for a minute that they'll stop at gay marriage. These amendments give them the momentum they need to go after other gay rights, including the ones that people like Yasmin and Jasmyne consider to be of greater importance than same-sex marriage.

colored queer | May 26, 2009 11:58 PM

The race card is being played all over the blogsphere today. I read so many racist comments on huffington blaming african americans and growing population of latinos for the fate of prop 8. One commentator called for boycott of businesses owned by "blacks." Now, is that fair? how about LGBT people of color create and distribute a list of gay orgs which are totally white and thereby excluding people of color all together from the networks of white gays which benefit white gays only -- like those which exist in Catro, Chelsea and Ptown? I think almost all national and state gay orgs will make that shame list of excluding minorities except some token communication people. Should minorities also start boycotting anything gay? and How about LGBT people of color -- where do we fit in all this?

And why white gays have this sense of self-entitlement from people of color communities for support of gay marriage rights. When have white gays gone out of their way to support people of color communities and their issues -- comprehensive immigration reform, police violence, employment discrimination etc??

So, lets not try to raise race into all this for a change and lets at least try to respect different perspectives. Gay marriage may be a priority for you but not for others who may be just busy trying to survive on daily basis. What good are rights if you are unemployed with no meaningful educational opportunities, living in a rough hood, HIV+ and then on the top face racism generally in the world? And that is what you hear from most LGBT people of color. It is no coincidence that you see mostly wealthy white couples getting married and worrying about their assets. I am not saying we don't respect anyone's rights if you want to only fight for marriage rights but lets be civil about this and there are plenty of rights to go around for everyone in a civil and liberated society if that is something we can create together. But, ofcourse to do that we will have to undertake a self-examination analysis which would require that white gays also respect other communities.

Thank you for you contribution, colored queer. I just hope you weren't addressing me when you referred to bringing race into this issue. I'm not, after all, the one who used the phrase "vanilla flavored privilege."

Prop 8 is a Distraction, or: NOW can we Dump Gay Marriage as a Cause?
Unfortunately, the answer isn't what it should be because the question isn't what it should be.

The answer SHOULD be YES because the question should have been:

NOW SHOULD we Dump Gay Marriage as a Cause?

Unfortunately, because the question was 'can' instead of 'should', the answer will be no. Marriage Derangement Syndrome will continue unabated.

I'm still in favour of equal marriage, but I agree with you that there might be more effective ways to achieve the ultimate goal, which is full equal rights, regardless of marital state. As you wrote, many couples, gay or straight, won't go anywhere near marriage, yet committed couples still deserve such things as visitation rights and pension benefits.

Good on you for publishing this, since I'm sure you knew that there would be flames coming back at you. Whether anyone agrees or not, personal attacks are out of line.

Thank you for this great response to today's drama.

I too don't buy the whole "Separate = Unequal" argument in this case -- I think it's a trite and misleading reference to the Black Civil Rights Movement, which fought against particular forms of segregation that enabled significant discrepancies in access to material resources, services, and the ability to contribute to society. In California, Domestic Partnerships provide all of the same state-level benefits as marriage. Meanwhile, people are without health care, tuition costs are rising, we have a ridiculously unjust prison system, and folks are losing their homes (rented or owned) left and and right.

I am a bit saddened when I think about how easy it was for a simple majority of voters to strip away the "rights" of one group. But I think Yasmin's analysis shows how fraught terms like "rights," "equality," and even "choice" really are in a state (and country, and world) that is already vastly unequal.

And while I hate to say it, part of me blames the leadership of the mainstream gay movement (including Gavin Newsom) not only for their poor strategy in the lead-up to Prop 8, but for picking this fight in the first place. It was never necessary and only set us up to "fight" against a sense of constitutional discrimination that's materially superficial, but feels profound for its symbolism. Materially, we're no worse off than we were a year ago, but now we've spent millions fighting for a "right" that's been denied, but which many of us never wanted in the first place.

Hey, everyone,

Okay, so I was gone for a few hours - and look what I found! As Bil has pointed out, this has been a really good and cathartic conversation. Again, I wish our "leaders" and "gay organizations" had engaged in this kind of conversation before shoving GM down our throats.

I think the conversation here is going along really well, and people are actually talking to each other (I feel quite superfluous at this point). A few points, though: I don't think this is a simple matter of "choice" i.e. I don't think people can any longer simply choose to get married or not -- marriage as a way to secure benefits is, unfortunately, more often seen as a legitimate goal. As for fundraising and issues related to resources - I don't think it's as easy as simply going out and looking for resources. The fact is that it's difficult to raise money for anything that's not gay-marriage related and straight orgs are reluctant to fund anything gay that's not related to marriage or the other headline "gay" causes. Ask anyone involved in orgs that do work outside the narrow triad of GM, DADT, and HCL.

A number of us have pointed out that it's increasingly difficult for non-married straight and gay people or even coupled but unmarried straight and gay people to get benefits through more flexible arrangements like domestic partnerships. That's a dangerous development.

Thanks to everyone who's written in, regardless of whether you agree or disagree - and let's keep this conversation going!

No, I don't think we ought to dump the marriage issue. I think we need to put it in it's proper place in the priority list. As was mentioned before, healthcare, nondiscrimination law and hate crimes protection are issues that have much further reaching consequences on everyone's life. Being married makes no difference when you can't find a job no matter what your qualifications are. What good is it if you marry your same sex sweetheart and then inform your landlord he or she will be living with you only to be thrown out of your home because you're still not covered by nondiscrimination law?

In New York the entire GLB political milieu has been shifted away from nondiscrimination and towards marriage equality. So much for, "we'll come back for you." The jury is still out, of course, but I won't be holding my breath. It seems the marriage issue is one that REALLY annoys the reich wing so it gets alot of press and a lot of attention. They fight hard against the issue and, naturally, the supporters of equality shift their resources away from other things to devote to the most visible action, never mind the relative importance of the issue. It's where the biggest fight is that the greatest resources are sent. The problem is that the fight may not even be the one that would benefit the community the most. It's just the one that everyone is looking at.

While California has already, to its credit, passed inclusive hate crimes and nondiscrimination laws, much of the rest of the country hasn't. I fully support the fight that California citizens are engaged in but I hate to see their fight become a national obsession that ignores some of the more basic inequalities that still exist in far too many places. Let's make those inequalities our first priority and put marriage equality behind them where it belongs.

I agree completely, for all the reasons you stated. I absolutely support marriage equality, but I only have so much time and money, and while I am able to devote some time and money to fighting for equal marriage, I see federal anti-hate legislation, inclusive ENDA, repeal of DADT and our Washington State fight for our DP expansion to be a higher priority.

I'm a man in a committed relationship with a man. I have a potentially fatal medical condition. I don't think gay marriage is really going to improve our situation in any meaningful way. I think it mostly will be a way for (mostly straight) divorce lawyers to get rich at the gay community's expense. I'm really not all that interested in dying on foreign soil, either, so DADT doesn't really impact me either. I still support those who want those things for their lives - they're just not my causes. Why does that make me such a bad person?

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | May 27, 2009 12:50 AM

Those in the movement who say that the fight to end discrimination on the job and in housing etc. is more important than the fight for same sex marriage are right. However those who dismiss the fight for SSM or pretend that we can’t pursue both or who oppose same sex marriage simply because Obama and the Democrats have a bigoted position about SSM are dead wrong.

The fact of the matter is that SSM is a huge issue in many states and that we’ve made great strides in that last month or so in Iowa and New England. It’s an issue that’s here to stay in no small part because it’s the focus of the christian theocrats attack on us and has been for years. It strikes a raw nerve when rights already won are taken away.

When activists in California and other states decide to fight this bigoted law those who tell them their fight isn’t important will simply write themselves out of the national movement.

SSM is an important part of our agenda and deserves our active support even if other agenda items like the fight for anti-discrimination laws struggles are more important for more people. Those who want to organize around the question of employment and housing discrimination should do so and invite SSM activists, trade unionists and others to join them.

They should do independently of reliance on bigots like Obama, McCain, the Clintons and the Bushes. Reliance on them is the equivalent of lying under the bus. It’s for losers. Counterpoising the two, saying one or the other but not both are part of our agenda is simply sectarian and plays into the hands of supporters of the bigot who said "gawd's in the mix".

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | May 27, 2009 8:36 AM

But Bill, when I make "Bloody Marys" steak sauce is "in the mix," but I am not just drinking steak sauce. If the "blend" is pleasant the result is satisfactory.

Incidentally, I found myself agreeing with everything you had to say until you got to the last paragraph. We have both been around long enough to be both amazed and grateful for the progress and awareness of both general society and those younger people we try to mentor.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | May 27, 2009 9:30 AM

I'm sorry to hear that you find Obama's bigotry, expressed in his statement 'gawd's in the mix' which derailed the effort to preserve same sex marriage, pleasant.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | May 28, 2009 2:09 AM

Bill, you can't even take a compliment well. Is everyone a bigot who does not exactly agree with each syllable you write?

But...but if we dump same sex marriage, what else can we turn to that will somehow magically fix all the injustices that queer people everywhere, partnered or not, face?


While I don't think that striving marriage equality is completely unimportant, I agree that there are many concerns facing our communities that are MUCH more pressing. Thanks for this post, Yasmin!

Beeswaxnone | May 27, 2009 1:03 AM

OK - fine

If you are citizens and somewhat protected. But I'm in a bi-national relationship in this fucking theocracy. So if marriage is what they hear then marriage I'll say, baby. Because I don't care what it's called I want DOMA down.

70 comments, hello!


"If your love can't abide not being recognized by the state, perhaps it's time to consider that you might have bigger problems than simply getting a piece of paper to validate your relationship."


"The fight over gay marriage has emerged as a progressive cause that all progressive straights should join in when, in fact, it's a deeply conservative movement that strips our movement of any imagination."

Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | May 27, 2009 9:01 AM

Mattilda Darling!

You are absolutely right, for you. The primal need of others to be "partnered" legally to insure protection of children, elders and property still remains. Beginning in the 1970's I and mine had trusts, wills, a corporation, mutual powers of attorney, joint checking accounts AND STILL when my partner was having a procedure in a Chicago hospital a snippy little catholic gatekeeper tried to prevent me from being with him prior to his surgery following a heart attack.

I was not a "relative" you see...

After learning who my attorney was an elderly nun intervened. You are very right, it is frequently only about money and my heart goes out to people who are shunted aside because they could not afford access to greater legal protections and access that are a "given" a "freebe" to the poorest heterosexuals who marry. It is no more than a mental rape. I had to keep full legal documents in the trunk of my car "just in case" someone interfered with my being able to care for my partner. Yes, I am 23 years younger than my partner and no, I never once played at being his "son" or "nephew" to do this. Always I was his partner and nothing else! And I should not have to be anything else. If I have to grit my teeth and "marry" him it would be a sacrifice of my individuality, but I would do it out of love for him.

"Marriage" is the greatest failed institution in the United States and after 33 years I state again, it is about relationships, not society's permission.

Brad Bailey | May 27, 2009 2:52 AM

If you want to change the banner from gay marriage to federal anti-discrimination laws addressing gay housing and employment, that's fine by me. Make the decision and talk to the powers that be. Implement a plan of action, and then sign me on.

One thing I can say for sure: if we as a community don't stand up for something, we'll fall for anything. We represent only two to five percent of the U.S. population. With numbers that small, if we don't present a unified voice, we'll never get anywhere.

Phyllis Austin | May 27, 2009 2:56 AM

It "is" outright tyranny of the state and is why the Feds and the political right washed their hands in favor of states right to decide the marriage issue. We are in smaller numbers state by state to vote against state constitution changes as I was in Louisiana. We lost to "marriage is between one man and one woman" over "equal protection under the law".

Beeswaxnone | May 27, 2009 3:43 AM

And what if you can't legally be in the same country as your partner in the first place? At least for more than a short visit?

At some point it's ridiculous to miss the person you love all the time because the state DOESN'T recognize that partnership. At best my girlfriend and I can afford to see each other a few times a year.

This becomes even more caustic if any straight person in your situation can resolve the separation with a simple ritual.

C'mon. Don't assume that you know whether other peoples' love is working or not.

Not having state recognition is fine within a narrow spectrum of life: when there are no (or few) health problems. So long as 1) you have compatible citizenship, 2) nobody is seriously ill, 3) you and your partner are getting along, 4) nobody's family is nuts or part of some bonkers religion, 5) you are not in financial disaster-land. (I don't mean 'not much money' I mean hundreds of thousands of dollars of health bills, a disastrous car accident, loss of a job or a mortage falling apart).

When it comes to immigration, divorce, health care, pensions, or freaky families this is no joke. You have heard about crazy exes? What if yours became born again and went to work with the extreme right ... taking your children away? Well it's happening to at least one lesbian right now. Insane situation ... yes. When it comes to such extremes is there legal precedent or support for the not-crazy partner? NO. The crazy partner gets housing and free legal aid from Jerry Falwell's foundation, the sane partner has to deal with the courts in the homophobic state to which her ex *moved* (that would be Virginia, see http://www.newsweek.com/id/172554).

Equal protection should extend to extreme cases as well as the ones we actually want to be in. Nobody asks for divorce, disease, incompatible nationalities, etc.

Tough times can and do happen: people lose their homes, their children and the ones they love. That it might not have happened to you doesn't mean it couldn't or that it won't. Perhaps that's when paid time off work or clear inheritance laws will start to become something vital for a couple or a surviving spouse to manage the big stuff. Employed straight people (a lot of them) have that clarity. We don't--or we do in ways that disclose and multiply a lot of other inequalities.

What about rights in prison? Is there spousal visitation? I doubt it... Would that even be safe?

We should care about the full range of what can happen. That does not mean failing to challenge the status quo every step of the way. But that should be as rabble-rousers and not as a result of getting fucked over.

It doesn't mean (at all) buying into a conservative notion of marriage. Conduct your relationship intimately as you wish. But if you are in trouble, the structure should work equally for people in equivalent situations. It shouldn't be that straight people get spousal grief time and gay people don't. That's how it is.

State recognition may not be your values now, and may not be your value-system ever. But, in extremis, if you were sick, or if an accident happened on vacation, would you want your partner to be able to handle the logistics? Right now a substantial number of couples fall through that loophole. If you don't ... lucky you.

Hey, Geoff Kors (Equality California) has fought for marriage. And you may question that. But he and his partner have not married--they have chosen not to. It's not necessarily about ideology.

Maybe the next person you meet and love will be from a country half a world away--as mine is--you'll see what I mean.

Health care, civil unions, these things are cradle-to-grave structures that you can develop how you wish. If people need to deal with immigration or with the estate of a spouse, then try to help them.

Frankly, to say 'it doesn't matter' is a privilege. It's because nothing bad has happened yet.

So, it doesn't matter whether it's state recognition or not would you be prepared to face a partner's deportation?

Or would you shrug away your partner losing a place to live if you passed away? What if you were both in your eighties???

Sorry, but that's what it comes to when this is for keeps.

You make some excellent points; although I would assert that a good number of them are addressed in states that have DP or Civil Unions.

However, in all of your assertions based upon your own personal situation, you never once mentioned that we should support the Uniting American Families Act.

Anybody here know, off the top of your head, just where exactly that stands? My guess is that most people would honestly answer "NO", unless they are directly affected by it. And all LGBT Americans and our allies should be actively supporting it.


Forgot to include this. Here is the link to the AFL-CIO Take Action page for the Uniting American Families Act: http://www.unionvoice.org/campaign/uniting

Phyllis Austin | May 27, 2009 6:35 AM

It goes to the Senate Judiciary Committee on June 3, 2009. It's called the Uniting American Families Act, and we have all been well "distracted" to notice.

You might be interested in my previous articles on UAFA:

"Uniting American Families Act: Fact, Fiction, Money, and Emotions" can be found here:

and a follow-up to the incendiary (and often anti-immigrant) responses from UAFA supporters can be found here:

"Yasmin Nair: Eat This! Or, How To Leave Comments Without Going up In Flames"

Also, at the moment UAFA has 102 co-sponsors in the US House, and 17 in the US Senate. Not surprisingly, all are Democrats.

Thanks, Emelye, Megan, Mattilda, and others for the input and support.


You raise a number of pertinent issues, but you assume that activism should rely entirely on the extent of one's personal experience. The situations you describe can be handled outside marriage. And, in fact, marriage won't help in most cases. If your spouse turns right-wing (and we're all familiar with the recent cases) and decides that she wasn't a lesbian after and that your children need to be isolated from your corrupting influence - being married won't help.

The court, if presided over by a homophobic judge, will simply decide that you're an unfit parent based on your sexuality - even if you're legally married in your state. I'd like to remind you and others that straight polyamorous people have gone through such gruelling custody battles as well because courts decided that their sexual practices posed a danger to their children. The issue here isn't whether or not your marriage is valid, but how your sexuality is perceived by the legal system. Even being a legally married straight couple won't help you in such cases.

And that's only one of my many problems with gay marriage - that it's presented as a solution for all our woes when, in fact, it won't solve the bigger issues like employment discrimination and the fact that anything perceived as "deviant" sexuality - gay or straight - will automatically exclude you from your basic rights anyway.

crescentdave crescentdave | May 27, 2009 3:46 AM

Actually, Prop 8 is the opposite of a distraction- as anyone following this issue can tell you. Sorry, but the entire premise of this article seems flawed, misses the point almost entirely.

Prop 8 is a magnifying lens. Prop 8 is a litmus test. Prop 8 is a rallying cry. Prop 8 is a bridge between the LGBT & straight progressive community.

Prop 8 is visceral. It is a testimonial to the bigoted powers of politicized churches and temples and the fear of entire groups of people who grew up in fear and loathing of us. Prop 8 is a lance in the twisted boil of America's right wing hate factory.

Prop 8 took all these fears, gathered all this hatred and encapsulated it within a vessel that straight people could put their finger on without needing to "crunch numbers" or abstract anything- marriage.

Prop 8 is many things, but being a distraction is not one of them. Prop 8 has become an attenuated expression of all that is homophobic in America. And we need not forget many other pressing issues in order to see this quite clearly. Ultimately, Prop 8 is our ground zero from which we build a better society.


Such drama!

But no, Prop 8 is none of these things. Please:"ground zero from which we build a better society"? I think the right to health care is a better building block than that.

Prop 8 is part bungling by gay orgs that couldn't get their act together because they were too busy shutting out the voices of their constituents. And part a mess into which the rest of us are supposed to wildly toss our money, efforts and thought.

Like gay marriage.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | May 27, 2009 9:17 AM

Yasmin, yes the right to health care is more important, but the absolute denial of rights of a partner to be involved in health care decision making is what has driven me from the United States.

May you be healthy as long as you live, because without legal definitions of who may assist in care for whom you will receive whatever care the government determines is correct for you to receive regardless of your personal needs or wishes.

I do not care if all relationships are defined legally as "civil unions" and should folks determine to make a promise to "god" they then get "married" in their church or temple. A uniform floor of rights needs to be established to protect property, credit ratings, children, elders and partners. No couple that has worked together for years to build a life should have it ripped away, and children lost, because of the loss of a "birth" mother to a family.

David Phillips | May 27, 2009 9:30 AM

Instead of railing about the evils of marriage and bandying about other opportunities for gaining equality, e.g. ENDA and DADT, as alternatives for community focus, not complimentary goals, please consider how the availability of same-sex marriage would have changed your perspective as a Queer kid growing up. I think about my grade-school clandestine boyfriend Buzz often and how we thought about a future as two embodied Gay men living together in either a legal vacuum or a web of mutual agreements, without the prospect of marriage. Aside from one male teacher whom we had seen often with his equally hypermasculine partner on matching motorcycles, we had no role models for what it meant to be domesticated – never tamed – and coupled with another man for life as we might hope it would unfold. During college I began to experience more of those role models for sustaining couplehood—or triadhood or quadradhood—never imagining that public opinion would grasp equality based on sexual orientation (and let’s not forget the SEX part!) alone, much less the justice in honoring our relationships.

I also recognized that we Queer people did not bring the oppression of homophobia on ourselves: to believe that is shameful. Likewise, the fight for civil marriage equality was brought to us by reactionary forces, and we have met the challenge, not always with immediate success, across the United States and around the world. The rest of our collective LGBTIQQA Agenda doesn’t shrink in importance with gains in or resources spent on civil marriage equality: it is strengthened by removing a main objection to our relationships and our very existence, the myth that we cannot sustain healthful lasting relationships. And, if we are wise, we link our causes to the causes of other people facing oppression, not to appear “good” or to win friends, but because equality is not a zero-sum proposition as our opponents wish to paint it!

Intelligent people of our kind have faith, power, and strength of mind realize the struggle can’t last forever, if we just unite and fight together.

Ach! The GLBTQRXYZ's disagree???

The shock. The horror. The unity of THE dyksfunctional umbrella ella ella...

Yasmin. Sing it. I don't necessarily agree w/what you say... but sister I want to hear your song. The more I read of those coming after you because it's not the GLBTQRXYZ's Party Line... the more I want to read.

The facts are in the history line. Not one single legislation has given ANY minority group equality. Not one. It's merely a stepping stone.

Universal Health Care would be fabulous.

The reality is that this is USA and not Canada, w/the total combined population of one of our wealthiest States... California.

California, my born and home State is against gay marriage, it's beauty queen has fake titts and "opposite" views on committed relationship values. It's got Disneyland, Universal Studios, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Wax Museum and Hollywood Movie/TV Studios who sell a story and not the facts.

It's to BIG to fit all of the stories. The facts are not being sold... just stories. This is why in my opinion the smaller New England States can stay more focused and have been more successful regarding the HUGE GLBTQRXYZ's legislation.

It's New England. They don't have sex during daylight hours and it gives them more time to think.


Thanks for that. The comments here have been almost unanimously insightful, helpful, thoughtful - yours is all of that, but also possibly the funniest and most delightfully sarcastic one so far ("It's New England. They don't have sex during daylight hours and it gives them more time to think" being just a sample)


I needed that.

I only have three things to say on your column.
1)I completely disagree with you
2)I will only support those organizations who continue to fight for marriage.
3)Why is it that you think that the LGBT community can not concentrate on doing more than one thing at a time. We are a much better people than that.

colored queer | May 27, 2009 10:48 AM

Regarding binational couples and UAFA I just want to add that UAFA is not going to solve all the problems/issues faced by LGBT and HIV+ immigrants. It helps only a very small group of "good immigrants who fuck US citizens" as defined by white gay orgs working on immigration issues. These gay orgs have defined immigration rights centered around rights of gay US citizens while ignoring mainstream immigrant rights movement which is fighting for comprehensive immigration reform which is the legalization of all undocumented immigrants. Comp Immig Reform will will help millions of immigrants including LGBT and HIV+ ones without tying them to an employer or spouse to prevent potential abuse and violence by US citizens. So much so for reaching out to Latinos and Asians by gay orgs to get support on measures like prop 8!!!!

However, white gay groups look at the issue from their own privleged positions of being white US citizens. Infact there have been recent statements by white gay "leaders" how we ought to let "good immigrants" stay which implies that "bad immigrants mostly of color -- single, LGBT HIV+, poor" can be deported. "Good immigrants" tend to be whites from Europe in relationships with white US citizens and are least likely to face immigration scrutiny or abuse by US citizens. Very few "good immigrants" are people of color.

While it is fine for white gay immigration orgs to advocate for anyone/issues that they want but why pretend that immigration rights based on family relationships are the only cure. This is what gay marriage has done to the imagination of gay leaders and community that now we evaulate even diverse issues such as immigration based on relationships. Has any gay org actually done a real survey that how many of us are in committed relationships and want marriage rights to be the ultimate fight in gay movement? Marriage is not a priority for most LGBT people of color no matter how many "tokens" of color white gay groups have recently started to put out or all those ads suddenly showing LGBT people of color. We are just fighting to survive employment discrimination, police violence, rough neighborhoods, HIV in our communities and so on.

Colored Queer --

WHO are the "white orgs" that are talking about the "good" immigrants? I have never heard that, and would love to know.

colored queer | May 27, 2009 11:36 AM

You missed this response by Yasmin (got stuck in the middle of this marriage post) to a commentator about immigration issues and marriage. You can read more immigration issues, LGBT racial politics, good immigrant vs bad immigrant analysis etc on these links:

You might be interested in my previous articles on UAFA:

"Uniting American Families Act: Fact, Fiction, Money, and Emotions" can be found here:

and a follow-up to the incendiary (and often anti-immigrant) responses from UAFA supporters can be found here:

"Yasmin Nair: Eat This! Or, How To Leave Comments Without Going up In Flames"

Yasmin Nair | May 27, 2009 8:35 AM
Reply to this comment

You're ducking the question: WHO are the "white" gay orgs you keep talking about? You should tell us who they are, because otherwise you're smearing all national organisations with the racist brush—or did you mean to suggest that all national gay orgs are white and racist?

Marriage Equality USA has only white people on its Board of Directors.

That is fine for you, but I love my husband. I want to be married just like my brothers and sisters. Many people grow up wanting to be married someday. I want marriage just like other people. Don't make me wrong, and I won't make you wrong. We just have a different opinion on the subject. It is not either/or, and we can still take on more than one or two issues at a time. We can handle it.

Phyllis Austin | May 27, 2009 12:11 PM

"we can still take on more than one or two issues"?

I saw that, when HRC and the leading Gay legislator took on ENDA for us. I now see how they take on more than one or two issues, by process of illimination of others rights for the sake of their own.

Brad Bailey | May 27, 2009 11:21 AM

CrescentDave hit the nail on the head. It's not drama, it's the truth. When you live with the enemy here in a red state, you know only too well that these people would rather cut off an arm than grant marriage equality to "abominations." Gay marriage encapsulates these people's worst nightmare. More than any other issue, it represents everything in their world that is evil. Those of us who don't have the luxury of living in a gay enclave in a bigger city know this only too well.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | May 27, 2009 11:21 AM

When is the big Dump SSM rally?

Will it draw as many people as the demonstrations yesterday?

Who are the featured speakers?

Will it be held in the Allstate Arena or Wrigley Field?

Will there be a mass march afterwards?

Sure, marriage SHOULDN'T be the be all and end all, but until we're evolved enough to develop infrastructure that isn't based on entitlements from marriage, I think gay people have every right to have the same opportunities as straight people.

I believe you're looking at very long term goals that requires an overhaul of how society views marriage and these are very long term and exceptionally idealistic.

Until then, I do not understand how anyone that claims (if you do) to not discriminate against a minority of any kind would oppose equality.
It's illogical to the highest degree.
And it is. No matter what your adaemic opinion is, your personal opinion, whatever cause moves you to feel about life the way you do, the most important factor is that it is illogical.

It seems that because you disagree with marriage, you disagree with equality because you do not believe society should be this way in the first place.
Well, it is how it is, so make the best of it and make it the most beautiful place it can be.
Now that's idealistic, but being a realist.

Most importantly though - it's logical and mentally and emotionally healthy.
I don't believe you as a person have that luxury - being mentally and emotionally healthy.

I hope one day you do and on that day maybe you'll stop fighting against a cause because your belief is so incredibly detached from the reality of society and marriage infrastructure.

Why not whine on about marriage in general and quit with getting so caught up about gays?

Move on and attack what you really have a problem with cos gay marriage is such an easy target to attack.


As you put it: "It seems that because you disagree with marriage, you disagree with equality because you do not believe society should be this way in the first place.
Well, it is how it is, so make the best of it and make it the most beautiful place it can be.
Now that's idealistic, but being a realist."

Do either of those sentences, seriously, make any sense to you?

And then there's this:
"Most importantly though - it's logical and mentally and emotionally healthy.
I don't believe you as a person have that luxury - being mentally and emotionally healthy."

Ah, yes, the old if-you-disagree-with-me-you-must-be-emotionally-and-mentally-unstable argument. Look, argue all you want, disagree all you want - but if you can't support your points, such as they are, without engaging in personal attacks - stay out of this. As you can see, from the 100+ comments so far, some of us are actually capable of having a civil argument without making personal attacks.

And, clearly, you haven't read too carefully - my post makes it amply evident that I have no regard for the institution of marriage, period.

I believe that the "it is how it is" argument is usually the weakest and the most illogical. This is due to the fact that their "it is" exists before ours.
The point that should be made is that marriage, historically, is an institution that breeds inequality. We may want to put on some sort of ahistorical lens and pretend that marriage has always been about granting rights and privileges; however, marriage needs to be read differently as one institution that instead determines who doesn't receive rights and privileges.

Nasty personal attacks aside (which do weaken any sort of argument you are trying to form), the idea that to disagree with marriage is to disagree with equality is flawed at best. On the contrary, to disagree with marriage in the ways that Yasmin does is to argue for a more capacious idea of equality.

Beeswaxnone | May 27, 2009 12:02 PM

Yasmin, I hear you. You're right to point out the limitations of arguing from the personal. Making couples' situations incommensurate--and at odds--is clearly part of a larger hetero-normative context.*

The present situation, in which couples encounter different legal mechanisms, from state to state and from municipality to municipality, has to fall one way or another. The more states and municipalities get on board with gay marriage, the more the kinds of absurd cases we're talking about will emerge.

That's good and bad. Frankly, it sucks to end up in that test case/worst case scenario. The really emotionally devastating cases will win court battles and public opinion over time, but I can't see a lot of people volunteering to find out what happens after their partner dies, they lose their home, have to take it to court, pay legal bills and have public exposure during the intimacy of a loss.

That's why I think solidarity on reform is in our best interest, period. Hopefully it's possible to hedge off the very worst cases, like this instance of a church group funding the quasi-legal kidnapping of a child. 'Cuz that's just nasty.

I like the Quebec solution, difficult as it may be to implement in the US religious context.

Both gay and straight couples can choose between "marriage" and a form of civil union. The union can kick in almost automatically--essentially once you've been together for a period of time and participated as a couple in civil procedures. For all legal purposes a union is precisely equivalent to marriage (for the province - or in US terms state level - & I think federally).

If partners live together and do things like file taxes together, the courts recognize familial relations as though they were a marriage - children, pensions, inheritance, health decisions, immigration, adoption, etc.

Among other things, this means that straight, religious folks no longer have a monopoly on familial wealth transfer and security--which to be frank is what's been happening.

A civil union can be a formal document or a history a couple builds through civil mechanisms like co-signing leases, submitting joint taxes, signing birth certificates, etc.

Once a couple heads down that road, married and unmarried couples have equal legal status regardless of whether they're gay or straight.

This in part makes your point. A good solution emerged because of straight AND gay resistance to marriage. Basically, the politics of the boomers after the 1960s meant a lot of people chose not to marry. Over time they won equivalent rights. In turn that influenced the gay marriage conundrum, allowing both same-sex marriage and civil unions, producing a solution I find infinitely preferable to the "marriage"or bust paradigm.

I think Quebec is a good example to keep in mind because straight and gay couples have collectively and significantly transformed 'marriage' as an institution.

I'm not entirely sure how this works with polyamory, but there is a developing mechanism for recognizing an opposite-sex parent (including an egg or sperm donor) as a third parent if all parties wish to do so.

I'd love to see more heterosexuals push for state recognition of 'non marriage' civil unions. If that happened helpfully alongside the gay marriage movement, I think the results would be more flexible for everyone.

Unfortunately I don't (yet) see that kind of groundswell. That's too bad for all of us. It would be smart to conduct this lobbying with all options in mind, but if there is to be state-level redefinition of straight marriage it has to come from a popular (mass) movement, as it did in the Quebec example. That means constructing a political process and large-scale resistance.

If that were to happen...good.


Here's my burning prop 8 question:

How can states' rights trump national reform if capital can flow across state lines to pay for local ballot initiatives--especially on this scale? That makes no sense to me.


* I have to say it, with dorky apologies, the word 'hetero-normative' is so gangly it makes me cringe every time I use it.


You make me swoon... yes - and yay! -- for the Quebec model. I don't think such models are unattainable in the U.S - but the GM movement has managed to convince straights and gays here that marriage, understood in the most narrow terms, is the only one that would work.

Thanks for your detailed post illuminating the possibility of a different world. And here's to "constructing a political process and large-scale resistance."

As for the issue of states' rights trumping national reform - you've got me there. My guess is that the long and messy history of states' rights in the U.S. has a lot to do with it - but I'll defer to others who might have opinions on that.

Also, I hear your frustration on "heteronormative" - unfortunately, as long as hetero and normative ideology continues to beat us on the head, we're kinda stuck with it, I think :-)

And, seriously, if you or anyone you know in Quebec should ever want to adopt/import me, I'm ready and available.

Beeswaxnone | May 27, 2009 12:14 PM

Yes, absolutely Uniting American Families Act -- Leahy announced UAFA hearings to take place June 3. Very exciting!!!!!!!!

I find the explicit appeal to nationalism in the name "American Families" distressing.

I hope that from the beginning UAFA considers non-citizen residents, immigrants and couples with a partner on a full-time student or temporary work visa.

Straight couples have immigration and visa options in all of those cases.


"Ah, yes, the old if-you-disagree-with-me-you-must-be-emotionally-and-mentally-unstable argument. Look, argue all you want, disagree all you want - but if you can't support your points, such as they are, without engaging in personal attacks - stay out of this."

That wasn't a personal attack. You're being very over-sensitive and making it personal yourself.
From your various posts, it's obvious you have a chip on your shoulder, and people that carry chips are unhappy about something. Certain things in life i'm not happy about, but I don't attack it a negative way.

You don't provide realistic, or more importantly, POSITIVE AND CONSTRUCTIVE solutions to a problem, you simply attack what you disagree with.
Your reply is a clear example of that behaviour.
I'm sorry, please let me know if you have an education in Psychology.

"As you put it: "It seems that because you disagree with marriage, you disagree with equality because you do not believe society should be this way in the first place.
Well, it is how it is, so make the best of it and make it the most beautiful place it can be.
Now that's idealistic, but being a realist."

Do either of those sentences, seriously, make any sense to you?"

Yes they do. You disagree with marriage as whole but go around attacking those that want gay marriage. You could do a lot more for a cause by being constructive, as i've said, and finding realistic solutions and goals instead of just being a problem finder.
So again, make it the most beautiful place it can be and make the best of it.
I cannot make it much simpler to you.

When you post a blog you should try to actually argue your points and still understand another person's point of view, but so far, your actions on the web do seem to indicate a woman that needs to feel validated through her own opinions and incapable of empathy unless you, yourself, are affected.

You are, in effect, just ranting.

Go out there and fight for what you believe in. Until then you're just a bystander.

I'm not making it personal at all. If you want a debate that is based on nothing but facts then
1. write posts that are based solely on facts
2. go into politics

Until then, you can't complain about what comments you receive on the web. Well, you can, but you're just finding another problem, and a problem you should expect if you put yourself out there like that.

Again, you're being illogical and, it seems, quite irrational and hostile towards someone that disagreed.

And, on another note, don't expect respect out of those you are disrespectful towards.

Christopher | May 27, 2009 2:08 PM

Going into politics is the last thing someone should do if they want a debate based solely on "facts."

So true, Christopher (and I mean that even if you disagree with me, just FYI :-)

Christopher | May 28, 2009 12:06 AM

I'd say I'm with you 50% on the practicals and 100% on the feather ruffling.

Anthony in Nashville | May 27, 2009 1:27 PM

Kudos to Yasmin for another thought-proviking post!

I feel that the LGBT community basically took the bait from right-wingers in focusing on same sex marriage instead of focusing on issues that affect a greater number of LGBTs, like housing and employment protections.

It's my understanding that California already had recognized domestic partnerships. If so, Prop 8 was a very poor choice of resources and energy.

I have to agree with those who said there is a hint of selfishness from people who feel marriage should be the number one issue. It's a problem that has inhibited LGBTs from making more progress as a group. We are more intent on seeking social sanction and recognition from outsiders than building and maintaining our own communities.

Some minority groups are more concerned with creating their own world with businesses, infrastructure, neigborhoods and education, regardless of what The Majority thinks about them. I think of black communities prior to the civil rights movement and Asian and Latino immigrant communities as examples.

It seems like only (wealthy, white) LGBTs demand this validation from society. I believe some of this is because these (wealthy, white) LGBTs never had to deal with "less than" status from people prior to coming out, and they are having difficulty knowing what to do. Rather than focusing inward, they are behaving in a manner that is close to whining and demanding attention.

I believe that is one reason why it has been hard to enlist many non-white LGBTs in the frontlines for gay marriage. I think we can do better.

Brad Bailey | May 27, 2009 1:36 PM

You can ignore me all you want, but the fact remains that ours is a hated minority representing only five percent of the U.S. population to begin with. With those low numbers and unpopularity, we can't afford to look at gay rights as some kind of menu: pick two from column A, and one from column B. That we have come this far is nothing short of miraculous, considering who our enemies are.

Louisa is right: if you have a problem with marriage in general, that's fine. But most gays I know of would dearly love to have that option.

Bill Perdue also makes a good point. Until you can stir the hearts of the community with a cause that inspires us to march and rally around, you've basically accomplished nothing other than stating your opinion. It's easy to bitch about something when setbacks occur. It's much harder to stick to one's guns in the face of adversity. I think I'll continue to support SSM, thank you.

Louisa, I'll leave you to flail around in the deep morass of your own (ill)logic. Of course, I understand completely. You're not making personal comments about me, you're just making a professional deduction. Got it. Will you be billing me for your hours?

I'm done responding to you since you, like Alaric, are clearly chasing your tail, and I'll leave you to your merry chase. But your post does invoke issues about this discussion (not because you raised them intentionally) that I'll now address in a separate comment. Bye now.

A general comment about the nature of some of the comments here:

I wanted to repeat a point I've made earlier, in response to some comments that I/we couldn't possibly be critical of any kind of politics without personal experience. There are real problems with basing politics on the idea that everyone involved in an issue has to have had the most wrenching experience with it. That kind of affective politics is what got us into the marriage mess to begin with. I'm getting really tired of the whole "tell-me-when-you-suffer-and-then-I'll-listen-to-you" point. For one thing, see above. For another, is everything we agitate for to be based on our suffering? Surely our political goals and agendas have to do with more than the sum total of our individual experiences?

The other issue that has come up here has to do with the whole "show me proof/solutions before you dare to disagree with me." As the estimable Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore has said in her blog, and I'm going to paraphrase quite clumsily here, asking for alternatives when confronted with a challenge to one's belief in a system is a classic liberal strategy. This kind of demand allows you to evade the responsibility of defending your position by putting the onus on the questioner to provide facts/alternatives. But the questioners here are the ones still raising unanswered questions.

In other words, gay marriage is a huge fucking mess. To be precise: It's a giant, squishy, turd-like mess and those of us who have been critiquing this strategy from its inception have either been silenced or hammered down with exactly the kind of posturing and demands posed by some respondents here: "show me your solutions!", they insist. Demanding to know what our alternatives might be conveniently ignores the fact that the more than 100 commenters on this particular blog, beeswaxnone among them, have in fact been working on a discussion that involves crafting alternatives to the strategy. A critique of the sort I've offered here is rarely seen (Mattilda was among the first to have offered any) and I think the the number of engaged responses here is proof that just asking critical questions is deeply cathartic for many of us.

So, to that end, the demand for alternatives ignores the reality of the status quo having ground us down to the extent where asking questions is in itself the first radical move. And the demand for alternatives also conveniently sidesteps the fact that many of us have, in fact, been living and offering our alternatives.

Which is to say, stop it already. If you can't defend GM as the ultimate solution to all our woes, back away quietly. You have no right to demand alternative and quick-fix solutions when you know perfectly well that your campaigns have sucked away resources and public support from vital issues like HIV funding, employment non-discrimination, and a host of other issues that face the community.

Trust me: Admitting to your lack of a defense is the first step - and then you can hop over to the dark side and leave this ridiculous and pointless "movement" behind.

David Phillips | May 27, 2009 2:40 PM
Which is to say, stop it already. If you can't defend GM as the ultimate solution to all our woes, back away quietly. You have no right to demand alternative and quick-fix solutions when you know perfectly well that your campaigns have sucked away resources and public support from vital issues like HIV funding, employment non-discrimination, and a host of other issues that face the community.

Arrogant and condescending to the core regarding those with different opinions! You are continuing to wallow in the zero-sum and fixed-resources arguments, instead of broadening you view to consider how we can attack ALL of these issues successfully by realigning our individual and collective commitments.

I've been living with HIV for almost 27 years, a freak by any other name. I would love for the damned virus to be eradicated and for human suffering from it to cease, and I do my part in giving money, letting researchers poke at me regularly, and serving those in need. However, laying down my resistance to inequalities in civil marriage--and replicating that 10 million times over--isn't going to make a complex viral illness disappear. And even if we made progress on HIV, homophobic wingers would continue to demonize and murder Queermen through upholding no-promo-home, citing the invalidity of our relationships.

For almost 30 years I've been living with a lifethreatening neurological defect. Universal health care would have given me comfort in years spent uninsured, fearful of the cost of emergency surgery. UHC would also level the playing field substantially for people living with HIV, hepatitis B and C, and myriad other life-threatening conditions. However, shifting all of my energy to UHC and coupling that with the shift of millions of like-minded people will not bring it to pass until the healthcare industry is made to recognize by current payors, including the feds, that their sector is weighing down our economy. Still, with the healthcare system that we've got, I'd rather not have to rely on a healthcare power-of-attorney to give my partner access to me in a hospital and authority over my treatment which civil marriage equality would confer.

So, please, before you fire off another retort to someone who disagrees with you, post what affirms your stand, instead of tearing everyone else down dismissively. That behaviour is more reminiscent of a schoolyard bully that an online thinker.

Well, gee Yasmin, that's touching. Both Louisa and I have listed a number of reasons why your post and the arguments in it are unrealistic and not constructive, and your response is to say we're chasing our own tails, meaningless and redundant. You show no desire to understand the views of others and why we have them, seeking only to invalidate those who disagree with you.

You seem to delight in deliberately posting contrarian articles that you know will upset people, but then you become defensive when criticized -- hence my comparison of you to Jasmyne Cannick. It's rather childish, really.

Brad Bailey | May 27, 2009 2:14 PM

No one is saying that GM, or any single issue, is the "ultimate solution to all our woes." Nothing is. And it's childish to assume that any single issue would accomplish this. Demeaning those who respectfully disagree with you, or editing out their posts because you don't like them, is not a valid discussion of alternatives. The only alternative you've given us so far is that you'd rather be living in Canada.

Yasmin - Ilove you so much for this post and I'm one of those people that was out there screaming and protesting at the Phoenix Decision Day Rally. Marriage Equality is no where near the top of my priority list regarding issues for our community.

My partner and I have been together for twelve years. We had our ceremony in 1997 in Alabama because we did NOT need the state to validate our relationship. And we did all the things we needed to do to protect us and ours.

I want to support my LGBT brothers and sisters and for some reason they have adopted this as the issue for the moment. But to see the hate you're getting for not buying into this is not surprising (and I'm sure you knew it was coming). You're doing a fabulous job debunking them all.

MSMs are still the majority of those infected with HIV (I'm African-American and gay and this issue is near and dear to me). Most states still have no employement protection for LGBT individuals. Transgender murder seems to be increasing every year. Hate crimes against the LGBT community are on the rise. But marriage equality is our NUMBER ONE issue.

You're my shero and I thank you for saying this. I'm in 100% agreement.

Yasmin - Ilove you so much for this post and I'm one of those people that was out there screaming and protesting at the Phoenix Decision Day Rally. Marriage Equality is no where near the top of my priority list regarding issues for our community.

My partner and I have been together for twelve years. We had our ceremony in 1997 in Alabama because we did NOT need the state to validate our relationship. And we did all the things we needed to do to protect us and ours.

I want to support my LGBT brothers and sisters and for some reason they have adopted this as the issue for the moment. But to see the hate you're getting for not buying into this is not surprising (and I'm sure you knew it was coming). You're doing a fabulous job debunking them all.

MSMs are still the majority of those infected with HIV (I'm African-American and gay and this issue is near and dear to me). Most states still have no employement protection for LGBT individuals. Transgender murder seems to be increasing every year. Hate crimes against the LGBT community are on the rise. But marriage equality is our NUMBER ONE issue.

You're my shero and I thank you for saying this. I'm in 100% agreement.

Thank you so much, Yasmin. Thanks for your voice in a time when people such as me who don't see the marriage equality movement, or the building up of the state for the purpose of legitimizing relationship/s, worthy of a fight. It's very easy to have ones politics silenced when so much grief and heated emotion come flying around, like these past few days. Thank you for laying out so clearly the urgency of other fights like healthcare for all - not contingent on wealth or marriage status, and the country's need rethink its strategy of mass imprisonment.

Also, shame on those who see "utopian idealism" as a bad thing!

Thanks to Chris, Jason, Ivan, Christopher, ChrisE and many others for your comments. Glad to find people who see the urgency of everything else that faces us. And, Chris, yeah, I don't get why "utopian idealism" is seen as a bad thing either...!

I'm not clear on how you disagree with me, exactly. Other than your personal irritation with me, the situations you describe are exactly what I'm concerned about as well. Marriage won't solve them.

As for firing retorts to those who disagree - well, clearly, you haven't been reading too much here. I'm blunt with people who make irrelevant personal comments, and I'm within my rights to be that way. Look above and below you, David. Do you think this many people would have showed up if all I did was "fire off" retorts?

Alaric, there's no such thing as the 'race card.' and only people flaunting vanilla flavored privilege think so. That's a right-wing conservative construct that disrespectfully reduces my (or any other POC) pointing out prejudiced or bigoted comments or behaviors to a card game.

You're the one who brought up Jasmyne Cannick to attack Yasmin and got mad because I called you on it.

You don't have the right to tell me as a African-American transperson who has experienced more racism, discrimination and bigotry in her lifetime what is and isn't racist.

Now back to the issues at hand. Yes, this split ruling sucks. The only silver lining in it is that the 18,000 marriages that were performed are still legal and maybe this time, people will get politically active and stay that way on an array of issues impacting the GLBT community.

Marriage equality is going to be a decades long war of legal attrition, not a blitzkrieg.

"Alaric, there's no such thing as the 'race card.' and only people flaunting vanilla flavored privilege think so."

Sure there is, Monica. And you played it. You automatically assumed that because I criticized both Yasmin and Jasmyne for peddling "contrarian nonsense," that I must have been doing it because Jasmyne is black. In fact, as I explained in a response to Yasmin, it's because they both put out inflammatory rhetoric, timed precisely to when it will have the most effect, and then adopt a defensive, condescending attitude when people get upset. Jasmyne came to mind because she also thought that a loss for gay marriage would be a great time to trash the people who support it -- not unlike going to a funeral and saying "I hope he roasts" -- and when people reacted, she got all pissed off and treated anyone who disagreed with her with contempt and invalidation. She also came to mind because her name rhymes with Yasmin's.

If I point out that I also consider Andrew Sullivan to be a peddler of contrarian nonsense, will you calm down?

"That's a right-wing conservative construct that disrespectfully reduces my (or any other POC) pointing out prejudiced or bigoted comments or behaviors to a card game."

And resorting to the knee-jerk accusation that people who criticize your arguments are racist is a very convenient way to shut people up when they don't agree with you, but it doesn't work on me.

"You don't have the right to tell me as a African-American transperson who has experienced more racism, discrimination and bigotry in her lifetime what is and isn't racist."

Oh, I LOVE this one! This is one of my favorite cliche shut-up-the-other-side arguments!

This is the sort of argument that people like you like to use so that you can use blindly accuse critics of racism while you use racially inflammatory rhetoric like "vanilla flavored privilege."

You, of course, know virtually nothing about me or my life. You don't know, for example, that I'm of mixed descent and was raised in a Native American step-family and had the wonderful experience of hearing people use lovely terms like "prairie niggers" with no idea they were talking about my relatives.

So chill out, okay?

Since you're calling Jasmyne's name in vain,
why don't you read what she has to say on the issue for yourself? Or can you not handle the truth?



Let's get real, many gay peeps are mad at Jas because she spearheaded the successful effort to kill a Shirley Q Liquor show in Los Angeles and her November 8 LA Times op ed.


You don't get to be recognized as one of ESSENCE magazine's 25 young women leaders for nothing.

So keep hatin' on her, a founding member of the National Black Justice Coalition. There are many people in the Black GLBT/SGL community who do love and respect her for being a truth teller, standing up for us and tellin' it like it T-I-S is.

Since you're calling Jasmyne's name in vain,
why don't you read what she has to say on the issue for yourself? Or can you not handle the truth?"

Jasmyne H. Christ, I already have. And I'll take her name in vain as much as I please, Jasmyne damn it!

Let's get real, many gay peeps are mad at Jas because she spearheaded the successful effort to kill a Shirley Q Liquor show in Los Angeles ...

That's wonderful! I think Shirley Q Liquor is a blatantly racist minstrel show, too. And it's unfortunate that so many in the gay community don't get that.

... and her November 8 LA Times op ed.

No kudos there. It was, like her other work, poorly written (like, how many Jasmynedamn times in the same article does she have to use the phrase "As a black lesbian...?"), inflammatory and obviously written and timed to piss people off. It's clear that she has a huge chip on her shoulder.

You don't get to be recognized as one of ESSENCE magazine's 25 young women leaders for nothing.

That doesn't reduce the size of the chip on her shoulder or make her any less inflammatory or ignorant.

So keep hatin' on her, a founding member of the National Black Justice Coalition.

I'm not "hatin' on her" any more than I'm forgetting how to properly spell a gerund. This founding member of the National Black Justice Coalition also dismisses Bayard Rustin and Barbara Jordan on her Web site as "safe blacks" and criticizes them for being in interracial relationships, even though they did far more to advance the civil rights of black and gay people than Jasmyne Cannick could ever dream, like helping to make it possible to be an out black lesbian who gets published in the LA Times.

There are many people in the Black GLBT/SGL community who do love and respect her for being a truth teller, standing up for us and tellin' it like it T-I-S is.

I like it when self-righteous people tell me what I want to hear, too. Then again, sometimes things that might make me feel all warm and fuzzy are actually counterproductive in the long term and, upon closer scrutiny, turn out not to be very original or clever.

Not to get off topic here, but I took "plain vanilla" a totally different way, and did not see it as a racial reference in the first place. I (for one) did not assume that you are white, but then again, I did not take "plain vanilla" to be a reference to race...


The exact phrase she used was "vanilla flavored privilege." Unless she's referring to the dark brown color of dried vanilla bean pods, I would surmise that she was presumptuously saying my argument was one of white privilege.

Granted, my ancestry is predominantly European, I look pretty white and was raised to think of myself as Irish-Catholic. However, I was raised in a mostly non-white household and am part of my step-family's community, so I take some idiot calling members of that community "prairie niggers" very personally.

For Monica to assume that I'm just some white boy from the 'burbs is ignorant. And for her to assume that the connection I made between Yasmin's inflammatory commentary and subsequent defensive reaction to criticism and Jasmyne's was simply because Jasmyne is black is just cheap.

CailleanMcM CailleanMcM | May 27, 2009 6:45 PM

When you choose to write something this funny in the future, could you warn me please, Alaric?
I ruined a white blouse while I was sipping coffee.

I diagree with you about Jasmyne, though, but the writing was still hilarious.

Sorry for ruining your blouse! Coffee usually washes out pretty easily, though :)

Tracy Kronzak | May 27, 2009 4:45 PM

Thank you for this - I wrote a shorter, angrier piece along similar lines yesterday: http://www.racewire.org/archives/2009/05/i_dont_want_marriage_i_want_eq.html

I couldn't agree more - dump marriage now!

Actually, I thought your post was much more fair-minded.

I did take issue with the following comment: "[Marriage] gives privileges, rights and protections (1100 and counting) to people based on whom they are sleeping with."

No, it gives those privileges, rights and protections to people based on whom they love and share property, expenses and other responsibilities with. My partner is more than just a fuck buddy.

I would be all in favor of abolishing marriage and replacing it with civil unions for all. I've been in favor of that for a long time. However, that doesn't mean I'm willing to just sit back when anti-gay-marriage amendments are passed and say "oh well," as Yasmin does. And note that I favor civil unions/domestic partnerships for all or marriage for all, not civil unions/domestic partnerships for gays and marriage for straights.

Phyllis Austin | May 27, 2009 6:42 PM

Yes, and to hear the insensitivness of folks say "go get you own money" is horrible and someone with blinders on. What would be the value of fighting everywhere equally, instead of the populated states? Ask the Republican and Democratic parties who funnel money where it's needed, when it's needed. And isn't "that" susposed to be the reason for donations, to fight our common cause for equality? Why leave anyone behind? I may have to retire to Arkansas some day, because I can't afford to live in Riverside or Laguna Hills.

Douglas Gibson Jr | May 27, 2009 6:49 PM

I am starting to think like some other people that I have seen post here in the past. I'm starting to think that some of these articles are written just to incite controversy. We need to start standing together on these issues or we will never get anything accomplished.

That's just silly. Let's knock down this straw man before he finds his legs. There are clearly plenty of people who agree with Yasmin's viewpoint. Just look at the comment thread above to see.

It's not about controversy, it's about discussion. The idea of this site has always been to voice every view point. Even if Yasmin's viewpoint is a minority of opinion, does that mean she shouldn't be allowed to post it? What are you saying, exactly?

We post plenty of pro-marriage stuff too. More-so than anti-marriage, in fact.

It seems to me that folks who make this argument are really either a) unable or unwilling to defend their own position or b) simply don't want to be bothered with opposing viewpoints/opinions.

It's fine if you disagree, but attacking someone's motives is classic diversion and doesn't add to the discussion.

If gay marriage was such a huge priority and an indispensible step toward equality, then why did any of you support Obama before the convention?

Did the marriage primacy people vote for Kucinich?
He supported same sex marriage, Obama did not.

Anthony in Nashville | May 28, 2009 7:17 AM

You raise an excellent point here!

From a gay rights perspective, it was funny to note that most LGBTs did not even consider giving Kucinich a chance, when he had the strongest record and statements in favor of LGBT equality.

For the record, he supported ENDA, hate crimes legislation, ending Don't Ask Don't Tell, gay adoption, gay marriage, same sex immigration, gender expression job protection, and other bills that would have benefitted the LGBT community more so than what McCain, HRC, or Obama proposed.

For all the talk some of us do about making gay rights the primary determination in our voting, there's a discussion to be had about why the most truly progressive candidates generally don't get our support.

I agree with you on one point. We should no be so tunnel visioned on our equality, but I do not agree that marriage isn't important. Marriage is a key principal of relationships in our society. Your correct, maybe it shouldn't be, but it is and many gay people are ok with it being so. While I'm sure many gay people do not want to get married, I personaly don't want to, I and I'm sure many others at least want the choice like the rest of society in case I ever change my mind. But the point being all the comments about Marriage bringing rights are true. I just hope one of our opponets doesn't read this blog, I would put a entirely new bullet in their anti-gay gun. Simply though, yes marriage is symbolic. A symbol we can't and I don't want, to lose. But I do encourage talking about these things. Thats why this blog is so good, thats why all blogs are usualy good. When we communicate, we get things done. I assume you would still vote for marriage equality, if given the chance, or participate in marriage equality rallies.

Gay Atheist,

I don't participate in marriage equality rallies, and there's no such thing as voting for marriage equality. So far, ballot initiatives have been about defining marriage as X, not *for* marriage equality. As for the idea that "our opponents" might read this blog - I don't think the Right is the problem, gay marriage as it's been framed is the problem.

Marriage is not a key principle of relationships, it's been constructed as one - and it's really not that difficult to deconstruct it as such either. Historians like Stephanie Coontz remind us that much of what passes for a long tradition of marriage and its meanings is, in fact, a relatively new invention.

I agree with you about the necessity of having such conversations.

Lot of good points pro con and in between here now if we can just generate this much support to iunclude all the Trans community in the next round of ENDA I will be happy.Now its time to redo the California constitution with a new admendment that would perment those cities counties etc to allow same sex marragie and those who dont be able to do so but every one must reconize any same sex marraige no matter what part of the state they live in.That way the no it aint going happen here folks will be happy the we want it now folks will be happy and if you live in the wrong part of the state just go out of town to get married.This issue here in Georgia is pretty much dead as it died a couple years ago and very few even seemed to notice when it did.

Politics is a contact sport with no rules.

colored queer | May 27, 2009 10:26 PM


why are you so upset if she pointed towards your privilege -- you are white, right? I don't see why are you making such a big deal or I hope you don't think that you don't enjoy any privleges in this country because you are a white male. I am sure you know how your color must open doors for you which are usually closed for people of color. I am not saying that it automatically makes all whites racist but it is just the way it is in terms of your privlege and gay community also respects that status as well. Positive news is that things are changing and now we have Yasmine and Jasmyne who are writing about these issues openly and yes you are absolutely right that both are women of color and see both have such different perspectives on marriages, racial issues, strategies and such deep analysis of issues.

We need to embrace different opinions, debates and thats what makes this country so rich and vibrant.

Jasmyne did a wonderful job with that LA piece in discussing the failed stratgies of prop 8 crowd and lets try to learn from that as gay orgs put this back on ballot regardless of whether we like it or not. We are already seeing a rush by gay orgs to suddenly hire some people of color to carrry their message. Now, I don't how effective that short term strategy would be but at least those groups are trying to be diverse now..(sarcasm).

So, see those are all positive changes because of Jasmyne's thoughts etc. I know some white folks go upset but they'd get over those issues. You know how people tried to paint Michelle Obama as angry black woman because of her views on race and see how popular she has become and what a role model for black women and other colored women everywhere. I hope you don't take issues with Michelle either, right?

Why are you assuming that's what I'm upset about? Like I said, I grew up in a family that mostly comprised people of color, so I don't need to be lectured about white privilege.

What bothers me is that I made a critical remark about Yasmin's article and mentioned Jasmyne as a person who took a similarly inflammatory approach to the issue and became defensive, disrespectful and dismissive when criticized. Let me make this absolutely clear: IT HAD NOTHING WHATSOEVER TO DO WITH THE FACT THAT JASMYNE AND YASMIN ARE WOMEN OF COLOR. THAT WAS NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVER, EVER A THOUGHT THAT CROSSED MY MIND WHEN I MADE MY ORIGINAL COMMENTS. IT WAS PURELY A COMMENTARY ON HOW THEY PRESENTED THEIR ARGUMENTS AND RESPONDED TO CRITICISM BECAUSE I SAW SIMILARITIES IN THEIR APPROACHES. Do I need to clarify that further?

Race had nothing to do with it until Monica decided to play the race card and say that I was criticizing her Lord and Savior Jasmyne Christ because she is black. And I say "play the race card" because I remain convinced that she did it entirely out of spite.

Monica relied on the reflexive assumption that because I'm predominantly Caucasian (though obviously not of the conventional variety) and criticizing a person of color, it MUST be because of that person's race. I don't judge people on account of their skin color, but I do judge them for stooping to that type of simplistic, two-dimensional thinking.

As for Cannick's column, while I agreed all along that the No On 8 campaign didn't do shit to address minority groups, Jasmyne's column and subsequent articles on her Web site were accusatory, inflammatory, unfair and downright obnoxious. It's one thing to criticize the way a campaign was carried out and constructively criticize attitudes that caused such a bad campaign -- I'm all for addressing racism in the gay community, believe you me -- but sweeping indictments and attacking people on the basis of race only pisses people off, which was obviously one of Jasmyne's main goals with her column.

Stereotypes are stereotypes, and they don't sound any cuter when directed at a white person by a black person than vice versa. You may have thought Jasmyne's column was "wonderful" because it told you what you wanted to hear, but at the end of the day, she's a shoddy writer and a shoddy thinker who needs to grow a thicker skin.

Wow, I went to sleep and wake up to find this incredible thread going on. Thanks, dcwsf8, Mattilda, ezky, Robert, and others. Ezky, you point out the kind of details that prove how unmarried people are going to be treated in this new marriage economy. Mattilda, yes, such drama from HRC, such verve, such determination - how can we not just fall in line?


You open my eyes to something I have always felt deep down but had not been able to articulate! As a single gay man who was married eons ago in my long struggle to know myself, I know what "special rights" really are.

I now realize that I am also entitled to all of the privileges granted to married people. Society has favored this instution for far too long and religion has been most instrumental in supporting it to further their ranks and numbers.

I support the recognition, approval and respect of any loving committed relationship between two people esp. in the raising of children, but feel our GLBTQ struggle has many more important issues to battle over and spend our time and money on.

Thank you so much for you insight and ability to express it so clearly for me.

But wait -- Joe Solmonese says "we won't back down!"

.."Because you might not have health insurance, I should stop worrying about my own life.."

well, i'd say nope--just realize that your own life is a privileged one if the *one* thing keeping you from normalcy is a lack of marriage. I would say, just because your life is a privileged one, the rest of us have to give up our portion of LGBT resources to a fight that we've been coerced into thinking is our only option?

Here's the truth: We actually had more legally recognized versions of family *before* we prioritized marriage, and the marriage movement has actually *taken away* rights from other families thanks to its strategies and rhetoric. It's not pie-in-the-sky to think about recognizing all families-- it's stuff we *had* and we *abandoned*. Ask the unmarried but committed gays in Mass. how they're treated now, or the gay male/lesbian queer coparents who share expenses, kids, and a home and whose own "movement" no longer characterizes them as a family worthy of protecting. Prior to all of this, we had favorable court decisions recognizing multi-parent homes and way broader domestic partner policies for everyone.

as for legal rights, CA gays have all the same rights and benefits of marriage. Gay marriage leaders have long now admitted this fight is about acceptance and not rights. Acceptance is a luxury most people don't have, and marriage laws screw everyone, not just gays.

ezky, it's not just about legalizing same-sex marriage, but keeping from being banned in the constitution.

Unless you're okay with constitutional exclusion -- I'm certainly not -- we have to drop the attitude that this is somehow the fault of all or part of the gay community. The religious right is what brought this battle to us, not the other way around.

Are you aware that in 2003, in the case of Lawrence v. Texas, a whole bunch of groups like the Family Research Council and Concerned Women for America filed amicus briefs with the court calling on it to uphold the Texas sodomy law? To put it simply, these people don't want to just keep us from marrying -- they want to criminalize us.

Banning gay marriage is just another step toward their ultimate goal, which is to shove us back in the closet. After gay marriage, they'll go after civil unions and domestic partnerships (as they already have in several states). Then, they'll try to repeal non-discrimination and hate crime laws. They know that attitudes are changing, so they'll seize on any anti-gay backlash they can possibly find.

This may all come across as melodramatic and Cassandra-ish, but consider this: European countries, including Germany, started passing Jewish emancipation laws in the 1860s and 1870s, but we all know what happened less than 100 years later. A huge portion of this country still hates us, even if they don't acknowledge that to themselves; for proof, look at what happens whenever same-sex marriage is put up to a popular vote. Even if the people who vote "Yes" say to our faces they have nothing against us, they obviously view us as a threat to everything wholesome and good.

So my point is: Quit blaming this on "privileged" gays who are supposedly out of touch with everyone else, and quit acting like this has nothing to do with you and that it's all just a "distraction."

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | May 28, 2009 2:58 AM

In as much as I find "Utopian" ideas a bore, because by definition they are never practical, I found the ideas expressed here interesting. Maura also makes an excellent point about who and why we support candidates. I would add that, despite the best efforts of Mao, Stalin and others it was never possible to completely erase religion, and those who need it, from any society.

The intermingling of the word "marriage" and religious practice, is all but total. I have said before that I despise an institution with a 50% failure rate that holds itself out as somehow superior to practical arrangements people can make for themselves. I also wonder about the number of people who remain "married" but miserable. My observation suggests many are unsatisfied.

I still believe that we spend too much time attempting to define ourselves along traditional lines when we are not traditional ourselves. The most frightening thing for me is reaching for this mediocrity. This being said we must make arrangements for partner care, child care, equality in inheritance, pension, social security and property issues. It is not fun to be young and poor, but it can easily be prematurely fatal to be an elder and poor. If we take the "m" word out of the discussion we will obtain the equivalence we desire all the sooner. Still, I expect it will be ten years away.

If the only way I could care for my partner would be to marry him I would hold my nose against my dislike of the institution and do so. Meanwhile, I live in Thailand.

Thank you Yasmin.

Wow, I went to sleep and wake up to find this incredible thread going on. Thanks, dcwsf8, Mattilda, ezky, Robert, and others for keeping it going.

Ezky, you point out the kind of details that prove how unmarried people are going to be treated in this new marriage economy. Mattilda, yes, such drama
from HRC, such verve, such determination - how can we not just fall in line?

I think that the main purpose of a gay lesbian bi trans organization or agenda is to focus on the big issues that the rest of America will not demand for us - that we must demand for ourselves. There are a million organizations pushing for all kinds of health care proposals. they all have more money and people working on these matters than our groups will ever have. Of course these are matters of concern. However, none of you folks who agree with Yasmin can name a single issue that has gotten ALL of America talking about our issues, our lives, our agenda, like same-sex marriage and in second place, the repeal of DADT (Don't ask, don't tell). This has had our agenda in the public discussion, front pages, all the news shows, THe View, Oprah, Larry King, NPR , every media form including airplane advertizing for and against Prop 8 !!! No other issue has ever, ever , ever had this power, to get the attention of America to seriously consider our cause. This dialog with the non gays, lesbians, bis, trans, can not be abandoned, for us to just "blend in" and scream for health care and jobs, etc like everyone else, andbarely getting noticed. Let's fight for all of these issues, but I am hearing a bunch of people bitching who know nothing about media, public opinion, advertizing, etc., and who like living in their isolated ghettos where they can continue complaining about how bad everything is. Some people just can not imagine full equality !


Full equality for whom? On whose terms? What's the cause? And by whom is to be validated? You leave out all these vital questions and write as if Oprah (a single woman, btw, but you'd never know it from all her blathering about marriage and motherhood) is the one who should set our agenda.

I'm really glad to see this discussion taking place. A couple of observations however. 15 years ago the only legal same sex marriages in the US involved a trans partner, the greater GLB community chose to ignore that then. 15 years ago I was explaining the nature of marriage as a civil institution that involved religions. Now why is that important? Because no marriage is "legal" until the certificate is filled out and filed be it a civil ceremony or a religious one. That means for the state to refuse to recognize SM marriages when several mainstream religious groups DO perform them is the establishment of a defacto state religion. The issue should have been pressed as a religious freedom one from the get-go but progressives are terrified of using religious freedom based positions.

It actually would have been a almost legal slam dunk 15 years ago when we still had a somewhat honest set of Supremes, today, not so much.

I personally support SM, always have but see anti-bullying laws (amazing they are so difficult to pass when they involve protecting children) and an ENDA that actually means something....you know, one that includes public accomodations and housing as well as employment equality...as ENDA was back in the day: I see them as far far more important. Why are we still looking for half a loaf on ENDA?

What I don't understand is why we aren't pushing for the government to get out of the marriage business altogether? Why should people be taxed based upon relationship status at all? Why are any rights at all based upon relationship status?

I'd rather see the government simply be the recorder of contracts, and let people form their own contracts how they want, be that via religious ceremony or otherwise.

I agree that the best route would be to just have civil unions for gay and straight couples and let them call it what they want. I do not, however, support the idea of civil unions/domestic partnerships for us and marriage for straight couples, and I'm not content to accept any unequal or "separate but equal" type of arrangement, which is why I think it's so important to oppose things like Proposition 8.

However, the reason for the rights and tax benefits is that when people are in a serious, committed, long-term relationship, they're sharing incomes, expenses and responsibilities as a unit. It's not the same as you and your friend living down the street, someone you just started dating a week ago, a fuckbuddy or a roommate.

However, the reason for the rights and tax benefits is that when people are in a serious, committed, long-term relationship, they're sharing incomes, expenses and responsibilities as a unit. It's not the same as you and your friend living down the street, someone you just started dating a week ago, a fuckbuddy or a roommate.

I do not agree. Every person should be taxed equally, regardless of relationship status. There should be no special breaks for people because they choose to be in a relationship. In essence, all people are seen as single for tax purposes, whether they share expenses or not.

Thanks for saying so much of what I was thinking about where we go after the California Supreme Court ruling upholding Prop 8. Here's my post on what we do next: http://beyondstraightandgaymarriage.blogspot.com/2009/05/prop-8-stands-now-what.html

I also wrote a reply to this thought provoking piece. I don't agree, but do appreciate that you have raised very important issues we all need to discuss and debate.



Thanks Ms. Yasmin for a carefully reasoned argument. Unfortunately, it's wasted on this crowd. There are the selfish couples highjacking our agenda for a few perks and tax breaks. The self righteous set who'll clutch any pretty sounding bulls---. And the victim complex group always on the lookout for a loosing strategy.
Most of the community were damaged as children by bigot culture. They're hopelessly self destructive and don't respond to reason. For 20 years, they trashed anyone calling for sexual responsibilty, while people were dieing by the thousands. They're still as vocal as ever and still pushing a hopeless agenda.
Until they admit how broken most of us are, until they look closely at the bad programming they still carry around, they'll never listen to reason. And our agenda will be an endless list of failures.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | May 30, 2009 11:33 AM

I hope you read my above comment and understand a bit more of the needs of a three decade relationship. While I would agree with you that we shoot ourselves in the foot often as not this posting has had real value for me. I began in the early 1970's totally rejecting marriage as "apeing" heterosexuals engaged in a fraud of an institution. I still feel that way, but recognize health care needs in DECISION MAKING as a priority. "No suffering please" is my mantra.

I also believe that everyone is damaged by contamination with bigotry of any type. Not just GLBT persons. We have all suffered and the loss of a generation of Gay mentors to AIDS is a loss to younger persons, but we cannot and should not hate them for what they have not yet figured out. Some people are irretrievably broken, but that is due to problems outside of their sexual orientation.

I have never had therapy, but I live with a screwy PhD in psychology, and I can assure you that mostly people just need friends of all ages, races, genders and sexual orientations to talk to. The world is hardly as black as you paint it. The progress I have lived to see is remarkable and to suggest that it is an endless list of failures I must, with respect, disagree.

Thanks, Nancy, for your post and the shout-out. I agree with you about not spending any money on the marriage issue (I don't have any and wouldn't have given any to the efforts anyway). As I wrote to a friend today, I also think it's time to stop even attending the rallies - and I know that a lot of people with ambivalent feelings about marriage show up to to indicate support anyway. But demonstrating in crowds only persuades more people that the "gay movement" is all about marriage. I appreciate the thoughts on what to do next.

Brian and Wilberforce,
Thanks for the comments!

Good column, thanks. Queers need equal rights--that should be a no-brainer. But it is not all about us, and we DO have an opportunity to change things for the better for all of us. Queers are in prison, too, and according to the Dallas Principles, no part of our "community" should be left behind. That means every corner of society, since we're everywhere.

Yes, we should be working on making marriage a rite of religion, and civil unions the law. Someone wants both, great. At the same time, I abs. agree that rights like health coverage should not be attached to personal unions of any kind. When it comes to who receives the deceased's pension benefits, they should be allowed to specify who gets them, regardless of association. What to do about hospital visitation rights in an emergency, if people choose not to be recognised as a couple by the state? What about people living in triads? Big questions.

A whole lot of LGBTs want a slice of heteronormativity. Marriage is just as important to many LGBTs as straights. That's their right, and they don't have to fight beyond equal rights if they don't want to. But those of us who want something better than what we see as failed, biased, heteronormative institutions should be fighting the good fight.

Our biggest obstacle is that we've barely made the "acceptable alternative" category, and if we fight for major changes to such a nationally entrenched (and foundational) institution instead of just asking to be a part of it, well, we're radically unacceptable again.

Do we simply want to be part of what already exists, or do we want to work towards something structurally better?


"Do we simply want to be part of what already exists, or do we want to work towards something structurally better?"

I couldn't have put it better myself.

Short answer: NO.

If gay marriage isn't important to you then don't fight for it. Go do something else.

In the meantime, to hell with all of you calling gay marriage advocates "selfish". I care about all kinds of issues. You are the ones telling us to give up on the one that's important to us but not to you. You're the ones being selfish.

And yes it was EXTREMELY insensitive to drop this - yes, contrived - post right after Prop 8. I agree, it is the work of a sadistic attention whore.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | June 7, 2009 11:47 AM

Eshto, the worst thing you can say about Yasmin is that she's a contrarian and not afraid to speak her mind. And that's a good thing even if she's sometimes wrong as I think she is here.

She and others reject the idea of participating in the movement to defend SSM because marriage is a very flawed way of partnering. For most women and all children it's an extremely oppressive institution. It’s basis is economic, not affectational and it reflects the norms of late stage, degenerate, patriarchal capitalism. You can't get any worse than that.

The problem is that lots of GLBT of people want to get married and have no intention of conforming to the old norms. And they bitterly resent the anti-SSM campaigns of right wingers like Obama, McCain and the cults to deny them equality. They want their tax breaks and they want their bonds confirmed. They want equality under the law, flawed as it may be. That's entirely legitimate. Where Yasmin and Bil go wrong is that they reject that struggle. That's sectarian and self-isolating.

In this case their sectarianism doesn’t mean squat because the SSM movement is huge and growing. The best approach is to is to support it, critically, and to point out that other questions - ENDA, hate crimes, etc - are even more important and invite activists to support them. But you also have to provide a focus, a mass actions campaign for ENDA or all you’ll hear is “Yeah, good idea. Someone should do something.” Yasimin says she won't go to SSM demos anymore so she won't get a chance to raise her ideas there. That's the essence of sectarianism self-isolation.

That's her error.

Yours is worse, much worse. Calling her an 'attention whore' is an admission that you don't know how to refute her.

Something tells me that when many of you find someone who is willing to love you, put up with you and stand by your side for a lifetime, "GM" will suddenly become an important issue.

How selfish is this notion that because some of us are in relationships, the single people amongst us dont care about gay marriage because it doesnt affect them?

I am not in the military, so should I not care about DADT? I am not hispanic, should I turn my eye away from the plight of illegal immigration and the needs that cause it to happen? I am not Palestinian, should I ignore the conflict in the West Bank? I am not a transsexual, so can I safely shoo away their needs?

Oh no, wait, I am a human being who is capable of understanding and empathizing with the pain, suffering and inequality that ALL people endure. This notion that marriage equality is "minority" issue for "selfish" people is condescending and stinks of a jaded and bitter heart.

The idea that we can only do one thing at a time is either false or an insight into the capabilities of those who express it. I think the majority of us are quite capable of doing 3, 4 even 5 things at one time. It's like chewing gum while walking, it just takes an effort.

You say that we should support movements that help support ALL members of the LGBT (or whatever we are calling ourselves this week) community? Well marriage equality is an option we ALL should have. DADT should be revoked so we ALL have the option of joining the military without prejudice. Health care reform should be an option we ALL have the right to partake in, etc etc etc.

This argument is poorly built. Constructed on the idea of seeking out movements that serve some utilitarian LGBT collective, but you have sacrificed the foundation to build the pulpit.

We cant champion gay rights if we dont address the issues that affect EVERY person in the community, no matter how tiny you consider them. 18,000 couples got married in California and something tells me A LOT more will follow when they are able to. Something also tells me that there are never going to be the same amount of Transsexual people in this community as those who wish to get married, not even remotely close. So then, should we dismiss transgendered rights? According to the equation set forth, (worthy movement = service ALL LGBT people can enjoy - "fringe" ideas that only serve a "minority" of LGBT individuals) I would argue we expunge T from the acronym and let them fight their own battles. Might as well take B out of the mix as well.. because honestly, how many of us are Bi Sexual? Its more of a transition phase one makes between college and the first trip back home during summer break, right?

Now, if this author had the nerve to say we should remove transsexuals from our overall concern, would she still have a voice here? How many of you would champion her cause? How many times would she be called a bigot? There would have been no end to the anger that would have been seen here and rightfully so. This idea of snubbing marriage equality is no different and no less irresponsible.

We are a very strong and powerful community that is capable of so much beauty and action, dont degrade us with the notion we can only fight one battle at a time. Maybe the problem here isnt that marriage equality is a poor goal, but that you have so little faith in the people you claim to fight for.

As a Californian who lost his right to marriage this year, I can tell you this.

No, we are never going to dump gay marriage as a cause because its something that affects us ALL, whether or not you choose to get married.

If you dump this cause, you will lose this battle. Alienating millions because you are unable to imagine us tackling more than one issue, is a poor battle plan and one that is destined to lose.

Fight with us, not against us. And have a little faith in your brothers and sisters, we are not as weak as you would imagine us to be.

Thank you for sharing your views, no matter how I may personally judge them.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | June 17, 2009 5:25 PM

Justice, I agree with your sentiments but don’t worry about anyone dumping anything. It’s not gonna happen.

A few people are upset that they have to compete for funds with campaigns to defeat rightwing attacks and falsely make the claim that the SSM movement is at fault in these defensive battles.

They ought to keep in mind that we're in a deeeeeep recession bordering on a depression because Bill Clinton deregulated banking and financial institutions, paving the way for the looter class to go berserk and wreck the economy. They could apologize for being Democrats who support that sort of thing but instead they insist that people contribute less, or nothing, to SSM defense.

A few are Indiana Curmudgeons jealous of the progress GLBT folks have made in coastal states. And a few are Obots who oppose same sex marriage simply because Obama takes a bigoted position. And a few are self isolating sectarians. They want
to let the right have it’s way because they think, correctly, that marriage is a retrogressive way of partnering. Unfortunately it's also the only way of partnering and getting financial benefits many people need to survive the Clinton-Bush-Obama recession.

Don't worry; they don't have a chance in hell of 'dumping' anything as vibrant and robust as the SSM equality fight. Ohio, New Hampshire, Maine, etc., etc. The times we've lost are because bigots galvanize the right wing christers with slogans like 'gawd's in the mix' and switch parties to avoid doing time in Sing Sing. The times we win are when we ignore the Obots and the timid and fight for our rights.

jesus said

there will be no marriage in the kingdom of heaven. so, if jesus was opposed to marriage, why are so-called christians trying to claim it? why are gays trying to get married? yasmin is right. everyone should have health care. period. end of discussion. to fight for slices and crumbs of the pie, to pursue rights by sector and in piecemeal fashion is foolish. the only reason that western europeans have health care is that they fought to give health care to all, to every man woman and child. to demand rights in any other way is divisive and defeatist. human rights for every human. NOW!

it's a no-brainer.


Well look at that!!!
Almost 200 comments and a month later... Justice, Perdue AND Normand make three of the best arguments for and against the GLBTQRXYZ's obsession/positions regarding SSM.

Great JOB Yasmin!! Absof**kinglutely outstanding.

Keep the girls and boys thinking. Keep them stirred up. Keep the rhetoric at bay and make something REAL come to the table.

I don't think we have to all agree on this position. I don't necessarily think it's healthy to all robotic-ally nod our heads and hit repeat on any position.

Keep writing Yasmin. Keep the herd from going off the cliff in sheeple baaaaahing. They won't like you... but I don't think you are very concerned about being best loved bitch w/the sheep anyway.

They will all love you when the wolf shows up to eat them anyway.

A month later!?! Really?
Brava! Brava!

Thanks, Normand and Dieks, for stopping by, reading and for your words!