Posted by Tera Greene
Creating Change One Proposition at a Time.
Much to the chagrin of Romney and Gingrich, Prop 8 has been overruled here in California. Yup, that means the state’s ban on gay marriage was deemed unconstitutional by the Ninth Circuit Court on February 7, 2012. Romney, whom I officially am calling a jackass, and not even because of this following statement, stated, “Today, unelected judges cast aside the will of the people of California who voted to protect traditional marriage. This decision does not end this fight, and I expect it to go to the Supreme Court. That prospect underscores the vital importance of this election and the movement to preserve our values. I believe marriage is between a man and a woman and, as president, I will protect traditional marriage and appoint judges who interpret the Constitution as it is written and not according to their own politics and prejudices.”
See that right there is why so many youth have no clue that they can be (insert race/religion here) and LGBTQ.
And why does everything always have to be a fight? Is not the true meaning of competition “to strive/work together”?
And, for that matter, is not Mitt Romney interpreting things according to his “own politics and prejudices”? Aren’t we all?
And furthermore - while I’m on this soapbox-, if I may ask, what are “our values”? I know my values, I know some of my close friend’s values, but what are “our values”? Preserve my tuchas.
Is fighting against people who want to illustrate love how they deem it part of that value system? Is fighting against people who want fair and just taxation a part of that value system?
Have we even taken the time to define our values as a Nation? As individuals?
By the way things look for many people, no matter the side of the coin they reside, I’d say we’ve not really sussed out our core values. As a collective people we are not acting in the image of good that I personally feel we are capable of, regardless if on the one hand I also feel there’s not even really good or bad in the first place and on the other, I do see small, progressive shifts in consciousness happening.
Look, the people of CA, many of whom were people of color, alongside the Mormon Church and others, were committing actions based on values, too, when they voted so bigotedly in 2008. I even have a caucasian friend whom I respect that voted Yes on Prop 8. But overtime they came to see that their actions weren’t matched to their core values, which I doubt 100% align with what Romney thinks are his or “our values”, for that matter. Everything starts within. You can’t change the past. But, you have the ability to open your eyes to new perspectives - yes, to even change course altogether… so what’s the big deal? Why does a person like Romney feel this new decision on this issue is the worst thing that’s happened since (insert really bad thing here)?
Could it be that this gay marriage business (and really, it kinda is when you think of it) is the answer to all our Queer problems and therefore everyone is in a fuss because it’s like Wonka’s Golden Ticket in value to anyone who owns it?
Well, that’s like people saying (insert your belief about Israel and Palestine land equity here).
It’s one thing to one, another thing to another. And gay marriage is no different.
Though I’ve marched, protested and rallied alongside this fight since 2008, I personally don’t think gay marriage is our holy grail of magic fairy dust to which all things fair and just seemingly start to show their presence in the lives of LGBTQ folk. That would be too easy. It’s a cause to believe in, to advocate for, but to think of it as the end all to create a more harmonious world? Silly. I’ve known many LGBTQ folk who’ve been together - “unofficially” married - for 14, 15, 17 years, even met two women together for 50 years once. I have also heard of many straight folk who were divorced in less than 3 months, though painful it may have been. I personally am in a committed relationship with someone I definitely see in my future, but marriage isn’t the sole impetus for either of us being together in the present. There are so many issues that facilitate progress, once they are allowed to be discussed, and that rings true for interpersonal relationships and communities at large, such as that of the LGBTQ community.
Creating Change By Tackling Deeper Issues
I spent a day lobbying on the Hill in D.C. a few weeks ago as part of a historical Day Long Institute via The 24th National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change (http://www.creatingchange.org/). This Lobby Day was the first ever, and I was so grateful to be a part of it. About 300 other Creating Change Conference participants from various states and I showed up bright and early on a blustery Thursday in lovely host city Baltimore, MD in order to be shuttled with boxed lunches over to Washington, D.C. to speak up against oppression to our senators and senator staff. As a representative from California, I know personally that our groups didn’t lobby for gay marriage (good on Californians to show up in such force that we needed to form two groups to accommodate all of us this historic day). Sure we probably could all say something about the issue, but instead we shared stories about being LGBTQ human beings with needs and basic rights, like access to a discrimination-free workplace and school system free of bullying.
The day before, I attended the Creating Change Conference’s Day Long Institute entitled “Building an Anti-Racist LGBT Movement”. In one of my live tweets, I put forth the intention that we had set in our working group of about 300 people, many of whom would not also attend the Lobby Day. We were there to “Deepen the level of authentic conversations about + across race. #racialjustice #CC12”, because as facilitator Rev. Dr. Jamie Washington stated, “How do we show up in 2012 and still have this conversation?”
Well, for one, everything is trumped by the notion of gay marriage, which he also stated, “is not what’s going to help us solve all our issues”. I paraphrase because the way he said it in the moment had my head abuzz with intellectual engagement that I forgot to write in my notebook or tweet before it was impressed and the thought went into the ethers. Washington, the “engagement specialist”, indeed.
Which brings me to the larger question of “when did the notion that gay marriage would solve all our issues within the LBGTQ community and the global community come into our psyches?” Was it in 2008 or was it simmering for far longer, since so many LGBTQ folk have been together in loving, committed relationships for more than a 10 year period - many even with children. That’s a whole different conversation unto itself, though, especially when the issue of fair taxation comes into play for LGBTQ parents and families, so I’ll stuff those worms back in the can for now.
I suppose the takeaway from attending this year’s Creating Change Conference and hearing from the governor of Maryland say that his state was going to go forth and support gay marriage in 2012 (to be the 7th state to do so), and then not too long afterward hearing about the Prop 8 ruling and then Washington state adopting gay marriage (and actually becoming the 7th state to do so - too slow, Maryland!) when I landed back in Los Angeles, is that at least there’s something that is helping to advance the queer movement towards human rights equity.
It’s like gay marriage is our gateway drug to achieving more vitality and lifeblood in society. And the more it’s talked about, people share stories, create space for dialogue (#realtalk), and raise awareness of even deeper rooted and often more glossed over issues that usually don’t get discussed until someone takes their life or another’s, like internalized oppression, bullying, victimization in the workplace and racism.
As Rev. Dr. Jamie Washington proclaimed, “It’s important to share, first, from where you are.” Because, as he also stated, “we can’t leave the racial justice institute without being able to say ‘white’”.
Nor should we be able to live without being able to say “I’m gay”, just as much as we should have the right to be married, or not, without having one sole issue wash over even more pressing issues that way more people can identify with. There’s gotta be balance. But, again, at least this issue is raising awareness, which is leading to dialogue, even if it’s on the backbone of this larger issue that is built on the backs of even smaller issues like class and race. Even though gay marriage is seemingly overshadowing other issues, this avenue is welcome in my opinion, because dialogue is happening. And the more we share, the more compassion shines through and the values of loving thy neighbor and being made in the image of G-d (Beselem Elohim) reemerge.
Oh, you don’t remember those?
I guess gay marriage got in the way.
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February 8, 2012 | 11:02 pm
Posted by Kalil Cohen
Amidst all the news coverage of yesterday’s ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that California’s November 2008 Proposition 8 is unconstitutional as well as Washington State’s passage of a marriage equality bill, I wish to nuance the excitement of these events with a critique of the narrow focus of the LGBTQ movement in recent years. I have personally participated in marriage equality activism through organizing voter phone banking against Prop 8 as well as the 13LoveStories project. In addition, as someone who works with queer youth, I think that this is an important decision that will impact LGBTQ youth self-esteem and self-acceptance. However, there are many other civil rights issues affecting LGBTQ folks that have been completely usurped by the marriage debate. By focusing so narrowly on this one issues, activists have created a mainstream agenda for queer rights that does not address the root issues of inequality.
The institution of marriage as maintained by the state is a means of enforcing private property, wealth inheritance, and individual, rather than societal, safety nets. The money and energy that has been dedicated to this narrow civil rights fight has compromised LGBTQ activism as whole by channeling the bulk of community resources towards an issue that will largely benefit affluent, mostly white, gay and lesbian folks. For queer folks who are poor, immigrants, gender variant, and/or people of color, civil rights issues around educational access, housing, criminal justice reform, and health care are much more pressing than the right to marry. All of these issues also lend themselves to coalition building with many other diverse groups, while marriage equality does not.
In addition to channeling community resources away from more basic survival issues that affect queer folks, the focus on marriage equality has served to only further enshrine the notion of the nuclear family, which in today’s society is largely a myth rather than a reality. With 50% of marriages ending in divorce, and a clear breakdown in our society of the nuclear family, why do we as queer folks wish to partake in a broken institution? While I am married and feel blessed to have had my ceremony during the months that all marriages were legal in California, I do not believe that the state should play a role in marriage, or that there should be rights and privileges for married folks. Queer communities have pioneered alternative family formations through our history of caring for one another in times of need outside of traditional, state sanctioned familial relationships. For example, the queer community’s response to the AIDS crisis is a demonstration of our ability to form alternative family structures that function effectively to support and care for each other. If the amount of funding, focus, and political will that has been dedicated to marriage equality were funneled into redefining the state’s notion of what makes a family and who is considered a caretaker, we would see a much larger coalition of groups involved including immigrant rights activists and health care activists. No one should have her or his immigration or healthcare status depend on being married, for example. Continuing to use narrowly defined identity politics as a basis for organizing leaves us more vulnerable to backlash, to being defeated by the majority, and to overlooking the root causes of our oppression.
I do believe, however, that this ruling and the marriage debate in general has created a much larger space to discuss LGBTQ issues in the mainstream media, in the classroom, and in families. This has had a significant and noticeable impact on the comfort level of many people when discussing queer rights, because being seen as loving family members humanizes us. I am grateful for the significant change that has occurred in peoples’ attitudes towards LGBTQ individuals in recent years, and I think that this ruling will continue moving us forward in the right direction. At the same time, it is important to temper our elation with an analysis of the pieces that are currently missing from the puzzle. If we do not address the root causes of LGBTQ oppression, the issue of marriage equality is likely to suffer the same fate as that of legalized abortion – a right that is continuously being challenged and restricted through legal action.