Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Why Marriage Matters..Where The Rubber Meets The Road

Too often if debating/fighting/struggling for marriage equality it can become a conversation grounded in abstract concepts and principles. Pro-equality advocates(like myself) are fond of using the constitution and it's promise of equality for all as the grounds for debate. We make the the correct assertion that we as LGBT Americans are just as entitled to marriage, military service, fair housing, and employment as any other American. Anti equality forces generally respond with arguments that center on morality and religion. They claim that the granting of any gay rights is actually an attack on religious rights. When they don't want to use religion as the basis for resistance they fall back on characterizing us as strangers and outsiders, refer to LGBT rights as "dangerous social experiments". Both sides miss one essential point....the human cost of discrimination.

It is our real lives and stories that are our "why" for marriage and a recent video from Freedom To Marry makes my point. The video details the life, love, and loss of Ron and Tom. Together for 58 years and only legally married for three, they were together until Tom recently passed away leaving Ron as the surviving spouse...except...the federal government doesn't see it that way. Video after the fold...

I can't help but be angry when I see this. 58 years these men have been together and in only three of those years were they allowed to legally be what they have been all along...married. For 58 years they have been each others helpmate, guidance, companion, solace and any other words you can apply to someone who is so close to you that you can't tell where they end and you begin. How can a government...any government tell this man that he is not entitled to anything that was once his husbands? It astounds me. This man is now losing the home he shared with his husband because he can't afford to keep it on a single income. The government is in effect saying to him, "Pack up your life because you were nothing to each other."

This is where marriage inequality hits us. It gets us at the IRS, it gets us at the Social Security office,it gets me when I cross a state line into a state that doesn't recognize my marriage... it gets us in a host of legal protections that we may very much need to rely on. However, the worst punch in the gut is the one in which they pretend like a lifetime spent together means nothing...."you were nothing to each other"....they are so wrong.

Anti gay voices love to characterize gay marriage as a social experiment. They like to claim that "gays don't want to get married, they just want to legitimize their lifestyle." They claim that we are looking to destroy marriage or persecute religion. All of these concepts are just that...reasons without faces. They are fear tactics that create a shadowy villain out of men like these.  It erases their history as people to turn them into radicals when all they wanted was nothing more than to live a quiet life together. Where is the extremism in their lives?  Where is the experiment? Where is the bogeymen waiting to destroy freedom and family?

This is the human cost of treating LGBT people as if they are bad guys bent on destroying the virtue of America. Lost homes, lost lives, lost help when it's needed the most.

Similarly, when we talk about equal treatment and all that the constitution is supposed to guarantee to an American to do we lose the facts of discrimination in favor an ideal. It is an ideal that should be our common experience...but as Ron and Toms story points is not. This is where the rubber meets the road.

This is why I  believe that the surest way to achieving the equality we all dream of will never be won in the best of reasoned debates. It will not be won by lobbing verbal grenades on network news or blog posts. It all becomes a mental concept too easy to divorce from the reality of how it touches the lives of real people. We have to tell our stories and show the world who we are. We need to make them look us in the eyes and know who they are hurting is a real human being.

Until next time dear readers....


  1. Hiyas..
    It all hinges on one concept, the fact that gay isn't a choice. The belief that my son/daughter isn't going to be gay cos I raised them "right". If that myth can be shattered then people must then come to the conclusion that "my child might be gay". Then it becomes a matter of do you want your child to be treated like a second class citizen?. That's when it comes home that these stupid laws don't effect the "gay community", they actually effect people and is some cases people they care about....Holly

  2. well said Holly...thanks for connecting my unconnected dots


  3. We're not going to get relief from the legislatures, ever. The few that we have are flukes.

    It will be the courts that ultimately resolve this.

  4. Even IF Homosexuality was/is a choice... SO WHAT? Why should it matter? Who does it harm?

  5. So unfair. We both have wills here.. yes of course because we have been together for 20 years but in the end the state will take a BIG chunk of our combined wealth. If we were "married" it would not.....

    Jim and Dave
    Thanks Bryan....

  6. This is one of the many harms done to the gay community when our rights are not recognized and it is outrageous no only when looked at threw the ideals that this country stands for but morally too. Mores should dictate that two people who build a life together and love each other should not be denied the benefits of marriage no matter what, as they wholly encompass all the marriage is meant to be!

    I find so much about that is thrown out against us in the fight for equal rights to be so morally repugnant and corrupt that it is not even funny. It actually not only makes me angry but deeply sad at the same time. It makes me feel that about the it will only be threw many divine miracles that we will be able to achieve equality. As it quite often seems that god is the only one that will be able to push the hands and harts of our legislatures and judges into the choices that have to be made to allow us to live as full citizens equal to all others.

  7. Well for me is a civil rights issue because it is about legally being able to determine who you consider your next of kin. When straight couples get married they are automatically considered next of kin. It might not be a big deal when things are going well, but when illness or death should happen, a marriage protects your family and assets from being taken away like no other legal document can.