Debating gay marriage

Cynthia Laird reports in the Bay Area Reporter (8/2/07) that the East Bay LGBT Democratic Club in Berkeley had a lively discussion about the pros & cons of gay marriage.

Former club president Tom Broughan argued that the marriage fight is likely to lead to even more states passing constitutional amendments that ban marriage–and often legal recognition of any sort for gay couples. According to Laird,

Brougham clarified that much of his concern with the current situation arises from the fact that 18 states ban same-sex marriage and civil unions and domestic partnerships in their constitutions, while eight states ban same-sex marriage. Twenty states have laws against same-sex marriage. Two states – New Mexico and Rhode Island – leave the matter undefined, and one state – Massachusetts – allows same-sex marriage.

California’s domestic partner registry includes all of the state rights granted to married couples. The state’s marriage battle is currently being waged in the state Supreme Court and in the legislature, where a gender-neutral marriage bill is pending in the Senate.

Brougham argued that the community has lost in every ballot fight except one (Arizona), “and we still have anti-marriage laws on the books.”

He’s also afraid that such efforts “will take down domestic partnerships.”

Brougham may be right that it has been difficult to fight anti-gay-marriage amendments, but we shouldn’t be fooled into thinking that civil unions offer real equality. As we all know, civil unions and domestic partnerships are politically palatable because they maintain the status quo view that gay people aren’t really worthy of marriage. When we push the envelope, we force heterosexuals to examine why this is the case. That forced introspection dramatically changed the landscape for lgbt families in Massachusetts. Real equality is worth the fight. Besides, pandora’s box has been opened, and we’re not going away.

2 responses to “Debating gay marriage

  1. I don’t think that the anti-marriage amendments mean that the strategy is wrong. They simply express the current reality. I think that the day will come when those amendments will fall like dominos. People my age think they are dinosaurs. In the future people will be really embarrassed and ashamed that those laws are on the books. Kind of like people now view past racial segregation laws.

  2. The question raised and subsequent discussion in Berkeley is , IMO essential for political stategizing and for educating ourselves on the important diff. between civil unions and same-sex marriage.
    In Sarasota, FL, thx largely to Equality Florida, Faitness for all Families, and book tours througout the sate by the authors of “Courting Equality”, this discussion is happening in living rooms and coffee houses every day.
    Thx Pat for the updates via your web site and for enabling those of us outside MA to embrace hope for full equality.
    Using Google Alerts and entering “same-sex marriage ” and also “Courting Equality”, keep me thinking over morning coffee.

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