Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Gay marriage is not the “final answer” to getting equality for homosexual Americans

There is a TV quiz show in which the contestant is asked, “Is that your final answer?” It seems that for many newcomers to the homosexual community—most of whom have no idea about the movement—gay marriage is the only answer, and question.

And apparently these shallow citizens, most of whom have never been activists, nor given much thought to the issues of being homosexual unless they have been harmed by their family or other students, have thought about running away to Canada or some “paradise” for “gays” after hearing of the anti-gay vote in California, Arizona, etc.

Like all Americans, these citizens would not enjoy what this nation has to offer—nor would there BE a nation—if our founders had thought and acted as these young citizens are. It took brave people to even start this nation and the civil rights movements of America, for blacks, women, homosexuals, etc. Thinking Americans, and certainly black Americans, are saying, as we prepare to have the first black American president, that it took Rosa Parks on a bus, and Dr.King and others walking and sitting, to get Obama to the White House (which black slaves built). Where are the homosexuals saying that we have gotten to almost having marriage and not having sodomy laws because homosexuals in the 1950s and every decade since, met in secret, and then published a magazine in public, and fought legal cases and picketed newspapers and talked on TV shows to get gay marriage today?

And every step of the way there were those, in, and out, of the movement, who complained that we didn’t do it the right way, or we were using the wrong term, or we chose one aspect to work on rather their “their” issue, or that by pushing one issue, such as homosexuals serving openly in the military, we harmed some other problems. We were told to never deal with young people as it would make us get accused of molesting children. We were told to not attack churches or religion as that would make us enemies. We were told to try to “get along” with the “helping” professions as they would cause trouble if we attacked them—as if pychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, attorneys, etc, were not already harming us—sending us to mental hosptials or making molney from counselng us to change us, etc.

So here we are in the 21st century, with no sodomy laws, major corporations giving us equal treatment, gay-friendly media for themost part, with community/movement organizatiolnsand publications serving every aspect of our lives; young people (GLSEN), The Point Foundation, g/l groups at most colleges; the military (SLDN, Palm Center); legal issues (Lambda Legal, GLAD, NCLR); religion (Dignity, Integrity, Affirmation, Kinship); community service (gay/lesbian centers in every major city, and now resources preserving the history of how we got here: Quatrefoil (Minneapolis/St Paul), Gerber Hart (Chicago), Stonewall (Fort Lauderdale),Lavender (Sacramento) ONE/HIC and Mazer (Los Angeles) etc.); and professional groups for medical doctors, anthropologists, police officers, journalists, politicians, etc.

What all of these “resources” have to do is know themselves. Sadly, we get little more on our subect from gay and lesbian journalists than we do from general journalists. What good has LOGO done for our knowledge of homosexual issues? And the same incompetent “news” we get from the 24/7 news shows, is what we get from most g/l news sources-only the “current” celebrity and issue coverage. We have no long term thinking. WE get 24 hour coverage on gay marriage while we hear little about other issues.

Our cause has made constant progress since 1950, no matter who was president, or how friendly the media was and with unpaid workers. Why have all the highly paid “professional gays” at HRC, The Task Force-once honestly known as the “Gay & Lesbian,” made less progress than we did—most major changes had started even before Stonewall. And it seems a few unpaid bloggers can reach more homosexuals and organize a major event in less than a week than well-paid staff can in years.

So onto the Internet, and unpaid but concrned people who care about being equal. Back to basics, such as knowing what homosexuality is. Knowing where each issue in our community/movement is on the totem pole. And knowledge that we don’t quit and run if we lose a battle in the war for civil rights.


Adrienne said...


I think you are so right that where the current gay rights movement is is completely because of all the work of the activists who came before. My son, and all gay people, and we as Clay’s family, owe everything to all the people who worked to overturn sodomy laws and pass ENDAs and hate crimes laws and just come out of the closet, etc. We all owe you and others the quality of our lives.

I also think in any civil rights movement it takes all kinds of efforts: people who work within the system and people who are outside of it, people who are compromisers and people who are agitators, people who come across as very reasonable and people who seem unreasonable. To overturn convention takes assaults from all sides.

I just think we have to be smart and strategical about what we say and do in certain situations. I attended a forum at Centenary a couple of years ago. They brought in a lesbian professor from U of Kentucky to argue for gay marriage. It was right after LA passed its constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. There were many of us at the forum who were pro-gay rights. Many others were anti-gay and mostly because of religious reasons. The professor argued rationally for why gay marriage made sense and did a good job of refuting the religious objections. But then she started in on the same ideas you hold about being against the institution of marriage in general. Now I think there is great validity in talking about that—I think it is an idea with great merit—but it was just so out of the framework of the stated topic of the forum and any of the ideas that these religious people had entertained that the professor’s comments just clouded the whole issue.

So the point is, we have to be careful when we are talking about some rather intellectual ideas in bringing them up with the general public.

I could be wrong—I’m sure someone first has to start making those points to the general public—but since we are on the brink of winning so much—I don’t want arguments that might just be a distraction right now to be used to marginalize what we can accomplish now.

Billy Glover said...

I don’t see any disagreement with the overall goals, and you are absolutely right, as I thought I said, that now we can have people, groups and publications working on specific goals. I only did think, as I said, that you had some points in that I would not want to slow down the marriage gains as I have no problem with them, and in fact want to support them as, gayly enough, I think it is a no-lose situation for us. (We make them—our enemies—spend lots of money, time and energy and I don’t see that we are worse off—we didn't have marriage before.) Even though we do too—we don’t have to spend as much and we have time on our side. I don’t even fuss at HRC for not doing more—they are a national organization doing work on all aspects, so obviously some of the movement/community people who can, can spend all their time on one issue. But the people there are well paid to work and could help direct others who want to concentrate on a specific issue.

I do not want to appear to be against marriage because of personal reasons or because I want some other specific issue pushed first. And I was impressed with the people, young and old, who felt interested enough to come to the protest. And I don't want to try to redirect them to some other issue—I only want them to have perspective for the very reason I said, that I have been around long enough to see that there IS progress, and so don’t get discouraged with one set back.

It may not be a good parallel, but, for instance, I could go to a religious meeting of say Methodists who are gay and working within the church to change it, yet say that I personally have just chosen to not support the church till it changes. And even explain to them my thinking—not to change them, but to show the diversity of views in our community/movement.

I gather it would be less “friendly” if I were a animal lover going to a gay rodeo and wanting to support those who like it, and are in our community/movement, but would want to remind them that some of us worry about hurting animals.

I’m not sure I viewed things this way, rightly or wrongly, in my early days. But I think we need to have within our community/movement, the respect we expect from non-gay people, some of whom honestly don't understand the problems we have. One final thought though is that if we gain rights as married people, that still leaves unmarried gay people without those rights, so we need to think about how to solve that part of the issue.

Wayne Dynes said...

For about ten years I was involved in an Internet group that viewed gay marriage as a silver bullet that would solve all of our problems.

I demurred because in those pre-2001 days we still hadn't got rid of the sodomy laws! DADT remains in place. The gay-marriage crazies even claimed that it would solve those two issues. So I am familiar with this overconcentration on a single issue—one that is not very important to most gay men (more so, though, for lesbians).

It seems to be that over the years, there have been two models for the gay movement. The first is subtractive: we need to get rid of the sodomy laws, impediments to marriage ,and all that. Then once we have dismantled the things that have been holding us back, the gay organizations should just disappear.

Then there is the social-transformation model that came to the fore in the late sixties and seventies, that in combination with other “progressive movements for social change” we could create something new. This additive model is not much discussed nowadays, but clearly some are uncomfortable with the subtractive one. It is not very inspiring.

Billy Glover said...

I have not thought of the issues in the terms you use, and that is very interesting. I have heard the thought that if we are successful the need for our movement would end-and even Troy Perry had said that about a "gay' church-but so far we haven't gotten near that type of success.