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A sometimes infuriating VP debate

October 2, 2008
Gov. Sarah Palin and Sen. Joe Biden

Gov. Sarah Palin and Sen. Joe Biden

I’m watching the vice-presidential debate right now. It should come as no surprise that I support Obama and Biden, despite their have-their-cake-and-eat-it-too approach to gay rights. They just got past a question on same-sex benefits and gay marriage, which surprised me twice in the space of just a few minutes. Biden said he and Obama are all for gay rights like hospital visitation, while Palin said she wouldn’t seek to nullify contracts between consenting adults.

I can’t wait until my boyfriend and I can sign a hospital visitation contract! How romantic! Then maybe we can start on the other 1,000-plus documents to add in some of the other benefits we’d receive if we were a straight couple, though of course none of those papers could give us things like a tax break, custody of the other’s child, or a share of each other’s social security.

First I’d like to note that Palin did sign same-sex partnerships into law in Alaska. But she did so only under a court order, and complained as she did that she’d rather not but had no choice. How thoughtful of her! I’m sure her “tons of gay friends” (like Dan Savage) were really thankful for being thrown a reluctant bone.

Of course she said tonight that she doesn’t want to “redefine” marriage, something with which Biden agreed. I guess that means that they both want men to buy women from their parents and control them utterly. I sure hope Sarah got her husband’s permission before she ran for governor. And she wouldn’t dare make any decisions, because that’s Mr. Palin’s job, right?

Now I’m not giving Biden (or Obama) a free pass on this either. As I’ve said before, it’s pretty hypocritical for the Democrats to sell rainbow Obama pins while selling us short. How would Obama have felt if he had been a voter back in the days of segregation and had a candidate selling “Africa-Americans for Mr. X” pins while preaching that maybe we should cut down on segregation a bit in certain places sometimes?

It’s extraordinarily frustrating to be sitting here in my loving boyfriend’s arms watching two major political figures agreeing on how we don’t deserve equal treatment. Sure, we should be able to visit each other in the hospital – and don’t get me wrong, that’s nice – but what about shared custody? How about not testifying against each other in court? That’s just for marriages.

If you don’t want gay marriage, you don’t really support us. Instead, you’re insisting on a definition that never was, just like Palin evokes “memories” of an America that never really existed. If you want the “traditional” definition of marriage, women are property. They have no rights.

If you think we should get “civil unions” with some of the benefits of marriage – just not all – you’re just looking to grant us a slightly better second-class citizenship. Why, exactly? Do gay people have some magic power to destabilize straight marriages within a 10-block radius, the same way we get +3 to fashion? Give me a break.

What’s that? You think civil unions should be “just like marriages, really, just with different names”? Well, look how well that’s worked in New Jersey. Most rules, codes and laws are written with the word “marriage.” Civil unions don’t work. We don’t get the same rights, as many couples around here have learned. If my boyfriend and I get a civil union and I want to put him in my health insurance, I’ll have to hope that my insurer isn’t a national group which can claim exemption. (It is, and they almost certainly would.) It’s a half-cocked solution, and it doesn’t work.

So swallow your internalized homophobia like so many of us have had to, and man (or woman) up! Show some integrity. Support your friends, neighbors, and coworkers. Do you really want to have to explain to your grandchildren how you didn’t want uncle Sam and uncle Jim to have a real marriage? Do you really think you’ll sound any different than your grandparents when they explained why their voted for someone running on a segregationist platform or made sure the “colored people” used their own, separate bathroom?

9 Comments leave one →
  1. Cindy permalink
    October 3, 2008 5:11 am

    You said it perfectly. It’s infuriating.

  2. October 3, 2008 9:28 am

    As I see your point, I also feel strongly that any candidate to openly endorses gay marriage would be committing political suicide at this point. We do not need a martyr, we need change. The fact is, McCain and Palin want to take away any rights we may have. Obama and Biden will strengthen our community. If you believe for one second the republicans will stand up for our community, you are sadly mistaken. We need to keep in mind that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and unfortunately, as race and sexism is playing a large roll in this election, we need to support the candidate who will move us forward, and not backwards. That candidate is Barack Obama. Don’t let your idealistic views of an American gay utopia cloud your vision. Bottom line, for the GLBT community, McCain bad, Obama good!

    I would also like to say our rights are OUR responsibility. We can’t just sit back and expect they will be handed to us on a silver platter. For those of you who want to complain, what have you done to help our cause? How many letters have you written to your state legislators? How many pride events have you attended? How many elections have you voted in? How much time and effort have you spent trying to help our community gain equal rights? Do you get what I’m saying? Again, our rights, our responsibility. If we can’t gain acceptance through our own efforts at the state and local levels, then why should we place unfair expectations upon one or two people? Get off your butts and work for what you want.

  3. Sharon ("mo") permalink
    October 3, 2008 11:30 am

    I sort of feel that the contract issued by the government shouldn’t be called “marriage” for any of us, gay or straight or whatever else… the idea of marriage as both the religious contract and the civil one came well before our current enlightened policy of separation of church and state. So we should all have to get “civil unions”, regardless of if we marry in any religious sense. It actually frustrates me a great deal that *I* can’t get a “civil union” with my partner because we’re straight! Bottom line, I agree with you that we all need equal rights, and I think that needs to come as a separation of religious and civil marriage for ALL of us.

  4. October 3, 2008 11:49 am

    Hi James. Thanks for commenting!

    I agree – we’re not going to get a pro-marriage candidate elected this year, and I’m absolutely voting for Obama. And I agree that it’s not enough to just complain – you have to act! I’ve had many letters to the editor published, I tell people they’re being offensive when they don’t realize it or don’t care, and I’ve done my best to help others come out. This blog is meant to be a way to show people what things are like for us.

    But I’m not going to pretend that I’m satisfied with the candidates we have now. It may not be “realistic” to want a candidate who can openly acknowledge that I’m a person who deserves the same rights as anyone else, but it’s the way things should be. People are going to look back on this issue with shame, but I’m not going to sit around and wait for history to be on my side.

  5. Molly permalink
    October 3, 2008 4:11 pm

    I was going to leave a comment, but Mo pretty much said it first. :-) Well, I’ll leave it anyway since your post was so evocative, it makes me just want to try and express something back.

    “Gay marriage” might be something of a misnomer, since this “marriage” thing [i]is[/i] a specific religious ritual with prescribed religious guidelines—for a totalitarian, rabidly static religion to boot. If only it ended at being a religious ritual and wasn’t tied into civil benefits and rights! So instead of fighting to expand it (which would require expansion under a religion designed to keep power and minds very narrow), can we maybe abolish marriage itself as the standard/law? As Mo said: civil unions for all, and then people can bring their own religion of choice to the table in how they celebrate it, rather than having a stranglehold on the legal and economic rights? Can we actually separate church and state?!? (Speaking of having cake and eating it too.)

    As to how we get there… Yeah, I never expected a candidate to be up front with any of this this year around. Which sucks and I hate to seem like I’m defending that. I really think America has had fleeting moments of being more liberal, but this is not one of them. We’ve been pushed so far backwards, I had no expectation at all that a candidate would give a direct “yes” even if they want to hint at being supportive. I wish I didn’t feel like I was justifying that. There’s no excuse for waiting when people are being repressed. I just expected it. I hope, I really really hope, that (a) Obama wins, (b) he does prove to have the good intentions he expresses now, and (c) that might start creeping us back to a better kind of America that we may or may not have at some point been. Maybe even catch us up slightly to other parts of the world, where there are better civil liberties and social service on all levels for so much more of the population than we have here.

    See also my comment on your linked LJ post, whereby we fancy ourselves this enlightened, liberal, secular nation, when in fact we began and remain a nation ruled by the worldviews and moral imperatives of the Puritans. (A.k.a. Everythingphobic uberrepressed gun-toting PsychoChristians who have to defend their viewpoint against all logic ’cause it wouldn’t survive a twig of it.) There was kind of a reason they had to cross oceans to find a place where they could take themselves seriously and abuse themselves and most of their own society in peace.

  6. October 4, 2008 3:48 pm

    Mo and Molly, I agree with both of you! The government should really be in the habit of granting civil unions and nothing more. But it’s not, and that’s not going to change any time soon, if ever, so marriage is now a civil institution, like it or not. And civil marriages should be available to everybody, even if a few religious figures don’t like them. It’s their right to be bigoted, but not to impose it on the rest of us!

    I’m as for separation of church and state as you’re likely to find, but only the most hyperliberal among us are going to go for the “no government marriages” idea, and while I agree with it in principal, I don’t think it’s worth the same long, drawn-out fight it is for me to get equal rights and get married.

    (And now that I think about it, aren’t long, drawn-out fights supposed to come AFTER marriage?)

  7. confessionsofaclosetcase permalink
    October 7, 2008 12:43 am

    whoa. One heck of a post. Well, all these big words and big ideas are flying over my head, hahahaha! Anyway, all we can do now is to remain patient. Who knows, we might get what we deserve in the (not-too-distant) future:) Btw, the video by Dan Savage is hilarious!


  8. Tyler permalink
    October 10, 2008 9:29 am

    I feel extremely similar. It’s frustrating, but I feel it’s at least a step in the right direction.

    Oh, and do I get +3 to fashion as a straight ally who watches Project Runway?

  9. October 10, 2008 12:52 pm

    I’m afraid that due to your heterosexuality, you can only be afforded a +2 to fashion. But you do get a +19 to legal rights! (It used to be +20, but then the Connecticut State Court ruled in our favor.)

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