Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Solicitation for LGBT opinions

So, in the document below the fold is some text from the Obama site regarding Civil Rights.

One of the things in this document is:

Support Full Civil Unions and Federal Rights for LGBT Couples: Barack Obama supports full civil unions that give same-sex couples legal rights and privileges equal to those of married couples.

Note, the “Civil Union” terminology. Now, as mentioned before I like to think of myself as a pragmatist, so when something essentially says “equal rights” but calls it a Civil Union I can easily support it, especially if one thinks about it as a first step. It’s about “equal rights” right? And “Marriage” has a bit of a pejorative history anyways (being based on religious and legal ownership). So a big YAY, right? right?

Yet, it seems there are some in the LGBT community who automatically bristle at the term CU, seeing it as a “separate but equal” issue. And it does not seem to help when I try and frame “separate but equal” as being an infrastructure policy, separate schools, public spaces, bathrooms etc. CU seems to be a non-starter for some, no matter how it is phrased.

But, I can’t help but think, if the emotionally laded term “marriage” is removed it would make it incredibility easier to achieve those rights.

My query, am I off my rocker for thinking this is a good thing? I am after all a white, het, married, male so I am willing to admit the issue is not as immediate for me as it would be for others.

All responses welcome, but I’d like to especially hear from those within the GLBT community if possible.


The Obama-Biden Plan

   Expand Hate Crimes Statutes: In 2004, crimes against LGBT Americans constituted the third-highest category of hate crime reported and made up more than 15 percent of such crimes. Barack Obama cosponsored legislation that would expand federal jurisdiction to include violent hate crimes perpetrated because of race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, or physical disability. As a state senator, Obama passed tough legislation that made hate crimes and conspiracy to commit them against the law.

   Fight Workplace Discrimination: Barack Obama supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and believes that our anti-discrimination employment laws should be expanded to include sexual orientation and gender identity. While an increasing number of employers have extended benefits to their employees’ domestic partners, discrimination based on sexual orientation in the workplace occurs with no federal legal remedy. Obama also sponsored legislation in the Illinois State Senate that would ban employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

   Support Full Civil Unions and Federal Rights for LGBT Couples: Barack Obama supports full civil unions that give same-sex couples legal rights and privileges equal to those of married couples. Obama also believes we need to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and enact legislation that would ensure that the 1,100+ federal legal rights and benefits currently provided on the basis of marital status are extended to same-sex couples in civil unions and other legally-recognized unions. These rights and benefits include the right to assist a loved one in times of emergency, the right to equal health insurance and other employment benefits, and property rights.

   Oppose a Constitutional Ban on Same-Sex Marriage: Barack Obama voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2006 which would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman and prevented judicial extension of marriage-like rights to same-sex or other unmarried couples.

   Repeal Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell: Barack Obama agrees with former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Shalikashvili and other military experts that we need to repeal the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. The key test for military service should be patriotism, a sense of duty, and a willingness to serve. Discrimination should be prohibited. The U.S. government has spent millions of dollars replacing troops kicked out of the military because of their sexual orientation. Additionally, more than 300 language experts have been fired under this policy, including more than 50 who are fluent in Arabic. Obama will work with military leaders to repeal the current policy and ensure it helps accomplish our national defense goals.

   Expand Adoption Rights: Barack Obama believes that we must ensure adoption rights for all couples and individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation. He thinks that a child will benefit from a healthy and loving home, whether the parents are gay or not.

   Promote AIDS Prevention: In the first year of his presidency, Barack Obama will develop and begin to implement a comprehensive national HIV/AIDS strategy that includes all federal agencies. The strategy will be designed to reduce HIV infections, increase access to care and reduce HIV-related health disparities. Obama will support common sense approaches including age-appropriate sex education that includes information about contraception, combating infection within our prison population through education and contraception, and distributing contraceptives through our public health system. Obama also supports lifting the federal ban on needle exchange, which could dramatically reduce rates of infection among drug users. Obama has also been willing to confront the stigma — too often tied to homophobia — that continues to surround HIV/AIDS. He will continue to speak out on this issue as president.

   Empower Women to Prevent HIV/AIDS: In the United States, the percentage of women diagnosed with AIDS has quadrupled over the last 20 years. Today, women account for more than one quarter of all new HIV/AIDS diagnoses. Barack Obama introduced the Microbicide Development Act, which will accelerate the development of products that empower women in the battle against AIDS. Microbicides are a class of products currently under development that women apply topically to prevent transmission of HIV and other infections.

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  1. but that shouldn’t preclude me from contributing to the conversation.

    I can understand the argument against “separate, but equal”. However, I find it somewhat troubling to think people would actively oppose civil unions based only on that argument. Right now, it is purely unequal treatment.

    I am most troubled by what happens when one partner ends up in a hospital with a serious, perhaps terminal, illness. I’ve been in that situation as a fiancee. Her family could have made it difficult for us. Thankfully, they didn’t. I can’t imagine what I would have done if they had tried to shut me out. The thought of that happening to someone who is in love makes me sick.

    If civil unions will be truly equal in partner rights then I am all for them. Marriage will come shortly thereafter. Some churches will take that step and then others will follow. Those that don’t will soon find themselves outside of the mainstream. It can’t happen too fast as far as I’m concerned.

  2. semiquaver

    is that by creating a separate category from marriage with all the same rights we’re by definition creating a separate but equal institution.  We’re saying to gays ‘You guys deserve those rights, for sure, but marriage is our thing, and we don’t want you dirtying it up.  It conveys disrespect and a sense of inferiority almost explicitly.

    Some religious people (as well as many African Americans, I’m sorry to say) balk at the comparison to the civil rights movement, but if you ban a members of a group from participating in ‘box A’ and put them in a newly created and identical ‘box B’, the boxes are separate, and they’re (in theory) equal.  What is that if not separate but equal?

    Any institution that’s not called marriage can never truly be equal to marriage.  For one, marriage is inextricably tied into emotional and intangible feelings and we’re raised from birth to understand that bond as ‘marriage.’  It’s not an entirely cold, governmental institution on a piece of paper: for the same reason that Christians have so much trouble letting gays enter a category that is totally separate from their spiritual understanding of Marriage, getting a ‘civil union’ just isn’t ‘getting married’.  Common law marriage is legally equal to marriage in some jurisdictions, but I wouldn’t feel 100% comfortable calling a common law spouse my wife.  Is your civil partner your ‘husband?’  Maybe you would say that, but how would it feel to introduce your husband to a religious bigot who corrected you and said ‘of course, you really mean civil partner’.  It would be hard not to regularly think about the fact that the state had denied you the privilege straight people take for granted.

    There’s also a pragmatic argument against a separate name.  For one, the US cannot enforce its laws overseas.  When a straight married couple goes to another country, they’re still husband and wife.  It’s not inconceivable that abroad, a civil partner could be denied visitation rights if her spouse is hospitalized.

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