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Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Declaring Civil War on the “LGBT Culture War”

Marriage is a CIVIL RIGHT, not another casualty in the Culture Wars.


A new article out in The American Prospect urges a new direction in the pursuit of LGBT right, namely that we progressives begin to reframe the debate outside of the culture wars by pushing a message of marriage as a civil right.

Progressives will continue to lose until we can successfully relabel LGBT rights a civil-rights issue situated firmly within the context of other civil-rights struggles, not an issue mired in the culture-war swamp of moral controversy.

In a response heavily laden with righteous indignation, Ann Friedman sounds the alarm in words after my own writer’s heart.

This is a call to arms. Progressives should not declare the culture war dead; we must reframe it and keep fighting.

“Culture” implies we are comfortable with different parts of our country and different groups of people seeing this issue differently. It implies that there is no absolute right or wrong — just two sparring factions — and that we’ll simply have to wait for the rest of the country to come around. Culture changes slowly.

And finally with such eloquence and passion…

[T]oday’s America is no progressive wonderland. This is laid bare by the passage of the anti-gay measures, and it’s the reason I chafe at the notion that these are the first days of a new progressive era. Because if our time had truly come, bigotry on the ballot wouldn’t be a sure thing. And fundamental civil rights wouldn’t be perceived as a minor culture-war skirmish.

Call it “marriage”, a “civil union”, a “peanut butter and jelly sandwich”, or whatever because I don’t give a damn about the friggin’ label.  I have a civil right to choose who will speak for me when I cannot, my next-of-kin, if you will, and that is a right we should all have as Americans.

And honestly, it’s not about sex because no one needs marriage to have sex, so let’s kick sex out of the debate.  It’s not even about religion because we don’t need to believe in god or have religion to be married.  Sex and religion are non-starters in this debate.

We all have a CIVIL RIGHT to name the person who speaks for us when we cannot.  

Loving v. Virginia held that interracial marriage was unconstitutional, and the U.S Supreme Court in that case said the following:

Marriage is one of the “basic civil rights of man,” fundamental to our very existence and survival…. To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State’s citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discrimination. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.

Our U.S. Supreme Court has failed to extend its reasoning in Loving to include marriage between partners of the same sex.  And of course, our Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996 which has paved the way for the hate propositions on ballots.

But we can start reframing the debate and progressing by calling marriage what it is, a civil right.  We need to demand the same recognition of marriage as a civil right from our elected officials and our fellow Americans.



    It’s always a good thing when things go badly to say “What went wrong?  What can we do to make them right?”  In other words, take action towards getting the desired result.

    And remember that gays and lesbians have lots of hetero support in this fight. Between us we’ll make things right.

  2. Hollede

    and for continuing to shout out about this. We are winning, I truly believe that, and victory will be ours as long as we keep fighting for our basic human rights.  

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