Thursday, May 18, 2006

The life of an American lesbian - or - How it feels to be a political football on the day of the big kick off

I don't know whether to laugh, cower in fear, or scream in frustration. Such is the life of a lesbian on the day the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee approves an amendment banning me from marrying.

Oh yes, I know the amendment isn't expected to get the necessary two-thirds vote needed to pass the full Senate. Even if that happens, the proposal would still have to be approved by three-fourths of the states.

But this is a vile amendment.

It not only bans same-sex marriage, but has delightful language that would also, at the very least, prohibit civil unions. Similar to the wording of the amendment passed last year in Kansas, this language is so vague it could also block just about any legal arrangement between the members of a same-sex couple

According to AP, the amendment reads:
Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.
What this would mean is that people who love each other and have committed their lives to their partnership probably would not be able to visit each other in the hospital.

We probably couldn't receive health insurance benefits or inherit from each other.

We -- that is those evil U.S. citizens who have committed the sin of loving someone of the same sex -- would be blocked from getting the more than 1,000 other legal benefits heterosexuals take for granted.

And yes, there could be times when children would be torn from their parents.

And it wouldn't matter how we live our lives or what churches we attend or whether we pay our taxes or commit a crime. Simply for loving, we would be hurt (actually, currently are, in many states). And why? Because some folks don't like us.

Somehow, someway, by simply existing we are destroying these people's marriages and their families. We don't even have to ever meet them, and we destroy them -- or at least, that's what they claim.

But of course, the amendment isn't going to pass and all of that isn'tt going to happen, not right now.

Today's vote and the vote by the full Senate on June 5 is just for grins. It's an exercise politicians go through to put each other on the record, to create a campaign issue. It's an exercise Republicans are going through to pander and please the religious right because, after all, the GOP reads the New York Times, too, and the Times reported about how truly unhappy James Dobson and other fundamentalist leaders are with the Republican Party.

Meanwhile, much of the rest of the blogosphere and the msm are chortling over the fact that committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa, and committee member Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., got into a shouting match. I like a good bellow between senators as much as the next political junky, but today it just doesn't seem funny.

In this moment of your life, what can you do?

Sign the Human Rights Campaign's online petition. Join HRC and send them money.

Contact your state gay rights organization and give them money and support. The biggest fight is in the states right now. If the day comes when the federal amendment does pass Congress, we will have to work even harder in each state. You see, if the U.S. Constitution is amended, then even the Supreme Court won't be able to help us.

In Kansas, the state organization is the Kansas Equality Coalition.


charlieahern said...

You mention a point that also eludes me;

Somehow, someway, by simply existing we are destroying these people’s marriages and their families. We don’t even have to ever meet them, and we destroy them – or at least, that’s what they claim.

How would establishing a legal relationship between two people 'harm' others who establish similar relationships? Has there been a significant increase in divorces of one-one couples since the city of San Francisco conducted thousands of same-same marriages? Did either Rush Limbaugh or Newt Gingrich add to his divorce series?

You mentioned a couple of general ideas about supporting GLBT groups. What do you think about a group like PFLAG (Parents Families Friends of Lesbians and Gays)? Or should a straight person simply join a GLBT group?

Diane Silver said...

For some reason, I missed Charlie's comment before, but I'd like to post a reply now.

I'm with you, Charlie, I can't figure out how my relationship would hurt someone else. The fact that some heterosexuals are so frightened of my possible marriage is one sign that their relationships are poor. I wonder if we're just being made the scapegoats.

PFLAG is a wonderful group and well worth joining and supporting. I'm not certain, though, how much political action PFLAG does or can do, since I think they may be a 501c3.

With all the political attacks lesbians and gays face in the United States right now, it's vital that straight folks support our political groups and advocacy groups with time and/or money.

I don't know where you are, Charlie, so I would suggest finding the LGBT rights group in your state or town. In Kansas your best bet is the Kansas Equality Coalition. Nationally, you can also support the Human Rights Campaign or the National Lesbian and Gay Task Force.

thanks for the comments!