Monday, November 22, 2004

Baseball, Apple Pie, The Fourth of July, and Thanksgiving

On topics like gay marriage and parenting, I find myself (and observe others) making the argument that "gay people are just like everyone else." In a letter to our local Tribune's editor in response to a particularly homophobic letter about gay marriage last year I wrote:

Committed gay and lesbian couples in the United States are not unlike the rest of the world's couples. They love, they fight, they are employed, they buy houses and plant flowers, they contribute to the GDP, they have kids, they don't have kids, they celebrate 50th wedding anniversaries, and they split up after 3 years. They are Americans and they deserve not only the same legal benefits as heterosexual married couples, but also the support and stability of our long-held social customs like marriage--whatever we decide to call it.

The Human Rights Campaign (a very mainstream political action group for glbt rights) takes the same position: we are just like you, so we should get the same rights as you.

This sort of argument bugs many glbt activists and it sometimes gets to me as well. In particular, some argue that the HRC depicts all glbt people as upper-middle-class, highly-educated white people with bourgeois goals like attempting to get the right to marry. They claim that this organization does not come close to representing the diversity within this minority group or, therefore, its needs. Others argue that the organization is particularly materialist. The 2000 march on Washington was followed by a huge street fair which charged people $10 upon entry. The message seemed to say "I'm gay and I consume!" (I found a wristband on the street thereby subverting the dominant paradigm... Of course, my desire to enter was purely on grounds of research and observation.) Inside you could buy all-things-rainbow ranging from gay-themed dvd's and dining guides, to dog leashes to, well, I'll let your imaginations fill in the blank.

The fact is we are not "just like you". We face discrimination in the workplace, at home, in our communities and sometimes within our families. That can create instability in our relationships and our personal lives. One clear example of a result of such discrimination and social scorn is that gay teens, have a much higher suicide rate than other teens.

Having said all of this, our family is roasting a huge turkey this week, with all the associated carbohydrates. I guess we're really not that different.

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