Charles Winecoff at Big Hollywood has lots of thoughts on the lesbian and gay community and gay marriage tonight. He asks, “When did the gay community get so mean?”
Charles, I came out in 1972 and I have a question for you: “When was the gay and lesbian community EVER nice?” Because I can’t think of a time.
The point Winecoff eventually arrives at has to do with gay marriage vs. civil unions.
On that, something Winecoff wrote needs clarification. He quotes another blogger as saying that civil unions in France, which are available to both straights and gays, provide the same rights to lesbians and gays as marriage. This is not correct. The Washington Post had a Valentine’s Day story on French civil unions, known by their acronym “PACS,” which stated:
… PACS unions are also seen as more appealing than marriage because they can be dissolved without costly divorce procedures. If one or both of the partners declares in writing to the court that he or she wants out, the PACS is ended, with neither partner having claim to the other’s property or to alimony.
… government statistics show, one-sixth of PACSed couples that end their unions do so because they want to get married.
Separate. Not equal.
Winecoff also points out that the global jihad hates gays and lesbians as much as it hates Jews and that our community is oblivious to this threat. On this point, I agree.
Anyway, he says we need allies come the jihad, so we should be nice now and drop our demands:
Instead of stirring up resentment trying to snatch a piece of a stale pie we don’t really need — and setting back our cause in the process — we need to keep moving forward, not “separate but equal,” but different and equal.
It’s time to reprioritize, show some gratitude for how far we’ve come, and try some magnanimity for a change. Let the so-called “bigots” keep their rituals. We have our own way of doing things.
Charles, Charles, Charles. Where do I start? Here: have you ever had a love of your life and stayed committed to one another for 10 years or more? I have — over 20 years, in fact. Have you had to fight for your life partner’s life? I have. Arrange for your life partner’s funeral? I have. We need the rights to do those things. A lesbian attorney wrote my life partner’s will but was unaware that a will is not the instrument that gives a surviving life partner the right to make funeral arrangements. I’m a planner, so we found out in time — but just barely.
Winecoff’s essay does not mention any profound loves or longterm relationships. That is why it sounds to me like Winecoff doesn’t know what marriage is, at all. So his assertion, “Let the so-called ‘bigots’ keep their rituals,” isn’t principle, it’s sour grapes.
On the issue of gay marriage, if you really have no idea what the spiritual, emotional and life content of a marriage are like, work on that first, because that is what is informing the efforts of those of us who do want full marriage rights for lesbians and gays.
Moving along, dear GayPatriotWest, aka Daniel Blatt, picked up on Winecoff’s post here. We have exchanged some pleasant e-mails and it pains me to disagree with him, but disagree I must. He writes:
I do know some gay people who do want marriage, but it seems the most vocal advocates see gay marriage more as, to quote my friend Dale Carpenter, a “trophy in the cultural wars” than anything else.
No, no, no, no, NO!
We need fully equal marriage for the following reasons:
- Marriage is about enlightenment and God consciousness. I will explain that in another post on enlightenment and higher states of consciousness. To deny lesbians and gays the right to marriages that are fully equal to straight ones cuts us off from God. How is that not evil?
- Marriage creates a structure for uniting two lives into a couple and provides the foundation for building one life together. Civil unions degrade that reality by defining marriage as a collection of legal rights and duties. Therefore, to create a second class marriage with civil unions will inevitably degrade the concept of marriage, even though marriage is the “more equal” option.
- Marriage gives you rights to do things for one another from managing your affairs together, to managing your spouse’s healthcare when he or she is no longer able to make decisions, to control of your spouse’s remains and funeral arrangements after death, to inheritance rights. It is not plausible that civil unions ever would be able to keep up if every equal right has to pass a legislature and be signed by a governor or president, or that they would be recognized in every other country, as legal marriages are.
I just don’t get the feeling from Winecoff and Dan that they ever have been in a longterm committed relationship with someone that was/is the love of their lives. If they haven’t — and I don’t know — that is why they are able to be so reasonable, so negotiable, so “peace in our time.” If they have not had the emotional and spiritual bond with another person that underlies true marriages, whether or not they are legal, then it’s impossible for them to understand the passion and urgency of those of us who have.
People who are ambivalent about marriage, whether straight or gay — will never, ever expend the effort and political capital to make gay marriage legal. I do not believe the Democrats will ever deliver on gay marriage for their lesbian and gay worker bees/cash cows — they’ll string us along forever.
But religious people/conservatives who love and understand marriage are EXACTLY the people who will ultimately be our best allies in legalizing gay marriage — because they understand the passion to be married and build a life together.
For new readers:
The brief story of my own marriage with my late life partner of over 20 years is here.
And my observation that we’ll never get liberals to support gay marriage because they aren’t all that solid about straight marriage so they can’t understand why we want it is here.
For my foreign readers:
There’s an old joke in the U.S. about an Italian immigrant woman who was being lectured by her priest on the subject of birth control. She replied to him, “You no playa da game, you no maka da rules.”
Update: I e-mailed Dan about this post to give him a heads-up that I linked him and that we disagree. I could not do the same for Winecoff because I could not find his e-mail address at Big Hollywood. I have an e-mail from Dan this morning saying that he is not in a committed relationship, but Winecoff is. Dan says that he does understand the passion and urgency for marriage to be legalized for lesbians and gays. I hope he will comment and explain in his own words. Winecoff also is welcome to comment here.
Correction: I should have consulted a reference before using the “peace in our time” quote. Wikipedia says that British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s actual words were “peace for our time” when he announced on September 30, 1938, that he had sold out Czechoslovakia — “a far away country of which we know little,” as my father quotes him, from being alive at the time — to Hitler’s demand for “living space” for Germany in the Munich Agreement. Chamberlain had ceded to Hitler territory over which he had no legal control, Czechoslovakia’s Sudetenland, which Hitler invaded the very next day. Chamberlain’s appeasement policy, however, did not secure peace for very long and World War II began a year later when Hitler invaded Poland.
Since I am obviously giving Dan and Winecoff a dig about appeasement, I should say that the way we will obtain our right to marry is to be out in every aspect of our lives while being the best people we know how to be and making the best marriages — I feel it’s degrading to use the more correct term of “committed relationships” because it does not capture the dimensions of spirituality and devotion — we can now. I will explain in more detail in future posts. We are a quite a large minority when our families and friends and colleagues know we are lesbian or gay and give us their support. The love and respect we earn among people who know we are gay or lesbian is what will soften the hearts of those now opposed to gay marriage and will let them feel comfortable about admitting us to full membership in the club. Anyway, love, respect and openness is how I’m going about it.
Update: Protein Wisdom also has a post about Winecoff’s column.