Friday, June 19, 2009
Not So BeneficialIf you're a gay Democrat, you're used to politicians making promises that are soon forgotten. Our struggle for equal rights has been long and arduous, and even though incremental progress has been made, gay Americans are the last group of citizens in this country who do not have the same rights as others. We are the group of people hanging out there with no safety net. We can be fired from our jobs, we can be denied visitation rights if our partners are critically ill, we can be discharged from the military, we can't adopt our partner's children. There is a long list of basic human rights that if denied to another group of minorities, would cause a huge uproar, maybe even riots, certainly this countries citizens and leaders would feel shame for excluding a single group of people from the basic protections guaranteed by law. But it's completely acceptable, socially and politically to discriminate against gay people. We still support Democrats, we give them money, we work the phone banks, we get each other out to the polls on voting day.
What other choice do we have?
It hasn't been such a good week for us gay people. The Justice Department issued a brief in support of the DOMA law. That wasn't such a big deal, that's what the Justice Department does, it defends the laws that have been passed by Congress. The problem was that the brief cited two cases, one in which an uncle married his niece, and the other, a case that involved a minor. This is the sort of thing that we have come to expect from guys like Rick Santorum, and Pat Robertson, back in the 90's. We certainly didn't expect it from the Obama Administration's Justice Department in 2009. So then, the President decides, that after the insulting brief, the timing was perfect for an executive order giving Federal employees the same benefits that straight people got. Except that we all thought that these benefits would include health care and pensions, the things that make up the safety net for everyone else in this great free country. I'm not exactly sure what it was that we got, but whatever it was did not make up for the insult of having our relationships compared to cousins marrying each other, or creepy old men marrying 16 year olds.
The thing is....President Obama never supported gay marriage. Gay groups are saying that Hillary Clinton would never have done this, but it was her husband who signed DOMA into law in the first place. There was always the expectation that Obama was going to sweep into office and wave some magic wand, and all of a sudden, we would all be living in Liberal Land, a perfect utopia of equality and justice. The reality is that shit just doesn't happen like that. The politicians all make promises, they make them to everyone, gay, straight, black, white. There are things that have to be traded for progress, and usually it is my very own civil rights. That's how it works.
Except.....why is it always gay people? And I have to ask the question, even though the answer is disturbing.
What are the benefits of being a Democrat?
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No subject for immortal verse
That we who lived by honest dreams
Defend the bad against the worse."
-- Cecil Day-Lewis from Where Are The War Poets?
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