Is America Burning - a Forum To Discuss Issues

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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Further to Yesterday's Rant

So why am I so focused on one issue instead of the large picture of a general election?

1. My blogging partners are covering it admirably. I have a preference but at the end of the day I'll vote for whichever Democrat is left standing. I'll probably become more involved closer to the actual election.

2 I believe how we treat each other as individuals says volumes about how we, as a nation, conduct our affairs. I've always focused more on individual stories as examples than the "larger picture". It's just the way I am and, at almost 70, I don't see much hope of that changing.

Injustice can take many forms.

Our old friend, PT, left a comment which prompted this extra post.

He said:

I've been thinking about this a bit over the past few months, and I think that the whole "gay marriage" movement is a bit misguided.
First of all, it doesn't address the issue directly, but seeks to cure a symptom rather than the illness.
And secondly, due to aiming at the illness (I think he meant to say symptom - Ann), it leaves out a significant portion of others which are affected in a like manner.

What we need is a domestic partnership act that would work as a framework of a contractual agreement, much like marriage.
This would give those straight couples as well that have co-habitated for a length of time some basis in law as to what rights are specifically protected.

The problem, I believe, is one of the predominant model of business ethics. As a people, we lack the power to change that model, but we can limit the havoc on peoples' lives.

And politically, removing the issue from a sub-group to the mainstream should shore up popular support.

It's not marriage that gays need. Marriage is over-rated anyway. What they need is a basis for enforceable legal rights.

I remember a post a long time ago that the Grumpy Old Man did. He was talking about these two gay guys that he knew back in the 60's that both worked for the same shipping company (a British company, I believe).
Anyway, the one died, and the other was bereft, as well as in a position most precarious, for he thought it certain that he would have to sell the house that they shared.
The company gave him their condolences, as well as his partner's pension, which would normally go to a widow. Unasked. They said that they thought it would be the right thing to do.

Think of what we could be like today, if only people did business on the basis of what they thought would be the right thing to do.

And I emailed (as I often do rather than answer in the comment box)

Hey there, old friend

Thanks for your comment about my friend Janice on IAB. I think I'll write another post, copying
your comment to the blog itself as well as this email. It deserves more than to be buried in the comments.

(Note: Thanks to everyone else who replied as well.)

You're right in some respects and I certainly agree with your philosophy of "do unto others". I would go further though and I'm the first to admit I didn't always feel as strongly as I do now. The loopholes in domestic partner/civil union laws on a state to state basis and the non-enforcement of such laws as we have changed my mind.

(Note: I should have added that my conversations with LGBT friends and my reading of other horror stories had something to do with my shift from "civil union is okay for now - let's go one step at a time" to "no, it's not because it's not working" stance.)

Here's what I'd do, for starters:

1. Get rid of the Federal DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act). It's obscene and shame on President Clinton for signing it. (Note: I'm pretty sure it dates back to his Administration - feel free to correct me if I'm wrong). It puts a government stamp of approval on discrimination.

2. Apply "full faith and credit" to existing state laws regarding domestic partnership/civil union as well as to adoption. What happened to Janice wouldn't have happened. She would have had the protection of the federal government just as my husband and I would if we traveled to another state. Our marriage certificate is accepted everywhere.

3. Give domestic partners exactly the same rights as a "traditional marriage". Right now that's not happening, even in Massachusetts, because those rights disappear once a couple crosses a state line. Also, New Jersey in particular (and my own California) has had problems with what they thought was a perfect domestic partner/civil unions law. Because the word "marriage" isn't spelled out, employers are hunting for loopholes to keep from paying benefits. NJ is scrambling to make their law more airtight but, without equal protection, non "traditional" couples will still be second class citizens. Even here in California, I have friends who've had problems with authorizing medical care (or making final decisions, etc.) even with all the t's crossed and i's dotted. Separate is not equal.

(Note: PT, I have no problem with extending the civil contract to all of course. That's the point).

It isn't just medical rights that disappear. I don't know if both Janice and Lisa adopted their children. I'm sure Janice would tell me if I asked. In some states, only one of the prospective parents can adopt (as a single person). Hypothetically, if Lisa (the deceased partner) had adopted them (or was the birth mom) and Janice hadn't (or couldn't legally) adopt, Janice would have no say in any decisions affecting the kids once she left her home state. Even if both had adopted them, what about the states (I believe Florida is one) which don't recognize gay adoption? If it had been one of the children instead of her partner who became ill in Florida, what would Janice have done then? Would she have sat in a waiting room while her child suffered without her? If she moved to another state, could she even register her children in school? Take them to the doctor? Make any decisions on their behalf?

Taking it to its most absurd extreme, would another state remove the children from her care? What would stop them if that's what they decided to do?

Why should anyone's right to travel or relocate be restricted by bigotry?

Moving away from the hypothetical, Janice discovered when she tried to file Lisa's taxes that the paperwork would cost an extra $400; something else that wouldn't have happened to me.

4. Here's where I think you and I are saying the same thing. We could go to a system something like France (and England too I think) with a civil contract mandatory for all. The civil contract would be binding with or without the church sacrament or any other ceremony/celebration. Right now, individual churches or pastors are free to refuse to "marry" any couple and I'm okay with that. I can't believe in separation of church and state yet at the same time insist that any church believe as I do. Or, to put it another way, I can change laws but not hearts although the hearts might eventually follow. What I wouldn't do is have two separate contracts; one for hetero couples and one for everyone else. That's how the loopholes and the separate but unequal creep in.

5. I admit I don't know what to do about individual state laws on "marriage". I'd like to see a federal law prohibiting discrimination or an executive order such as Harry Truman issued when he integrated the armed forces. Realistically, I'm not sure that will happen, at least not in my lifetime. All the candidates (except for Dennis Kucinich of course) have gone on record as opposing "gay marriage", even the ones who support civil union/domestic partnership. Traditionally, laws concerning marriage have been left to the individual states and they vary widely. We'd probably have even less luck amending the Constitution to include gender discrimination. We sure didn't get very far with the Equal Rights Amendment, did we?

Janice is not the only person to whom these and similar injustices have happened. Her story struck me when I read it; first, because it was tragic; second, because I don't often weep over something I read on line although many stories anger me. This time I did - both in sorrow and anger. Finally though, I think what caused me to jump in with both feet is that Janice and Lisa were not political activists as such. They were quietly open with their relationship in their community and well liked. They fostered many kids, adopted some, were active in all the things that parents do. They lived their lives peacefully, worked, paid their taxes, obeyed the law, and were no different than any other family. In short, they were good citizens. The last thing Janice expected was to be thrust into the national spotlight or to become a poster child for gay rights. I admire her more than I can say for her courage while struggling with her and her children's grief as well as the practical issues of raising their children alone. She's putting an actual face to injustice.

(PT, now I can't remember if I included that final paragraph in my email. If not, I should have. I'm beginning to think I need a keeper.)

COMMENTS:
Blogger Worried American said...

Well said, Granny and PT. If Huckabee gains the nomination and (god forbid) is elected prez, expect more persecution of gays and stripping of gay rights.He is a Baptist Fundamentalist and has strong prejudice against gays.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008 1:09:00 PM

Blogger Progressive Traditionalist said...

Hello, Granny Ann.
And thanks for the edit. Sometimes I sorely need an editor....

I had just e-mailed you back, saying that the commonlaw marriage laws could be used as an existing framework. Didn't elaborate on it much.

I've enjoyed this exchange, quite a bit actually.

Thank you, ladies, for providing a forum where ideas can be exchanged without reprisal for having thought of something different.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008 2:36:00 PM

Blogger Worried American said...

Greetings, PT. Glad to see you here and for your input furnished by Granny. As usual, very good thinking.

No reprisals here for visitors, even when there is an occasional difference of opinion. Reasonable people should be able to explore and discuss different viewpoints with out getting huffy. I am sorry that you have encountered small minded people on other blogs. Their loss to fail to benefit from an exchange. Or to fail to recognize irony when they see it.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008 7:15:00 PM

4 Comments:

  • At Tuesday, March 04, 2008 1:09:00 PM , Blogger Worried American said...

    Well said, Granny and PT. If Huckabee gains the nomination and (god forbid) is elected prez, expect more persecution of gays and stripping of gay rights.He is a Baptist Fundamentalist and has strong prejudice against gays.

     
  • At Tuesday, March 04, 2008 2:36:00 PM , Blogger Progressive Traditionalist said...

    Hello, Granny Ann.
    And thanks for the edit. Sometimes I sorely need an editor....

    I had just e-mailed you back, saying that the commonlaw marriage laws could be used as an existing framework. Didn't elaborate on it much.

    I've enjoyed this exchange, quite a bit actually.

    Thank you, ladies, for providing a forum where ideas can be exchanged without reprisal for having thought of something different.

     
  • At Tuesday, March 04, 2008 7:15:00 PM , Blogger Worried American said...

    Greetings, PT. Glad to see you here and for your input furnished by Granny. As usual, very good thinking.

    No reprisals here for visitors, even when there is an occasional difference of opinion. Reasonable people should be able to explore and discuss different viewpoints with out getting huffy. I am sorry that you have encountered small minded people on other blogs. Their loss to fail to benefit from an exchange. Or to fail to recognize irony when they see it.

     
  • At Wednesday, March 05, 2008 11:49:00 AM , Anonymous Leland Traiman said...

    Federal Civil Unions=Marriage Equality; State Same-sex Marriage Does Not.
    There is a myth that marriage has more rights than civil unions. That myth is born from the fact that civil unions have only been passed by states which have no power to grant the 1138 federal benefits of marriage. However, a federal civil union policy would. Senators Clinton & Obama support a federal civil unions policy. 48 million votes cast in 29 states, 32 million against same sex marriage, we lost 2 to 1. According to Jennifer SookneMizell of Marriage Equality USA, “Actually, we get more benefits in California in certain areas with domestic partnerships than the same gendered marrieds in Massachusetts get.” 45 states have laws or constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage. The choice is clear, federal civil unions are achievable, federal same-sex marriage is not. Federal Civil Unions=Marriage Equality

     

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