Monday, July 04, 2005

Fight the Right: A How-To

Beyond Gay Marriage, in the July 18-26th The Nation, is long on background and deep on action. It specifies where the DoMA drive is going and perhaps how to derail it.

The writers are Lisa Duggan, an NYU associate professor and widely published author, and Richard Kim, an American studies Ph.D. candidate at NYU and The Nation Institute's intern program director. To see it online, you need to be a subscriber. (If you aren't, consider it.)

Some of what they cover is of no surprise, although they document it well. The big one is that same-sex marriage is just a wedge issue and a stepping stone for the extreme right. They suck the sincere fundamentalists in with it, get DoMA amendments or laws, but what they are really after is control over American's long-established civil contract rights. They want to outlaw or control all manner of domestic partnerships.

While Duggan and Kim don't stress it, we see this as dovetailing perfectly with the intrusive big-government policies of the Republicans since Reagan. They say, "Freedom," and mean, "Give us yours."

While most of us hadn't thought much about it during these times of passion and debate, the economics of this are very right-wing too. The early Baby Boomers are already known as the Sandwich Generation. They care for aged, underinsured parents as well as their own children and grandchildren. If the nasty right gets it way, there will be fewer and fewer obligations for the government.

Regardless of any gender combination, do away with the federal or state governments or private employers having any responsibility and the burden on the rich is lighter. Also, the government can spend on their killing machines and other worthy (to them) projects.

The trends over the last half of the 20th century until recently was to protect Americans. Social Security, pension funds, medical programs all helped. When states enabled various domestic partnerships, the needy could get a fair shake, or at least a fairer one. That might be a single woman having a civil contract with related or unrelated children, adults, foster children, the disabled and so forth. Not only could they share government benefits, but they have the medical and guardian relationships.

Of course, there is a cost. An employer or agency might have to help with medical costs for the sick mom, for example. You can see why some conservatives see this kicking of the weak is so tempting a fund-freeing source.

Another aspect to the broader agenda "clear by another marriage movement leader, Bryce Christensen of Southern Utah University, when he said, 'If those initiatives are part of a broader effort to reaffirm lifetime fidelity in marriage, they're worthwhile. If they're isolated--if we don't address cohabitation and casual divorce and deliberate childlessness--then I think they're futile and will be brushed aside.'" To his type, just preventing gays from marrying is only a beginning.

Duggan and Kim propose that gay activists and other progressives:
  • Expand the focus from same-sex marriage to the resources needed by the whole country.
  • Turn the debate to one of recognizing the many possible types of households, thus cutting across cultural and class limitations.
  • Stress caretaking, decent jobs, adequate healthcare and other benefits.
  • Talk about how many households, straight as well, are damaged or destroyed by the new restrictions.
  • Lay out a vision of social justice that provides for all types of households.
The article notes that in Nebraska, the only state in which a DoMA was struck down by a federal judge, the ruling was on the damage and burden it placed on all types of households, not just gay ones.

The good guys have been quietly active, writer Duggan and Kim. "(D)rafting novel cohabitation contracts, pressing for state and local legislation, challenging discriminatory laws and urging employers to expand benefits, they have begun to create the kind of household recognitions that befit a genuinely pluralistic society." The article ends with a call for gays and lesbians to join with progressives in this broader effort.

Show the stunned nation that their security is being ripped from their bodies. Show them that the issue is not same-sex marriage but Americans retaining control over their destiny.


Miss Grimke said...

To quote you: "...we see this as dovetailing perfectly with the intrusive big-government policies of the Republicans since Reagan. They say, 'Freedom,' and mean, 'Give us yours.'" How long will it take for this country to wake up?

massmarrier said...

Perhaps we'll wake up as a nation — and tumble to the floor. We do seem to like to wait until it's panic time to act, assuming that American can do anything.

To quote early 20th Century Presidental candidate Alfred E. Smith, "The American people never carry an umbrella. They prepare to walk in eternal sunshine"

They bought into Reagan's fantasy that we could have guns and butter. They seem to like Bush's promise of freedom with a overarching government.

Let's all say it together. Huh?