About Prop 8, Marriage Rights, and Civil Rights

I realized I’ve been mostly silent on the issue of Prop 8 here in California. There’s no question that I support the defeat of the proposition.

But I guess I’m old school enough to still be focusing on gay rights more than marriage rights. Back in the dark ages, when the issue of gay marriage started to show up regularly as part of the national discourse, somewhere around 1991, I remember feeling uneasy. I feared that focusing the gay rights struggle on marriage would divert the national attention away from the core issue of equal rights. I also was afraid that gay marriage would be just the kind of flashpoint issue that the so-called religious right would latch onto.

Now, lo these many years later, all of that has come true. And, in spite of all that coming true, we’ve made significant headway on the marriage issue. But this progress has been made if not at the expense of gay rights in general, then at least it has marginalized the struggle.

By framing the issue as being about marriage, we’ve managed to tap into the law of unintended consequences and skirted the core issue of rights. So I’m posting a list of Federal rights, as enumerated by the Government Accounting Office (GAO), that are compromised or made unavailable to GLBT people as a result of the failure of the Federal Government to provide a way for us to marry: GAO Marriage Rights

Until the right to marry is provided at the Federal level to all Americans, we’re not going to have true equality. And, until then, we’ll have to revel in the victories on a state-by-state basis.