Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Economist Blog: Gay Marriage
at the Expense of Gay Health Care?

As with many gay activists, I've long thought the marriage issue has sucked the air out of practically every other important matter to gays, and single gays especially.

My long-time partner and I have been together since 1995, and despite the opportunity to get hitched in the eyes of the law, we've not done so. When it comes right down to it, we're much more concerned with having a lease than a license for marriage.

But starting in the fall, it's been virtually impossible to discuss any gay issue other than marriage, certainly in CA but also at the national level, in any real substantive way.

I can't recall the last time any professional gay advocacy organization said a word about affordable housing and health care for gay people. Or if they have, it's been in the context of why we supposedly need marriage in order to keep a roof over our heads or get in to see a doctor.

I'm so pleased to share with you an excerpt, and link to, a terrific think-piece by openly gay writer David Kaufman at the Economist's blog, More Intelligent Life, because he address such concerns:

The passage of Proposition 8 was certainly a blow to progressives. Yet in this time of economic crisis, is the battle worth all the attention its getting? Is it any more vital than tackling HIV, drug use, work-place protection or access to affordable health care--all issues that directly (and often disproportionately) affect America’s gay citizens?

Just over half of California's Lesbian women and over 40% of its gay men, aged 18-59, are in cohabiting partnerships, compared with over 60% of heterosexual couples. Whether by circumstance or design, most of gay California is single or some years away from the altar. Gay marriage would grant homo-singletons civil-rights parity, but progress in health-care coverage would have a direct affect on more people. Many gay people are simply concentrating on beginning a loving relationship. Marriage is often a vague goal, legal or not.

"Gay rights used to be about liberation, but today the movement is solely focused on 'equality'," says Bill Dobbs, a New York-based lawyer and gay activist. He believes the same-sex marriage crusade bears an awkward resemblance to the "family values" message of the Christian right--as if marriage should be everyone's ultimate goal.

"'Equality' is a powerful concept, but it is also a very dangerous way to run a movement. Equality won't get us affordable health care. It just pushes for more of the same, for the status quo rather than social justice." ...

Not only does Kaufman broach the marriage vs. every other issue debate, he also looks at the matter of fidelity in gay marriages, and brings in the loaded word "faithful" into the discussion:

Growing up without the option to marry may encourage less conventional concepts of fidelity. Yet straights stray, too, of course; half of all heterosexual couples experience infidelity at some point. Advocates of same-sex marriage say the institution would offer incentives for gay men to be faithful.

I don't think it realistic to expect gay men, same as straight dudes too, to curb their natural promiscuous sexual appetites just because they're legally bound to each other. When gay marriage is restored in California, I"m sure gay married men will still be cruising Craigslist and hooking up.

And speaking of sexual liaisons, remember that our right to sexual liberation, and in public venues without police or DPH surveillance, is never secure and always in need of defending. Why not do something for gay liberation and visit your neighborhood bathhouse, peep show, sex club or glory hole today?

Marriage is not the only item on the gay agenda.

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