The other shoe...
Amidst all the hope and celebration that last week's election inspired, and apart from the fact that the Electoral College seems once again unable to accurately represent the popular vote, there is one significant disappointment:
“…Bush’s one secure legacy will be [his] demagogic exploitation of homophobia. The success of the four state initiatives banning either same-sex marriage or same-sex adoptions was the sole retro trend on Tuesday. And Obama, who largely soft-pedaled the issue this year, was little help. In California, where other races split more or less evenly on a same-sex marriage ban, some 70 percent of black voters contributed to its narrow victory.” Frank Rich, New York Times
Now if that's not irony...
Why would a group of marginalized individuals vote to further marginalize another group of individuals? And maybe now I understand why Barack went soft on gay rights... to keep the black vote?
Granted, it took a lot more than just the black vote to approve the ban on gay marriage. It wouldn't have made the difference if other groups were less divided on the issue. I can only hope that "President Elect Barack Obama" will finally step up to the plate and remind his supporters that no group of individuals, no individual can be denied their constitutional rights. All (wo)men are created equal... blah, blah, blah.
I once heard the phrase "as goes California, so goes the U.S. and as goes the U.S. so goes the world." But many parts of the world are way ahead of us on this one. In France, there is already such a contract in place... the very one I entered into with my partner last December. It's a sort of civil union called a PACS. There was no white dress, though I guess there could have been... no bridal party, no table piled high with all the gifts we could want from any corporate store, no band, no cake, no crowd of witnesses pretending to believe in the sanctity of one of the modern world's most failing institutions.
I've never been a fan of marriage (click here to see, in action, the battle to define it)... for lots of reasons, and even a civil union seems like a ridiculous formality to me. I even said so much the last time I went to see the authorities about my work permit, which, I'm sure, didn't help my case any. Why do we need a legal contract to love each other? I wish the world would adopt Sweden's ways... no extra benefits for married people. In other words, equal benefits for all, regardless of categorical labels like marital status, sexual orientation, or race.
Marriage might be more successful if people were actually free to do it for other than legal reasons. But probably not. Monogamy itself is little more than social myth, and any governance based on myth is bound to fail... even if we call it love.
I dearly love my gay friends. I have two who are currently in different hemispheres because the U.S. won't acknowledge their relationship... They will probably end up living in the other one, far away from me. And haven't you heard about the gay brain drain calling so many educated, same-sex couples to Canada?
There is the occasional happy ending... my oldest and closest friend and his partner own a successful business and participate actively in their communities, hosting and attending charity fundraisers and offering scholarship programs to University students. They joke that they're so legally (i.e. financially) linked that they could never get divorced. I read a poem for their commitment ceremony several years ago--you see, with enough money and smarts, there are ways around the limitations of the law. At best--and as usual--we're dealing with a class issue.
So now the legal red tape unfurls once again as the fight for gay rights continues, and I have no doubt that one day, gays will be afforded equal rights on all fronts, whether it be legalized marriage or simply some other recognized contract... again, I'm not really sure what they want with our failing hetero institution and all its religious jargon anyway. But whatever they want, I'm on board... boo, hoo!