Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Gay Marriage

The topic of gay marriage is in the news yet again with the Supreme Court's deliberations on the issue proceeding this week. Personally, I cannot see what people can find to complain about if two gay people wish to marry. It affects nobody but the two parties involved. Laws against smoking in public places, sale and use of alcohol and drugs, especially when driving, or texting when driving are different - those activities affect others detrimentally - sometimes fatally. Gay marriage doesn't affect others. So......?

I also agree though, from a slightly different perspective, with what Norman Pollack wrote yesterday at Counterpunch in a piece headed Gay Marriage: A Contrarian's View :

..........But let’s put the issue of gay marriage into context, i.e., prioritizing national goals. At this time, the issue is a diversion and trivialization, in the face of large-scale poverty, the vast gulf in wealth-and-power differentials, militarism run amuck, the nation in steep decline with respect to its social safety net, etc. Frankly, compared with the civil rights struggle, which NYT raises as analogous, and in which in the 1950s-60s I was active, I find proponents and affected parties of gay marriage self-indulgent and flaunting their preferences as though that form of discrimination raises to the plane of deprivation experienced by others in America’s long history of oppression and repression.........
There are far more urgent issues facing the country, and the planet - those mentioned above, and the old elephant in the room: climate change - but not many out there seem at all interested in seriously addressing them.


Anonymous said...

Anytime a person or group is denied full benefit of the law, verbally or physically assaulted, often murdered, a problem exists that needs to be addressed by that culture and society. Try telling that person (or their survivors) that there are more important issues to be concerned with and go cry somewhere else. The contrarian's viewpoint you provided was essentially the same viewpoint held by many southern USA whites during and prior to racial equal rights and the race card is STILL being played today. Many conservative whites preferred their own definition of racial equality, just as many heterosexuals insist marriage equality be defined heterosexually.

Gay marriage can be addressed with the stroke of a pen, unlike the problems you purport as more important issues.

Anonymous said...

You are absolutely right
Couldn't agree with you more

It's time the conservative right, family values, and religious fervents quit flaunting their deprived preferences of discrimination by oppression and repression!

Let's get on with the more important issues!

James Higham said...

The issue is of course, they can't "marry" as marriage is for man and woman. Very simple concept. What they have is a civil partnership.

Twilight said...

Anonymous ~ If you read the whole of Norman Pollack's article you might begin to see that he is nothing like "southern USA whites". He's a self-confessed leftist radical, and sees the issue of gay marriage in the context, and in comparison with, all the other injustices present in the country just now. I cannot help but agree with his views, even though I also agree that objection to gay marriage is illogical and unjust.

As you said, perhaps this particular injustice to gays could be more easily addressed and corrected than others mentioned. I hope it will be corrected cleanly and quickly, so that other important matters can take its place.

Twilight said...

Anonymous#2 ~ Indeed - the quicker they solve this one the better for all.

Twilight said...

James Higham ~'s only words. Who said marriage is for man and woman? Marriage is a word only.

Vanilla Rose said...

Civil partnership would indeed solve the issues re inheritance, hospital visitation, etc, which are the reason for the case coming to the Supreme Court.

But I think they should call it marriage, if only to annoy the Religious Right.

LB said...

Hi Twilight - I appreciate your willingness to tackle such controversial subjects; it's not such an easy thing to do. With so much going on in our world, I've been giving a lot of thought to the question of how it is that we (myself included) determine which causes and issues are 'important' enough to warrant our time and attention and which we ignore.

What I realized was that for anyone blessed enough to have the time and/or resources to care about anything beyond their own immediate needs and survival (and this is a luxury not everyone has), it's not a matter of having to *choose* one cause over another. Instead, we can choose how *much* attention to give to the causes we care about and focus our efforts accordingly.

Any issue that addresses social, economic, political or environmental injustice in any meaningful way is worthwhile; we can support more than one cause at a time without taking away from the validity of any of the others and still contribute to the WHOLE.

We can donate money and/or time, sign petitions, make phone calls and/or attend rallies in support of gay marriage, universal healthcare, gun control, the elimination of drones and/or saving our environment (just to name a few) - all at the same time and in varying degrees, without contradiction. Naturally, those issues closest to our hearts will receive more of our attention, while others will receive less. . . maybe even much less. For instance, I just watched the film "The Cove", about efforts being made to save dolphins; while I'm sure I won't be attending any protests, I will sign online petitions and commit to not going to Sea World or other dolphin shows.

While certain issues might *seem* more pressing than others, there are times when even that is a matter of perspective, particularly if one has suffered (or witnessed) some significant hardship, cruelty or injustice.

It's not us against them, it's us. Adding, this seems a topic very much befitting this morning's Full Moon in Libra opposite so much in Aries. Take care, Twilight!

Twilight said...

Vanilla Rose ~ Yes, there are very good and valid reasons for the concerns driving the gay marriage issue. What they decide to call it, whenever the issue is settled will probably be a further source of controversy. Words - again! Sigh.

Twilight said...

LB ~~ Hi! The way I decide priorities myself, in this context, is whether there's a life and death issue at stake. Drone use stands out for me at present - the killing of innocents abroad - and the killing of those who may or may not be innocent without trial. Health care stands out - it can and does become a matter of life and death when someone cannot afford the essential level of care.

Climate change is always in the background but I seldom mention it these days - seems like a lost cause - too late. But someone should at least try to do something about the water shortages just around the corner.
Eventually that could well be a matter of life and death.

So, really, whether or not a couple can marry officially and receive the rights of all married couples does not involve life and death issues. It involves the right to a happy life, yes, and needs sorting out quickly.

I agree that it shouldn't be us against them in the matter of problems besetting ordinary people - it should always be us against the 1% of the oligarchs whose greed is causing the problems, one way or another. Unless everybody sees this, and soon......well....we're on a very sticky wicket.

Anonymous said...

The focus of a person's attention on any topic is often driven by how close to home an injustice affects them. One benefit (of many) denied gays on the federal level is the ability to marry anyone, but particularly a non-US citizen through an immigration marriage visa. Since immigration is a hot topic in the US, what if the federal government decided to null-and-void all immigration marriage visas issued over the past decade? What would be your thoughts as you up-rooted and packed your bags for the return trip to your home country? Drones and climate change?

You can chide me for this hypothetical comparison, but this is one of many issues facing gays every day.

Twilight said...

Anonymous (@7.15AM)~ There's some truth in what you say - though as it happens I did go through the long, frustrating and expensive procedure of becoming a US citizen precisely because such things as you suggest are not beyond the bounds of possibility. I guess that might provide some protection - if not - well, it's still not life and death, it'd be back to the UK for me, and on my list of priorities I'd still see my plight as lesser than some others, and I'd no longer wish to stay in such an unjust nation anyway.

I understand your reasons for putting this hypothetical situation to me. The gay marriage issue IS getting plenty of publicity, it's being dealt with....if not now, I bet it will be in the very near future.
When someone is dead they have no near or far future - that's the difference, for me.

sic said...

companies learned years ago that addressing personal employee needs made for a happy and productive work force able to focus on essential corporate priorities

butterfly effect - the happiness of a few can greatly affect the happiness of the whole

Twilight said...

sic ~ Did they learn that lesson though? Seems to me they didn't - not when employees of some corporations especially in the retail and restaurant sphere fail to pay employees adequately and offer proper health care cover, and refuse them the right to join a union in many cases.

LB said...

I understand what you're saying, Twilight; in terms of my own time and effort, I also tend to give issues that involve life and death -*as well as quality of life*, such as healthcare, social 'entitlements', poverty and war- more of my attention.

Having said that, using my own criteria, anything that affects, or has the potential to affect, someone's day to day life in terms of their physical, emotional and/or economic well-being falls within this category.

At this point, unmarried gay couples and their children aren't necessarily guaranteed federally protected visitation rights - rights married straight couples generally take for granted. If I understand correctly, guidelines enacted under the Obama Administration only force certain hospitals to allow these visits (and under certain conditions).

I can't imagine not being allowed to visit my husband if he were to be hospitalized, nor can I imagine the negative effect it could easily have on his health and well-being.

Other examples include the denial of social security, retirement, tax and health insurance benefits - all serious issues that affect the economic well-being of families. If it weren't for my spouse, I wouldn't have access to the health insurance offered by his employer. We still pay for our coverage and as unaffordable as it is for us, at least we have the option, whereas many gay couples don't. And God forbid, but if anything were to happen to one of us, the other would receive retirement and social security benefits, something many non-wealthy survivors depend upon.

Many of us live very close to the edge these days, all it takes is the loss of a job, illness or the death of a family member to push us over and into a life of poverty. Gay or straight, the protections and benefits of federally recognized marriages are important.

Here's a link for anyone who might be interested:

Twilight said...

LB ~~ Thank you for that - yes, I do understand what's at stake here. I'm not opposing the legalisation of gay marriage at all, with the benefits it brings to a couple, as I've said from the start of my post - I'm all for it.

My additional feelings are that the voices raised on the issue are being heard and it IS being dealt with at the highest level now. There are other important issues where few, if any, voices are being raised, the silent needy, if you will.

This issue is taking up lots of air time and space in the media - when it's already getting as much attention as any issue can hope for. That's where I agreed with Norman Pollack's article. He too agrees with gay marriage, by the way, is in no way opposed to it.

LB said...

"There are other important issues where few, if any, voices are being raised, the silent needy, if you will."

We're in solid agreement on this, Twilight. Many of us (including many politically and socially unconnected gay people) lead relatively quiet, obscure lives - mostly invisible, unimportant, unseen and unheard. Each of us matters. It sounds as if you and I agree on many things.

Twilight said...

LB ~~ We may be obscure, invisible, unseen and unheard - but we are The People - and all of us together would have power far greater than those who would try to oppress and deny us.

I was reading a column of comments the other day discussing whether "the reason the country has descended into the state it's in, media bought and paid for, politicians the same - really no choice at all at election time. Whereas I have, myself, said to my husband on several occasions "how could you lot in the USA have allowed it to get this way?" (Re the health care situation) I really am 100% on the side of The People all the time. I realise that there are reasons the majority of ordinary people have been quiet, almost passive and apathetic.

In that same column someone quoted a few lines from a song by Jackson Browne which I hadn't heard but admired these verses:

From Jackson Browne's "For a Dancer"

Just do the steps that you've been shown
By everyone you've ever known
Until the dance becomes your very own
No matter how close to yours
Another's steps have grown
In the end there is one dance you'll do alone

Keep a fire for the human race
Let your prayers go drifting into space
You never know what will be coming down
Perhaps a better world is drawing near
And just as easily it could all disappear
Along with whatever meaning you might have found
Don't let the uncertainty turn you around
(the world keeps turning around and around)
Go on and make a joyful sound

Into a dancer you have grown
From a seed somebody else has thrown
Go on ahead and throw some seeds of your own
And somewhere between the time you arrive
And the time you go
May lie a reason you were alive
But you'll never know

Many years ago a couple of people sowed the seeds for me, and while my words here don't reach many, letting off steam occasionally helps me to feel that I'm honouring those two loved ones of mine.

R J Adams said...

You ask: "Who said marriage is for man and woman?" Well, of course, the only reference to such (apart from man's laws based on it) is in the Christian bible. I've been married four times - never in a Church. I view myself as married in the eyes of the law, not the eyes of any god. It is the religiots who create the fuss over same-sex marriage, yet no-one is suggesting gays should get married in a church. Let the religious confine their objections to matters pertaining to their church, and not to the nation the rest of us inhabit. Put bluntly, it's none of their damn business.

Twilight said...

RJ Adams ~ Exactly - it's none of their business and affects nobody but the couple involved.

The man/woman dictat on marriage, in the Bible (written by....???) if it's genuinely an ancient directive, would have been so in order to keep the population at a necessary level for the human race to survive. What we need now is really the opposite - to reduce the Earth's level of population - so as to ensure the human race might survive on a depleted and ailing planet.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate and commend you for sharing your opinion and your agreement with Norman Pollack. I find Pollack's comments to be superficial and veiled in ambiguity, specifically his comments that gay marriage is not on the same level as the civil rights movement and that this issue is not on par with previous discrimination and oppression.

Beyond discrimination, homosexuality was illegal and a psychiatric disorder in the US until the 1970s at the earliest. The only US state laws that compare regarding racial discrimination was the illegality of miscegenation. Inter-racial marriage was declared unconstitutional in 1967 by SCOTUS. It was never considered illegal or a psychiatric disorder to be non-white, only miscegenation.

There were too many global and local atrocities occurring in 1967 to detail here. I'm certain many people considered the time "wasted" by SCOTUS' consideration of miscegenation an indication that hell was indeed freezing while Rome burned.

I could never say that a homosexual's concerns for their civil right to same-sex marriage is self-indulgent or flaunting their preferences any more than I could say that for any heterosexual desiring the legalities of a state and federally recognized marriage. There are many far-reaching implications with this SCOTUS decision beyond the inflicted parties. The most important consideration should be for the children incurred in a gay marriage and the social and legal issues surrounding those children.

Twilight said...

Anonymous (30 Mar, 9.29AM)~

Norman Pollack did end his piece with: "I obviously speak as a radical, and expect concurrence from no one." Your views are are probably those of the vast majority - I must have contrarian tendencies myself, I guess.

Re: comparison of current striving for marriage equality with the 60s civil rights movement, it's not a clear cut "that was more important than this" thing for me. Scale is rather different. I suspect that civil rights for African Americans affected a larger slice of the population - that's one point. I do not have statistics, but would guess that there are fewer gay people wishing to marry than there were African Americans demanding humane treatment and civil rights. Goodness - they were not even allowed into the same bars and restaurants as white people! Don't get me started on that! It was atrocious!

I realise that for people directly involved with the gay marriage issue - or any other problem issue - that their own issue will take precedent over everything else - and so it should. Others have their own priorities and are entitled to to express them. It's not as though N. Pollack were against gay marriage - he isn't, according to his article, otherwise I'd not have quoted him at all.

I saw a slightly similar, though less detailed, viewpoint to that of N. Pollack expressed this morning by cartoonist Ted Rall, by the way:

Anonymous said...

FYI - A quick check of US census population reveals that there were 19 million blacks in 1960.

The 2012 census estimate for total population is 314 million; 5 to 10% of the US population is thought to be homosexual and bisexual. That calculation indicates a current population of 16 to 31 million. Wiki ( the demographic for strictly homosexual and transgendered at about 4%, or 12 million.

The current population range of affected individuals is 12 to 31 million US citizens.

Twilight said...

Anonymous (I have to assume you are the same Anonymous as the previous Anonymous - it'd be helpful if you'd have the courtesy to provide a screen name, by the way!) ~

There doesn't seem to be any hard and fast statistic for LGBT people - that's not surprising.

Gary Gates' (demographer-in-residence at the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy, a think tank based at the University of California, Los Angeles) - best estimate, derived from five studies that have asked subjects about their sexual orientation, is that the nation has about 4 million adults who identify as being gay or lesbian, representing 1.7 percent of the 18-and-over population.

That's a much lower figure than the 3 to 5 percent that has been the conventional wisdom in the last two decades, based on other isolated studies and attempts to discredit Kinsey.

One reason, according to Gates, is that until recently, few surveys tried to differentiate respondents who identified as gay or lesbian from those who sometimes engaged in homosexual acts or were attracted to people of the same sex. All were lumped into the gay category.

Black population figures between 1960 and 1970 are easier to establish via census-
black between 1960 and 1970 = between 10 and 11% of population -

Statistics aside, and speaking for myself - which is all I can do - if I had to choose whether to walk in the shoes of a black person during the 1960s, be treated as a 2nd class citizen in EVERY way, EVERY day, or as a present-day LGBT person without the same rights within the country's marriage laws as non-gay people - it'd be a very easy choice - for me.