Don't let your schooling interfere with your education.
~ Pete Seeger

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Compromise

In a discussion on a "marriage defense" blog, I asked the questions, "Is defending traditional marriage more important than assuring that gay people and their families are not fully accepted into society? Would you trade supporting age-appropriate educational tools (such as the book "Heather Has Two Mommies" and movies like "Southern Comfort") for teaching your children, and prominent, visible support for the passage of ENDA and fully equal civil unions(including federal tax benefits and interstate recognition) on your blogs, for visible support from LGBT people in opposing the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex marriage?" My intent in asking the questions was to clarify what the opine bloggers priorities are in regards to marriage equality for gays, i.e., whether protecting marriage was top priority, or whether protecting society from the "gay menace" was priority and that's merely one aspect of the anti-gay agenda.

OnLawn offered in reply a compromise on gay marriage. ("A compromise means both don't get everything we want, but we work together to find some ground in the middle where they both get what they need. Where there are direct incompatibilities, there each need their own space to afford their own values and ideals.") To summarize:

  • Gay people can become Reciprocal Beneficiaries, which essentially means the states pass a law that grants any two adults who are restricted from marriage by law "access to a limited number of rights and benefits on the state level."
  • No age-appropriate educational materials reflecting LGBT families in schools.
  • No federal protections for LGBT people from employment or housing discrimination.
  • It's not clear whether OnLawn would allow the reciprocal beneficiaries to extend to the federal level.

OnLawn is a Mormon, a member of a group that has survived plenty of persecution, violence, hate, and discrimination, some of which lingers on today, but most of which is in the past (thanks in part to civil rights legislation protecting folks from discrimination based on religion), such as when the Mormons were driven out of Illinois. So I'll assume that OnLawn is familiar with the effects of discrimination in a personal way, and, in that spirit of compromise, I'll offer this:

  • Mormons may no longer marry each other, but they may enter into reciprocal beneficiaries with each other.
  • No educational materials mentioning Mormons will be allowed in schools.
  • Mormons will be exempt from civil rights legislation protecting individuals from discrimination based on their religion.
  • Mormon reciprocal beneficiaries will be recognized at the federal level, granting full rights of tax equality, inheritance, guardianship of children, and so on.

Of course, this is an academic question, as neither of us has the power to enact any of these elements beyond our votes – and, regarding my own suggestions, almost nobody, including me, is interested in effecting any of them. Also, I'm philosophically opposed to compromising on human rights, justice, and equality – not that there isn't room for all to have their needs met, and to have an equal place at the table. However, perhaps this will open a dialogue where we can both really hear what each other needs, and find a way to deal together toward finding that solution that meets all needs. This compromise deals with specific strategies for meeting needs, and I'm totally open to hearing other strategies; I don't insist that the strategies I believe will be effective be implemented, if others can accomplish the same thing in a way that better meets the needs of "marriage defenders" or gay people or preferably everybody. If this leads to a dialogue that clarifies what needs are/aren't met by different strategies, may it be blessed.


John Howard said...

Seda, you know that all you have to do is stop demanding the right to procreate with someone of the same sex. That Compromise will give you full protections and enable full acceptance of same-sex relationships in society because CU's won't be threatening anymore, people will see that gays have capitulated and accepted that only a man and a woman have the right to marriage and procreation.

Seda said...

In the first place, I'm not making that demand, if I understand you to say genetic manipulation to enable two people of the same sex to contribute all genetic material to a new child. In the second, I doubt that it makes much different either way. Seems like almost no one but yourself is too concerned about it. I hope you find peace.

John Howard said...

Oh good, I thought you were. OK, then that means you should start suggesting an Egg and Sperm law as part of a Compromise. Most people are only vaguely concerned in a general sense, because they think it is further away than it is, or else inevitable, but it is the source of their angst and fear whether they realize it or not.

Fannie said...

I also do not find it appropriate to compromise on matters of human rights, justice, and equality. But, if we must do this give and take just because there is an "other side" to this debate, perhaps LGBT advocates need to start from a much more radical position and then work toward the "middle." I mean, that's sort of what many anti-gay organizations do, isn't it, by invoking the scary yet unprovable future harms of same-sex marriage?

For the purpose of this philosophical exercise, we could start by riffing off of some of the anti-gay blogs and media sources by proposing legislation that would force religious institutions to marry same-sex couples, force schools to "teach homosexuality" in schools (whatever that means), and ban married people from ever getting divorced (we must protect marriage at all costs, after all!).

By comparison, civil marriage equality for same-sex couples would be quite a compromise.


Seda said...

If you want that as a compromise, it's up to you to suggest it. I have nothing against it - in principle. But I've seen some really badly written laws with good intentions, which then become disasters. As an Oregon citizen, I've been the victim of some of Sizemore's initiatives, every one of which is so poorly written that even if the basic idea is good, the execution is a disaster. It's kind of beside the point, in any case. It's your pet issue, and I'm fine with that, but I don't think it's risen to a point of concern. I don't know of anyone who's interested in that, even if it were available.

Good point. There's a few different ways to approach this. Demand far more than we want or expect; indeed, "special rights," or ridiculous privileges. Until something reasonable looks like giving up a lot.

Of course, that's a completely bass ackwards way to go about it. I'd rather just ask for basic equality, for being treated the same under the law. That's all I want, and it doesn't seem like that would hurt anyone else or demand too much of them.

John Howard said...

If you want that as a compromise, it's up to you to suggest it.

Seda, I have suggested it! It's the Egg and Sperm Civil Union Compromise and I've been suggesting it for five years. It's up to other people to agree to it for it to gain traction and become the reality. If you want access to the incidents and obligations of marriage with someone of the same legal sex, and accept that people should only be allowed to procreate with someone of the other sex, then it's up to you to announce that you accept the compromise and help me convince Fannie and Jane Know and others to put thousands of same-sex couples needs ahead of same-sex procreation rights.

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.
~Helen Keller

Reading List for Information about Transpeople

  • Becoming a Visible Man, by Jamison Green
  • Conundrum, by Jan Morris
  • Gender Outlaw, by Kate Bornstein
  • My Husband Betty, by Helen Boyd
  • Right Side Out, by Annah Moore
  • She's Not There, by Jennifer Boylan
  • The Riddle of Gender, by Deborah Rudacille
  • Trans Liberation, by Leslie Feinberg
  • Transgender Emergence, by Arlene Istar Lev
  • Transgender Warriors, by Leslie Feinberg
  • Transition and Beyond, by Reid Vanderburgh
  • True Selves, by Mildred Brown
  • What Becomes You, by Aaron Link Raz and Hilda Raz
  • Whipping Girl, by Julia Serano
I have come into this world to see this:
the sword drop from men's hands even at the height
of their arc of anger
because we have finally realized there is just one flesh to wound
and it is His - the Christ's, our