Monday, December 8, 2008

Why We Lost Prop 8 and How We Can Win Gay Civil Rights and Marriage Equality – A Countdown of Political New Year's Resolutions! #6: Words Have Power

Okay, I’ve given it a lot of thought. 52% of California Voters don’t want families like mine to have equal civil marriage rights. The big question is why. How could this happen? How could we raise so much money, have so many people who care, and still be outmaneuvered and out-voted?

There are Six major reasons we lost. And if we’re going to have success in this war for our civil rights, we need to learn these lessons. And we must learn them now.

So for us as individuals and as a community, over the next six days I offer these political resolutions for the New Year...

Reason Six: Words Have Power.

Fighting for “Same-Sex” Marriage already puts us at a disadvantage. The word “sex” creates a short-circuit in the minds of many straight people, and all they think about is how uncomfortable they are with the idea of gay men having anal sex. It triggers their latent paranoia about prison shower rape scenes, and a projected loss of power and masculinity.

We should fight for “Same-Gender” Marriage. Try saying those words out loud. “Same-Gender Marriage” includes the reality of our families being about love, and raising children, and commitment, and heating up leftovers, and driving carpool, and paying taxes, and taking the kids to Disneyland, and the million other moments that make our love the same kind of glue that holds our families together, as holds together heteroSEXual marriages. (Ha! See how your mind went right to what one-man-and-one-woman do in bed?!?)

New Years Resolution: Let’s not allow ourselves, or the media in covering our struggle, to buy into social and religious conservatives’ obsession with what we do in bed.

Let's choose our words more carefully and fight for SAME-GENDER MARRIAGE.


Anonymous said...

Hey Lee! I threw this article up in my post today - brilliant, as always.

Anonymous said...

When you start out with a fallacious point you never make it to the destination.

Prop 8 had nothing to do with equal/civil rights. Gays and Lesbians already have all the rights married couples do. So those who voted for prop 8 didn't see it as taking your rights away, because it didn't.

Lee Wind, M.Ed. said...

I disagree with you. I had the right to legally marry my same-gender partner (as I did in June), and Prop 8's passage took that right away. (I could not get a marriage license now...)

Same-Gender marriage is absolutely about equal rights under the law.

It must sound good to say that "Gays and Lesbians already have all the rights married couples do" but it is not the truth as I and millions of others live it.

In taxes, protections, rights, responsibilities, and perception, separate is not equal, and it never will be.


web said...

Hmmm. The wedding I went to a while back was a same-sex but *not* same-gender wedding. How do we fit in the trans folks?

My comment moderation word is "bumco." I find that utterly hilarious. :-)

Lee Wind, M.Ed. said...

it's a good point, but for most transgender people, they'll either be presenting as male or as female, so they'll either be covered by "same-gender" marriage or by regular "Opposite-gender" marriage. For people who present as neither gender, or "intersex" - that is a really good question. I don't actually know anyone who IS intersex to ask... but I'd be curious what their thoughts are on the words we use to talk about marriage.
Lots to think about,

Tee said...

Really disappointing that some people who have rights can take away other peoples' rights.

Although I applaud your trying to think around the 'words'; I imagine the word 'marriage' is the boulder.

Maybe side-stepping by going for 'civil union' which replicates marriage but without the marriage word would work for the religious adherents who see 'marriage' as a scared god sanctioned rite that only a man and a woman can engage in.

I realize that it is a compromise but is the real issue 'marriage' or the 'civil & legal rights & protections' bestowed by a legal union?

Just thinking.

Tee said...

reply to Zak

if they didn't see it as taking 'your' rights away then why did they bother voting for prop 8?

What was the point of prop 8 if not to take away the rights of g/l/T to marry?

Zak, I think you make a fallacious statement and I ask, what's your point?

Lee Wind, M.Ed. said...

I hear what you're saying about resistance to the word "marriage" but that is again the power of words. We, as humans, are terrible at the whole "separate but equal" thing...
In later countdowns I talk about one possible solution to this...
Thanks for being part of the discussion!

Anonymous said...

I think what web was saying is that some different gender couples might not be able to get married if one of them is trans. I know a couple that are different genders, but can't get married because one of them is trans, so is legally female, as is his wife. By saying "same gender" marriage, you're excluding trans people that aren't the same gender, but still can't get married.

web said...

Anon - right, my friends had to travel to another state to marry, since they are both "women." It's legally considered a same-sex marriage, even though they're not the same gender.

TempestFugit80 said...

I feel like learning to talk about gender and sex separately are a large and fairly important part of being trans* inclusive. It can feel a bit weird for a while to talk about sex, but finding the maturity to be able to say sex and training yourself to think about it in some contexts at the physical attributes typically characterized as male, female, or intersex, and gender as the way someone self identifies helps a lot when talking about not hetero/cisnormative experiences with gender. Sex is legally regulated, gender is not, so legally, we're not fighting for same gender marriage, we are fighting for same sex marriage.