Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Separate is inherently unequal

This video is by Sean Chapin, one of the folks I subscribe to on YouTube. He tells the story of Clay, 77, and Harold, 88. They were a gay couple together for 20 years until Harold fell. The government of Sonoma County, California, then ripped the couple apart and took everything they owned, despite the couple having all the documents in place that were supposed to prevent that from happening—everything, that is, but a marriage.

Three months later, Harold died in a nursing home. Clay was kept from Harold for those last months. They lost everything they’d had, Clay lost his love and he lost his dignity, all because separate is not equal.

Many people on the far right, trying to conceal their anti-gay bigotry, say there’s no need for any legal recognition of same sex couples, that all they need are a few documents to secure their rights and property. This case, the Janice Langbehn case and others, show why that argument is false. But, then, the religious right knows that it’s not true; they're betting that mainstream Americans will buy the deliberate lies.

Civil unions in the US are too new to know if they’ll offer any more protection than a fistful of worthless legal documents, but in every state they’ve been enacted, the clear intent was to create something inferior to marriage. It’s hard to imagine that any of them, including the much-hyped one in Washington State, will offer anything more than a handful of the hundreds of rights and privileges that are automatically conveyed by marriage.

In the United States, the only thing that conveys full legal equality for couples is marriage—nothing else. In the US, separate is NOT equal—don’t we all know that by now? Actually, we do, but religious extremists lie about it in order to force their will on everyone else. It’s time the US stopped accommodating bigots, started caring about people and finally acted according to a simple truth: Separate is inherently unequal.

I originally read about this story last week over at Joe.My.God.


Roger Owen Green said...

I had an ongoing dialogue with a gay blogger. He was irritated with the emphasis on matrimony; he was not even in a relationship, and his last one ended badly. I contended that everything matters, if only as an incremental success.

I've changed my mind. Marriage is a fundamental pillar of society, whether or not one is planning on getting married. How marriage is treated reflects hugely on how the world works.

Arthur Schenck said...

I've come to think the same way. I also tend to look at it as something that everyone ought to have the right to do, whether or not one does so or even wants to. To me, having the right is a fundamental necessity for being a fully equal citizen.