Essay donated by a visitor to this web site
"Why the Lesbian/Gay Community Should Not Be Fighting for
by Leland Traiman
I am a gay man who has worked most of his adult life for equal right for
lesbians and gay men. I chaired the 1984 Domestic Partner Task Force for
the City of Berkeley which wrote the first domestic partner policy enacted
into law. I was the first coordinator for the Berkeley Gay Men's Health
Collective in 1977. I successfully fought the Food and Drug Administration
when they want to make it illegal for gay men to be sperm donors. (The FDA
still advised against it but they did not put it in their regulations which
would have prohibited it.) I currently run the world's only gay sperm bank
and fertility service.
Lesbians and gay men have already lost the fight for same-sex marriage and
it is time to move on to a fight we can win.
Same-sex marriage with all of the rights, benefits and obligations of
marriage cannot exist in the United States in the near future. Here is
why: Forty-five states have laws or constitutional amendments prohibiting
same-sex marriage. (Source: Human Rights Campaign) There has been over 48
million votes cast on this issue in 29 states and almost 32 million, almost
two-thirds, voted against same-sex marriage. As the noted gay historian
and professor at the University of Illinois, John D'Emilio, observed in his
2006 article, The Marriage Fight Is Setting Us Back:
"The campaign for
same-sex marriage has been an unmitigated disaster. It has created a vast
body of new anti-gay laws."
There has already been, in effect, a national
referendum and we have lost......BIG.
Despite the title, "marriage", same-sex marriage with all of the rights,
benefits and obligations of marriage does not even exist in
Massachusetts. Massachusetts's same-sex marriage,
partners, and Vermont, New Jersey's civil unions,
etc. all have the same
federal benefits of marriage: zero.
Anecdotal reports of inappropriate or anomalous implementation of
California's two and one-half year old comprehensive domestic partner laws
would not be solved by changing the title to marriage. Lesbians and gay
men in Massachusetts have reported problems with their state's
implementation of same-sex marriage. Like California, Massachusetts's
legislature is having to plug some new holes because both of these policies
are new. Any new and comprehensive policy, no matter how well written,
will have bumps along the road to implementation.
There is a myth that marriage has more rights and benefits than civil
unions/domestic partners. That myth is born from the fact that civil
unions/domestic partners have only been passed by states. States have no
power to grant the 1138 federal benefits of marriage. However, a national
civil union policy, which Clinton, Obama, Edwards, Dodd, & Biden have
pledge to support, would.
In poll after poll, a clear majority of voters say they would support civil
unions with all the same rights, benefits and obligations of marriage but
they would not support same-sex marriage. Illogical? Yes! But it is a
fact we must live with.
There have been no successful direct challenges to statewide domestic
partner or civil union policies. Domestic partners and civil unions have
been overturned only when they were included in ballot propositions whose
primary purpose was to ban same-sex marriage.
All of the rights, benefits and obligations of marriage are attainable,
with public support, under the title civil unions or domestic
partners. Same-sex marriage is not. We may not like that fact, however,
it is none-the-less a fact. Why the leaders of our community do not see
the obvious is beyond my understanding. It is time that someone in the
lesbian and gay community tell our leaders that their strategy on same-sex
marriage has failed. We must return to the successful strategy of
attaining our rights through civil unions and domestic partners which has
worked well for over 20 years.