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NYTimes on those rebel gays

July 30, 2006

There’s an article today’s New York Times about the gays who question the gay marriage movement: “For Some Gays, a Right They can Forsake.” While the article may be a bit unbalanced (in my opinion), giving a lot of voice to the sexual freedom-loving gays, it does talk a bit about the queer voice calling for a wider definition of “family,” and also mentions the “Beyond Marriage” statement about which I posted on Friday.

some excerpts:

But as the fight for same-sex marriage rages across the country — this month being defeated in the highest court in New York State as well as Washington — the anti-marriage gay men and lesbians say they are feeling emboldened to speak out against what they view as the hijacking of gay civil rights by a distressingly conservative, politically correct part of the gay establishment. They say the gay marriage movement, backed by major well-funded organizations like Lambda Legal, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, has drained resources and psychic energy from other causes like AIDS research, universal health insurance and poverty among gay people.

and:

To these activists, the fight for gay marriage is the mirror image of the right-wing conservative Christian lobby for family values and feeds into the same drive for a homogeneous, orthodox American culture.

A sentiment to which Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry, responds:

“My organization is called ‘Freedom to Marry’ not ‘Mandatory Marriage,’ ” Mr. Wolfson said. “Gay people in America can’t really say they’ve rejected marriage in favor of something else, because for most of us it hasn’t been offered.”

And here come the queers at the end, trying to widen the context of this debate:

Other groups, while supporting gay marriage, are using the issue to push for legal recognition of other nontraditional relationships, like unmarried couples of all kinds.

Check out the full article here and read the “Beyond Marriage” statement here. I have tons to say about this issue, particularly about the way it was portrayed in this article, but I don’t want to get into it too much. Briefly, I think it’s interesting that the two main arguments that they showed, the “we don’t want pressure to get married” kind, and the “this is not a broad enough definition of family and/or relationships” kind, represent two very different kinds of homos, maybe polar opposites. Even though I criticize the goals of the gay marriage movement as being too narrow, I recongize that there are hundreds of rights being denied to gay people that straight people have, and I agree that it is completely unfair and yes, unconstitutional. At the same time, I really believe that the this issue is a symptom of a much larger problem in this country, and the gay marriage movement seeks to deal only with that symptom, in a way separating this issue out from and therefore ignoring the larger problem of which it is a part. I agree with folks that argue that this is playing into the Christian Right’s mantra of marriage and monogamy. However, I think the people who really lose out in this battle are those alternative families mentioned in the “Beyond Marriage” statement, and not gay men who are wistfully dreaming of the sexual freedom of the 1970’s and don’t want to be pressured to get married. Annoying as that might be, it doesn’t affect your financial status or your ability to access health care or countless number of other benefits that marriage gives you.

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