Walnut Room this way

Walnut Room this way

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

It's about equality

I just read the news item where the Obama administration has extended benefits to gay and lesbian partners who are employees of the federal government, though not offering full health care coverage.  The rest of the article--predictably--indicated that the "balance" was between extending human rights (my words) and equal treatment (my words) and not upsetting the opportunity to achieve the broad goals (their words) of the administration.

One part of me can understand that: change comes slowly and often incrementally as we all understand from the social movements through which we have lived.  I recall one of my grad teachers whom I admired very much saying once in class, "It does women no good for you to throw yourself on the funeral pyre."  In other words, a sacrifice that achieves nothing is just a wasted sacrifice.

Another part of me recalls the question that many African Americans asked:  "How long?  If not now, when?"  At what point do we make the decision that extending the same rights and privileges to all of us that only some of us currently enjoy is good for us?  Or, even if one cannot grasp "good for us" at least understand it is the right thing to do.  I am certain that I could find many folks in South Africa, for example, who would say their perception is ending apartheid has not been "good" for some people.  Would that make it acceptable to continue to deny education, right to work and travel, vote, have access to adequate housing and clean water and food because it was not deemed "good" by some?  

One concern in the item was the upset over the administration's plans to file a brief in support of the Defense of Marriage Act.  Great.  As long as Defense of Marriage might mean defending the right of adults to marry even if they are gay or lesbian.  After all, marriage is a social convention that is presumed to provide stability for family--the basic unit of community.  Why is stability deemed necessary in one unit but not another?  Why is it when we all essentially want the same things from life--families and friends who care about us, good health, adequate income to supply housing, health, and other basic needs, and meaningful work--that it is so frightening to think extending those opportunities to all of us is somehow something of which we should be afraid?

1 comment:

Kathi said...

I'm surprised wedding planners, florists, bakeries, etc. are not more vocal in supporting gay marriage- they could practically double their income. Seriously, though- I agree completely. I have some very dear friends who happen to be a lesbian couple, raising two daughters they adopted from China. Only one of them is "officially" the girls' parent; yet they both, of course, consider themselves to be. If they were ever to break up, only the official parent could have custody. It's crazy. They are some of the best parents I know. On a positive note, our rabbi recently blessed a lesbian couple on the anniversary of their "marriage" over 30 years ago. We reform Jews don't care what the law says- they are just as married as any heterosexual couple is. The law needs to catch up with the times.