Sunday, March 24, 2013

Prop 8, DOMA, Supreme Court, Change, Oh My!

Next week is going to be an exciting time in the fight for same-sex couples to have the right to marriage as the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on two legal arguments to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and Proposition 8. Both have effectively held the right of marriage away from same sex couples and it's both exciting and nerve-wracking to think that this year the highest court in the US will make a decision on this issue. Recently I read an article about the upcoming case which also raises a most interesting question that the courts will try to answer: Do gay people exist?

Here is the article:

The reason why this question is being raised is because the very core of the conservative arguments against marriage equality is that "gay people actually do not exist — only 'homosexual behavior' does," to which in my anger and annoyance I react like so:

A person is defined by who they are, on their terms, and it is not up for negotiation with others. And so this argument that "gay people do not exist" dehumanizes those who identify as such, whether gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, and numerous identities. And I'm placing all of these identities under the term gay, because that is incorrect, but that they all face this oppression of not being recognized by their sexual orientation and because will be affected by the Supreme Court's decision. In many ways this is because sexual orientation faces the obstacle of being an invisible identity. It's not something that you can see automatically on someone when viewing them and as such there are a lot of assumptions made by people and society about others' sexual orientation, including the offensive idea that one can choose their sexual orientation.

And so this case has the possibility of solidifying in US law that gay people do exist, that sexual orientation is not a choice, and that the whole conservative argument is BUNK. THAT is exciting!

And in the midst of this excitement and the hopes of millions of people in America riding this case, I want to take a step back and remind myself and everyone else that is event is going to be momentous, but also only one step of many that needs to be made for everyone in the LBGTQ+ community (I use + to signify all the other identities in this community such as asexual, pansexual, ally, etc., etc.). If this case is won in favor of marriage equality, we cannot pack our bags and call it the end because the movement for LGBTQ+ rights will not be over. Marriage equality is only one issue that we need to be fighting for and it's not even the most critical.

40% of homeless youth are LGBTQ and the number one reason why they are on the streets is family rejection. Employment discrimination, partner benefits, transgender rights, and so many more issues are still fights that need to be fought and won. We cannot allow the movement and energy behind it to dissipate after the Supreme Court's decision comes later this year, if it comes back in favor of marriage equality. I fear that many people may want to call it a done day if we win and that many allies who believe that marriage equality is the biggest issue we face will also feel satisfied and that the movement is accomplished.

So in the next few months continue to learn about this case, stay updated on it, and think about how we can ensure that the movement and it's participants can stay on track to continue fighting for change after this case. And then go out there and keep it going.

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