Monday, March 8, 2010
Stewart and Leland
We have been together 20 years and a have a 10 year old son and a 4 year old daughter. Leland has been working on marital rights since 1983 when he chaired the task force which wrote the first Domestic Partnership policy enacted into law. We had been looking forward to President Obama keeping his promise to grant full federal marital rights to all "legally-recognized unions," a term his campaign invented. This would have covered 14 states for all same-sex couples in marriages, domestic partnerships or civil unions. Such legislation would have had the added advantage of focusing on legal fairness and would, therefore, have a shot at passing Congress because it was not about marriage, per se. Unfortunately, organizations like Freedom to Marry and others insisted that the proposed legislation ignore President Obama’s suggestion and grant federal marital rights ONLY to same-sex couples who were married. This would have only covered only 5 states if passed. But, in reality, it would cover nobody because everyone knew that federal legislation which only focused on marriage, and not on the rights of marriage, could not pass Congress.
Indeed, this legislation was declared dead less than 3 months after it was introduced. It will be many years, maybe decades, before we have large Democratic majorities again which can pass legislation to give us federal marital rights. We are grief stricken that our children will grow up without any of the federal protections of marriage, not because President Obama did not suggest a way to thread the needle, but because our own community insisted on a losing strategy. A sad victory of ideological purity over the mundane efforts to win much needed marital rights because those rights may not be labeled "marriage." We are pleased that Project 1138 has been started to try to correct the failure of our community's marriage-only strategy. Even if we have to try to painstakingly win our 1138 rights one at a time, it is better than the strategy of failure which brought us 33 electoral losses in 31 states (with no victories), 45 states banning same-sex marriage, 17 of those banning domestic partnerships and the passage of the Defense of Marriage Act. The few states, along with the City of Washington, DC, which allow same-sex marriages only do so because, in those jurisdictions, it is extremely difficult to put an issue on the ballot to overturn a legislative or judicial decision. Same-sex marriage victories in those jurisdictions do not present a broader winning strategy. Maybe Project 1138 will. We can only hope.