Sunday, August 19, 2007


As John Stewart put it, liberal politicians tie themselves in knots “trying to reassure the gay community how much they support them, while reassuring the rest of the country that they don’t completely support them.” Around here, it’s playing out like this: the leadership in the legislature has convened a commission to asses public attitudes about marriage equality. It’s an oh-so transparent attempt to put off a vote on marriage equality until after the 2008 election. Politicians aren’t going to alienate the homophobes by introducing marriage legislation right before an election. The commission lets them look like they are doing something for us without actually doing something for us, and risking their seats in the process. This might be a baby step in the right direction, maybe. Forgive me for suspending my gratitude until something actually happens.

In case you were wondering why marriage equality is necessary, even in states with civil unions, here’s one more reason: Until we have marriage rights, unscrupulous sorts will wiggle out of granting benefits to LGBTQ spouses at every available opportunity. Look at Vermont, the first state in the union to grant civil unions. By law, these unions, not incidentally only available to same sex couples, provide all the benefits that the state gives to married couples. But wait, even in friendly Vermont this doesn’t always pan out. One example, the Corporate Tax department refuses to acknowledge civil unions, thus subjecting same-sex spouses to tax penalties that married hetero couples don’t face. Bottom line, in this way, and in many others, the separate status of civil unions has not led to full equality.

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