Wednesday, November 12, 2008

After Prop 8, what next for the LGBT movement?

The promised 2257 analysis is forthcoming, but give me a break: I have some kind repetitive stress injury, which needs a look from a doctor. Meanwhile, there are lots of reflections on Prop 8's passage out there, some of which I'd like to highlight here.

Some folks think this loss means we need to shift to a focus on building public support for same-sex marriage instead of hanging our hopes on litigation.

Jonathan Rauch:

The civil-rights model tried to separate marriage from the political process, because we didn't have nearly enough straight support to win. That left our opponents with the political field to themselves while we busied ourselves in the courts. Not any more. We now have enough straight allies to win, long-term, in the political arena.

To judge from the protests, that's where we'll be going. Goodbye Thurgood Marshall, hello Martin Luther King. Goodbye Lambda Legal, hello ACT-UP. Sure, more love, less anger than in the AIDS days. But the protests, provided they are peaceful and don't turn hateful or anti-religious, point the way forward.

The Los Angeles Times agrees:
Wresting equal rights from a society reluctant to grant them isn't easy. It can take years of nonviolent resistance, passionate speeches and even in-your-face radicalism. If people who voted yes on Proposition 8 say they didn't see it as a civil rights matter, that's because until now there has been nothing resembling a civil rights crusade by the gay community. Courts can assist downtrodden groups, but they never have and never will be enough to guarantee equality on their own.
The LAT has plenty of criticism for the No on 8 campaign, and for political leaders who opposed the measure but refused to come out front and fight it.

Nan Hunter points out that a same-sex marriage case remains pending in Iowa, and the prospective getting marriage through the legislature in New York and New Jersey is looking up. She also speculates that anti-gay groups will try to reproduce the newly-passed foster parenting and adoption ban in Arkansas. She goes on to say:

The place for our team to concentrate - the location of our greatest strength - is the non-marriage front. After all, if we had not had a Republican president and congress for these last years, we would have enacted ENDA in the first year or two of the Gore presidency. The priority would have been securing and implementing a national anti-discrimination law. I don't think that the focus we have seen on marriage would have mushroomed in anything like the way that it has. ...The upside potential for lgbt rights is enormous right now, although it may not have a lot to do with marriage.

She urges passing an inclusive ENDA and replacing the so-called Defense of Marriage Act with federal recognition for state-recognized domestic partnerships, civil unions, and marriages. Hunter also points to the ingenious efforts of Equality Utah, who are taking the Mormon church at its word: since y'all said during the Prop 8 campaign that you don't object to many forms of relationship recognition for same-sex couples, why don't you work with us to secure them?

Last and perhaps best, Bi-Furious takes a stronger tack on shifting the LGBT movement's focus away from marriage equality:
I don’t think it should be our top priority. I’m frustrated with the way it appropriates a disproportionate share of our advocacy and resources, to the exclusion of things I feel would be a much better use of those things. In many places we can still be denied housing and employment because of our sexuality. This is true in almost all places of those who don’t conform to binary gender norms (and those of the gender assigned to them at birth, thank you very much). People are still being harassed, beaten, raped, and murdered for their perceived queerness. ... Many medical professionals are still trying to counsel and medicate queers out of our sexual preferences or gender identities, and giving us less than their best care besides.... Save for the controversy over an ENDA that left out trans folks (and now that we have the kind of Democratic majority in Congress that even the people who wanted to leave trans folks out in the cold said we’d need to pass an inclusive ENDA, could we get on that, please?) pretty much everything I’ve heard about queer rights from mainstream sources in the past several years has been regarding marriage. I think this is a terrible misprioritization, and a gross misappropriation of our attention and energy. I rank marriage as less important than people’s lives and bodily integrity, and I don’t understand how the “gay agenda” doesn’t.

Hear, hear.

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