Monday, March 16, 2009

No compromise on equality

I could not agree more with the position on marriage equality stated in the article below!!

Lowenstein: We must not compromise on equality
By Jenna Lowenstein

When I sat down to write this post– an argument for marriage, rather than civil unions– I thought about a lot of things and revisited a lot of arguments that have defined the two sides of this debate comprehensively. Civil unions and domestic partnerships create separate but equal institutions. Marriage is about more than an ideal– it’s about concrete federal rights. Marriage is about privacy, and privacy is a civil right.

We’ve all heard these ideas, recycled and revisited, and they’re all correct. I agree that civil unions are a separate and (un)equal institution, and that marriage guarantees federal rights that aren’t attached to civil unions and that there’s a penumbral right to privacy enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. I agree.

But I think there’s something more fundamental that we often overlook.

Because I thought about this longer and harder than I probably needed to, I sent out a message to my followers on Twitter and asked if anyone had suggestions. I knew I believed in marriage equality, but I didn’t know how to make the same argument that I’ve made hundreds of times more interesting this time around.

I only got one response to my tweet (which is pretty shocking considering the rate at which my friends normally tweet), and it was deceptively simple: “I don’t think it’s particularly novel,” the person wrote, “but… it’s the right thing to do?”

My friend’s point, as I’m choosing to interpret (or over interpret) it, was that this issue is about equality, plain and simple. And he’s right. Its the equality, stupid!

We live in a country founded on the tenet that all men are equal. Period. If we decide that we should push for civil unions, if we decide that’s the responsible battle to fight because it might be easier or faster or might not ruffle as many feathers, than we need to be willing to decide that we’re ok with compromising that founding ideal.

I don’t know about you, but I’m certainly not there yet.

The idea that there is a trade-off for any rights movement– between principle and compromise, revolution and assimilation, absolutism or gradualism, belief and strategy– is what forces this debate, but I think the answer is easy.

During the debate on ENDA last summer, Congressman Rush Holt gave a floor speech in which he quoted Congressman John Lewis quoting Martin Luther King:
“Mr. Speaker, our distinguished colleague John Lewis often reminds us of the words of Dr. King, “The time is always right to do the right thing.” Dr. King warned us against the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. I am concerned that when we break apart legislation, some pieces fall on the floor to get swept into the dustbin of history or to be considered only years later. We should not do this to members of our society who need and deserve the same protections as all other Americans.”

I think Holt’s and Lewis’ and King’s point is spot on. We can compromise on taxes and on infrastructure funding and on health care costs. But we cannot– we must not– sell out the fundamental right to equality.

Crush du Jour: George Newbern


Bob said...

I'm glad you posted this. As I told you, I'd read it online, but after seeing it again, I decided to copy it and email it around to friends and family.
It makes perfect sense.

Unknown said...

I tend to agree with the King comment to beware of gradualizing when it comes to rights. As Rose says in Gypsy " ya either got it or ya haven't, and boys I got it."
King's people were flim flammed with exclusivity laws of separation for another century before he and his followers demanded all.
The law may not change attitudes but the blending of people of color and pure whites has been amazingly successful.