Many public and private employers provide medical coverage to the spouses of their employees, but most employers do not provide coverage to the life partners of gay and lesbian employees. Whereas married heterosexual workers are legally entitled to unpaid leave from their jobs to care for an ill spouse, gay and lesbian workers are not. Also, same-sex couples can be denied the right to visit a sick or injured partner in the hospital, and they receive no Social Security survivor benefits if the partner dies.
The list of privileges and benefits totals over 1,000. To C.J. Janovy and other gay people who say "Gay marriage is the dumbest idea I ever heard," I suggest you visit the Human Rights Campaign Web site at www.hrc.org and do your homework. Afterward, you'll realize how serious our situation is and, I hope, want to educate others, gay and straight.
It's about rights, C.J.: The Janovy column on gay marriage highlights some of the misconceptions and negative stereotypes that are preventing gays and lesbians from full participation in our society. Just because she doesn't personally know any gay couples who can sustain a long-term relationship doesn't mean they don't exist. It says more about her circle of friends than about gay culture. If C.J. never finds someone she wants to settle down and spend the rest of her life with in wedded bliss, then that's her option. But if she does find that special someone, it might be nice to be able to visit her if she is hospitalized or be covered by her employer's health insurance or be able to continue living in their home when death parts them, without having to jump through lots of extra legal hoops to arrange special contracts and documents. And if that relationship should end prematurely, there would at least be a mechanism for mediating that breakup. Legalizing gay marriage would simply allow all citizens the opportunity to participate in a "special right" that only heterosexuals are able to enjoy now.
Kansas City, Kansas
No more Rosie? When I first saw the no-gay-marriage headline, I thought you had really gone awry -- how could she? But then I read the excellent article and thought you had a lot of very good points. It took courage to say the things you did, and a lot of honesty. As a feminist, I agree that any woman who reads the marriage contract and agrees to it deserves what she gets. At least in a purely intellectual, rational sense.
However, as a person who's never been asked "Will you marry me?" I feel there is something appealing about the institution on an emotional basis. In a perfect world, no one would need the state to issue a permit or license to love, to be faithful, to be committed to a partner, etc. But marriage, more than any other institution, makes sure that the money passes on from one generation to another and stays in the same hands. Capitalism and its institutions all boil down to capital, money, real estate, commodities. Would I choose love over marriage every time? Of course! But you can't legislate love.
Gay marriage does sometimes seem like the Special Olympics -- a gay couple is "differently abled" physically. There is a reactionary element to gay marriage, in the sense that it clones the husband-wife union -- and puh-leeze, let's do away with the butch dyke Rosie O'Donnell pairings and stereotypes.
The nuclear family is what marriage is there to protect and propagate. Tribal society does not pair people off for life, and I think that is the wave of (the far distant) future: a classless society in which children are protected by the society as a whole and not pairs of its members.
Name Withheld by Request
The green card angle: I just finished reading "Behind the Veil," and many of the things you said very much caught my attention. I do agree with many of the points you brought up, and believe me, I am not a sign-yielding activist who is out screaming on gay rights marches, but I do believe there are many points you have overlooked. One of those, to have all equal rights as heterosexual individuals, seems to be the most obvious. One can choose not to follow through on those rights, but just because they do not want to does not mean others don't, either. But I don't want to get into that. My real concern is that you have not addressed the cases where marriage is the ONLY way for a couple to stay together. For example, having a foreign partner who, after finishing school, will be forced to go back home is just one example of a situation where the choice of marriage could resolve a situation that is rather impossible otherwise. There are many homosexuals who have partners who can legally stay here, married or not, but there are others, some of many, many years, who are forced to give up a wonderful relationship or to take extreme circumstances just because marriage is not an option.
Name Withheld By Request