Thursday, April 28, 2011

Civil Unions In Rhode Island - A Pragmatic Rather Than Idealistic View

     Rhode Island Speaker of the House Gordon Fox yesterday revoked his support for a marriage equality bill in the State, in favor of a more moderate friendly Civil Unions bill. This, to the chagrin of marriage equality advocates in Rhode Island and to the rejoicing of anti-gay marriage groups like the National Organization for Marriage. In fact, I just received an email from NOM claiming that they have "won" in Rhode Island (conveniently though this email fails to note that civil unions are now being proposed, I wonder why?)

    Personally, though I do see where marriage advocates are coming from in their anger over Fox's reversal, I wish that they would think about this issue in perspective. Are civil unions separate but equal? Completely, for they are depriving LGBT people of a certain federal right. But yet, should we aim only for marriage equality when it is sure not to pass, instead of aiming for a temporary fix to the lack of equality that our relationships have?

    Even those representatives who disagree with Fox and who say that the marriage equality bill could have passed in the House, have publicly stated that the bill would never have made it out of the state Senate. On the other hand, Civil Unions enjoy wide bipartisan support in the state, and are almost guaranteed to pass by wide margins. Personally, we should be thankful that couples in Rhode Island will not have to wait any longer for state  recognition through civil unions, instead of keep them perpetually strangers to the law by having the mentality of marriage equality or nothing.

To Say Gay or Not To Say Gay

    I have blogged about this issue previously, but it has recently garnered alot of national  - and international - criticism, so therefore I thought I would address some of the new arguments that have come out in support of the bill. Specifically, Senator Campfield, the proponent of the bill, claims that it is "neutral" in its scope, because it does not allow teachers to teach good or bad things about homosexuality and the LGBT community. 

    When I saw a clip of the interview where he said that, I just wanted to laugh at his stupidity. First of all, as I said before, it is not neutral, because it directly marginalizes a group of people. Would a bill be neutral, for example, if a state legislature of a predominantly white state mandated that their would be no discussion of race or race related issues in the classroom?  Of course not, and the proposal in Tennessee is just as ridiculous! The only reason why the latter is gaining any traction is because their is still a hatred against LGBT people and their sexual orientation. If the citizenry viewed LGBT individuals as normal and healthy productive members of society, a discussion of our families would be just as normal as discussing an issue like race. Thats where the problem lies, and one which will only be changed as LGBT people come out of the closet and live in honesty with others, and show that we are just as normal as the rest of society. 
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