Friday, April 3, 2009

Odds 'N Ends

1. Marriage Equality Update

Sweden has become the 7th country in the world to grant gay and lesbian couples full marriage equality. The Swedish parliament overwhelming supported the measure in a vote of 261-22. Furthermore, according to the Washington Blade:

Pink News, which bills itself as Europe’s largest gay news service, reported that six of the seven parties in the Swedish parliament backed the proposal. The only party in opposition was the Christian Democrats, the news service reported.

In other news, Vermont's governor has threatened to veto the state's marriage equality bill if passed by the legislature. Although I firmly believe this is just separation of powers at work here, it is rather ironic. "Marriage defenders" generally loathe it when the actions of one or a handful of politicians or judges counter the will of the masses or legislative bodies. For instance, when judges declare discriminatory laws to be unconstitutional, "marriage defenders" decry it as Judicial Tyranny Gone Wild! Now that a governor is threatening to veto a law passed by the legislature, "marriage defenders" celebrate it.

By "tyranny" I think they really mean "I didn't get my way."

Speaking of which, the Iowa Supreme Court just unanimously held that the ban on marriage for same-sex couples violates the Iowa Constitution. Cue the "marriage-defense" cries of Judicial Tyranny in 3...2....1.

2. Loser Dood Movies

Like Sady over at Tiger Beatdown, I find that I just don't particularly enjoy Judd Apatow-esque "ugly dude/hot wife" flicks. It's just not realistic or entertaining for me to root for shallow, juvenile, sex-obsessed, jackass, homely male protagonists, among other similar caricatures of men, who end up snagging the hot babe they've been lusting after "because, um...?" the woman overlooks all of these flaws "for no apparent reason other than that the filmmaker feels dudes like [the loser male protagonist] deserve hot pussy."

Filmmakers have quite the romance with the bromance, we know, and part of this love affair involves relegating women to the role of Object That the Main Character Lusts After and Ultimately Obtains No Matter How Unlikely It Would Be In Real Life. Of the female object, whom Sady refers to as the "'Because, um...?' girl," she writes:

"The 'Because, Um...?' girl can only exist in the negative space created by this double bind. If women have standards, they're bitches; if they don't have standards, they're sluts: try to write yourself out of this, and you find that the only feasible way to create a non-threatening female character is to give her no motivations or personality whatsoever, to turn her into a cipher who provides love or sex simply because the plot demands it."

It's all hilarious for (some) men, of course. Not so entertaining for many of us Vagina-Americans. Anyway, Sady's full post is relatively long, but it's worth a read.

3. The Myth of Gay Affluence

The Williams Institute, a think-tank affiliated with UCLA School of Law, has just released a study called "Poverty in the Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Community" (PDF) that challenges the myth of gay affluence. One of the main findings was that "poverty was at least as common in the LGB population as among heterosexual people and their families." While it's a common assumption that LGB people, because they are less likely to have children, have higher disposable incomes and are more financially well-off than heterosexuals. The study's authors theorize that "vulnerability to employment discrimination, lack of access to marriage, higher rates of being uninsured, less family support, or family conflict over coming out" explain why this assumption is false.

Also, lesbian couples and their families were much more likely to be poor than heterosexual families; and, African-American and rural LGB couples were more likely to be poor than white or urban same-sex couples.

I have written before as to how equal access to marriage confers real, tangible benefits on couples. For gay and lesbian couples, this is not some abstraction. Unlike obsessed internet "marriage defenders," this is not some debating game that we like to play with strangers on the internet that has no impact on our daily lives. The legal construct of marriage provides a ready-made framework of legal and financial benefits and protections that cannot be entirely replicated through legal finagling. Furthermore, just to garner some of the benefits that legally married couples get automatically requires hiring an attorney to draft expensive legal documents.

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