Monday, November 15, 2010

Whoops! Anti-gay Ordinance Accidentally Hurts People Who Matter

Via Alex Blaze writing for The Huffington Post, we learn that an anti-gay ordinance supposedly intended to only harm same-sex and unmarried couples is also now set to harm heterosexual married couples, thanks to poor wording in the ordinance.

The initative read:

"The city of El Paso endorses traditional family values by making health benefits available only to city employees and their legal spouse and dependent children."

As a result of it passing, city attorneys are now set to eliminate health benefits not only for gay and hetero unmarried couples, but for foster children and other kids who are not legal dependents of their caregivers, grandchildren of city employees, and retirees who are eligible for coverage through another employer.

Can I just say, OMG, how embarrassing!

Not surprisingly, police and firefighter unions have vowed to take legal action to stop the city from cutting retiree benefits. Cutting the gay benefits is apparently fine, though.

Interestingly (or perhaps not), as Alex notes, "marriage defenders" who organized the ballot initiative are now chiming in to clarify but but but we didn't intend to hurt people who aren't gay or living in sin. Thus, some City Council members are considering a new ordinance that would clarify that everyone but the gays and unmarried couples would get to keep their benefits.

Let's talk about this seriously for a minute.

During California's Prop 8 case, Perry v. Schwarzenegger, "marriage defense" attorney Chuck Cooper informed us that:

"[T]he central purpose of marriage in virtually all societies and at all times has been to channel potentially procreative sexual relationships into enduring stable unions to increase the likelihood that any offspring will be raised by the man and woman who brought them into the world."

That is, societies, religious institutions, and our legal system limit marriage to one man and one woman and then extend a plethora of special benefits, rights, and privileges upon such family units because of the unique procreative sexual relationship between a man and a woman. It's not that "marriage defenders" deny marriage to gays out of animus, it's just that same-sex couples don't need marriage, they tell us. My response to this argument is typically (*clears throat*):

"Fine, if marriage is only between one man and one woman for purposes of properly channeling heterosexual sexuality, then put your LDS money where your mouth is and de-link civil marriage from every benefit that is not related to procreation and ban all heterosexual couples who are incapable of procreating together from marrying, because as it stands the over-inclusive nature of allowing such couples to marry combined with all of the benefits married couples get that aren't linked to procreation make it look like the Responsible Procreation argument is an after-the-fact justification for same-sex marriage bans to cover up the fact that the primary purpose of such bans is to hurt gay people."

What I've learned about these homo culture wars is that although "marriage defenders" readily devote reams of paper to telling the world how incredibly brave they are for publicly "saving marriage" on the backs of gay people, when it comes to taking a political stand that actually is unpopular, by saving marriage on the backs of any group other than gays, their silence is deafening.

So, back to El Paso.

If the reason heterosexual married couples get special benefits is because they are capable of procreating with one another, and the reason other groups don't get these benefits is because it would send the wrong message about marriage, then every single El Paso "marriage defender" must now oppose extending these benefits to retired cops and firefighters, grandchildren of employees, and foster kids under the reasoning that it's not so much that "marriage defenders" hate retirees, grandkids, and foster kids, it's just that such folks don't need these special benefits that are granted to legal spouses.

But of course that won't happen.

When it comes to tyrannical anti-gay ordinances like this, "marriage defenders" are incredibly willing to let these details slide. It's okay to grant some groups special rights even if doing so sends mixed messages about the One True Purpose of Marriage, but when it comes to gay people, Bans On Everything Must Be Maintained Or Society Will End!

In reality, far from preventing same-sex couples from enjoying "special rights," "marriage defenders" too often single out only gay people as being unworthy of the rights everyone else gets. And by doing so they admit through their actions that their advocacy really is mostly about their dislike of gay people and/or their sanctimonious disapproval of unmarried couples.

But, didn't we already know that anyway?

No comments: