Gay, Straight, Black, White, Marriage is an Equal Right

Don’t politicians know by now that separate but equal does not and cannot ever work? You’d think that society has made some sort of progress since the laws of racially segregated marriage pre-1967 but one look at the possibility of marriage for same couples today to see that this is not true.

It would be unspeakable for a state government to try and pass a constitutional amendment banning marriage between people of different races yet when marriage is suggested between two men or two women, the Bush administration seems to have no problems trying to enforce such a ban.

On March 11th the Massachusetts State Legislature voted in favor of a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage and on the same day, the California supreme court ordered officials in San Francisco who had been issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples, to stop immediately. This denial of marriage to gay and lesbian couples is akin to the same sort Jim Crow policies that could be seen before the civil rights movement of the late 60’s. For lots of working class couples, marriage is an institution necessary to survival because of the concomitant economic benefits and so denial of this to gay and lesbian couples turns this into an issue much bigger than just freedom to marry whomsoever one chooses.

Heterosexual married couples are guaranteed 1047 federal rights by being married, homosexual couples in Civil Unions, which are only allowed in and recognized in two states, are guaranteed only 500 of these rights. This is not just an issue of gay and lesbian rights, this is an issue of civil rights.

And we are seeing the emergence of a new civil rights movement around this issue. People around the country from San Francisco, CA to New Paltz, NY, gay and lesbian couples are demanding marriage licenses and winning. People, gay, straight and everything in between, are taking to the streets to demand rights for themselves. The so called radical moves of San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom and New Paltz mayor Jason West in issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples, could not have happened if there had not been a spontaneous movement of people in the streets. To win equal rights for homosexual couples, we need to stand up and fight for them. We know that Bush won’t do it and we can hope no more from John “leave it to the states to decide” Kerry.

Let’s begin the discussion about gay marriage here in Burlington and join the national movement. Come to a panel discussion, The Fight for Gay Marriage: Separate is not Equal, sponsored by the Progressive Party, the Peace and Justice Center, the Green Party, the International Socialist Organization, and the American Friends Service Committee on March 31st at 7.30 PM in Williams 301. The panel will feature speakers Christopher Kaufman, from R.U.1.2, a speaker from the VT Freedom to Marry Task Force, Sherry Wolf from the International Socialist Organization and Peggy Luhrs from the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. We need to let the Bush Administration know that we won’t settle for the back of the bus and that marriage must be a right for all.