Authored by Boyce Hinman, founder and director of the California Communities United Institute, and member of Marriage Equality USA. Hinman has been writing and posting a series, “Monday Morning Marriage Memo,” as part of his Anatomy for Justice blog. This article was first published there, and is republished here with the author’s permission. Hinman resides in and serves California, therefore the posts sometimes have a California slant.
NOTE: Marriage Equality USA is not a legal firm or a tax/accounting firm. No action should be taken based solely on the content of our news blog or website.
Stephanie Fairyington had an article on Martin Duberman in the September/October issue of The Gay and Lesbian Review. Duberman is one of the major players in the LGBT rights movement. As the article notes, “he has been a formidable intellectual and activist on behalf of the disenfranchised in every corner of society”.
Fairyington says that “Duberman is deeply disappointed in the contemporary GLBT movement, noting that, for the past 20 years, the focus has been on marriage equality and repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” She added that “his view is that the goal of assimilating runs counter to the Spirit of Stone Wall and Gay Liberation which sought to affirm, rather than minimize, the differences between mainstream and queer culture”.
I would respectfully disagree. The drive to end Don’t Ask Don’t tell can be viewed as seeking the right to jobs and economic security. Over the past few years civilian employment has been very hard to find. For many, employment in the armed services has been an available fall back position, a way to put food on the table. Until the overturn of Don’t Ask, Don’t tell this alternative had not been available to LGBT people unless they denied who they really were.
The cultures of People of Color are different than what has been the dominant White culture of this nation. And those differences add value to society. But this doesn’t mean they should be denied the right to jobs in the military or to Marry.
People like Duberman say there is an essential difference in the relationships that LGBT people form compared to those in straight relationships. They often add that the institution of marriage is corrupt or sexist and LGBT people should not seek to copy it.
With respect, I believe the factors that help relationships succeed or fail are basically the same whether the relationship is straight or LGBT. For example, in both situations, good negotiating skills help people successfully negotiate their differences.
But that’s beside the point. Economic security is a valid reason for seeking marriage equality. Edith Windsor, who sued to overturn DOMA, had been charged over $600,000 in federal estate taxes when her wife died. That tax was due because the federal government did not recognize her marriage. Once DOMA was overturned she got that money back. That will do a lot to provide her with economic security in her old age.
Married people can also qualify for spousal Medicare and Social Security benefits, VA benefits and many other federal benefits that are not available to unmarried couples, or even registered domestic partners. These benefits can do much to provide economic security and peace of mind to married couples. It is worth pursuing marriage equality.