"Beyond Marriage" statement sparks dialogue
"It's hard to ignore the buzz surrounding the 'Beyond Marriage' statement," writes Zak Szymanski in the Bay Area Reporter, a San Francisco gay newspaper (August 3, 2006). We first reported on the Beyond Marriage manifesto last week here. Szymanski explains: "The statement... calls for a new strategic LGBT vision that does not prioritize marriage over other family forms, and expresses concern that the LGBT movement's focus on marriage as a stand-alone issue has 'left us isolated and vulnerable to a virulent backlash,' including ballot initiatives and court rulings that dismantle existing rights such as domestic partnerships."
Polys are among those seeing this development as a breath of fresh air one that could move the stale gay-marriage debate to the wider, better ground of relationship respect generally. The article continues:
"If we'd been arguing all along for a wide menu of options for family recognition of all kinds, then it wouldn't have been 'a gay issue,' it would have been an issue for African American communities, for HIV communities, for labor, for women's rights organizations ... many different movements could have been behind this," said Joseph DeFilippis, executive director of the New York-based Queers for Economic Justice and a leading organizer of the statement....
Much of the national media reaction to the statement has painted two distinct camps: traditional-minded gay couples fighting for marriage, pitted against sex-positive, alternative-family types.
...But recognizing that the majority of households in America are unmarried and that diverse families are in fact the American norm, many LGBT activists and groups said this week that they support both same-sex marriage as well as the ideas put forth by the Beyond Marriage statement, and they reject the push to characterize the dialogue as polarizing....
The trick may be in finding and funding the commonalities nationwide, thus creating a movement whose radicals can see the need for marriage, and whose marriage-minded get so accustomed to making a radical case for family recognition that the inevitable voices of diversity are seen as enriching instead of a threat....
Although some marriage activists expressed concern that the statement's references to polyamory and nontraditional families play into right-wing rhetoric about a "slippery slope" of partnership recognition, DeFilippis said that a marriage movement that feels it must ignore other families sets all LGBT rights up for failure.
"The way we live is the way we live. You can try to hide it, or deal with reality," he said. "Many people live in monogamous relationships, many people have multiple lovers. Others don't live with any lovers. We're not making this up by stating it in our document. I didn't get my Golden Girls example [of seniors creating households together] from Bea Arthur, it already exists."
Read the article.
Boston's Bay Windows also has a long news article out today:
Depending on who you ask, the July 26 release of "Beyond Same-Sex Marriage: A New Strategic Vision for All Our Families and Relationships" was either an effort to expand dialogue about the direction of the LGBT movement or the latest shot fired in an internal war between LGBT activists who support the push for same-sex marriage and those who oppose it.
..."It really was this kind of, folks finding each other who had these views and felt sort of left out of the direction, not just of the marriage movement," but of the LGBT movement as a whole, said [Richard] Kim. He said the drafters met for two days in April to hash out the document and then spent the next two months working long-distance to write it collectively.
...DeFilippis added that critics of the statement have focused primarily on the support for polyamorous relationships, and he expected that to be used against the document by conservative opponents of LGBT rights. He said critics of the support for polyamory from within the community misunderstand the goal of the statement. "I want to be clear that this is not about pushing for polyamorous relationships per se. This is about separating church and state from the recognition of family and that the state has no business in determining what makes a valid family," said DeFilippis.
Read the article.
The Washington Blade is more skeptical:
Now the push for marriage equality faces a new challenge, after a group of activists publicly questioned the priorities of gay marriage supporters, revealing a schism among gay rights advocates....
Read the article. Also see the letter in the August 4th issue (third letter down) by Anita Wagner rebutting executive editor Chris Crain's editorial against the manifesto when it first came out.
On August 15th the American Spectator, a leading conservative-movement magazine, weighed in:
"Beyond Same Sex Marriage" could be dismissed as marginal, if not silly. But in fact, its conglomeration of issues and interest groups is quite edgy and even clever. Throw in special benefits for one parent families and the elderly with legal recognition for multiple sexual partners. Align everyone who is not in a two-parent with children household as a coalition, from the spinster sisters living together to the pagan polyamores. This new coalition's one unifying characteristic would seem to be resentment aimed at people in conventional marriages.
Political movements based on resentment are often powerful and long-lived. Do not expect this one to go away quietly.
Read the whole article. Hmmm, "Political movements based on resentment are often powerful and long-lived." Do I see some projection here?