Main | Thursday, February 21, 2008

HomoQuotable - Leland Traiman

"Many lesbian/gay organizations claim that state-enacted same-sex marriage is 'marriage equality' even though it has no federal marriage rights. They claim that a federal civil union policy, which would include these rights, would not be 'marriage equality' because it would not contain the word 'marriage.' This places rhetoric over reality. The opposite is true: federal civil unions would be marriage equality. Unfortunately, no state has the ability to grant federal rights. Therefore, no state has the ability to grant marriage equality.

"A clear majority of voters, about 56 percent, support civil unions with all the rights of marriage, while opposing same-sex marriage. Illogical? Yes! But it is a fact we must live with. I am delighted a majority supports equality before the law. They just want to keep the word for themselves. Okay, I'll take the rights, they can have the word. Federal civil unions would grant us 1,138 more rights than "marriage" in California. Isn't that where we should be putting our energy? That seems a better choice than a lawsuit, which, if we 'win,' will guarantee three things:

1. A name change from domestic partnership to marriage without any additional rights or benefits.

2. A constitutional amendment on the ballot outlawing both same-sex marriage and domestic partnerships, which, judging from history, we will most probably lose, and

3. A diversion of our time, energy, and money from the real battle of achieving tangible rights through federal civil unions.

"Lasting progress is always made step by step. Lawsuits have been a poor strategy in righting the injustices against same-sex couples. Even when 'successful,' these few advances were crushed when 45 states and the federal government created an entirely new body of anti-gay laws. In contrast, since 1981 the step-by-step progress of domestic partnerships and civil unions has given our people tangible benefits, changing lives and increasing security for our families.

"We are at a historic crossroads. Forty-five states have foreclosed the possibility of same-sex marriage. However, federal civil unions are within our grasp. It is time for us to work for federal civil unions to get the federal rights that 'are granted to spouses in a marriage.' Six states already have marriage equality through domestic partnerships or civil unions. A majority of the public supports marriage equality through civil unions. If we use our energies wisely we can make federal civil unions a reality thereby achieving national marriage equality." - Equality Without Marriage co-founder Leland Traiman, in a guest editorial in the Bay Area Reporter. Traiman was one of the architects of Berkeley, California's 1984 domestic partners law, described by some as the blueprint for such laws around the world.

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