Main | Friday, March 29, 2013

Will Marriage Weaken LGBT Groups?

Activists for social causes often like to say that their ultimate goal is their own extinction, the end of the need for their existence.  Would full civil marriage equality mean the end of or the weakening of LGBT rights groups? Cart before the horse and all that, but today Buzzfeed cites the collapse of the movement, to some degree, in countries with marriage equality.
"After marriage passed in the Netherlands, the movement more or less collapsed," said Boris Dittrich, the former member of the Dutch parliament who won passage of the world's first-ever same-sex marriage law in 2000. After that, it was very hard to get people to engage on other issues the movement cared about, like discrimination against LGBT seniors in nursing homes and bullying in schools.

Tanja Ineke, head of COC-Netherlands, said that it took some time before they could get LGBT concerns back on the national radar. "There were a lot of people in the movement and in society at large who thought the emancipation is over and done now that marriage is open to us … People in society didn't understand there was a need to fight."

Canada's national LGBT organization, Egale, saw a 30 to 40% drop-off in monthly donations once marriage became legal for same-sex couples in 2004, said its executive director, Helen Kennedy. Their problem was not only convincing the public that gays and lesbians still faced discrimination; they also had lost the issue that kept a broad coalition of LGBT organizations on the same page.
There will always be a need, of course, for LGBT rights activism. The NAACP and other minority advocacy groups, obviously, have not vanished decades after what some would consider their ultimate legal victories. But I suppose some would argue that a culling of LGBT organizations would be a good problem to have.

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