I spent some quality time with my television last night, watching 7/9 of the Democratic presidential hopefuls address the Human Rights Commission. Based on last night's speeches and Q&A sessions, I'm down to three possible candidates. Only three candidates backed gay marriage: Carol Moseley Braun, Dennis Kucinich and Al Sharpton, and therefore, only those three have a chance in the world of getting my vote. Saying this makes me sound like I'm a one-issue voter--gay rights! gay rights! gay rights!--or that I'm enamored with the institution of marriage, but really, I'm neither. I just refuse to vote for anyone who doesn't recognize that creating a separate set of rules for glbt citizens is discrimination. If they won't stick up for my rights even this early in the game, why would anyone expect them to stick up for any other oppressed group?
Both Sharpton and Braun have nice sound bites on it (I missed Kucinich, probably because I turned the channel for awhile because Lieberman pissed me off). Sharpton said creating civil union rules for gays and lesbians is "like saying we'll give blacks or whites or Latinos the rights to shack up, but not marry." And Braun said (in her survey answer) "The concept of 'separate but equal' was properly rejected as inherently problematic by the Supreme Court in the landmark school desegregation case, Brown v. Board of Education. While I applaud the Vermont civil unions law, I am convinced that ultimately inequities will arise if there is one set of laws governing marriage commitments for heterosexuals and another set of laws governing marriage commitments for homosexuals." I enjoyed Sharpton's passion, but I liked Braun's response better, because she was smart enough to bring up the best legal precedent she could find.
Gay marriage is a tough topic, because let's face it, marriage ain't all it's cracked up to be. At least, the majority of the marriages I see around me are something to escape, not celebrate. So, I'm not all into emulating the heterosexual world. On the other hand, I'm tired of how damn complicated life is when you can't get married. Why should I have to work overtime to pay for the legal fees so I can get a set of papers that should at least in theory give Catherine the right to visit me in the emergency room? Why do we have to worry about writing extra tight wills so we can inherit our joint property?
So, I see some legal benefits I want. What I want may not be what's best for the country, though, I haven't decided. Rewarding marriage with certain legal privileges does create a two-tiered system. If gay marriage becomes legal, then Catherine becomes the head of our household, we get a tax break, and I can finally afford my insurance coverage. But is that fair to people like Garry and Amanda, who have been living together for 8 years? Why can't Garry be on Amanda's health insurance w/out that stupid little marriage certificate? Too many privileges are tied to the rules of courtship and marriage in this country, and I'd love to pry them apart, but I find myself instead saying "Hey, give me the right to marry!"
I hate being an American.