Saturday, January 2, 2010

Pennsylvania Beware -- It's Time To Get Organized For Fairness & Equality For All

by David Knowles for The Sphere:

(Dec. 30) -- On Monday, two Argentinian men became the first gay couple in Latin America to legally wed. But even as advocates celebrate that milestone, opponents of gay marriage are digging in to blunt the movement's global momentum.

The wedding between Jose Maria Di Bello and Alex Freyre in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina's southernmost province, was by no means an isolated victory for gay rights groups in Latin America.

In 2002, Buenos Aires became the first Latin American city to permit same-sex civil unions. In 2007, Uruguay legalized civil unions for gay and lesbian couples. Ecuador did so in 2008. Colombia's Constitutional Court ruled this year that gay couples must be afforded all of the same rights as straight ones, and last week, Mexico City became the first Latin American capital to pass a law legalizing gay marriage.

"At the start of the decade, if you were gay and wanted to get married, you couldn't do it anywhere," said Hayley Gorenberg, the deputy legal director of Lambda Legal, a U.S. advocacy group for gay rights. "If you look at the progress since then, it's striking."

A quick survey of the globe illustrates Gorenberg's point. In Canada, the House of Commons made gay marriage legal nationwide in 2005. South Africa became the first country in Africa to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples in 2006. In Europe, the decade saw gay marriage legalized in The Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Norway and Sweden.

"I think that you're seeing an international movement, and if we who want to defend traditional marriage want to be successful, we're going to need to organize on that level as well," said Maggie Gallagher, syndicated columnist and the president of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy, an anti-gay-marriage group.

In the United States, gay and lesbian couples will be able to wed five states in 2010 -- Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont and New Hampshire -- as well as in the District of Columbia.

Still, Gallagher sees the tide shifting against the further expansion of U.S. gay marriage rights in 2009, In particular, she cites November's vote in Maine, in which voters repealed a law passed in the legislature that gave gays and lesbians full marriage rights, and December's action by the New York State Senate, rejecting a bill allowing gay marriage.

"The last few months were encouraging," Gallagher said. "We've put an end to the notion of inevitability."

As for 2010, Gallagher sees opportunity to "take back territory" in states like Iowa through voter referendums. She also hopes to pass new restrictions on gay marriage in states like Pennsylvania, Indiana and West Virginia.

Gorenberg says Lambda Legal is also ready for the fight and knows that voter referendums will play an integral part of what comes next. "I think the ballot box defeats show that minority groups are still vulnerable," Gorenberg says. "But now it's no longer a foregone conclusion that we will lose. Ten years ago it would have been unthinkable that an unpopular minority could have had such success."

Meanwhile, while Di Bello and Freyre were celebrating their nuptials in Argentina, another first in the fight for gay marriage rights has not, so far, turned out as happily. In Malawi, where homosexual acts are punishable with a prison sentence of up to 14 years, Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza defied that statute by publicly announcing their intent to marry with an engagement ceremony. As a result, the two have been arrested and charged with gross indecency.

1 comment:

Jim said...

Why is marriage the landmark of freedom?

Since when did mimicking heterosexual relationships become the standard for homosexual relationships?

We constantly hear that we will "WIN" the right to get married.

What do we win? When you look at heterosexual marriages they are mostly sad examples of people living in quiet desperation, and the divorces are even worse.

So what exactly is won?

Wouldn't a campaign to actually get homosexuals to come out of the closet and work in the community towards environmental respect, civil rights for all, and peaceful resolutions to conflicts be more constructive than focusing on marriage?

It's like demanding to be a part of the military? Why would you want that?

It's like demanding to be part of a religion that has, at it's core, bigoted and destructive principles.

Why would you want that?

As the earth's climate changes, as wars for resources get worse, as the population grows at three people per second, the movement for sexual and gender equality has gotten stuck on marriage, the military and religion.

And I don't understand what we're trying to win here. If the ice caps are melting, who cares if you're married?

If bombs are being dropped on children (and homosexuals) in Iraq so you can buy affordable oil-based products for your wedding, who's civil rights are we talking about?

Religions demand one man and one woman for marriage, and you want to change that two men, or two women. Is that really changing anything? What about three women and a man? What about three men and a woman? Can they get married too?

How we define relationships in a world going to ruin by war and environmental destruction, and heterosexist norms is the issue.

Not marriage. We need third person political strategies where each person stands up for issues outside of their own little box.

We need homosexuals to discuss how our lives can make a change in the environment, civil rights and resource usage.

Otherwise, you're just planning a wedding in hell.