Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Civil Marriage Equality Coming to Washington, DC

I've lived in Washington, DC for more than half of my life, and as proud as I am to be a resident of Washington, I am more proud today. At-Large Council member David Catania introduced legislation today that will bring civil marriage equality to the city. And, it looks like there will not be a strong effort mounted on the Hill during the 30 day review period to stop the legislation.

Here is the video of Catania introducing the legislation:

The only complaint I have is that none of the black Council members, unless I am mistaken, offered to say anything regarding the legislation's introduction. Obviously, Council members Jim Graham and Jack Evans would have something to say, considering the fact that their wards have large and visible GLBT constituencies. But, there are large swaths of black GLBT residents in Washington throughout all of the wards of the city. Would it have hurt any of them politically to say something publicly in favor of Catania's bill?

Yet, I recognize that the more important matter is that the majority of the City Council is poised to pass Catania's bill, and Mayor Fenty is prepared to sign it as soon as it hits his desk.

Ultimately, it will be nice to know that if I am lucky enough to find a man I would want to spend the rest of my life with (and he with me), I will be able to get married in the city I call home. Incredible.


John said...

That's great news - a step forward, but not yet equal. Marriage between same-sex couples does not grant citizenship if one of the partners in the relationship is not a U.S. citizen. I'll be waiting for same-sex marriage to be nationally recognized, as it is in Canada, South Africa, New Zealand, Spain and other countries.

hscfree said...

I hear you John, and in a city like Washington, where it is really possible to find a mate who is not from the U.S, the issue of national recognition is really important.
This issue also makes this country seem so painfully anti-progressive, especially considering that this is a civil/secular issue that we are talking about. No one is attempting to force any faith community to marry anyone who walks into the sanctuary.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone notice that Iowa is still on the map???

It didn't get swallowed up in some end-of-the-world scenerio. It's still there, with equality for all, no less.

Could someone tap this nation's shoulder and point out that Iowa is doing fine?

Maybe the people of Maine need to be reminded sooner than most.

I'm just sayin'...

Anonymous said...

But Jeffrey the black members of the city council did speak up that day. Under Marion Barry's leadership they rejected a qualified PhD Hispanic woman to lead the parks Agency because she allegedly didn't understand "our [black] culture." That's equality.

Anonymous said...

Jeffrey--How would you define your policy on marriage? Who should be allowed to marry and who should not?

hscfree said...

@Anon #3: If that is true, then that is a dumbass reason for not hiring someone, and I would hope that the person would sue. People tried that madness with the hiring of Michelle Rhee, and even if you don't agree with her policies (I'm ambivalent), I am glad the council did not listen to the folks carping about her not understanding the black community. It was a bullshit argument then, and if you are right about this latina, then it's a bullshit argument now.

@Anon #4: two adults, in my opinion, should be the criteria. But my guess is that I should expect, once again, a slippery slope argument. Have fun.

Anonymous said...

As an advocate, you can push for whatever you want, but let's pretend you are a decision maker. You have the pen. You need to decide who can get married and who can't and then explain it. Pushing for a change that favors you is easy, anyone can do it. I think people with my birthday should not pay taxes. But the challenge is articulating a policy that achieves what you want to achieve in a thoughtful and fair way. As the petitioner, you are proposing to change a definition of marriage that has existed for thousands of years. I don't think it is too much to ask you why you want to unravel one element of that definition, but not the others. The traditional definition required individuals to be of the age of consent, to be unrelated, to be living, to be just two individuals of the opposite sex. Proponents of gay marriage want to change one of those elements. Why just one? Once you pull at one string, why should the whole tapestry not unravel? You could make a democratic argument and say that a majority of citizens support such a move. Or, you could make a scientific argument, or a social stability argument, or lots of other arguments. But whatever argument you choose you need to explain why two gay men can marry but not two non-fertile siblings, or seven people, or whatever. There may only be a handful of siblings or cousins out there that want to get married, but why should society say no to them? I don't think that is a slippery slope, I think it is responsible governance. If this is enacted there will be a next step. Progressive politics doesn’t stop, it PROGRESSES. So it is fair to ask, if this, what comes next. It's easy to stomp your feet, label something a "right" and say I want what I want right now. It's much harder to craft policies that make some people happy and some people mad and have to defend those choices.

hscfree said...

I keep referring folks to the John Boswell book Same Sex Unions in Pre-Modern Europe, because it is an effective counter to this idea that unions were always and only blessed for couples of the opposite sex. That was a change in policy as Europe changed. So, if there was indeed a tradition of sanctioning same sex unions, before that tradition was changed, then perhaps a new argument should be that this is a return to tradition Western European values, which so many Christians and Christianists hold on to to deny current same sex couples from gaining unions. Moreover, those unions were sacred and secular, if I recall, back then. This move is for civil marriage. No church necessary.

And there is nothing wrong with progression. As, I've stated before, this country has shifted its traditions on marriage in a number of ways. The current standards are still relatively new. We have had polygamy in this country. We have had adults marrying teenagers (which is still available to a degree with parental permission).

Anonymous said...

I note that you have declined the invitation to lay out a comprehensive policy and simply rely on one book published by a gay scholar. I know you like his conclusion, but the critical reception to his thesis was quite poor. The New York Times had a summary of that reception in a 1995 article. In it they refer to the New Republic review (not exactly a right wing journal). "The New Republic review was a devastating critique. A more representative blurb might have been this line: 'Tendentious translation of the documents is found, alas, throughout the book.' Or this: 'To sustain his arguments, Boswell must constantly tear words, sentences and larger statements out of the social and literary contexts in which they were embedded.'"

It may be that you just want what you want and are willing to tear down any institution and tolerate any practice that is necessary to get it. That's an understandable view, but policymakers have a broader responsibility.

My point on progress was not to object to progress, it was to justify opponents concern that this is just the first step of an extraordinary revolution and we ought to know where we are headed before we begin.

hscfree said...

Then explain the changes of the past. Some have argued the "revolutionary" moves of granting black folks right, and certainly argued that in doing so American values would be destroyed.

Regarding policy. I am fine with consenting adults marrying, which I've stated within the blog in the past. The remainder of the civil rules governing marriage would continue to apply.

I think the revolution worried about is sacred marriage, and I could care less if a church sanctioned the gays or not. But the state, by way of our Constitution opens that door, as Justice Scalia presciently noted, for gay marriage (it would not surprise me if he looked upon the 14th Amendment with a little disdain).

Further, policymakers, you know those with broader responsibilities, are beginning to agree with my perspective on this. And this so called tearing down of institutions (you must find divorce an abomination of some sort, and in my mind the real revolutionary agent within the institution of marriage) is not true. Gay marriage would strengthen what str8 are tearing down all by themselves.

Anonymous said...

I had heard you express modest support for polygamy but had not realized that you supported siblings or cousins marrying and emancipated minors marrying 60 year olds. Again, that is intellectually consistent.

I'd be curious to see the Scalia reference if you can share it.

I do find the fact that so many children are born to single mothers and grow up without two parents to be a real tragedy that leads to so many of the social problems we face today. We have no idea what impact gay marriage would have on the institution. They may be more or less likely to stay married or divorce at the same rate. However, I believe we do have some data that demonstrates wide divergence regarding the sexual activity and number of partners etc. for gays.

hscfree said...

Regarding Scalia, I think it is in his dissent in Lawrence v. Texas, or the Evans v. Roemer (I think I spelled that right) case.

BTW, my late step-grandmother was 16 when she married my late step-grandfather when he was 54. They had a great marriage, and raised three children.