Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Hawaii moves closer to civil unions. Why are we settling for Separate and Unequal?

The news from Hawaii this morning is that the Aloha State's House Judiciary Committee held a hearing Tuesday to hammer out details between the House and Senate versions of legislation that would legalize civil unions between same-sex couples. Via KHON-2:
After civil unions was passed by lawmakers but vetoed by Governor Lingle last year, Governor Abercrombie came into office saying send it again and he'll sign it.

The question is which competing version will make it.

The senate quickly moved through a version that's very close to what was passed last year.

They’ve already taken a full floor vote, tossing the ball to the House of Representatives.

Today the House Judiciary Committee held a packed hearing on two versions - the Senate's plus a House measure that has more technical details on things like the status of children, taxes and ending a union.

Opponents say it's just a path to gay marriage.

Also heard today was a bill that would let churches and ministers refuse to perform ceremonies for same sex couples.

The civil unions measures already do not force the matter, but some from both sides of the civil unions debate say they like the added measure.
Illinois is also inching closer to allowing civil unions.

You know, the opponents are right. This is just a a path to marriage equality and what the hell is wrong with that? I have a real problem with our community allowing our enemies to define our fight. When some bigot says, "this is just a slippery slope to marriage", we should be saying "Yes, God damn it! This is a step closer to full equality and anyone who has a problem with that is unAmerican!"

The issue here is the question of why we're settling for civil unions at all. We should be marching in front of every state house, every day, demanding nothing less than full and equal protection under the law and that includes marriage, not something similar, but not quite the same as marriage. We should be on the offensive at every opportunity, demanding face time on every cable, network and local news program and every newspaper and magazine to make our case for full marriage rights.

There are those in our community who say that should take whatever we can get and be happy to get it. To those people I say, Okay, you can eat in this restaurant, but you have to use the back door and eat in the kitchen. You can ride the bus home, but you have to sit in the back. And don't you dare get too uppity and start asking for anything more, or we'll take away the crumbs we so graciously gave you out of the goodness of our Christian hearts. 

Before anyone gets their panties in a wad, I want to make it clear that I think that it is completely appropriate to call on the imagery of Jim Crow, segregation and the civil rights movement - especially during Black History Month -  because that's what we're talking about here. Civil Unions and Domestic Partnerships are a separate and unequal status for same-sex couples. What we're really doing when we work to pass these bills is selling out to the bigots.

The homophobes have made it clear that it's not just about the word "marriage". They don't want us having any legal recognition of our relationships. They don't want us to be parents. They don't want us to have any protections in employment, housing, health care decisions or other rights that the majority of Americans take for granted.

When we compromise in order to appease bigots, we embrace a return to the Jim Crow mentality that Americans fought so long to do away with. We are saying to the enemies of equality that we agree with them. We are accepting their definition of us as a class of people who are somehow less than deserving of basic human rights. I will never accept that definition of myself. I will never allow others to define who I am, especially when it is a degrading and dehumanizing definition dreamed up by self-serving hypocrites. To do so would mean that I agree with them when they say they are better than I am. That will never happen.
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