February 27, 2008
Persistent gay-friendly ignorance
Posted by: Chris
Just as I did, Andrew Sullivan posted his reaction to the Self magazine profile of a woman whose marriage collapsed after 11 years and four children when her husband confirmed her worst nagging fears and said he was gay and having anonymous sex with other men. Andrew received an interesting response from a reader that got me thinking.
The reader pointed out something I've noticed myself time and again:
I find that when talking one on one, the vast majority of straight people of all political stripes, confronted by personal contact with a gay couple exhibiting stability and commitment, seem positive on our securing rights. But, those same supportive persons most often voice their assumption that we already have those basic rights, and are incredulous (or downright doubtful) when I describe the reality and impact of how Federal and state laws prevent numerous common sense solutions to partner issues (such as sharing health care benefits or the recognizing of foreign partners). How can they be so ignorant of our plight?
Is there any greater condemnation of the effectiveness of the organized gay rights movement? I agree with the reader that a sizable number of fair-minded Americans are so supportive of basic civil rights and legal recognition for gay couples that they actually believe we already enjoy such protections and recognition. Unlike the often difficult work of overcoming objections and changing hearts and minds, reaching these folks only requires informing them of the reality of our second-class citizenship and, as Barack Obama might say, activating them for change.
And yet the Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force and the other D.C.-based crew are so focused inside the Beltway that gay-friendly ignorance is permitted to persist. When was the last time you saw one of our national groups mount an effective public demontration of the rights denied gay and lesbian Americans? The Millennium March on Washington, perhaps? That was April 2000…
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