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    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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    1. North Dallas Thirty on Feb 27, 2008 6:58:48 PM:

      how Federal and state laws prevent numerous common sense solutions to partner issues (such as sharing health care benefits

      From whom?

      Straights are aware of the fact that couples that do not marry do not operate at a distinct disadvantage, and in fact have several "advantages", if you want to think of them as such, in terms of non-monogamy and dissolving and ending relationships that do not work out.

      There is no Federal or state law that says companies who extend health benefits to their workers can't do so to their unmarried partners. And, as I am fond of pointing out, under the Pension Protection Act of 2006, you may designate anyone you like as your beneficiary and thus allow them to inherit your retirement plan remaining balance with a tax-advantaged status.

      But of course, HRC, NGLTF, and others are not going to publicize this, because there is money to be made in exploiting gay victimization complexes. Demonstrating to gay and lesbian people that they have existing benefits and facilitating their access to them would weaken the overall message of gays and lesbians as persecuted, helpless victims, and also does not jibe with the underlying issue of these organizations' vendettas against religious people and conservatives.

    1. Kevin on Feb 27, 2008 7:07:18 PM:

      Chris: you've hit it right when you bring up HRC. The fact is that their public message has all but disappeared. They have slowly, over time, shifted their broadcast band towards the gay community itself, and all around a broader strategy of raising money. Thus, they do nothing bold, they say nothing relevant, and they mean very little in the broad political sense.

    1. Chuck on Feb 27, 2008 8:20:54 PM:

      As an attorney whose practice includes family law issues (among other topics), I'm constantly amazed at how many people, straight and gay, simply don't even know their own rights. I'm hardly surprised the average straight person doesn't know the status of rights for people in situations different from their own.

    1. Geena the Transgirl on Feb 28, 2008 2:30:09 AM:

      The author finishes with "I believe it was intolerance and the fear of homosexuality that put me and my family through complete hell"
      I'm sorry lady but your husband put you through complete hell. There are many couples who have simular marital problems ending in divorce without chlamydia.
      In today's world anonomous sex is behavorial promiscuity, not an escape from intolerance. And if a married man chooses anonomous sex, intolerance does not prevent him from using condoms.
      These stories of broken marriage will always be with us. Doesn't mean equal protection under the law should not be enacted, but just as some claim gay marriage will destroy traditional marriage, it will not prevent mixed-sex marriages that should never be consumated.

    1. Tim C on Feb 28, 2008 8:46:43 AM:

      The biggest problem of the organized gay equal rights movement is that they think it can be solved out ahead of public opinion. No elected representative is going to get very far ahead of where he perceives public opinion to be. Occasionally, you will find one who just does the right thing, but you can never count on when they think it will be safe to do so. HRC, NGLTF, etc. need to spend a lot more time on Main Street sidewalks than in Congressional hallways. You have to change the minds of the constituents before you're going to change many votes. As long as the thought that voting for gay equal rights is dangerous for an elected official, the movement goes nowhere.

    1. Doug on Feb 29, 2008 9:25:58 AM:

      It's easy to lambast HRC, but I'd be careful with NGLTF. They were quite active in supporting our local grassroots door-to-door canvass campaign, which approached thousands of voters about anti-gay discrimination under law. They've been pretty good about focusing on sending organizers to help train and empower people directly on the ground across the nation.

      NGLTF should get some cred for that.

    1. Steve on Feb 29, 2008 10:32:07 AM:

      North Dallas Thirty: Re:"There is no Federal or state law that says companies who extend health benefits to their workers can't do so to their unmarried partners." Well, yes and no. I obtain health insurance for my unemployed partner through my employers' domestic partner benefits. A number of my co-workers insure their spouses through our program as well. However, they are able to pay for their spouses coverage with pre-tax dollars, while ours have to be paid with post tax because we are not federally "married". That may sound niggling, but it adds up to real money.

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Feb 29, 2008 12:51:21 PM:

      Couldn't agree more, Steve.

      Which is why we should change the section of the IRS code that limits plan participation under pretax rules from "spouses and dependent children" to "one additional adult and any dependent children of either the employee or additional adult who share the same residence".

      Or we could simply be radical and change the code to count all contributions by an employer and an employee for purchase of coverage under the employer-sponsored health plan to be tax-free.

      The beauty of doing this is that not only does it solve the problem you brought up, but it also opens the door to allow group coverage as an option for an elderly parent, a child over the age of dependency, or a roommate, and all combinations thereof. That increases access to lower-cost private health coverage to millions of Americans, and would make a significant dent in the number of people who are uninsured because they're not eligible for employer coverage. It also incents business to offer and maintain such benefits, since the cost of providing them is offset by the reduction in their tax bill.

      In short, it has broad appeal and would have broad support. I can almost guarantee that, if brought up, it would pass, because the only thing it really hurts are Federal tax revenues (which would be partially offset by a reduction in the number of people who need public coverage).

      But of course, HRC and NGLTF are not doing it because it doesn't support gay victimization complexes and because it doesn't support the healthcare nationalization plans of their masters. Furthermore, it helps gays without furthering their antireligious and anti-conservative vendettas, so they're definitely not interested.

    1. Nick on Feb 29, 2008 12:55:54 PM:

      North Dallas Thirty: Not being able to get married is not an advantage. Three years ago, my partner turned down an overseas assignment that he really wanted because his employer--the Fed gov't--would not relocate me, or provide me with the same job placement assistance, or pay my health insurance costs. These are real and important. Not being married, I would not have the right to work in another country, unless the gov't assisted--like they do with straight spouses. If the situation were reversed, my employer--a private company--would have paid his relocation and health insurance, etc. The problem is that it would all be taxable and not deductible--like it would be for straight spouses. I have watched straight unmarried couples deal with exactly this problem--they get married! We can't. Oh, and there is no way whatsoever that a gay couple can pass on social security survivor benefits to a partner eventhough we pay exactly the same taxes to the gov't. That's not fair. It's already hurt my partner's career. It's not an "advantage." And it's definitely not a niggling little cost. That unfairness has real impacts in life, and real costs that straight people don't ever have to pay.

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Feb 29, 2008 3:17:52 PM:

      Three years ago, my partner turned down an overseas assignment that he really wanted because his employer--the Fed gov't--would not relocate me, or provide me with the same job placement assistance, or pay my health insurance costs. These are real and important. Not being married, I would not have the right to work in another country, unless the gov't assisted--like they do with straight spouses. If the situation were reversed, my employer--a private company--would have paid his relocation and health insurance, etc.

      Then if that's what your partner wants, he should go to work for another company like yours that does that. Mine happens to do so as well (mainly because I wrote the policy), and if he's as competent as you say, he should have no trouble finding another job.

      But oddly enough, what you're also going to find is that there are private companies that will NOT pay the full cost of spousal relocation, etc., just like the Federal government is doing in your case. It has everything to do with what the company chooses to do based on their business decisionmaking.

      The problem here is one of convenience on your part, not of discrimination. It is no different than a company's choice to offer health benefits; if they choose not to do so, you are also free to not work for that company.


      Oh, and there is no way whatsoever that a gay couple can pass on social security survivor benefits to a partner eventhough we pay exactly the same taxes to the gov't. That's not fair.

      Well, first, you should know the details around survivor benefits.

      One, you can't get them until you reach the age where you yourself would be eligible for your own Social Security benefits.

      Two, if you are eligible for Social Security benefits yourself, you may have either survivor's benefits or your own benefits, but you don't get both.

      Three, your survivor benefits will never be more than half of your spouse's previous benefit or $725, whichever is larger -- which, given the Social Security max of just under $2,200, means basically that, if you've ever worked at all, your OWN benefits will be greater than the value of your survivor benefit.

      Four, if you ever remarry, your survivor benefits, for all intents and purposes, vanish, and you are eligible to receive.

      Perhaps the best example comes, amusingly, from the one gay marriage ban that has failed to be passed -- the Arizona one -- and exactly why.

      Consider Al Breznay and Maxine Piatt, who joined the unsuccessful lawsuit to keep this proposition off the ballot. Their argument against Proposition 107, which appears in the Secretary of State's information pamphlet, is based on real life. A retired couple on fixed income, they live together because marriage would cost Piatt a large portion of her Social Security income.


      Or, from another perspective:

      But marrying would mean paying more in taxes as they both struggle to live on Social Security, he said.

      So let's see: gays and lesbians argue that they are taking a tax and Social Security hit by not getting married, yet their advertising against bans on gay marriage shows couples who don't want to get married because it would a) raise their taxes and b) lower their Social Security benefits.

      Furthermore, all of this is easily managed by simply rewriting the laws in question. If Social Security were allowed to operate in the same fashion as private pension and retirement plans are allowed to do since the 2006 Pension Protection Act (opposed mainly by Democrats, supported primarily by Republicans), you could will your remaining funds to your designated beneficiary's retirement account regardless of relationship status. And, as I illustrated above, all it takes is a few word changes in the tax laws to allow relo and healthcare expenses that already aren't to become tax-deductible.

      But again, this doesn't benefit HRC and NGLTF's gay victimization agenda, their antireligious and anti-conservative vendetta, and the plans of their sworn masters to jack up taxes and make everyone dependent on welfare programs. The more you are educated on what the laws really say, the more you realize how much HRC, NGLTF etc. mislead and manipulate people to raise cash and buy themselves cocktail party invitations.

    1. Nemo on Feb 29, 2008 5:17:19 PM:

      Anti-religious vendetta? Ha! Put the crack pipe down, dude. You've become delusional. The gay left does not have an anti-religious agenda, but the religious right definitely has an anti-gay agenda. No one on the gay left is talking about quarantines, or therapy or "cures" or extermination for conservative christian zealots. If only they would return the favor.

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Feb 29, 2008 5:37:01 PM:

      Of course it's an antireligious vendetta, Nemo.

      That much is shown by the fact that HRC, NGLTF, and their leaders openly endorse and support with tens of millions of dollars, as "pro-gay" and "gay-supportive", politicians who support state and Federal constitutional amendments that HRC, NGLTF, and others previously decried as pandering to "homophobia" and "religious zealots".

      In short, it's not peoples' actions that HRC and NGLTF care about; it's their religious and political affiliation. And that makes it obvious that they have a vendetta against religious people and conservatives.

      We won't even bring up ACT-UP's acts of church vandalism and Elton John's call for banning organized religion.

    1. taxed on Feb 29, 2008 9:15:01 PM:

      ND30: I pay thousands and thousands more in federal income taxes each year because my partner and I cannot marry. Every year I calculate my taxes two ways: as head of household, and as if I were married. Again this year in terms of the stimulus rebate, the income limits before the rebate starts phasing out are double for a married couple what they are for head of household (my partner is a stay-at-home dad with our kids so has no earned income, and of course, won't be eligible for Social Security survivor benefits despite my subsidizing them for straight people; notwithstanding that because you don't need them, you think they are worthless, it is insane that if he were a she he would be eligible for tens of thousands of dollars of them). Thank goodness he is a naturalized citizen, because I have many, many friends who have moved to Canada because their partners cannot get a green card. Straight couples could simply marry. Even though we live in one of the most gay-friendly areas of the world and enjoy an upper middle-class lifestyle, we experience discrimination for being gay. I can't imagine how difficult it must be for less educated and less propsperous gay people in less tolerant areas. Your breezy suggestions of just rewriting the income tax code or restructuring Social Security or quitting a government job with vested benefits to find some other employer is typical libertarian dismissal of real discrimination faced by real people all over this country.

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Feb 29, 2008 11:52:13 PM:

      Your breezy suggestions of just rewriting the income tax code or restructuring Social Security or quitting a government job with vested benefits to find some other employer is typical libertarian dismissal of real discrimination faced by real people all over this country.

      And yet, it would fix the problem, wouldn't it? Never mind that they could actually PASS; indeed, the Pension Protection Act, which was a landmark in terms of allowing couples with or without marriage to pass retirement benefits on to their beneficiaries, had overwhelming Republican support.


      Therein lies the point; you are concerned less with fixing the problem than you are complaining about "discrimination". That's why, when I offer solutions that would deal with the issue and would have broad support, but that don't play to your gay victimization needs, you pooh-pooh them.

    1. JJH on Mar 1, 2008 12:02:19 AM:

      "Then if that's what your partner wants, he should go to work for another company like yours that does that. [ ] The problem here is one of convenience on your part, not of discrimination."

      ND30,

      Quite delusional logic there.
      A straight federal employee can bring his spouse abroad on assignment but a gay one cannot (let's say both these taxpaying citizens were married in Massachusetts), but it is not discriminatory because the gay one can always find another job? He is just being lazy!
      By that logic, the ban on inter-racial marriages in the 60s was not discriminatory since the couple always had the option of moving to a more tolerant state. They should have stopped whining about their civil rights and been more pro-active!

      I also refute your propaganda (who is playing the victimization card now?) about the gay movement being anti-religious (reaching back to ACT UP and making an Elton John reference??). Standing up to bigots who selectively use the Bible to vilify gays while ignoring mainstream straight sin (how many other "abominations" from Leviticus do Americans freely commit every day?) is not a vendetta. It is pointing out hypocrisy and defending our rights as taxpayers to our own interpretations of our Holy Books.

      Furthermore, the 21st century gay movement has a huge faith-based component full of individuals and activists who refuse to abandon their creeds in the face of such Pharisees.

    1. Strict Scrutiny on Mar 1, 2008 1:06:51 AM:

      NDT:

      If I had a dime for everytime you mentioned the goddamned Pension Protection Act and "gay victimization" I'd be a bloody millionaire by now. You're worse than Giuliani and 9/11.

      If you would focus on advocating for meaningful change, like marital equality, instead of weak band-aid measures like your beloved Pension Act, you might actually accomplish something useful. In case you forgot, no minority group ever got civil rights by asking nicely for it.

      But oh no, this would be asking too much. You're too focused on "practical" measures that pass muster with your bigoted, anti-gay Republican friends on the hill. Yeah, God forbid you stand up for yourself or your own rights. God forbid you thumb your nose at the conservatives and religious zealots who would disparage your relationship.

      JJH, Nick, and Taxed all made excellent points. Gay people do absolutely face discrimination and disparate treatment to some degree in many ways. Whether it's income tax penalties, discrimination in foreign service jobs, or other areas, discrimination exists. And if you don't see it, it's because you don't want to or because you're blind.

      I will never understand why people like you just roll over and accept status quo discrimination like it's OK. And that you would call people like me "victimized" is beyond the pale. I just know bullshit discrimination when I see it and I won't put up with it. Period.

      If you want to talk about complexes, why don't you look in the mirror? Try taking a look at your own whipped, anti-gay Uncle Tom complex.

    1. Out of Eygpt on Mar 1, 2008 8:20:05 AM:

      Strict Scrutiny:
      What seems to help me when I find the world and its people insufferable is to pray for them. Praying that they receive all the graces and blessings I could ever want for myself seems to help me and I feel certain it helps them.

    1. Tim on Mar 1, 2008 6:00:26 PM:

      Guys, NDT is just a freaky comment troll that spends hundreds of hours combing the gay forums looking to pick fights with other gays that don't toe his political line. He never stands up for gays, always takes the side of straights and thinks that gays deserve all the ills that fall on them because, and here is his logic) some gays will fuck anything that has a pulse and do drugs. He ignores that straights do the same things and thinks that gays should not be seen or heard. Even from these few posts you should be able to see that he is an apologist for bigotry, he even rewrote his company manual so now he's covered but thinks that anyone that isn't able to do this should just look for another job. Gays shouldn't ask for anything extra (why he had to rewrite his company policy than?) and dear god they should not be married. He never shows any compassion to gays period and if you back him into a corner with his own arguments he will simply change his point and argue that you aren't really legitimate because you disagree with him. I've seen him do this on The Malcontent (where he was banned for over a year) GayPatriot, and here at CitizenChris. Talking with him is pointless and you should ignore him as a troll.

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Mar 2, 2008 10:54:24 PM:

      If you would focus on advocating for meaningful change, like marital equality, instead of weak band-aid measures like your beloved Pension Act, you might actually accomplish something useful.

      And let's see, Strict Scrutiny; because of my actions, both asking politely and demonstrating how it can benefit multiple groups of people, gays and lesbians can now will whoever they choose their retirement money without tax penalty, something which they could not do at all before.

      All you've succeeded in doing is getting gay marriage banned at the Federal and at virtually every state level.

      Furthermore, your statement contradicts itself. If I were "rolling over", I wouldn't be lobbying for the changes that I mentioned with the PPA, the tax code, and whatnot. Clearly I see that there is a problem; I simply prefer to fix the matter effectively and with broad support, rather than fighting meaningless ideological battles for whatever reason.


      What's worse, you aren't even fighting them effectively. Most people are aware that, despite your calls for "marriage equality" ranting against "discrimination", and your namecalling me as an "Uncle Tom", as the record clearly shows, gays and lesbians like yourself have endorsed, supported, and given millions of dollars to as "pro-gay" and "gay-supportive" people who endorse and support the very Federal and state amendments that you claim are "discriminatory", "anti-equality", "antigay", and "homophobic". You continually demonstrate how little you care about "marriage equality" by how readily you bargain it away.

      You remind me of the old axiom in performance management: "Never confuse effort with effectiveness." Gay and lesbian activists like yourself have demonstrated that you can scream and pitch public fits quite effectively; however, so can three-year-olds and Al Sharpton, and they rarely get their way. Why not consider listening for a change to those of us who HAVE managed to get meaningful change passed that is out there right now helping gay couples? Granted, it may not be as sexy, fun, or suited to your antireligious views as bashing religious people is, but it works far more effectively.

      And finally:

      He never shows any compassion to gays period

      That sound you hear is all of my friends and neighbors in San Francisco laughing. :)

      Don't confuse compassion with enablement. I have no intention of enabling gays, Tim, whose only goal in life is to get laid in the most irresponsible way possible by refusing to criticize them or their actions. But when the inevitable happens and they hit rock bottom, the money I have raised and the organizations I serve have helped keep them in food, in housing, and on medication, and have connected them to organizations that can keep them off the streets, help them access the benefits they've earned, and help them readjust and re-enter the workforce at a later date.

      In short, just because I can criticize gay behavior doesn't mean I hate gays. It means I give no quarter to the ones like the ones you mention who use being gay as an excuse for self-destructive behavior -- and the misguided souls who think that refusing to say anything will somehow help them.

    1. david on Mar 3, 2008 9:29:20 AM:

      With friends like you, who needs enemies?

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Mar 3, 2008 3:43:54 PM:

      I take no small degree of comfort, David, in the fact that W.E.B. DuBois, Louis Armstrong, Jackie Robinson, Bayard Rustin, Arthur Ashe, Cornell West, and even Martin Luther King Jr. himself were all called "Uncle Toms" and made out to be enemies by their own communities.

      Roughly for the same reasons, too; they refused to categorically condemn non-minority people and blame them for all the problems of minorities, they spoke out against the abuses in their own communities, and they advocated integration and assimilation, not overturning and stomping to bits the existing order.

    1. Strict Scrutiny on Mar 3, 2008 10:33:48 PM:

      NDT:

      I find it ironic that you should mention MLK, above. If Dr. King had adopted your tactics of tepid advocacy and weak piecemeal measures, we might still have "colored" bathrooms and drinking fountains in parts of the south.

      If Elizabeth Cady Stanton had "lobbied" for voting reform in a passive manner, instead of organizing marches and hounding the president, we might not have had the 19th Amendment until much later.

      King and Stanton were visionaries who didn't consider their stuggles to be "meaningless ideological battles" as you call them. They realized the importance of asserting their civil rights, organizing, marching, engaging in civil disobedience, and of being strong advocates for their causes. I guess this is what you would call "ranting" or "pitching a public fit" or "acting like a 3 year old." Right? Yeah God forbid gay people should do this. Especially when it ended so badly for King and Stanton, what with women still not being able to vote and black people still using separate public facilities. Oh, wait...

      Unlike you, I feel no need to defer to heterosexual prejudices or the "existing order." And yes, you absolutely HAVE rolled over, because you accept discrimination. You accept it as the way things are and you try to work with it and around it rather than fight it. You're weak. You're like the Neville Chamberlin of gay rights.

      So, I'll tell you what. At such time as we gay folks here in CA get the right to marry, whenever that is, feel free to stay home. Stay home because you obviously never cared about this right and did nothing to help it along.

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Mar 4, 2008 1:51:55 AM:

      King and Stanton were visionaries who didn't consider their stuggles to be "meaningless ideological battles" as you call them.

      That would be because theirs weren't.

      I think King and Stanton would have loved to have matters as good as gay people have it today while they were working on their respective situations. Comparing what gay people have now to what black people were denied under segregation is almost comic in its degree of disproportionality.

      But what the vast majority of liberal gays and lesbians are is more the Your Black Muslim Bakery type; the person who demands revolution simply because he doesn't like people who aren't of his minority and blames them for all of his problems.

      As I pointed out, those types called people like MLK "Uncle Toms" and claimed they were "rolling over" in the face of "white prejudice" and "discrimination". It has nothing to do with what the person is actually doing or how effective they are; it has everything to do with the name-caller's need to rationalize their hateful behavior by claiming it's the "only way" and that people who don't follow them exactly are kowtowing to things like "heterosexual prejudice".

      In this case, it should be obvious that what the gays and lesbians of this sort are trying to rationalize is their by antireligious bigotry.

      It's just a bunch of middle eastern fairy tales and lies intended to control weak-minded fools who can't reason or think for themselves.

      As we see, just as the Your Black Muslim Bakery members' skin color provided a convenient cover for their hateful behavior and vendettas against white people and other black people who didn't toe their line, so does sexual orientation provide the same for gays and lesbians who are carrying out antireligious vendettas and attacking those gays and lesbians who don't toe their line as "Uncle Toms".

      People are not stupid, Strict Scrutiny. They know full well that gays and lesbians need marriage so much that they spend millions of dollars to endorse and support FMA and state constitutional amendment supporters. They are aware of the fact that gays and lesbians are making the kind of antireligious statements cited. They are more than cognizant of the documents in which gays and lesbians outline the fact that their goals are nothing less than legal recognition of all relationships without restriction, including polygamous and other forms.

      That, incidentally, is why gay liberals have done everything in their power to stop gay marriage from being put to a vote anywhere but inside the hopelessly-gerrymandered California Legislature -- and why a campaign to repeal Proposition 22, which would be by far the simplest and most supportable action to take, is completely off the table for gay activists. They know full well that the people of California do not and would not support their full agenda.

      In the meantime, Strict Scrutiny, I shall continue to do what I always have and work for meaningful change. Granted, it's not quite as sexy as the usual gay and lesbian ideological wars against Christians, against heterosexuals, against anyone who doesn't evince polyamorous relationships, and against anyone who the Democrat Party tells them to fight....but I at least can point to things that help gays, versus state and Federal laws that do the opposite.

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