Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Beyond Marriage Goes to Creating Change

Creating Change was fabulous as usual. "Beyond marriage" ideas showed up in several ways. At a Thursday morning plenary for some of the day-long institutes, activist Urvashi Vaid's top-10 list included expanding relationship recognition. (It was number 4) "Why ask for what exists?" she asked. "We need to broaden the definition of family." And then she recommended my book to everyone! A proud moment for me, indeed.

Queers for Economic Justice held a reception and honored two of the original drafters of the "Beyond Marriage" statement, Richard Kim and Suzanne Pharr. QEJ executive director Joseph DeFilippis was a major coordinator of the meeting from which the Beyond Marriage statement emerged in 2006. Kenyon Farrow, emcee of the QEJ event, referred to the statement, and to QEJ's commitment to its principles. Congratulations to Richard and Suzanne for well-deserved recognition!

"Beyond Marriage 2009" was the workshop session I coordinated. Terry Boggis, director of Center Kids, the families program at NY's LGBT Center, described the kinds of family structures served by the center and the way in which marriage fails to speak to their needs. For example, she described one family consisting of a lesbian and a gay man who decided to raise a child together and live in the same apartment building. Debanuj Dasgupta focused on immigration issues, urging LGBT participation in immigration reform. He pointed out the limitations of the Uniting All Families Act, especially the income requirements. Nicky Grist, ED of the Alternatives to Marriage Project, highlighted that amazing group's work on health care issues. (How do they do so much with such a small budget? And imagine what they could do with more funding!)

I highlighted the campaign to end federal funding of marriage promotion. And I discussed paid sick leave laws, urging those in states where bills have been or might be introduced to urge the broadest possible definition of sick family members for whom an employee can use that leave.

Many people, at different points throughout the conference, talked to me about plugging into a "beyond marriage" movement. Sigh. I wish we had one!

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