Friday, April 3, 2009

Love makes a family...but only through marriage

On a day when most people are focused on the marriage win in Iowa (watch for my post on the court's opinion soon), I read the news that the Connecticut group Love Makes A Family is disbanding. Its "core purpose" was achieving marriage for same-sex couples, and., having done that, it is closing up shop. So I guess its name should have been Marriage Makes a Family.

Often when I talk about the ideas in Beyond (Straight and Gay) Marriage, someone says to me that s/he agrees with me but that making marriage matter less should happen after same-sex couples can marry. The folding of this Connecticut group confirms my fears that marriage is the end point for many people and that achieving justice for the same-sex couples who don't marry and for all the gay men and lesbians, and their children, who are not partnered is not on the agenda.

What could this group do to further the well-being of all gay men and lesbians in Connecticut? The list is long, but here's one example -- push for a free, easy-to-use advance directive registry. Now if you get married in Connecticut, your partner can visit you in the hospital and make your health care decisions in an emergency. But what about the unmarried couples and all the unpartnered gay men and lesbians?

Love Makes a Family could become part of a coalition working to ensure that everyone in the state can select the people to make their emergency health care decisions. There are states with model registries (my top nominee is Idaho). They could advocate a law like that in the District of Columbia that gives unmarried/unregistered domestic partners priority decision-making authority and that lets someone farther down the list of priority decisionmakers trump someone higher up the list if that person can demonstrate that he or she knows the patient and the patient's wishes better.

Lesbians and gay men often move away from homophobic relatives and gay-unfriendly cities and towns to more supportive areas of the country, like Connecticut. All of them, not just those who marry, need laws that make it as likely as possible that the person they would pick will be able to visit them in the hospital and make their emergency health care decisions.

I've got more agenda items on my list. Unfortunately, there's no LGBT equality group in Connecticut to discuss them with.

3 comments:

onely.org said...

Excellent points, Nancy. While I am "happy" about the Iowa decision, I'm disappointed that in the meantime, it's easy lose focus of the fact that many many people remain single and/or unmarried by choice, and that these people are punished because of it. Marriage as an institution simply allows the government to exert more control over groups of people through systematic reward and punishment.

Christina and I are going to post about this soon at Onely.

-- Lisa

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