Sunday, December 26, 2010

Let's keep some perspective on the DADT victory

I'm against discrimination as much as the next gay person, so of course I am pleased that DADT will soon be history. But my enthusiasm is tempered. The two most visible items on the gay rights agenda have been the military and marriage. The demand is so simple to articulate: let us in. I criticize relentlessly the problem with a "let us in" approach to marriage. I do it in my book, and in this blog, and every chance I get. Organizing legal consequences around marriage - making marriage an on/off switch that determines who is in and who is out - is bad family policy and leads to bad results for many people, including many gay men and lesbians. The demand for access to marriage too often glorifies the importance of marriage, often making less space for families and relationships that do not fit the marriage model. Marriage equality rhetoric nevers focuses on what's wrong with marriage, as though the only thing wrong with it was its exclusion of same-sex couples.

Well a "let us in" approach to the military too easily overlooks what's wrong with the military and with US military policy. The poster children for repeal have been those men and women who profess deep loyalty to the military mission, wherever it might be. Discharged servicemembers never claim they want to return to the military to change anything about it, other than its exclusion of lesbians and gay men.

As far as I can tell, the only LGBT rights group in the country to temper its delight at DADT repeal is Queers for Economic Justice, which reminds us that "it is immoral that the military is the nation’s de facto jobs program for poor and working-class people." Read its entire statement here.

4 comments:

colly mack said...

Thank you for putting these thoughts in such simple, succinct terms. I feel the much the same way about marriage rights and DADT, and I love the way you broke it down here.

lgcouples said...

because there aren't any poor or working class queers? c'mon folks grow up here - our military policy may suck but our class system is far worse and ivy league educated "queers" really know what's best for the poor and working class - especially those who live in rural areas...

Justus said...

The other group is the National Center for Transgender Equality who point out that DADT (just like marriage equality) will not address trans People's issues. Trans people are excluded from DADT and can still be fired.

M said...

I agree that a simple "let us in" policy barely touches the tip of the iceberg. However, as a black lesbian that grew up poor- I think if it were not for the "let us in" policies around race and sex POC and women might still be fighting to have access at all. Just being let in can have a huge impact, even though it does not solve everything. I don't think people on the margins can wait until the policy is golden. Some of us just need to be let in, and deal with the rest after we can secure a basic place in society. I surely don't think my ancestors wanted to wait for the vote, access to education, desegregation, end of jim crow, before they would except the freedom of not being enslaved anymore. Each era brought a new step. It's not ideal- of course not, and I am fairly radical at times, but I think if we can be let into the institutions that oppress us we can work to change them from the inside out. A family that is struggling since marriage is not inclusive can hardly wait for health care for all- when health could be granted by being able to marry. Just because they want marriage does not mean they don't want health care for all. Helping 100 at a time is not as great as helping all at once, nor is it as bad and helping only those that can pay and screwing everyone else until the system is perfect.