Thursday, August 20, 2009
So, Barney Frank unloads 47 lbs of awesome onto some twit at a town hall meeting on Tuesday. This display of brilliance is then met yesterday (Wednesday) by an entirely predictable rebuttal by Rush "I take my oxycontins with a side of Dominican trannies" Limbaugh... In fact, I predicted a lame response from Mr. Limburger a full 9 minutes BEFORE his show even started (on Facebook... you know, where Sarah Palin runs Real Amurka from). My prediction was that Rush would refute Frank's smackdown on the basis that a) he's gay and b) he's gay, dontcha know?
That, my friends, has absolutely NOTHING to do with what I'm writing about today, though. I figured I'd mention it for two reasons. First, today's topic IS gay-oriented. And second, we had kick-ass traffic yesterday, so I want to make sure I say "Rush Limbaugh" and "Barney Frank" and "Anus" a few times so that Google is really nice to me again.
As a married atheist, I often find myself in a super-neato position to argue in favor of gay marriage from a purely legal and logical standpoint. The reason for that is that one will rarely find an opponent to gay marriage who DOESN'T oppose it on biblical grounds. This allows me to ask the GAME CHAIN-JUH question "As an atheist married to a Hindu (ok not really), is my marriage valid?" Because, you know... Jesus doesn't really figure into it all that much.
The point that we inevitably get to is that marriage is a PRIMARILY legal construct. Once you are married, the rules change a little bit. You get taxed differently, your stuff gets treated differently when you die, insurance companies view you differently, and your rights, in regards to your access and control over things that happen to your spouse, medically, changes. You essentially get to be more than one person, but not quite two full people.
That makes for a very logical and sound argument in favor of gay marriage and it doesn't even touch on a system of beliefs in the supernatural developed in the bronze age.
Which is why I fear that any meaningful health care reform could, potentially, make the issue of treating homosexuals like "real live people" less of a priority.
First, there is the issue of medical insurance. As it is now, I can get insurance from my employer and then pay a little bit more to add my woman wife. However, if I were gay, I could get insurance from my employer, but then my partner would have to have a separate insurance policy, either through his employer, or privately. This, in effect, causes our gay, committed, monogamous, tax-paying, God-fearing, good, decent, but still gay household to pay TWICE as much for health insurance as the most dysfunctional, seedy, hedonistic straight-married household. A strong public option, while being a net-benefit for society as a whole and even for our hypothetical gay household, DOES remove, in part, one of the strongest arguments in favor of gay marriage.
Furthermore, despite the explosion of retardation around the whole "Living Will" provision in one of the house bills, there is a possibility that a health care reform bill will contain some language about end of life issues. If that is the case, then the bill itself, or later amendments to the bill, could potentially extend visitation rights, decision making rights, and other spousal-medical rights to someone other than your Jesus-sanctified hetero-life-mate. Again, a net gain for people in general, but another compelling argument for balls to the wall equality off the table.
Don't get me wrong. I do think that this administration will make positive and deliberate strides toward full equality for homosexuals. However, I also think that it is probably a second term issue. Honestly, the issue of freakin' health insurance inspires the kind of hateful, melodramatic, hyperbolic bullshit that we have seen in the past month or so... I would fully expect the resistance to gay marriage legislation to be "unfit for broadcast television."
My main fear is that necessary and fundamentally "good" health care legislation will be used as a pork barrel (in it's original sense) against eventual gay marriage legislation. Here's the explanation of the pork barrel that I have heard:
Back in the slave days, the master would "reward" slaves with a barrel of salt pork. This would be done not when something was done that deserved to be rewarded, but when there were grumblings amongst the "owned men" that needed to be put down in a way that didn't encourage resistance. This "reward" was intended to get the slaves to think that master wasn't all that bad, after all, he gave us this pork!
So, rather than allow faux-equality to be developed piecemeal through de facto rights conferred through the health care bill, I'd like to see the gay marriage issue raised before the health care bill is passed. Overlap the first stage of the gay marriage fight with the last stage of the health care fight. That will effectively divide opposition to both measures (and hopefully make opposition look that much more foolish) while shoring up the support for health care amongst the gay segment of the electorate. As it is now, there is essentially one issue in the national conversation, which means that opponents need only to focus on that ONE thing. Sphere: Related Content