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Call It Love, But Please Don't Insist on Calling It Marriage

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Watermelon Slim Addressing President Obama from Lafayette Park 3/19/2011 by self

I take part daily in discussions of political issues of the day on a small forum. First I want to share a comment made earlier this week by one of the respected thinkers on this forum, and a heterosexual ally of gay people:

"Gay rights shows much more progress in the same time than on the fundamental issues. Back in 2002, gay bashing was on the rise, gay marriage was nowhere, the polling was totally opposed to gay rights, the public opinion was intolerant, but things are hugely different today.

"In fact, there has been more progress since 2002 than between 1970 and 2000. And a lot of that progress in the political realm has been from the gay conservatives and Republicans, not the liberals and progressives."

Mr. Mulp made a very valid, and deeply discouraging point, having looked at the debacle of DADT Repeal. If there has been more progress drafted by gay conservatives, it is because our liberals and progressives have fallen asleep at the switch.

I have belabored the point with all my friends: 2009-10 was a historic window of opportunity to pass ALL gay rights in a comprehensive domestic-partnerships legislation.

Apparently Representative Barney Frank (D-MA) and the gay Democratic Caucus were not ready, and the gay civil rights movement was not ready, to shepherd such a bill to the president's desk, where it would have been signed. I am convinced it still would be signed if it got there, except now we have 65 more Republicans in the House, so it's a pantload more difficult -- probably impossible.

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Frank, one of only four openly gay lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives, gave an interview with Playboy magazine recently. It's quite wide-ranging, but as you might expect it does eventually touch on gay issues (it doesn't touch too hard, of course, Playboy IS a heterosexually-oriented magazine).

What distresses me is that Barney Frank seems to be resigned to an incrementalist approach to gay partnerships equality. He acknowledges that gay marriage is going nowhere federally, and he doesn't say for how long.

Frank says...

"I don't see anything about gay marriage happening on a federal level. More and more states will go that way, though. When they do, people will see ... that there are no negative consequences. Places that have gay marriage have had none of the negative consequences that people warned us about. Zero. The divorce rate hasn't gone up. There have been no calamities. Marriage hasn't lost its meaning. Same-sex marriage as a divisive issue is losing its steam. Overall I think anti-gay prejudice is on its way out."

Thus, Frank is counting on the good examples shown by same-sex partners in the states, and a growing number of them, to lessen anti-gay prejudice. Or for indeterminate time to have an effect. Or both.

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He pretty concisely has said, "Federal gay marriage? Forget it!"

Frank frankly seems to have lost what one-time Democratic presidential candidate Fred Harris (D-NM) used to call "fire in the belly."

And this was a Playboy interview, of course, so he couldn't get too politically detailed, I suppose. But he didn't say a thing about alternative strategies for getting all the RIGHTS that make people in partnerships first-class citizens.

Now my gay friend at this discussion forum, Danny, who is not a gay disinformationalist and is ordinarily an astute political analyst, disagrees with me (and apparently, with Barney Frank) when I say that the historic opportunity has been lost indefinitely.

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My name is William Perkins Homans the third, but probably more people know me as the bluesman (and artist) Watermelon Slim.

I've been in the fight against war, fascism, injustice and inhumanity for 40 years. I was at MayDay, and at the moratorium March the week before. I was one of the leaders of the Great New Jersey Turnpike Stall on my birthday, April 25, 1971.

I bear the scar on my left shin from a neoNazi jackboot, when I was one of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War who bounced the NSWPP from Flamingo Park at the Republican National Convention of 1972. My father fought the Nazis in the North Atlantic and Anzio, and I met their spawn in Miami.

My formal education has been first-rate. I wouldn't trade my degrees for Harvard ones. I was raised in the finest private Catholic and Episcopal high schools.

Elementary School: Gibbons Hall, Asheville, North Carolina

High Schools: Asheville School for Boys, Asheville Country Day, Lenox School for Boys. Graduated with honors 1968.

College: Middlebury College, 1968-DNG

1984-86: University of Oregon, B.A., Journalism and History, Departmental Honors in History, 1986.

I was also captain of the U of O bowling team, 1984-1986. High game 299.

1997-2000: Oklahoma State University. M.A., History, 2000, plus the school-teaching curriculum. Mentor: Dr. Ronald Petrin.

This was my second great self-reinvention attempt. In both, I got the degrees, but neither worked. After both, I went back to truckdriving and the blues. and now the latter makes my living. I just am not a button-down enough fellow ever to be a schoolteacher or general-purpose news reporter. But I think and analyze, and so I write...

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When your allies perceive that it's Republicans an... by William P. Homans on Thursday, Apr 21, 2011 at 3:44:50 PM
As you point out what matters is equality of contr... by June Genis on Friday, Apr 22, 2011 at 10:42:04 AM
We all make our political points, both internally ... by Al Rodbell on Friday, Apr 22, 2011 at 8:43:33 AM
Do you just agree with Frank that antigay sentimen... by William P. Homans on Friday, Apr 22, 2011 at 11:27:35 AM
Marriage is an important legal contract allowing m... by Walter Barton on Wednesday, May 4, 2011 at 3:59:40 PM
is that civil unions-- which you and I agree is th... by William P. Homans on Wednesday, May 4, 2011 at 5:06:02 PM
The gay marriage issue is very complicated. There ... by Walter Barton on Thursday, May 5, 2011 at 8:17:24 AM