June 8, 2006
To the Editor:
This has been week a more distressing one than usual for queer people, as “our” Washington “leadership” debated and voted on creating a constitutional right to discriminate against us all (“25 Years to the Day,” by Stefen Styrsky, Jun. 8-14). I don’t think there’s a single one of us in this often discordant community who doesn’t find the federal Marriage Protection Amendment anything less than abhorrent.
Fortunately, we dodged the bullet, but in the spotlight provided by this week’s focus on our families, it seems like an opportune moment to think about what a truly constructive, inclusive, liberating piece of legislation for LGBT individuals and families might look like.
I’d like to see proactive legislation that allows individuals, LGBT or not, to name those nearest and dearest—sisters or brothers, nieces or nephews, domestic partners or BFFs—as their Social Security beneficiaries. In fact, I’d like all 1,000-plus benefits currently attached to civil marriage go to the people we determine and select, not only to spouses. In other words, I’d like to see federal legislation that is designed to deliver benefits and rights based on my personhood rather than whether or not I’ve been a winner in the dating game.
I’d like to see legislation that proves to me that my government understands that tons of real families don’t include a mom, a dad, and children, and that’s actually okay. I’d like all those varied families to have equal access to our government’s largess, rather than privileging couples. Then single mothers and their kids, widowed sisters, grandmothers and aunts raising grandchildren, nieces, and nephews, DINKs caring for elderly parents, a circle of single elderly lesbians living communally and committed to caring for one another until death, and many others—could all be considered, included, counted, and validated as potential members of that innermost circle called “family”.
Very simply, I’d celebrate a legal definition of “family” that is far more expansive than the very limited, largely inaccurate one we work with at present, one that would contain the right to marry for those who seek it, but delivers the support of government to those who construct their families other ways as well.
Director, Center Kids
The family program of the LGBT Community Center
New York City
June 12, 2006
To the Editor:
Thanks go to Doug Ireland for more great coverage of the violent Pride events in Moscow, when government and so-called religious leaders either encouraged them or looked the other way (“Moscow Pride Crushed by Police, Fascists,” Jun. 1-7). Our community should regret not getting more involved with this and other international LGBT issues struggles.
The recent demonstration by AXIOS Eastern & Orthodox LGBT Christians in front of the Russian Consulate here in New York was a perfect opportunity for more community members to become involved. But except for a handful of activists, none of our so-called LGBT community leaders responded to our requests for participation, or even showed up at our demo. Moreover, no one from our LGBT communities or even the grassroots folks at Queers for Peace and Justice bothered to contact use either. We now have an opportunity to meet with consulate officials. A follow up demo might be needed if the meeting fails.
This is an international media-infused city, and what we do here can be heard around the world. So it’s very difficult trying to figure out why so many of us in the LGBT community are so apathetic and uninvolved. Have we forgotten that the right to a job, to a place to live, and more were made political issues when LGBT people and people with AIDS were being fired or evicted from their homes? Our basic rights to housing and jobs became a political issue. We didn’t choose to become political—we were forced into it. We had to make our own human rights an issue.
So why is this apathy happening today? “It’s not my problem” or “it’s their struggle now,” people tell me. Did not someone who inspired many of us, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, say, and I paraphrase: “It is not enough to know that bad people are doing wrong; it is more important to ask why so-called good people continue to let it happen.”
So thanks again to Doug Ireland for continued great research and coverage of the struggles of the Russian LGBT community and others around the world. And I challenge members of our LGBT community here at home to rekindle that activism that makes changes possible.
AXIOS Eastern & Orthodox LGBT Christians
New York City
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