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The social obligations of inclusion

A Commentary

Timothy Kincaid

July 13th, 2011

“Fröken Salander, if I rescind your declaration of incompetence, that will mean that you have exactly the same rights as all other citizens. It also means that you have the same obligations. It is therefore your duty to manage your finances, pay taxes, obey the law, and assist the police in investigations of serious crimes. So I am summoning you to be questioned like any other citizen who has information that might be vital to an investigation.”

The force of this logic seemed to sink in. She pouted and looked angry, but she stopped arguing.

“When the police have interviewed you, the leader of the preliminary investigation—in this case the prosecutor general— will decide whether you will be summoned as a witness in any future legal proceedings. Like any other Swedish citizen, you can refuse to obey such a summons. How you act is none of my concern, but you do not have carte blanche. If you refuse to appear, then like any other adult you may be charged with obstruction of justice or perjury. There are no exceptions.”

Salander’s expression darkened even more.

“So, what is your decision?” Judge Iversen said.

After thinking it over for a minute, Salander gave a curt nod.

– The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, Stieg Larsson

The funny thing about rights is that they come with obligations. The right to vote, to choose the people who will make the laws that effect your lives, also has the obligation that you learn the issues, select a candidate and show up on a Tuesday in November to pull the lever. The right to plead your defense against governmental accusations to a panel of people just like you also comes with the excruciatingly irritating necessity to occasionally be one of the jurors on that panel.

Like Salander, the gay community has been in many ways been declared incompetent and childlike. Religious leaders have judged us broken, unaware of what is best for us, and in need to have others make decisions on our behalf. Convinced that our lives demonstrate that we are incapable of choosing what is best for us, they tell us what our choices should be: celibacy, therapy, repentance, or even just manning up and doing what their doctrines say is right.

And politicians have readily agreed, separating from us the rights, responsibilities and trappings of adulthood. Marriage is for responsible adults. Children are for responsible adults. We are not proper role models and should not be allowed employment that would give us respect in the eyes of children. Citizenship is for capable adults, and gay people have been deemed incapable of living up to the full rights of citizenship.

Even employers made hiring and advancement decisions based on what they believed that our family structure says about our maturity. A family man with a mortgage is presumed to be a more stable reliable employee than a single man who might party all night and blow off work. And a woman incapable of finding herself a good husband may not be well suited for a job which requires managing abilities. A presentable mate at the company social gatherings has always been a factor in advancement, and gay men and women – being “single” by definition – were at a disadvantage.

Knowing these presumptions to be false, for the past four decades we have fought for our rights as an equal citizen, one that need no overseer or patronizing decision maker, one that can choose what doctrines to believe and capable of social contributions equal to others.

And we have plead our case well and our evidence has been compelling.

Employers have come to see the gay man in the ten year relationship as being more similar to a married man than to a playboy. Many churches have found a lesbian parishioner to be no less spiritual mature than any worshiper and equally capable of pastoral care. Friends, family, coworkers and neighbors have discovered that fears about our inability to live a healthy, happy, balanced and responsible life were unfounded.

And finally, politicians have looked into their hearts and found that if you set aside bias (and reelection goals), gay men and women are entitled to the role of full and equal citizen promised to them by their constitutional inheritance.

So bit by bit, state by state, the doctrines, the policies, and the laws that have declared us incompetent are being changed.

But this is not Christmas morning and Santa Claus. And we are now having to face the realization that with the rights of citizenship come the responsibilities. And with full inclusion into society comes social obligation and expectation.

Those who malign us are not entirely baseless in their accusations. Our community has at times given itself license for childish excess and antisocial behavior. Being denied responsibility, we have at times behaved irresponsibly. Being ostracized, we have responded with messages and images designed to shock and offend. And being victims of social institutions, we have given ourselves permission to thwart social protocol and turn decorum on its head.

But as we gain responsibility and self-determination, as ostracization fades and social institutions expand to include us, such behavior no longer has an excuse. As we become full members of society, we now have to consider what impact our choices have on society.

And while much of the above addresses the collective mature response of a community, this change is also experienced on the individual level. As those who know us have come to believe us when we say that we are no different from our brothers and sisters, they have placed on us the same expectations and social obligations as our brothers and sisters.

And this has not been, nor will it continue to be, an easy transition. (Chicago Tribune)

As New York stood poised to become the latest state to legalize same-sex marriage, Michael Koresky felt the pressure deepen from friends and family eager to see him and his boyfriend of six years tie the knot.

But Koresky and his partner, who live in Brooklyn, aren’t sure wedding bells are in the cards. Amid exultant celebrations of marriage equality, they’ve found themselves in the awkward position of coming out of the we’re-not-sure-we-want-to-get-married closet.

They’re reluctant to spend thousands of dollars on a wedding just because it’s expected, and are hesitant to elope for fear loved ones would be disappointed they weren’t included.

The men already exchanged rings as a sign of their commitment to one another, so they question the purpose of a wedding.

“What would it mean?” Koresky said. “Who is it for?”

Koresky is not alone in resenting family pressures to conform. While valuing the right to marry, some also maintain a firm grip on their right not to marry and see social pressures as intrusive. What right has anyone else to tell them how their relationship should be structured? Who is the wedding really for? What business is it of theirs anyway?

And it is not just parental demands for a string quartet and open bar that we will encounter. Employers are taking steps to pressure employees to tie the knot. (NYTimes)

Now that same-sex marriage has been legalized in New York, at least a few large companies are requiring their employees to tie the knot if they want their partners to qualify for health insurance.

Corning, I.B.M. and Raytheon all provide domestic partner benefits to employees with same-sex partners in states where they cannot marry. But now that they can legally wed in New York, five other states and the District of Columbia, they will be required to do so if they want their partner to be covered for a routine checkup or a root canal.

But some of the same activists who have led the call for legal marriage equality have objected to marriage equality in the workplace. “That isn’t fair, marriage is still a complicated legal decision,” they insist. And, besides, what business is it of theirs anyway. Why should benefits be tied to a marriage license?

But society has a vested interest in relationship stability. Korelsky’s parents have a good reason to wish him encumbered with legal obligations to the person that he has introduced into their lives and whom they have grown to love. Raytheon has a good reason to wish that asset entanglement gives a sales manager added incentive to work out problems and keep the relationship stable. And your tax-paying neighbors have good reason to wish that you have legal as well as emotional obligations should one of you require care.

With our new inclusion into society as equal members, we will continue to face the social obligations and expectations that other members share. Aunt Thelma will wonder (in a voice louder than she realizes) why you haven’t settled down yet. Mom will discreetly slip Bride Magazine into your bag. Your boss will not-quite-jokingly inquire when you’re going make an honest woman out of her. And all of them will expect you to be as shocked as they are by some of the more free-spirited elements of our community.

Change is coming. But I don’t think that it is change we need to fear. And much of it is occurring organically anyway.

Couples with babies already are finding that Saturday night out on the town is often more hassle than it’s worth. Those with children are abandoning places that they feel are not child-friendly, opting instead for inclusive family settings. And the option to marry is already encouraging gay men and women to ask themselves whether the new cute thing is worth the investment of time and effort – and whether they too can withstand a candid evaluation.

Further, none of this suggests that we must readily acquiesce to every demand and be assimilated to the point of extinguishing our culture or uniqueness. As we enter society as equal but openly gay, we bring not just ourselves, but also our traditions, our perspectives, and our wisdom.

Like all times when societies have merged people with different histories and traditions, some of the presumptions of the current culture will fall away to be replaced by what we have to share. I doubt that it will be as drastic as the abandonment of sexual exclusivity that Dan Savage recommends, but perhaps relationship power structures or role negotiation and dispute resolution will be effected by our experiences. Perhaps the gender assumptions which now have a tenuous hold will lose grip completely. And perhaps there will be aspects and attributes of same-sex marriage that never are quite identical to those of opposite-sex marriages, and that too is fine. We will have to wait and see.

This is going to be an exciting time, but it will not be easy.

Some in our community will be angry at the traitorous sellouts to heterosexist hegemony that dare question their individuality. Some will judge the world to be “judgmental” for daring to criticize their excess. Others will sadly reminisce about the days in which social rejection created a cohesive vibrant community of proud self-reliant outsiders. And perhaps all of us will know that something has been lost.

Nor will the new model be functional for all. Some will find that the expectations and demands of social inclusion are based on the assumption of opportunities that time will never bring again. Some of us have grown too independent, too self-reliant, too old and set in our ways to ever have any realistic expectation of marriage and children. And having grown accustomed to being outside, and having built a life accordingly, assimilation will simply never be a reality. And some, having found ways to make alternative structures functionally provide for their needs, may find life even more difficult as sympathies fade for counter-culture or non-conformist lifestyles.

But while growing up is a difficult and painful process, it is time that we individually and collectively rise to the challenge and take our place as full adult citizens of our community, family, and nation. Having proven ourselves worthy to be treated as adults, we owe it to ourselves to hold ourselves to that standard.

Comments

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justme
July 13th, 2011 | LINK

This is the best thing I’ve ever read on this topic. You’re absolutely correct — the gay community is leaving adolescence and it’s time to grow up. How the one young man quoted by the Times doesn’t know why or for whom he should get married speaks volumes about how the reality of the option of marriage is something that too many of us simply haven’t taken a responsible approach to understanding and accepting. What straight person, for instance, doesn’t know why or for whom they should get married?

I seriously doubt that I’ll ever marry. Though I can imagine circumstances under which I might, it is highly unlikely, to say the least. But I live in a world where that’s soon going to be a real potential option in my life — and in the lives of others in my life — so I can’t afford to stay a teenager forever and not at least understand what marriage means.

Ben In Oakland
July 13th, 2011 | LINK

OMG!

Whoever thought that equality means equality?

Great post, timothy.

Priya Lynn
July 13th, 2011 | LINK

Timothy said “Perhaps the gender assumptions which now have a tenuous hold will lose grip completely”.

I can see how someone immersed in the LGBT community might think this, but realistically from the vantage point of most of society gender assumptions are very firm and enduring and will never appreciably lose grip.

Hyhybt
July 13th, 2011 | LINK

So many articles here lately that deserve applause, and this is another one. Clapclapclapclapclapclap… just doesn’t have the same effect in text form.

trog
July 13th, 2011 | LINK

@justme: Actually, I know several straight nonmarried couples who feel pressured to get married and who question why or for whom the marriage is really for. The answers aren’t always so clear-cut and simple, for gay or straight people.

Questioning social norms and pressures isn’t a sign of immaturity.

Just the opposite, in fact.

While I agree that excessive hedonism, immature rebellion and acting out are usually counterproductive and destructive (though they might lead to enlightenment), there is an underlying element of “OBEY AND CONFORM” to this post that I find disturbing.

After all, the civil rights of heterosexual people are not based on their acting like mature adults. Why should ours be?

Priya Lynn
July 13th, 2011 | LINK

Trog said “While I agree that excessive hedonism, immature rebellion and acting out are usually counterproductive and destructive (though they might lead to enlightenment), there is an underlying element of “OBEY AND CONFORM” to this post that I find disturbing.”.

I agree. And don’t give me this BS about how “They’re haming my pursuit of equal rights!”. They’re not voting against your rights, they’re not proposing anti-gay legislation, they’re not producing anti-gay media, its the people who hate them that are doing so – blame them and don’t dishonestly point the fingers at members of the LGBT community who don’t meet your “standards”.

justme
July 13th, 2011 | LINK

Trog, excellent point but don’t get me wrong — I’m all for the non-conforming. My theoretical marriage would certainly not include monogamy, for instance.

I only meant that when you’re raised with that possibility, as no gay adult today was, you understand it better and more clearly, as a rule. Certainly stupid knows no orientation, but I don’t think the man quoted in the Times was stupid, just waking up to a new reality.

And surely we don’t want to lower our standards for anything to the level of the average heterosexual (I type only half-jokingly).

TampaZeke
July 13th, 2011 | LINK

For those who say “I don’t need a piece of paper to legitimize my relationship”; if you don’t marry, when you’re partner dies you will become acutely aware of how much you need that “piece of paper”.

I’ve seen people who were together for 20+ years who chose not to marry when they were able and then how much they suffered when one of the partners died and they were treated as a legal stranger; even when they thought they had covered themselves with tons of legal documents.

Even with marriage, until there is federal recognition, we are getting screwed on taxes, immigration and many other areas before and after a partner dies.

trog
July 13th, 2011 | LINK

justme, you raise an excellent point: that when you are raised with the possibility of something (marriage) then your understanding of it is different from someone raised without that possibility.

I’m in my 40s and have often wondered whether being raised to think of gays as intrinsically “outsiders” has led me to be less conservative than i would have been had i thought “gay normalcy” was an option. (For the most part, I think that I am genuinely a more individualistic, creative outsider person and would probably be so if i were heterosexual, just as there are countless edgy quirky straight people. Yet, i currently find myself very happy in a monogamous relationship. Go figure.)

But I digress; back to the main point: Certainly, being raised knowing that gay marriage is an option will have its blessings for the next generation.

But I wonder if being born with this option can also be a curse of sorts. Because then you often don’t question its very foundations and its shortcomings–nor do you search for better and healthier options, or even ways to improve on the basic institution.

I suppose that’s the bigger concern for me. It’s not about conformity but about having the bravery and insight (intellectual, spiritual and otherwise) to take a hard and honest look at world and systems we are creating for ourselves.

Wish I had more answers than questions!

Great discussion and posts nonetheless!

Mark Cross
July 13th, 2011 | LINK

The writer and editor in me is compelled to point out that Mr. Claus has no e at the end of his surname. And the several-times-a-day reader of BTB applauds your insightful and eloquent post. Thank you.

Mudduck
July 13th, 2011 | LINK

Not long ago, most gays and lesbians were invisible in society; if they weren’t pretending to be straight, they were allowing others to assume that they were. The ones who were visible were the queers, the flamboyant, butch or femme, and they set the image of the community — but they were only the fringe. Still, when the AIDS plague struck, and the straight world turned its back, the party boys, the silly fairies, took care of one another and showed that there was a real gay community. Some of them took to the streets and demanded respect. They paved the way for the rest of us to come out and live honestly — most of us in boringly conventional ways. Gay Lib has led not to hedonism but to pairing off and showing how much more we’re like everyone else than different.

And now the people who paved the way, who still demonstrate that gay can be fun, are embarrassments that should be suppressed? Why?

Do we cite Schwarzenegger, Edwards, Giuliani as reflecting badly on the straight community? Why should gays have to police themselves? Our enemies think it’s all dirty disgusting sex, anyway. You can’t be respectable enough to satisfy them. Prigs are prigs, gay or straight. Take care of the only life you’re responsible for — your own.

TominDC
July 13th, 2011 | LINK

“Our community has at times given itself license for childish excess and antisocial behavior. Being denied responsibility, we have at times behaved irresponsibly. Being ostracized, we have responded with messages and images designed to shock and offend. And being victims of social institutions, we have given ourselves permission to thwart social protocol and turn decorum on its head.”

This whole paragraph just doesn’t sit right in my mind. Can you give a few examples of these “childish excesses” and “antisocial behaviors” that an appreciable portion of the LGBT population indulged in at a higher proportion than the straight population?

pax58
July 13th, 2011 | LINK

I have long thought that the GLBT community is more diverse than some so called spokespersons have tried to paint us. I read this website because it has alot of good solid news on it. I often find myself disagreeing with the author of this article, but deeply respect his right to his views and the right to share them.
That being said, I think it is a little much to expect our community to just join the country club, conform, and move on so that we can assimilate into the greater community, content in our new found acceptance.
I am amazed at the moves toward GLBT that have taken place over the last few years, but we are still a long way from where we need to be. Pressing persons to marry before there is a federal recognition just might mean fininical issues for many.
Secondly, refering to openess in life as somehow immature and therefore unapproved by those within our community who want to just be like all those hetros is a bit much.

Kith
July 13th, 2011 | LINK

Actually I find the domestic partnership issues brought up in this an amusing one. This “problem” sprang up because in order to defend marraige a slew of lesser “marriage lite” options sprung up and now that people have had a taste of this low responsibility high pay out option, they are loath to give it up. In is not immaturity to desire the “better” deal it is often considered a sign of maturity and responsibility to seek out the “best” deal.

No one out there gay or straight would be saying “What do you mean I have to get married if I want spousal benefits when before all I had to do was sign a pledge of partnership?!” if society hadn’t rushed out and made this social construct a necessity. You can’t rightly accuse those who are upset to find this contract being rendered null and void, immature for being upset, you can only accuse them of being upset at the law of unintended consequences. It’s also funny to mention that this was the canard of many gay anti-marriage advocates, who said we where being foolish to give up DPs for marraige.

While I may be able to get married in 5 states are you going to imply that it is a fair burden for me to have to travel to a state that allows nonresidents to get married, just to preserve the benefits my DP papers grant me now?

I live in the state of CA and the second DP went into force my signed statement of partnership became invalid and I had to register for a proper domestic partnership to maintain my spousal benefits. So I wouldn’t be surprised if the laws changed to allow marriage they would force me to go out and get a marriage license , but this does officially move into the realm of an unfair burden and I feel that I would have every right to grouse about it.

Timothy Kincaid
July 13th, 2011 | LINK

Mark,

Thank you. Poor Claus, that’s the second time this year that I’ve misspelled his name.

Matt
July 13th, 2011 | LINK

Thank you for writing this. I think it’s really important and needs to be said more often.

@ Mudduck & TominDC:
“Can you give a few examples of these “childish excesses” and “antisocial behaviors” that an appreciable portion of the LGBT population indulged in at a higher proportion than the straight population?”…”Still, when the AIDS plague struck, and the straight world turned its back, the party boys, the silly fairies, took care of one another and showed that there was a real gay community.”

I don’t want to put words in Mr. Kincaid’s mouth, but maybe the “excesses” and “behaviors” he’s referring to might include the promiscuous sex culture of the 1970s which led directly to the AIDS plague. That seems like a fairly obvious example. Maybe you prefer the Tony Kushner-style revisionist history in which Ronald Reagan somehow went around with a syringe infecting gays himself as part of the Republican Party platform.

Matt
July 13th, 2011 | LINK

@ trog
“After all, the civil rights of heterosexual people are not based on their acting like mature adults. Why should ours be?”

One can believe that one deserves the same rights as others regardless of the behavior of one’s “group,” and still believe that certain actions or behaviors are harmful and ought to be discouraged rather than encouraged. And when there are people (i.e. the gay left) who make it their business to claim that “authentically” gay people behave in a certain way (rejecting those outdated and embarrassing norms!), while boring bourgeouis gay people are suffering from false consciousness (see ALL of queer theory) then it seems fair enough for other people to point out that that is wrong.

Riva
July 13th, 2011 | LINK

We are the Queer Borg. Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.

That’s bullshit and you know it. Not all straights are married, not all adults are suit-wearing, office-working, 9-to-5-ers with 2.5 kids, a white picket fence and a mortgage.

While maturity has everything to do with living up to one’s responsibilities, there is nothing to say those responsibilities can’t be met by a single, party animal who likes to wear costumes and sleep late on Sundays.

It’s rather silly to expect every single queer to live up to some cookie cutter, 50s inspired idea of ‘adulthood’ that even straights don’t live up to.

For those of us who refuse to assimilate – by getting married, by having kids, by putting away the street fairs, the costumes, the late nights at the bar – it is a choice that we freely make and we accept the consequences of said choice.

It’s not even a new phenomenon. There have been non-conformists of every ilk since the very beginning.

Sorry we are such a crick in your plans for total world domination.

Matt
July 13th, 2011 | LINK

For those of us who refuse to assimilate – by getting married, by having kids, by putting away the street fairs, the costumes, the late nights at the bar – it is a choice that we freely make and we accept the consequences of said choice.

Other folks might be forgiven for doubting this. The reaction on the gay left — that is, the folks who use “queer” to talk about themselves — to the AIDS epidemic was to blame conservatives for being so horribly mean to them that they became infected with a disease that was a death sentence for many years. Tens of thousands of gay men died. Maybe you see this as “accepting the consequences of said choice.”

“It’s rather silly to expect every single queer to live up to some cookie cutter, 50s inspired idea of ‘adulthood’ that even straights don’t live up to.”

Yes, because why should you take on responsibilities when other people around you don’t? I mean, why would you put yourself out that way?

Darina
July 13th, 2011 | LINK

Oh, the pressure to marry… as a single straight woman, I could write a whole book about it. All the tragicomic matchmaking attempts I’ve endured ever since I turned 18. All the insistence that I should find a man, any man, to marry and finally procreate with him (or adopt if we don’t manage to procreate) because “this is what every woman should do”. The talk that my gay friends, or any men who are just friends, are “a waste of time” because they aren’t prospective husbands. Some of my friends’ failed marriages and divorces because they succumbed to that pressure when they were still too inexperienced to choose wisely.

I wouldn’t want my gay friends to be subjected to that kind of attitude. I’m all for the freedom to marry, but I’m also all for the freedom not to marry if you don’t want to.

Thorne Cassidy
July 14th, 2011 | LINK

Loved this article. Spot on. If you want the benefits, take the plunge. Gay culture can add a little something to the melting pot of our broader culture, can make it better. If you still want to wear ass-less chaps or feathers and dance for the cameras–THEN DO THAT–America’s beautiful, isn’t she? No need to conform.

Now if your a shy, clean-cut, conservative prettyboy who believes in monogamy and marriage, and isn’t jaded, and has lots of girlfriends that you go shopping with, ohh… and is okay with me taking the traditional male lead in social situations, someone I can provide for, hold, give my name to, and call, “Babe”–well, just say “hi”, I’m diggin’ the whole heterosexual hegemonic sell-out stuff. Call me.

Priya Lynn
July 14th, 2011 | LINK

Matt said “I don’t want to put words in Mr. Kincaid’s mouth, but maybe the “excesses” and “behaviors” he’s referring to might include the promiscuous sex culture of the 1970s which led directly to the AIDS plague.”.

That’s fine, but I’m pretty sure one of the “excesses” he wants to suppress is gay men wearing drag in public – that’s going way too far. When some in the LGBT community think they’ve got a right to tell others their harmless behavior is unacceptable they’re the ones who are in the wrong, not the drag queens.

Thorne Cassidy
July 14th, 2011 | LINK

@Priya Lynn and Matt

I think that both of you are right. Drag is harmless, unprotected sex, not so much. But, the excesses that result from alienation need to be examined. Why is “gay culture” what it is? Is it merely the product of victimization–should we fight to preserve it if it is?

I’m sure many drag queens would still be donning high-heels with or without social rejection. Yet, I can’t help but think that fewer guys would practice dangerous, unprotected sex as if tomorrow didn’t matter, as if they had no place and potential future in the broader society. I suspect that the author was referring to both.

Priya Lynn
July 14th, 2011 | LINK

Yes, I agree Thorne social rejection coerces some gay men to hide in the shadows and seek anonymous sex with multiple partners to satisfy their sex drives while protecting their anonymity and secret. If it weren’t for social rejection such men would be much more willing to find one partner, settle down with him in the open and get their needs met that way.

Stephen
July 14th, 2011 | LINK

Am I the only one here who is married? Possibly. I’m with Thorne. I only ever thought that ‘gay culture’ was the ghettoization caused by socially induced shame. The same goes for drag, which I consider an internalization of society’s rigid genderizing. It’s always given me the creeps. But then, I tend to be puritanical and don’t expect anyone to agree. I look forward to the day we can drop all the gay stuff and become part of society at large without having to categorize ourselves, when we don’t have to feel beleaguered all the time. Marriage equality is a step along the way.

If you don’t want to marry, fine. Plenty of people don’t. But if you want a mortgage, or some kind of security, or a grown-up partnership, then you’re going to need to marry sooner or later. Not that life alone can’t be just fine. But what marriage does is lay things out so you can’t just walk out one day if you feel like it. You at least have to try to tough it out. And I think that’s a good thing. And something that will help young people lead more open lives with more support from families and society. Right now, however, the marriage law in NY is quite the pain in the ass as it doesn’t really do much. (I don’t know what it does for children of couples. We don’t have any) I’m not filing joint taxes as it’ll cost substantially more, and we may have to hire a lawyer to go over provisions we’ve already made to see if they need amending.

But hey, I never thought I’d see this day in our lifetime so I’m totally on board.

Timothy (TRiG)
July 14th, 2011 | LINK

Of course, this goes both ways. Same-sex marriage has an effect on opposite-sex marriage too.

TRiG.

Timothy Kincaid
July 14th, 2011 | LINK

Stephen,

Please discuss this with your tax accountant.

Yes it will cost more in tax preparation fees* but only in very rare circumstances would you pay higher taxes by filing as ‘married filing jointly’ status.

* – Because the feds don’t recognize marriage, multiple returns are required. But if DOMA 3 is overturned then the fees would likely be less than the two of you filing separately.

Stephen
July 14th, 2011 | LINK

I’d need to pay two accountants. And I don’t think it’s worth it. If DOMA’s overturned then it’s different. But till then I’ve been advised to stay as we are. We might also have to re-do some legal arrangements we have. I’ll need to at least consult with a lawyer.

justme
July 14th, 2011 | LINK

Stephen, of course gay culture is a culture borne out of oppression, just like any other oppressed peoples’ cultures. And of course it will change over time, just like it always has. But I’d say it doesn’t have to be an either/or situation; embrace the new and celebrate the old. After all, it’s the old that made the new possible.

In other words, the one and only reason you’re able to live the mainstream life you’ve chosen is because of all the freaks who made it possible. Those freaks deserve our gratitude and our respect, not our scorn. If everyone else hasn’t caught up to you in terms of cultural evolution, then just give them a moment or two more and more people will.

But the freaks will never totally disappear and thank heaven for that. A world of mainstream, responsible, grown-up people has to sound boring as hell even to someone who considers themselves to be mainstream, responsible and grown-up.

Priya Lynn
July 14th, 2011 | LINK

Way to go, Justme. : )

Reed Boyer
July 14th, 2011 | LINK

I must have missed something in the Dan Savage article cited, as my read of it doesn’t particularly find any “recommendation” that sexual exclusivity be abandoned. DS and his other half discuss their own situation, but don’t seem to be pushing a POV for others.

As to major corporations requiring marriage for same-sex couples presently receiving benefits under a domestic partnership program – my own experience: when the Walt Disney company implemented DP coverage, prior to California state DPs, domestic partnership papers had to be on record, or produced within 30 days. If one’s municipality did not have a DP program, an affidavit was required -.until the city or county passed a DP ordinance (at which time, proof of registration was required with 30 days).

Hoops to jump through, “inclusion obligations,” and lots of paperwork (as marriages are, and were, and will be).

Weston O'Neal
July 15th, 2011 | LINK

Thank you for writing this.

Stephen
July 15th, 2011 | LINK

Justme. Perhaps I’ve lived a charmed life but in my work I’ve often operated in a completely gay world. Where gay men have entirely set the tone. You know what? It’s just like the straight world with less football. I understand very well that people who operate in less open environments will feel the need to assert themselves. And that will always be true. My only point is that I look forward to the day when there isn’t the same desperation attached.

And I don’t think of people as being freaks.

Priya Lynn
July 15th, 2011 | LINK

Stephen said “And I don’t think of people as being freaks.”.

I used to proudly consider myself a freak. I don’t know if I qualify anymore though, I’ve settled down a lot.

Donny D.
July 17th, 2011 | LINK

What we get with gay marriage is marriage as an OPTION. Just as not all straight people choose to marry, not all of us will. In fact, a great many will choose NOT to marry, for a number of different reasons.

Those who marry do not define the straight community, and those who choose to marry homosexually will never define the LGBT community. Community-wide irresponsible bachelorhood vs. responsible marriedness is a false dichotomy.

One of the truly loathesome things about the straight community are its myriad punitive, derogatory, strait-jacketing rules. If you are older than a certain age, unmarried and female, you’re an “old maid”, you’re “sad”, “alone”, you never get laid. If you are older than a certain age and you’re a man, you’re either a “dirty old man”, or you’re “weird”, or you’re “sad” and “alone”, or “suspicious” (possibly gay). There’s nothing good to be said about older straight people who are unmarried, and the best thing said about them is that they are “unfortunate”.

Those things are not foregone cultural conclusions for lesbians or gay men who are older. I for one do NOT want the marriage culture as currently lived by straight people to become hegemonic within the LGBT community. It’s a procrustean bed for both the married and the unmarried.

Donny D.
July 18th, 2011 | LINK

And in regard to corporations being more comfortable with married people in certain roles: Isn’t discrimination on the basis of marital status illegal?

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