Monday, November 17, 2008

Counterpoint to Cannick: Black gay father says "marriage matters to us"

The blog, Republic of T, gives the voice of a father who is black, gay, liberal, vegetarian, and Buddhist.

His name (or at least screenname) is Terrance. He explains that, despite Jasmynne Cannick's claim that marriage doesn't matter to black gays, think again.

"Marriage matters to us"

One thing that Cannick, Terrance, and I can agree on is that marriage is (as Terrance says) "no panacea, no substitute for much needed socioeconomic justice" which includes many of the things that Cannick points out:

"Ever heard of 'driving while black'? Ever looked at the difference between the dropout rates for blacks and for whites? Or test scores? Or wages? Or rates of incarceration?"

A marriage liscence won't stop these wrongs. How can you marry when you can't get a job or finish school? Or even stay out of prison?

That said, we're still left with the fact that there is NO justification for letting straights marry and not gays. And aside from principle, this discrepancy does have a practical socionomic consequence, as Terrance points out:

* "In the Maryland County where I live, a $55 application fee gets you a marriage license and the 1,049 benefits and protections that come with it. So heterosexuals pay about $0.05 per protection/benefit. Mozlle and Kebreau (and other Black gay couples) pay hundreds of times more than heterosexuals for less protection and fewer benefits, and often out a less income."

* "The National Black Justice Coalition’s [the main national group for black gay/same-gender loving people] joint report with the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force on Black same-sex households from the 2000 census data shows that Black same-sex couples report less annual median income than Black married opposite-sex couples and White same-sex couples. In difficult times inequality forces them to make do with fewer resources than their heterosexual married counterparts, because they’re ineligible for protections and benefits that help families stay afloat in crises."

What's more, Terrance points out that black gay couples were plaintiffs in the Maryland marriage case. Surely marriage matters to them. While Cannick might be right if most gay blacks don't care about marriage, marriage - as long as it remains a legal category for anyone - matters to many of us, gay or straight, black or white, because people of all these stripes and colors seek marriage everyday. Yes, there is something more urgent and life-or-death concerning the battles to stop over-incarceration and poverty. But I was under the impression that human beings were entitled to far more than merely dodging death or prison. We seek to live a full life, not merely a life above the grave. The right to marry, as long as the law allows it for anyone, must be protected for EVERYONE!

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