ServiceMembers Legal Defense Network:
Human Rights Campaign:
It was a late fall afternoon in 2008. One facebook post turned into a dozen, each of these leading to a dozen more text messages. “Meet at the corner of Central and Camelback,” it said, “bring signs.” Under the orchestration of dedicated community members, voters opposed to Arizona’s Proposition 102 hit the streets to spread awareness before the November 4th election day.
Unfortunately, Arizona voters passed Prop. 102 by more than 250,000 votes. These photos capture the unity, love and ambition behind the proposition’s opposition. The fight continues …
As victory celebrations and pride festivities close out a historical weekend in New York, families throughout the rest of the country are reflecting on what this means for their situations. Here are one family’s thoughts:
From my standpoint as a gay veteran, it seems as though the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy will never reallygo away. The truth is that to most American’s the policy was confusing enough, and since the December repeal of the 17-year-old policy, many homosexual service members are still uncertain of where they stand and what rights they gained as a result. Personally, I’ve been pulling for this repeal for more than a decade; however, this hugely positive step in the direction of full equality has opened the door to many more questions and complicated many scenarios.
Ultimately, the Defense of Marriage Act or DOMA is to blame. This was a measure enacted by congress and it alone bans the federal government (for service members this means their employer) from recognizing same-sex marriages. The same federal government that is now allowing homosexuals to serve openly. The same federal government that extends honor, benefits and gratitude to the families of these service members. Should a service member pursue a same-sex marriage at the state level, he or she would legitimately be caught in a catch 22.
By not legalizing same-sex marriage on a federal level, there are no requirements for marital or spousal acknowledgements beyond the rights (if any) granted within each state. If you are on active duty and marry your partner (of the same gender) in a state that recognizes it as a marriage, to the federal government you are still not married. So, even though you are allowed to serve your country as an openly “out” homosexual you are still denied the right to be equally committed, to receive equal benefits and to be recognized and honored as any other military family, all due to this nation’s gross marriage inequality, not to mention religious hangups.
According to an active-duty Air Force Technical Sergeant (who asked to remain anonymous), despite various homosexual tolerance briefings, staying closeted is preferred in these early stages of DADT’s repeal. Although this sergeant is married in a state that issues legal and equal same-sex marriage licenses, neither the current state of duty assignment nor the home of record state recognize this marriage as ANYTHING.
“I don’t trust telling leadership that I am married to a woman,” the sergeant said. “But, them knowing I am married won’t get a her a dependent ID card and there might be some prejudice towards me disguised as something else.” This comes from a sergeant who is within one year of retirement from a career of service to this nation. “I’ve been living this double life for so long and I guess I would just rather play it safe,” she said.
The repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy was, without a doubt, a victory for equality, human rights and ultimately for the nation – as gays and lesbians have successfully and patriotically served (closeted) in the armed forces for decades upon decades. This country’s inconsistencies as to who can legally marry and where it will be recognized are insufficient and demonstrate the need for changes on the federal level. As the repeal of this policy marches on and as states like New York continue to make strides toward actual marriage equality, a reexamination of this entire puzzle rather than just one piece is becoming more necessary.
On the heels of the U.N. council’s resolution supporting equal rights, regardless of sexual orientation Friday, some global scenarios surrounding same-sex marriage have come to light. A significant portion of the LGBT population from the United States, more specifically those in binational couples, have and continue to relocate to more welcoming countries. In most circumstances these are less likely acts of rebellion or distaste for the Mother country, and more acts of necessity. These individuals are known as expatriates and they are a valuable part of our LGBT community.
Granted, a binational couple’s happiness and desire to cohabitate are of high priority, but an equally important consideration is finding a place to call home that will welcome both partners and recognize their relationship – regardless of where it ranks on the spectrum between dating and marriage. It is most common for each member of binational couple to relocate to a third country with gay-friendly immigration laws or accommodating visa programs, if not both. These displaced families include children, senior citizens and every combination in between. They long to be united and protected under the rights that marriage equality would afford them.
According to the Uniting American Families website, most numbers used or reported underrepresent the demographic of binational couples. As of 2009, numbers were still being loosely based on the 2000 census. Because displaced binational couples are not completing a census from outside the US, and because the census only takes an “unmarried partner” into account for the purposes of defining relationships between cohabitants, there is no accurate formula for calculating just how many couples are affected by this scenario.
A 2009 update article, based primarily on guesstimation and some previously used formulas, suggests that 51,445 binational same-sex couples reside in the US; 38,392 live abroad; 4,492 remain geographically separated by law. This adds up to a grand total estimation of 94,330 binational same-sex couples.
Because there is no federal recognition of same-sex marriage in the US, and neither civil unions nor domestic partnerships offer the same rights as marriage, these couples continue to reside in other countries because they have been denied equal rights to immigration based on who they love.
U.N. council passes gay rights resolution
Uniting American Families
Immigration Equality and the Uniting American Families Act
Out 4 Immigration
Proposition Opposition: voters in favor of marriage equality gather in central Phoenix to express personal and political messages opposing Prop. 102 prior to the November 2008 election.
After conducting the first of what I would consider a biased, yet successful social media friends poll, I have gathered some insight as to if, why and how titles matter in same-sex relationships. Members of the LGBT community have used many different terms to refer the person they love depending on the situation, point in the relationship and stage in the “coming out” process.
A couple who is dating may use boyfriend or girlfriend, easy enough. That, the masses have deemed acceptable. But what happens when you’ve been “dating” for 20 years and publicly professed your love? Does referring to someone of the your same gender as your wife or husband imply that one is satisfied with the legal status of their relationship or does it mean that words like “married” and “spouse” are the very best tools to communicate your love and commitment to the on looking heterosexual world at large?
My poll revealed that it’s complicated, but somewhat consistent. In scenarios that involve medical, legal, tax or insurance services, “partner” seems to be preferred. The logic is that in contexts involving these types of services the term partner is accurate and understood.
In the same breath, these couples admit to using, if not preferring, husband or wife when among other members of the LGBT community or in circumstances with family, straight peers or coworkers in an effort to emphasize the commitment level of their relationship. Of those who expressed a preference for the heteronormative terminology, all have participated in a ceremony, domestic partnership or civil union with the exception of one couple.
Calling each other fiancée until a legal marriage takes place was a unique, accurate and optimistic response. Additionally, the majority of committed same-sex couples expressed interest in marrying once it’s available to them in their home state. Only two of the couples had acquired a marriage license from another state – knowing it would go unrecognized where they currently reside.
In order to be treated as equals a common level of understanding is essential. In these scenarios the words we use to describe each other pack a political punch. Some stereotypes and labels can imply negative connotations, but these titles and terms of endearment are important elements in the quest for equality.