Blogging for LGBT Families: the Day After

Well, it’s no longer Blogging for LGBT Families Day but I wanted to make this one other post, to balance my first one.

By focusing on my divorce under the umbrella of the topic, I am not trying to harsh anyone’s mellow and certainly not trying to appear cynical. Far from it.

My experience going through a “gay divorce” and the struggles leading up to the dissolution of my marriage, primarily my ex-partner’s life-threatening cancer and resulting treatment, really brought home to me the lack of basic family rights for the LGBT community. I wish with all my heart that this lack of rights was not part and parcel of the LGBT family experience, but it is.

Those of us in the community coming together to form marriages and families no doubt would love to have that perfect marriage, the 2.5 perfect children in the cozy home, great jobs with good benefits, excellent health, and proudly supportive families of origin cheering us on. Everyone lives happily ever after. Sadly, it doesn’t always happen that way.

Of course, it also doesn’t even happen that way for straight families either, and of course, that’s the point:

All families, sooner or later, have to cope with crisis. People become physically or mentally ill or have accidents that require hospitalization, people lose their jobs, couples get divorced, natural disasters and fire destroy homes. On and on and on. And also, worst of all, people die sometimes.

Equality, justice, legal protections, financial security, adequate health care and housing, and a generally enlightened society will never completely keep unexpected crisis from harming, even destroying, families. However, these institutions and practices do remediate problems arising from crisis and trauma, they do facilitate recovery, they do enable stability. That’s why these things were created, developed, voted on, enacted, after all — to protect individuals and families.

I struggled through a troubled marriage, I had a spouse with a life-threatening illness that required a long and harrowing treatment, I failed to keep my marriage from ending, and I had to deal with the emotional, financial and legal fallout that resulted. And I can say, with clear-eyed certainty, those awful experiences were made immeasurably more difficult by the absence of rights and legal protections afforded to straight families.

The continued willful and deliberate deferring of even the most basic of family rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered individuals and their families is, plain and simple, injustice.

To those in the community, and to our straight allies, I pose this question: As the current crop of hopefuls move closer to the 2008 election, what are you going to do to make this a viable campaign issue?

As the candidates move closer to that inevitable instant where the GLBT voters are asked to kindly disembark (after, of course, one last ATM mailing) and assume our usual seats — under the wheels of the bus — what will your response be?

As the pundits thankfully dismiss us, as the political strategists shrug it off as an unavoidable casualty or a battle lost on the way to winning a bigger war, as the A-list bloggers yammer about principles vs. electability, what are you going to do?


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