LGBT, marriage and the economic crisis
Published Dec 2, 2008 6:11 PM
WW photo: G. Dunkel
Around the world, tens of thousands of lesbian, gay, bi and trans people and
their supporters are demonstrating as part of the Nov. 15 National Day of
Action against the passing of Proposition 8, a ballot initiative that bans LGBT
marriage in California.
The struggle for marriage equality is about the second-class status of LGBT
people in the U.S. It is about the systematic oppression and criminalization of
LGBT people by the ruling class.
The truth is that LGBT people do not have rights in the U.S. All that has been
won is the overturning of anti-gay laws or the creation of anti-discrimination
laws on a state or city level.
For 33 years the LGBT movement has been fighting the U.S. government to get an
employment protection law. Finally on Nov. 7, the Employment Non-Discrimination
Act, which includes housing, public accommodations, etc., was passed for the
first time ever by the House of Representatives.
But the House chose to vote on a version of ENDA that—despite the outrage
of LGBT activists, including a sign-on campaign by more than 350 leading
organizations—omitted protection based on gender identity. If this
version becomes law, it excludes not only transpeople but also anyone who could
be “perceived” as gay.
It’s about workers’ rights. According to the National Gay and
Lesbian Task Force, there are “1,138 federal benefits and protections of
marriage only available to couples that are allowed to legally marry.” Is
it surprising as we enter the worst economic crisis in decades that the ruling
class, through a coalition of the religious right, poured millions into denying
LGBT workers the benefits that come with marriage?
Do the masses of working-class folks living in the U.S. see LGBT people as
average, everyday workers? Or is it the perception that LGBT means white,
middle-class, privileged—where Jack from “Will and Grace”
doesn’t need a job to keep his New York City apartment?
There are several factors that contribute to this stereotype. It was a tactic
used by some of the leadership in the LGBT movement to counter the church and
Hollywood’s depiction of LGBT people as “mentally ill,”
sexual deviants and murderers.
Like other oppressed communities, it was a tactic to push the struggle forward
by saying “Look, we are just like you. Now where are our civil
rights?” But ultimately it is always in the best interest of the ruling
class to sow divisions and pit oppressed communities against each other.
LGBT people of all nationalities voted overwhelmingly for Barack Obama. But
although Prop 8 was bought and paid for by the religious right, Black
communities have been falsely accused of voting away marriage rights for white
LGBT people. The truth is that just like the masses of people living in the
U.S. are working class and multinational, so are LGBT communities and
Ultimately the ruling class created the climate of terror and stigma to keep
LGBT people isolated from the rest of our class.
It has been well-documented that Black single women with children have been the
prime targets of the predatory loan scam. Kenyon Farrow from Queers for
Economic Justice told me about a Black lesbian couple who recently lost their
house due to a predatory loan; now they and their children are living in a
shelter. Black lesbian households make at least $10,000 less a year than Black
hetero married couples. Who knows how many LGBT people have lost their
FIERCE, an LGBT people-of-color youth group, waged a year-long campaign to
force a huge development company to build an LGBT youth center. Just before the
bailouts, the investors pulled out of the deal, citing financial hardships.
Sylvia’s Place, the only LGBT youth shelter in New York City, lost its
funding and closed in September. In New York City there are 3,000 to 8,000
LGBT-identified homeless youth.
It is an outrage that young people, gay or straight, are homeless in the U.S.
No Black woman, lesbian or straight, and her children should be forced from
their home. All workers, trans and non-trans, should be paid a living wage. And
it is an outrage that who we love and choose to partner with is even up for
Class solidarity is the weapon the ruling class fears the most—the kind
of solidarity that I’m proud to say that a Marxist-Leninist,
multinational, multigendered and multisexual, intergenerational organization
like WWP actively lives and breathes everyday.
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