Progressives by definition believe in equality for all. “For all” means everyone regardless of age, race, ethnicity, religious belief, or sexual orientation. An article in Wednesday’s New York Times suggested that the leadership of the Human Rights Campaign was willing to comprimise on the issue of same sex marriage, and even went so far as to suggest they were willing to trade support for gutting Social Security in exchange for same-sex couple benefits.
As expected, there was a strong reaction to that report.
Dozens of prominent advocates for gay rights sent a letter to every member of Congress yesterday stating that they would reject any plan to bargain for equal rights, and specifically decried a report that the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest gay political organization, was planning to “moderate” its positions and would possibly support President Bush’s plan to create private Social Security accounts.
The letter, titled “Where We Stand,” was released by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) in response to an article in yesterday’s New York Times. The article quoted officials from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) as saying that, in light of defeats for gay rights in the Nov. 2 election (including the bans on same-sex marriage passed in 11 states), the organization decided to place less emphasis on same-sex marriage and more on “strengthening personal relationships.” One HRC official was paraphrased as saying that the group would consider supporting Bush’s efforts to partiallvy privatize Social Security in exchange for the right of gay partners to receive benefits under the federal retirement program.
The letter, signed by more than 30 gay rights leaders, states: “The New York Times today reported that some in the LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] community are ready to pull back on our struggle for freedom to make everyone more comfortable politically, or willing to bargain away the rights of others to make a deal for themselves. Specifically, the notion was advanced that we could make gains at the expense of senior citizens by privatizing Social Security. . . .
“We specifically reject any attempts to trade equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, a group that includes many elders, for the rights of senior citizens under Social Security or, for that matter, the rights of any other group of Americans.”
But HRC officials said yesterday that the article was incomplete and, therefore, inaccurate. They denied that the HRC is planning to endorse the partial privatization of Social Security or back away from any of the major issues surrounding gay rights, including marriage rights. “Our tactics are adapting; our goals are not,” said Winnie Stachelberg, HRC’s political director.
The Fourteenth Amendment guarantees each and every citizen equal protection under the law. Period. There is no room for compromise there. If the right does not like it, let them try to repeal it. But while the Fourteenth Amendment is in force the courts are going to continue to view same-sex couples’ rights as being equal to those of heterosexual couples. Individual churches may chose to honor those unions that their beliefs support, and call those unions marriages. The state, however, does not have the authority to decide what religious beleifs its citizens should have.
Furthermore, dealing with the party that devotes so much of its energy to the persecution of gays and lesbians in order to give homosexual partners the right to survivor benefits while contributing to the destruction of this country’s most successful social welfare program is the most repellent can idea I can imagine.