The struggle for lesbian, gay, bi and trans (LGBT) equal rights under bourgeois marriage law won back-to-back victories this month with the extension of full marriage rights to same-sex couples in Vermont and Iowa. These two states joined Massachusetts and Connecticut as the only states to perform same-sex marriages.
Iowa’s Supreme Court ruled that banning same-sex marriage violates the state constitution. The April 3 ruling made Iowa the third state in the country to grant marriage rights as a result of a court ruling.
The Vermont Legislature made history four days later by becoming the first in the country to vote for same-sex marriage. Gov. Jim Douglas initially vetoed the bill, but the Legislature voted to override his veto.
The decision by Vermont’s Legislature to recognize marriage equality was a sharp repudiation of the right-wing propaganda that the LGBT community could only gain full rights through court intervention. Same-sex couples are entitled to demand court recognition of their constitutional right to marriage equality. The Vermont legislation simply demonstrates that the courts are not the only available path of pressure for the movement.
The struggle for equality has gained momentum following the decisions in Vermont and Iowa. New York Gov. David Paterson introduced legislation on April 16 that would extend marriage rights to LGBT couples in that state. The legislation faces an uphill battle in the state Senate, where anti-marriage forces are strong. Paterson ordered state agencies last May to uphold same-sex marriages performed out-of-state.
Lawmakers in New Jersey, New Hampshire and Maine are seriously debating the issue of marriage equality. The New Hampshire State House has already voted to recognize same-sex marriage. The issue is now before the state Senate Judiciary Committee.
The District of Columbia Council voted unanimously to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states on the same day that Vermont recognized LGBT marriage rights.
The Council vote is not the final word on LGBT marriage equality in the district. Washington, D.C., a majority Black city, lacks full home rule. Any laws passed by the Council can be overturned by the U.S. Congress, where district residents are denied the right to representation. This extreme denial of self-determination for the district’s Black community threatens the marriage equality struggle for LGBT people of all nationalities.
Recent victories rebuff Prop 8 hate
The recent victories for the LGBT community represent a clear and positive shift following the narrow passage of Proposition 8 in California last November. Prop 8 is a ballot initiative that disenfranchised LGBT communities who had recently won the right to marry as a result of a ruling by the California Supreme Court.
Massive protests swept the country following the passage of Prop 8. The LGBT movement signaled that it would fight for equal rights by organizing demonstrations in cities large and small. Hundreds of thousands came out, from San Francisco and New York to Bozeman, Mont., and Raleigh, N.C., to denounce Prop 8.
This militant display of resistance and struggle, not the generosity of state legislatures or courts, deserves the credit for the recent marriage rights victories in Iowa and Vermont. Continued struggle will be necessary to push the movement forward to victory in California, New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Maine and throughout the country.
Class society perpetuates LGBT oppression
Class society has introduced and perpetuates numerous forms of oppression against the broad masses of people. All of them serve the functions of dividing and thus weakening the political power of the masses of people and of increasing the wealth and power of the ruling class. Discriminatory ideologies are used by the ruling class to justify economic, political, social and cultural inequality.
The sexuality- and gender-based oppressions faced by LGBT people are rooted in the rise of class society, as is the oppression of women. The prejudiced attitudes that have developed over the last six to eight thousand years were antithetical to communal societies, the social form which prevailed during most of human existence on this planet. In fact, gender variation and multiple forms of sexual expression were highly valued by our pre-class ancestors.
The perpetuation of LGBT inequality serves to divide the working class and prevent class solidarity in the struggle against capitalism. Same-sex couples are right to demand equal rights under current marriage law, but true liberation is dependent upon the overthrow of the ruling class and its replacement with multinational, multigendered working class power that will guarantee full rights for all.
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