Tuesday, April 05, 2005

"Special" Rights

One of the arguments I keep hearing against GLBT rights is that they're looking for "special" rights. This has always confused me. Exactly what "special" rights are they looking for? To be allowed to work without fear of being fired over their personal relationships? To be allowed to make health care decisions for their loved ones? To get health benefits for whole families so one partner can stay home and raise children while the other provides for the family? In my several years of working in one venue or another on GLBT rights issues, these are the kinds of things that I keep hearing about. I have yet to hear anyone ask for something above and beyond the rights their heterosexual counterparts have.

I get that some people view marriage as uniquely between one man and one woman. I don't agree with it, but I understand it. What I don't understand is how that should then extend to denying couples who aren't married heterosexuals the basic rights and responsibilities that go along with family. Don't call it marriage, fine, but who are we to define who "family" is to anyone else and to make it difficult or impossible for those families to stay together?

Because I've always found this puzzling, this article about a gay marriage amendment in Michigan (my former home state) caught my eye.

Proponents of the amendments contend that they are simply trying to make clear and cement into state constitutions that a majority of Americans are opposed to defining a gay relationship as a marriage.

Okay, if that's all they're "simply" trying to do, then why cut people's rights? This quote is a little more straightforward:

"Our belief is that it's only appropriate that marriage between one man and one woman be given special recognition, special incentives and special protection under the law," said Gary Glenn, president of the American Family Association of Michigan, a spearhead of the amendment's passage.

Ah, there's that word "special" again. Remind me, who is it that is asking for "special" rights?


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