Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Generation Gap, or Activism Gap?

I must confess I'm confused with the different definitions of "equality" even within the gay community. I thought, for a very long time, that it was a question of an generation gap. Now, however, I'm not quite sure where the line is drawn or for what reason.

Equal Rights Activist A: Believes that anything less than full equality, including full marital rights, isn't sufficient. This activist won't settle for civil unions, domestic partnership contracts or any other euphemism that purports to provide full equal rights without actually using the "M" word. This activist insists that "separate but equal is anything BUT equal."

Equal Rights Activist B: Insists that pushing for full marital rights is going beyond the pale. This activist would be perfectly happy to have a state recognized domestic partnership, assuming spousal style rights are included. This activist doesn't feel relegated to second-classhood by the mere difference in terminology. "It's only semantics."

I admit to being a Type A Activist, as described above. I supported Hillary Clinton as (in my humble opinion) the only viable Democratic candidate with a realistic chance of winning who was truly pro-equal rights. She stated, in plain words, her support for full equal rights. Having been somewhat of an activist since the early 80's, I assumed others of my generation would be of the same mind. . . that "good enough ain't good enough!"

I assumed (yeah, I know) that the majority of those in category B were of a younger generation. That they hadn't come through the struggles, missteps and bitter disappointments of their predecessors, so didn't understand the deeper meanings of (in my opinion) very powerfully different words. I figured that only by not understanding could they be such. . . such. . . lemmings! How did they go so "pro Obama" so soon, in spite of his stated position that "marriage is between a man and a woman. . .?" And they were hard-core in their enthusiasm for getting him elected! Even the Human Rights Campaign applauded him as being pro equal rights, even though he NEVER pledged support to full equality!

Now, I discover that I've got many friends, in roughly my age group (let's say, between 40 and 65), who could hardly give two proverbial squats whether it's called marriage, civil union or buddy-humpin', as long as they can enjoy rights that are similar in benefit to those of our heterosexual brethren. Conversely, I'm discovering a whole LOT of the younger generation who feel as slighted as I do by words like "civil union."

So, what's the variable that I'm not seeing? I guess it's not age, and therefore not a generational gap. Is it simply a matter of differing degrees of activism? Then why were they such avid (often rabid!) supporters of President Obama?

Disclaimer: This is NOT intended to rekindle the Clinton v. Obama debates that were ablaze early last year. Today I'm a strong supporter of President Obama, and worked hard to help get him elected (okay, AFTER Hillary conceded). I'm a bit puzzled, though, by those who expect him to fulfill some unspoken promise.

1 comment:

  1. As a married hetero, I s'pose I have no dog in this one. I'm for equality for all, but I guess I lean towards type B and here's why:

    I'm a staunch supporter of the separation of church and state. That being stated, marriage is a religious institution, and thus out of bounds for the government to legislate. That is a fight that will have to be taken up with the various theologies. Government can and should, however, enforce equal rights for all under our constitution. Thank God for that . ;)

    In summary, glbt folks should have every single legal right as any other citizen. Period. If you wish to pursue a fight against the church, I fully support you in your cause. It is your democratic right to do so.