February 14, 2004
Radical Women statement at the Seattle rally against a Constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage
Presented by Su Docekal, co-founder of the Stonewall Committee for Gay Rights
I always thought it would be a cold day in hell when Radical Women spoke at a rally in support of marriage! After all, it has only been in the last 75 years that married women in the U.S. have been able to win any rights that their husbands and the state were bound to respect.
Still Radical Women is here today to join with organizations of many different political perspectives to defend the equal right of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to the legal protections offered by marriage. It is quite thrilling to see marriage turned into its opposite, from a pillar of conventional bourgeois society into a form of civil disobedience!
We applaud the judge and the mayor of San Francisco, as well as the city workers and volunteers, who have taken the stand that "separate but equal" is not true equality, whether applied to African Americans or to the queer community.
Today is Valentine's Day, an appropriate day to assert one's right to love. But tomorrow also is a day worthy of remembering.
Tomorrow, it will be exactly one year since 75,000 Seattleites marched down these very streets to protest George Bush's announcement that he intended to launch a Holy Crusade against Iraq.
Now, one year later, thousands of Iraqis are dead and over 500 U.S. soldiers stationed in Iraq have been killed in battle and in on-the-job accidents.Now, one year later, a million jobs have been lost and over 20% of the people living in Washington state are without healthcare.
Little wonder that the Bush administration is hoping to divert the public's attention from the disastrous mess in Iraq and the jobless "recovery" by launching a second Holy Crusade. This time it is a crusade right here at home -- against queers.
Bush has simply manufactured a convenient way of filling his campaign coffers with contributions from the far right. His cynical attack on gay rights is also setting us back on a broader front. It is being used to reverse domestic partnership benefits. In Ohio, state legislators have already passed a bill against same-sex marriage and domestic partnership benefits -- and the trend is growing.
Everyone here today probably has there own views about marriage. And I'm not going to go into its anthropological history (which by the way involved the enslavement of women), but I urge you to read The Radical Women Manifesto. It's available at our literature table and online at www.radicalwomen.org. Suffice it to say that, historically speaking , marriage is NOT the most progressive of human institutions!
That is why Radical Women spent a lot of energy in the 1960s and 70s fighting to change Washington state laws to give women equal rights in marriage, and to win no-fault divorce--something that we queers, too, may be in need of soon.
When it comes to marriage, let's be REAL. Why do straight people get married? I can find the answer in my own family. My brother and sister-in-law lived together for many years, perfectly happy, without bothering to get married. But then they bought a house together and had a kid. They decided they needed the legal protections that marriage offers.
I know another couple who lived together for seven or eight years and had no intention of getting married. But the man is an immigrant, so, after years of hassling over paper work with the INS, they said: Alright already, let's get married. Now he has his citizenship and she has full coverage under his medical plan. Marriage is looking better all the time!
These are the concrete reasons that so many of us are uniting to fight for the right of lesbians and gays to wed. We need custody rights for our children! We need healthcare coverage! We need to get our teeth fixed!
In truth, no one should have to get married--or even have a partner--to get health or dental care, but this is a case of "by any means necessary!" In San Francisco as we speak, queer weddings are the latest form of civil disobedience against an unfair, sexist, greed-driven system.
So the question now is: how can we win this fight?
We've got to hit the streets and organize! All the leading Democratic candidates have announced that they are against same-sex marriage. The Democrats also sold us out on Iraq. They fell into line behind Bush in supporting war.
But after millions of us around the world hit the streets, they started to change their tune. It's the same with gay marriage. Ultimately, it doesn't matter who is in the White House. The only way we will win our rights is if we protest, mobilize, organize and build such a powerful, militant movement from below that they cannot ignore us!
Finally, it is important to say: We can NOT win alone. But if we unite our struggle with union members fighting to preserve their jobs, with women fighting to defend abortion rights, with people of color defending affirmative action, then we can! My partner is not here today, because she went out to support the locked out Darigold workers this morning. Working people are already fighting on so many fronts. We need to get together in a mighty front for civil, labor and human rights on an international scale. The problems of this world know no borders and neither can we.
Working people, women, people of color, immigrants, gays, lesbians, transgenders and transsexuals--altogether we are not a minority or a "special interest" group! We are the mighty, powerful majority!
Issued by: National Radical Women
New Valencia Hall
1908 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94103 U
415-864-1278 • www.radicalwomen.org