Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Marriage of Economic Civil Rights

Using your "morals" as an excuse to refuse birth control, or emergency contraception, or any other prescription or medical procedure is inexcusable. This is not the 1400's: "Oh, I'm sorry, I can't save (or better) your life because the Almighty God wills it so." Uh, uh. We have moved through the Age of Reason and the Enlightenment, so lets move on and do our jobs.

But, in the argument over Prop 8 that quickly went to the economics of weddings, I tended to think that if a florist or caterer didn't want the business of non-hetero couples, so be it. It's your economic, social and (yes) moral loss. I mean we boycott businesses for political reasons all the time, this seemed to be in that vein.

In my own search for vendors, I actively sought out if not outwardly feminist folks, people who did not swallow the WIC Kool Aid.* I wasn't interested in being around people, and more importantly, giving them my money, if all they were going to do was talk about my big daaaaaaaaayyyy and freak out when then realized I wasn't wearing a veil.

But, then I read this blog by Kevin Drum. And he brought up an very good point:
After all, do same-sex couples really want to hire photographers and caterers who make it clear they loathe them? Probably not. But then, you might have asked the same thing 50 years ago: do Southern blacks really want to eat at lunch counters where they obviously aren't welcome? As it turned out, yes.
It turns out, this really isn't about a simple case of wedding vendors, after all.
But once they start covering bog ordinary commercial establishments that don't have even a tenuous connection to a church and want to discriminate merely because they don't like gays — well, that's a line that gets pretty hard to draw pretty fast. What's worse, in some places it's a line that would essentially take over entire towns. If a caterer can refuse to sell me a wedding cake just because I'm gay — despite state law that would normally outlaw such discrimination — can a landlord refuse to rent me and my newly married partner an apartment despite fair housing laws saying he has to?
So this really isn't about just hiring vendors. It is about rights, no matter how you slice it, because we cannot separate economics from civil rights. We can certainly separate marriage from religion. Have a super religious wedding if you want, not everyone needs to take communion, or jump over a broom, but everyone should have the opportunity to file a simple piece of paper with their county clerk and enjoy the municipal, state and federal rights that it provides. Thank goodness it looks like we are on our way.

*No, not the social program for mothers and children...the Wedding Industrial Complex. Trust me, this is not an exaggeration.

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be nice.


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