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Marriage or Bust

Marriage or Bust


COMMENTARY: The media has been whipped into a frenzy in the wake of an NAACP resolution urging the Tea Party to repudiate supposedly racist elements within the movement. As the NAACP and the rest of the left knows, or at least should know, the tea party isn't a political party, lacks a formal structure, and has no leadership empowered to speak for the entire movement. With this knowledge in hand, I assume the NAACP expects every person who has ever shown up at a tea party event or even believes in the tea party's message to post a sign in their front yard stating: "I repudiate any racist element within the tea party." The logistics of this demand aside, the NAACP's decision to pass this resolution does serve one important purpose - to confirm just how irrelevant the organization is to the modern challenges facing black Americans.

The good news is that the NAACP isn't alone in sinking to irrelevance. Indeed, compared to the disconnect between most national gay groups and the challenges facing gay and lesbian families in 2010 - even the NAACP and its desperate cry for attention looks relevant.

The national gay rights groups who make up Gay, Inc. share much in common. Almost all of them are funded by the same handful of rich, liberal donors; almost all of them take their marching orders from the Democratic National Committee; and almost all of them pursue a legislative agenda that offers the same policy prescriptions - marriage and more government.

Indeed its pursuit of marriage at all costs, at often at the expense of other legislation that would improve the lives of average gay Americans, is one of the most serious strategic and political blunders in modern history.

Before the left accuses me of selling out the fight for marriage, let me make it clear -- marriage is important and I support marriage rights for gay couples. I believe marriage is a debate worth having and a fight worth fighting. Marriage is certainly personally important to me -- in March of this year, I married my partner here in Washington, D.C. That having been said, we aren't anywhere close to marriage equality nationwide and we won't be for a very long time. Why should immediate improvements to retirement security, tax fairness and healthcare for gay and lesbian families be ignored?

The gay rights movement was born out of the Stonewall riots in New York City in 1969: an uprising against government action. In truly Orwellian fashion, however, Gay, Inc. has worked feverishly to morph a movement that had its roots in getting the government out of our bars, out of our bedrooms and out of our lives, into a movement hell bent on expanding the reach and power of that same government.

There is no question that the gay and lesbian community today faces challenges. Our families face many of the same challenges that all Americans face. Every single night, in millions of kitchens across this country, gay and lesbian couples sit around the kitchen table and worry about many of the things our straight counterparts do. We worry about having the resources to live comfortably in retirement, we worry about making ends meet -- especially in this tough environment, we worry about our jobs, and about healthcare.

Sadly, on issue after issue, the leadership of Gay, Inc. ignores pragmatic solutions that could benefit tens of millions of gay and lesbian Americans today -- not 10 or 20 years down the road.

When given the chance to reform social security to provide for personal savings accounts allowing gay and lesbian individuals to leave their retirement to their partners, something we are denied from doing under the current system, Gay, Inc. tells us they aren't interested. When given the chance to support tax reforms like replacing the current discriminatory tax code with the Fair Tax, a sales tax based system that would eliminate the income tax, Gay, Inc. tells us they aren't interested. When given the chance to repeal the discriminatory death tax, a tax that hits gay couples and gay small business owners disproportionately hard, Gay, Inc. tells us they aren't interested. When given the chance to support free market healthcare reforms, reforms that would expand the availability of domestic partner benefits and end our reliance on finding a job with an employer benevolent enough or enlightened enough to offer benefits for our partners and families, Gay, Inc. tells us they aren't interested.

Not only would these policy proposals improve the lives of gay and lesbian families, each one of these proposals would improve the lives of all Americans. Personal savings accounts are the only way to save social security. The program teeters on the verge of bankruptcy and there is no way to permanent solvency for the program without personal savings accounts. The Fair Tax would increase incomes, free up capital, spur unprecedented economic growth and create millions of new jobs. Permanent repeal of the death tax would not only end a morally reprehensible form of double taxation, but economists say its permanent repeal could create up to 1.5 million new jobs. Free market healthcare reform would lower costs across the system and put individuals - rather than corporations or the government - in charge of their own healthcare.

While the debate over marriage continues, we as a community should support pragmatic reforms that will reduce discrimination against gay and lesbian couples while at the same time strengthening these systems for all Americans.

It is time for the self-appointed leadership of Gay, Inc. to recognize that with leadership comes responsibility. If you claim to speak for the gay community, if you claim to set the agenda for our community, then you have a requirement to make sure you support legislation and policy initiatives that would improve the lives of gay and lesbian Americans today. It is time to abandon marriage or bust.
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