Gay Marriage

Not Every Gay Political Issue Is Connected to Every Other Gay Political Issue

A comparison between a Senate vote and Indiana's controversy is more baffling than enlightening.


Nothing is more romantic than parity in federal benefits.
Credit: Dolgachov |

Note to Politico: Just because "Issue A" is about gay politics doesn't mean it bears any sort of relationship to an "Issue B" that is also about gay politics.

It's worth a mention because Rachael Bade's approach to reporting on a Senate procedural vote was so utterly confusing and baffling that it took several reads to even figure out the comparison she was trying to make:

Senate Republicans, it seems, want nothing to do with Mike Pence on gay rights.

In a surprise procedural vote Monday night, the GOP-controlled Senate backed a pitch to give gay married couples equal access to certain entitlements and constitutional protections — suggesting Republicans want to stay away from the same-sex drama plaguing the Indiana governor.

The chamber gave voice vote approval — without a single conservative objection or request for a roll-call vote — to a motion that would asked budget conferees, currently hashing out a deal with the House, to add language to the deal ensuring "all legally married same-sex spouses have equal access to the Social Security and veterans' benefits they have earned and receive equal treatment under the law pursuant to the Constitution."

What do Social Security and veterans' benefits have to do with Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which is about whether citizens can use religious beliefs as a reason to be exempted from following certain laws and concerns of whether it allows for discrimination against gay people? Absolutely nothing, but it was the latest gay politics blow up, so obviously they have to be connected somehow. (When I first read this I thought from the first couple of paragraphs it was about Indiana's state Senate and was really, really confused).

Bade's argument is essentially that the backlash in Indiana is causing Senate Republicans to keep their mouths shut to avoid controversy, but we're talking about a voice vote connected to budget negotiations, and hardly anybody is paying attention to it at all.

Bade notes that the Senate already previously voted in favor of the provision weeks ago and lists all the Republicans who went on the record in support. That also means all the Republicans who opposed the provision are already on the record, so keeping their mouths shut now doesn't actually mean anything at all. They are not avoiding attention. They've already made their positions clear, by name, and were in the minority.

Bade seems to think the actual wording won't make it into the final budget because of Republicans in the House, but doesn't the Supreme Court's ruling in United States v. Windsor require that the federal government do exactly what the motion says anyway? Kind of, sort of. Reading the press release from the amendment's sponsor, Sen Ben Schatz (D-Hawaii), actually casts better light on what he's trying to accomplish than the news reports about it. There are problems with some federal benefits for legally married same-sex couples who move to states that do not recognize same-sex marriages. He's trying to fix that gap.

His amendment calls for legislators to "affirm the need to for legislation to ensure that all legally married same-sex spouses have equal access to the Social Security and veterans' benefits they have earned." It is not binding.

The Supreme Court could render the entire debate moot by the end of June anyway, when they rule whether bans on same-sex marriage are violations of the 14th Amendment.

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  1. It was a Republican who proposed a formal legislative repeal of DOMA Section 3.

    Currently, 1 U.S. Code 7 reads

    In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word “marriage” means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word “spouse” refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.

    the proposed change will amend it to the following.

    “In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, as applied with respect to individuals domiciled in a State or in any other territory or possession of the United States the term ‘marriage’ shall not include any relationship which that State, territory, or possession does not recognize as a marriage, and the term ‘spouse’ shall not include an individual who is a party to a relationship that is not recognized as a marriage by that State, territory, or possession.”.

  2. I have it on good faith that every political issue is in fact connected to every other issue, via a red or blue TEAM button.

    1. But of course.
      -“I oppose rent controls.”
      -“What!? Why do you think women belong in the kitchen?”

  3. This is the thing that I find so tiring about the LGBT (yes I know I left off about 300 letters on that; I’m feeling lazy today) crowd: everything has to be about them. Every. Fucking. Thing.

    1. That doesn’t even make sense. The “LGBT crowd” exists to advocate for better treatment of gays within a broader social structure. Each LGBT individual goes about their day pretty much the same way every non-LGBT individual does.

      I find it so tiring that corporate boards make everything about their bottom line!
      I find it so tiring that baseball teams just practice and play baseball!

      Personally I worry when LGBT groups make things about broader racial, economic and social justice.

      1. There was a sign at the local YWCA: “YWCA – Eliminating Racism. Empowering women.”

        Note which comes first. Feminism is dead, and they’re coming for the gay rights movement next.

    2. LGBT (yes I know I left off about 300 letters on that

      Just go with LGBTQWERTY.

      1. R C, have you been reading rec.arts.sf.fandom* lately? Great minds…

        Kevin R

        *That’s USENET, children

      2. Is it ok if I still just say ‘queermo’?

  4. Gay marriage is itself not intrinsically tied to the federal and state benefits currently provided to straight marriages at the moment. Arguably the most elegant solution would have been civil unions for everyone. Unfortunately, rather than providing for justice, codifying gay marriage simply perpetuates the harmful issues plaguing government-sanctioned marriage in general.

  5. If you can think of a better way to keep RFRA in the news, Politico would like to hear it.

    1. Here you go:

      Michigan Auto Shop Owner Faces Backlash After Declaring He Won’t Serve Gays…..erve-gays/

      I’m starting to wonder if he didn’t see the pizza people making bank, and decided to copycat.

      1. Perhaps. Or maybe the whole thing has just pissed him off. Gays are a very small minority. Most people in the world and throughout history have not liked gays. That is not a good thing of course but it is the truth. Gays have absolutely lost their minds if they think embracing mob tactics is going to work out well for them.

        1. I would disagree somewhat – gays have switched from social outcasts to flavor of the month. “Homophobe” has become what “queer” used to be – an insult (while “queer” is now a token of pride).

          It’s not a matter of logic – a large section of the public has simply switched from thinking that gay people (not just their behavior) are gross to thinking that people who won’t recognize gay relationships are gross.

          There may of course be a backlash eventually, but by that time the gay-affirming policies will be well on their way to having the same sacred status as anti-racist laws.

          1. Yes, gays are sacred and fashionable right now. That won’t last forever. And no two situations are the same. Just because race laws became sacred doesn’t mean gay laws will. Every situation is different. Time will tell. It may be that gays forever get the revenge on their enemies they seem to so crave, but I doubt it. More likely, when the backlash comes it will come very hard and they will regret ever accepting preferred social status.

      2. I don’t really get the indignation. If someone told me they wouldn’t serve me because of, idon’t know, the color of my eyes, I’d probably just laugh and surreptitiously shit in their mailbox. Why go to he government?

  6. Sen Ben Schatz (D-Hawaii)

    BRIAN Schatz, sir

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