I fear that there is much more furor about these negotiations in the LesBiGay Community than Ms. Seigal suggests. As she readily admits she is a "professional" and her job is to get a deal done and move on. Those of us that remain in NM will be left to deal with the aftermath of her skills as a "professional lobbyist".
As I have said elsewhere, to Ms. Seigal and others, my problems with these negotiations starts with the fact that my rights are the subject of negotiations with religious leaders that I do not support nor believe have any right to cast me into the pit of second class citizenship. Everything that I have heard since the initial news of these discussions supports my fear that these unappointed and unelected representatives of the LesBiGay community have little interest in its feelings or opinions.
As I understand it these negotiations are aimed at dealing with the Church's objections to use of the word marriage in the Domestic Partnership (DP) bill. They disliked the fact that the DP bill used the word marriage and said that Domestic Partners had the same rights as a married couple. This appears to be based on the fact that the Church opposes the use of the word "marriage" in any way, shape of form that may connote some dignity to a lesbian or gay relationship. Hence all we need to do is yank the word "marriage" out of the DP bill and all would be well.
My underlying problem with this effort is that it simply reeks of the old ploy by the Southern segregationist - separate but equal. I, as a child of the 50's, who grew up in Alabama knows what this means, how it turned out back then and am not excited about revisiting it again. Its as if all the NAACP needed to do was sit down with Bull Conner and change a few words on their signs and in their songs and everything would be just lovely.
Certainly the folks at Legislative Services have their work cut out for them. To enumerate a list of all the rights and responsibilities of marriage while never mentioning the sacred word will be a massive task and its almost guaranteed that "things" will be left out. Whether these will be sins of omission or commission history will never now. I certainly look forward to reviewing this list and wonder how the Bishops will respond to it. Surely the production of the "list" will eviscerate the spirit of the original bill. Under this scheme our "partnerships" will never equal marriage, frankly they won't even equal a Domestic Partnership - they will just be a list of things to be negotiated like how many dozen eggs you get for a dollar or the cost current of an indulgence. Here Lucifer lies with the details. When it lists that a LesBiGay couple has the right to adoption what will the "Church" say? When the howl from the fundamentalist comes up will the Catholic Church be silent, join in or will they defend our rights to adopt children? Wanna make a bet what "they" do?
Moreover and from a tactical viewpoint probably much, much, much worse - this legislation will quickly be seen as a "list", as Seigal herself says, of our rights and responsibilities to be picked apart and ridiculed by our opponents. The production of such a "list" violates the basic principles of Politics 101 and is an out and out disaster. It makes me wonder about the political skill set of those that are suppose to be representing "us".
Once the "list" is produced then the real negotiations will begin in Santa Fe and I don't expect us to fare well by them. We will be whipsawed from stem to stern and rights will disappear or be limited all along the Legislation's tortuous path from when our "representatives" prostrate themselves before the Catholic Church to seek their indulgence to the numerous and sundry Legislative Committees that the bill will have to move through. Since we will have agreed to tying our basic human rights to a "list" subject to negotiations every Committee that has some jurisdiction over some component of that "list" will have to have its say. Surely adoption will be the topic of some heated hearings. No doubt it will be the first to go or to be "studied later" then other things will follow. All the while what our opponents cannot remove they will poison so that ultimately the "list" dies as a cruel joke or, even worse, we will have our "marriage-less", meaningless "list" passed and be signed into law - a disaster for all to see.
I have no doubt that those running the other side's negotiations understand perfectly what the production of this "list" means and worry that we are fundamentally out gunned at the negotiating table. This added to the fact that the Governor and our negotiator wants a bill passed, any bill will probably do, makes me fear the outcome of these negotiations.
In closing I must ask - why the rush to cement our status as second class citizens in New Mexico? Its quite possible that this bill will be worse than no bill at all. Time is on our side - sometimes the best thing to do is wait.
Friday, April 24, 2009
In an article by David Alire Garcia titled "N.M. Catholic Church, gay activists seek compromise on domestic partnerships" some the internal controversy in the Lesbian and Gay Community that has surrounded these talks starts to erupt. Having been a part of that conversation and knowing that my views and those of other I respect were being ignored I decided to repurpose one of my emails as a comment and throw some fat publicly on the fire.