Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Fight for equality affects all LGBT people, not just couples and soldiers

With all this talk of “equality” for gay people in relationships (the gay marriage issue), and for gay servicemembers (repealing the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy for the military), it’s important to bear in mind that these issues affect “singleton” and civilian gays indirectly and are important to everyone.

We’re seeing eldercare become a bigger issue, with LGBT and single or childless people drawn into it, and faced with the possibility that some states will start enforcing filial responsibility laws (leading to labyrinthine complications). I think that "established" gay media stays away from discussing filial responsibility out of fear of inadvertently nudging states toward enforcing it (it goes way beyond the issue of asset giveaways to parental impoverishment and sometimes presumes that the most available adult child is automatically responsible for a disabled parent). Furthermore, in this media-saturated quick information age, we’re learning about the need for adoptive parents like we’ve never seen before. And parents, who have an investment in lineage, often think nothing of expecting all their adult children be able to step in and raise their grandchildren if tragedy befalls one of their kids with a family. Hollywood seems to know this better than do the politicians: think of movies like “Raising Helen” and the TV series “Summerland”).

That means that LGBT people can be nudged toward family responsibility (including Philip Longman’s “other people’s children”) whether they want to or not. As for the military, remember all the talk about almost-mandatory national service and even the possibility of restoring the draft. It’s called shared risk and shared responsibility. That’s all the more reason for equal rights before taking equal responsibilities.

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