Letters to the Editor

Marriage, Not Civil Unions

March 1, 2006

To the Editor:

I want to congratulate Alan Van Capelle on his courage for taking a stand in the gay community that is long overdue. Van Capelle gets it right on the money when he questions how we can open our purses to a candidate who continues to stand so strongly in support of the Defense of Marriage Act (“ESPA Blasts Clinton,” by Paul Schindler, Feb. 23-Mar. 1). DOMA legislation was passed in 1996—10 years ago. Why hasn’t Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton evolved?

In 2004, although she voted against Bush’s Federal Marriage Amendment, she was quoted as having said before the vote in her Senate floor speech that marriage is not just a bond but a sacred bond between a man and a woman. How much longer do we need to wait for her to become enlightened?

Van Capelle is on the mark when he suggests that Hillary Clinton needs to be held to the same standards as other New York Democratic candidates. We need to hold elected officials’ feet to the fire even if it makes us uncomfortable because it makes them uncomfortable. And so that may mean not selling tickets for fundraisers and not giving access to our queer dollars carte blanche. In a democracy we should not have to buy our way into dialogue. If she needs to be further educated on the issues—then just meet with us. When was the last time Hillary Clinton came to our LGBT Center and had an open meeting with our community?

To paraphrase Audre Lorde, “Our silence will not protect us.” The LGBT Democratic clubs and community leaders should be out publicly supporting the questions that Van Capelle is raising. After all, the LGBT clubs were founded to reform Democratic Party politics because queers were being shut out.

On a personal note, I have been in a loving committed relationship for almost 10 years with a woman who is the light of my life. One night at a restaurant in Chelsea, I got down on my knee, pulled out a ring with a sparkly pink crystal, and asked her to marry me. When we told my future mother-in-law we were going to be married, you could just feel her excitement and emotion on the other end of the phone. It was not a moment that that the words “civil union” could have created.

Mary Ann Carlese

Associate Executive Director Professional Staff Congress/ AFT Local 2334 New York City

More Progress Needed

March 7, 2006

To the Editor:

Congratulations on your “Progress Report 2006.” I would suggest that one voice was silent—older members of our community. As a single lesbian over the age of 50, I did not see myself as a priority in the progress reports. Those in their 70s and 80s are struggling quietly with insufficient support from our community. The fastest growing part of New York City’s population is the 85-plus. Surely, some of those folks are gay. Many issues discussed in your report impact older LGBT individuals, but no community leader was identified specifically with this part of our community.

Same-sex marriage, equal benefits, programs helping youth are extremely important. No mention is made that one of the fastest growing groups of those diagnosed with HIV/AIDS is the 50-plus population. Although this may be controversial, sometimes I get concerned that with the enormous work being done on same-sex marriage, other important issues that impact our lives go to the back burner. This is not meant to be disrespectful to the incredibly hard and necessary work being done on same-sex marriage. It’s just to challenge us.

Just as we demand that elected officials stand up for full equality for our community, so should our community stand up for full equality in advocating for all of us. Many organizations include issues of older LGBTs in their work, but lack of a voice in the “Progress Report 2006” speaks for itself.

Clearly we have a challenge ahead—giving meaningful voice to older LGBT individuals.

Bobbie Sackman



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