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Marriage Equality Is an Anchor for Full Social Equality

Marriage equality

Please welcome Roland Palencia, incoming Executive Director for Equality California, for a guest post here on marriage equality and social equality in general. Roland has a long history of activism in LGBT and health care circles, working at the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and currently at L.A. Care Health Plan. For more on his background and an interview, you can read P8TT friend Karen Ocamb’s interview with Roland immediately after he was hired.

As has been extensively discussed here, Equality California is holding a series of town halls on whether to go back to the ballot in 2012 to repeal Prop 8.

Roland starts on July 5th -Adam

By Roland Palencia

June 13, 2011 should be declared a national “Day of Shame,” as proponents of Proposition 8 have hit another shameless low. These full-time LGBT phobic professionals have filed a motion to dismiss Judge Vaughn R. Walker’s decision that declared Prop 8 unconstitutional because he is gay, in a committed relationship with another man, and could presumably benefit from the outcome of his own decision. This argument is insulting, and given the state’s financial crisis, it is also a waste of valuable tax dollars that could otherwise be invested in vital services.

The motion is one more indignity in a string of indignities that started with the passing of Prop 8 in November 2008. Prop 8 was a defining moment for us as individuals and as a movement as we witnessed our basic rights taken away by a slim majority of voters. Many lessons were learned during the Prop 8 campaign and one of them was that marriage equality, whether we win it back through the ballot or through the courts, must be connected to a number of issues that intersect with a broader movement for social and economic justice. The good news is that marriage equality inherently embodies a number of these issues, which are of great concern to the diverse LGBT communities and allies.

Access to affordable healthcare is one of those overlapping issues. In California, hundreds of thousands of same-sex couples and LGBT families don’t have access to affordable healthcare as healthcare insurance is a “pay to play” commodity that is traded in the volatile market of ever-increasing deductibles and premiums. Access to adequate and affordable healthcare should instead be treated as a basic human right so all Californians, including LGBT communities and people with HIV/AIDS, could have fair access and meet this basic need. Yet low-income people and increasingly the middle class are ever more deprived of the basic right to live a healthy life.

Currently, there are limited pathways to accessing affordable preventive and medical care: through an individual’s own financial resources, charity; or through an employer who provides this benefit for their employees, and in some cases, extending an employee’s coverage to their spouses and domestic partners. In this latter context, marriage equality affords us equal access to affordable healthcare. The issues become linked.

Although Equality California, legislators, and community advocates are increasingly closing the inequality gaps between marriage and domestic partnerships, a two-tier “separate but equal” system can never achieve full equality. The institution of marriage is universally understood and unequivocal in its rights and responsibilities and having a separate system leaves many vulnerable to second class treatment. Furthermore, the current unequal relationship between civil marriage and domestic partnerships in the eyes of thousands of employers and insurers provides an environment where domestic partners run the risk of not being offered healthcare benefits that their heterosexual counterparts might receive. Only those Californians who have the financial means and are aware of protections they have in this state are able to rectify this wrong. Most LGBT people, however, might not have the resources to effectively address this flaw and therefore suffer from this inequality. Without fully restoring marriage equality, and without the elimination of this two-tier system, this kind of discrimination is most likely to happen. Because most personal bankruptcies are due to exorbitant health expenses, particularly those who are hospitalized, having access to affordable healthcare through marriage also becomes an issue of economic justice as health insurance provides a level of economic stability.

In future posts, I will describe how marriage equality is an anchor right that is connected to many other social issues best addressed by a fully intersected social and economic justice movement.


  • 1. Sagesse  |  June 13, 2011 at 2:38 pm


  • 2. David_Sandy_UT  |  June 13, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    Utah has a rich religious heritage. Approximately 99 and 44/100 percent of Utahns would affirm that they try to live the ethic of reciprocity, also known as The Golden Rule. When discussing important issues like those outlined above, I ask explicitly, "How do YOU want to be treated by your neighbors, community leaders, government officials, and society as a whole?" Like magic, they start pulling excuses out of their excuse storage orifices. Far too many Utahns are self-deceived hypocrites.

  • 3. Kim  |  June 13, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    If a gay judge is presumed to be prejudiced in a case on gay marriage, then wouldn't a straight judge also be presumed to be prejudiced (the other way) in that same case? If, as the opposition does, one believes that same-sex marriage would damage straight marriage, then anyone who has, or plans to have, a straight marriage would presumably stand to lose if same sex marriage were legal. Therefore, no one of any sexuality at all is qualified to judge this case.

  • 4. Kate  |  June 13, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    OT, but just wanted to say that I love the "rainbow" colors inside Gabrielle Gifford's collar in the recent photo released from her rehab. Pretty neat, albeit unintentional, no doubt.

  • 5. Ann S.  |  June 13, 2011 at 4:37 pm


  • 6. Ronnie  |  June 13, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    Subscribing & sharing……<3…..Ronnie:

    Glee’s Dianna Agron Calls For LGBT Acceptance
    By Editors

    Here is a quote from Dianna's, who plays "Quinn Fabray", amazing essay that she posted on her Tumblr:

    “Kindness moves mountains,” Agron wrote. “Acceptance opens doors, makes room for change, diffuses misunderstanding. Every day, people commit hate crimes because of misunderstandings. Hate effects the target, and consumes the person behind the gun. It is crazy to realize that we have been in war for almost our entire existence on this planet. Many times for reasons of greed and hate.”

    (me) I highly recommend reading her essay (follow my link to find the link you need to travel through the ethers to her essay). it is very well written, thorough, heartfelt & on point.

    GLEEKS RULE!!!!!…..<3….Ronnie

  • 7. Max Voltage SF  |  June 13, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    BTW… Today's hearing was in Federal Court, not State Court, which makes the comment about "wasted State resources" a bit off target.

    Just sayin

  • 8. David Henderson  |  June 13, 2011 at 10:11 pm

    Also, the wording makes it sound like the proponents filed another motion today, instead of arguing today for their motion filed quite some time ago. The article could certainly use some editing for clarity and accuracy.

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