Sunday, April 6, 2014

Why it bothers me to say I'm an ally

I had a thought yesterday that's been nagging at me.  I've been called a "straight ally" before, and I've called myself the same, but yesterday, I thought it sounded like I'm in some other class of people, and I don't have a stake in the fight for civil rights for people with sexual orientations and gender identities different from mine.

I have friends in my life who don't have the same rights I do.  I do have a stake in this fight, because the fight for civil rights involves the happiness and well-being of my friends.  If they have to go through hardships and discrimination, the resulting turmoil affects me, too, because I care about them.  I care what happens to them, and when they can't do the same things I can because some people believe that the way they love is a "sin", it saddens and angers me.

Let's say someone I've known for ten years has a same-sex partner who gets in a tragic accident.  That partner ends up on life support, and the friend of mine can't make the decision to pull the plug because he's not the spouse, and he hasn't jumped through the legal hoops necessary to be in a position to make the decision.  That's not fair at all--especially if family comes in and makes a decision contrary to the wishes of my friend.

We don't have to go to extreme examples.  There are tax benefits to marriage.  There are legal benefits.  Credit benefits.  A person better versed in all of the rights one can't have because one cannot get married can give a large list, I'm sure (I've heard it's around 250 items long), but the point is that these are things people can't do because other people--people who aren't affected by the relationships at all--believe that legislating what they believe to be a "sin" is appropriate.

Anyway, call me an "ally" or whatever, if it suits a purpose, because not everyone who has had their rights denied is a personal friend, of course, but I'm on their side anyway.  However, I'm more than that.  I do have friends who are being denied the rights I enjoy, and, as a friend, I want to see them treated equally under the law.

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