Common Enemy: Choice and D.O.M.A.

rainbow_flagIn 1996, I watched, with ever increasing disgust, as Congress was consumed by the debate over *insert appropriate gasp* Gay Marriage. I heard those who were elected by the people, for the people, spout everything from rhetorical distortions to outright lies–all in the name of passing some of the most discriminatory legislation this country has ever seen.

Since then, I have watched, with no less disgust, as the same arguments (and fallacies) are rehashed on the state and local level as our country wrestles with the differences between its ideology and its rhetoric.

What on Earth does the battle over gay marriage have to do with reproductive choice, you ask?

Put simply–the two have a common enemy. Of course, there are a few folks who are pro-choice, but not in favor of gay marriage (my brother), or who are in favor of gay marriage, but still consider themselves “pro-life.” But by and large, ideologically speaking, opposition to abortion rights and to marriage equality for LGBT people go hand-in-hand.

Yes, my friends, by and large, the same people who want to keep women from making their own reproductive choices also want to make sure that the women of this country don’t have the option of marrying someone of the same gender (and we women folk should especially have to stay away from anyone who doesn’t meet their narrow definition of what men and women should be).

A short visit to the American Family Association web site (I know, it’s painful) quickly illustrates my point. Right now, they are up-in-arms over “ObamaCare” and “Socialized Medicine”, but the the gems in the sidebar show that what their view of an ideal America does not include equal rights for LGBT folks (a particularly gross headline from their site “ObamaCare Likely to Mandate Free “Sex-Change” Surgeries.”)

A tiny bit of digging (clicking on the “Who is AFA” tab on the site) makes clear that anti-choice and anti-gay go together:

To that end, AFA spurs activism directed to:

* Preservation of Marriage and the Family
* Decency and Morality
* Sanctity of Human Life
* Stewardship
* Media Integrity

The moral of this story, my friends, is that it is imperative that we offer our support to our elected officials both when they offer pro-choice, pro-woman legislation and policy and as they work to repeal bad legislation such as the Defense of Marriage Act.

The Obama administration has stated support for a repeal of D.O.M.A and the DOJ has begun working on briefs and filings to challenge D.O.M.A. in court. An article in the Washington Post is but one in a flurry of recent news stories on this issue.

It is crucial, my pro-choice friends, that we support attempts to repeal what is not only terrible legislation (I won’t go into anti-D.O.M.A. arguments here), but what is also a powerful symbol of the success of right-wing rhetoric. The same language that demonizes LGBT individuals and couples also demonizes single women, family planning and choice. The “traditional family values” folks have been enormously successful at promoting their agenda over the years.

You might (or might not) be gay or lesbian, bisexual or transgender. You may even have reservations about gay marriage or about homosexuality, but if you accept that reproductive choice is a fundamental human right and that women must have control of our bodies that includes access to affordable reproductive health services–family planning, abortion and the like–well, then, it is up to you to work to defeat the entire “family values” agenda.

Same goes for my homo-sex having friends! As noted elsewhere on this site, queer sex is great birth control–no worries about needing an abortion for you. If you want to be able to get married, however, you would do well to get on board with us pro-choice folks.

In order to make any progress on either of these issues, we have to refuse to buy what they’re selling–there is no a la carte menu for the Traditional Family Values Model–you can’t get gay marriage, hold the abortion rights or fundies out of my uterus, minus those gays getting hitched–anymore than you can walk into a new car show room and order a Mazda6 with no tires!

Recent electoral victories may have given them more battles to fight, but they are determined. If you took even the briefest of grusome AFA website tours, you know that we have not vanquished our enemy. Our enemy is coiling, and it’s getting ready to strike again. It’s up to us to be ready, together.


  1. freewomyn says:

    This is absolutely an issue of coalition building. I’m always astounded when I talk to queer folks who aren’t down for choice.

  2. On the flip side, I’m amazed when I talk to women who are pursuing abortions, yet are staunching against gay marriage. Choice isn’t just about your uterus.

  3. Ha. Staunching. I meant “staunchly.” Sorry about that.

  4. Mrs. Mastro says:

    Freewomyn–Yes! It really is about coalition building. I will probably write more about that idea specifically later on, but for this one I wanted to call attention to the parallels between anti-choice rhetoric and anti-gay rhetoric–in my mind, they are directly related, both functionally and in terms of outcomes.

    Steph–no worries :) I knew what you meant! I am with you on the amazement part too–I once had an instructor who was black, gay and Republican. I spent a good amount of time pondering him and I concluded that he must be a unicorn. At some point, people have to realize that the GOP (or the crazy right, or whatever) is anti-a whole bunch of things that are really important and they do not represent the interests (or views) of most people. Of course, they especially don’t represent the interests of black, gay men.


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