The article argues that Thomas Disch, who lost a fight to keep his apartment in New York City a year ago, killed himself recently because he couldn't get married. The connection to same-sex marriage is that the apartment was under his male partner's name, and had they been married, Disch would have been able to keep the apartment.
The article breezes by other factors that may have contributed to Disch's tragic decision: the death of his partner, the fact that his second home in upstate New York was damaged in a flood, his diabetes, his difficulty walking.
While it's tragic that he took his life, there simply isn't enough here to say that same-sex marriage could have saved his life. We simply don't know enough about Disch's life to make a claim like that.
And it comes off as using his death to push a political agenda.
I generally have no problem with doing so if someone's death was caused by something identifiable, like lax regulation of a certain product, since that can be a starting point to prevent others' deaths. But the claim that it was discriminatory marriage laws... well, that's a bit much.
(Especially considering that the article never proves that he needed marriage. What it does discuss is that he needed fairer housing protections that would have allowed him to keep the apartment, no matter what his relationship to the person on the lease was. He was living there, and being displaced by the landlord was wrong. It doesn't matter if he was the same-sex partner, grandparent, godchild, close friend, second cousin, or care-taker of the person on the lease, he should have had a right to keep his home.)
The San Francisco AIDS Foundation applauds the recent California Supreme Court decision to overturn the state's ban on same-sex marriage, an important step towards equality for all Californians. The Foundation strongly supports marriage equality both because it is an important civil rights issue, and because there is emerging evidence that suggests gay marriage may be an effective HIV prevention strategy.
To their discredit, the foundation's brain-trust didn't see fit to link to any actual scientific proof to back up their startling claim, but it is certainly in keeping with AIDS Inc in San Francisco making pretty unbelievable predictions related to HIV, and offering little to nil proof.[...]
And if SF AIDS Foundation leaders endorse gay marriage as HIV prevention, will they next champion abstinence until marriage?
I doubt it. The point isn't that they've adopted the Religious Right's mindset on every issue (i.e. that marriage means that no one will cheat on their partners anymore or start using condoms, or that abstinence education actually prevents STD's), the issue here is that marriage has become such a central feature in gay rights activism that everything has started to be analyzed from that point. Everyone's trying to hitch themselves to that bandwagon, and all that does is make other problems facing the queer community invisible.
Same-sex marriage isn't a cure for even a significant part of America's health care crisis, it won't give the necessary protections to other people who should have a right to be in the hospital with loved ones or serve as health care proxies (unmarried lovers, close friends, caregivers), and it won't provide even a majority of LGBT people with sick leave to care for significant others.
If the producers of that YouTube video actually cared about reforming the US medical system and solving the cited problems for everyone who faces them, they'd be pushing single-payer health care, advance health care directives (that allow people to designate easily their health care proxies and who can visit them in the hospital), and paid sick leave for all American workers (half don't get any sick days) that they can use on themselves or anyone who needs their care while sick.
Instead those specific, material issues come off as a pretext to push for marriage. They're huge problems for tens of millions of Americans, gay and straight, and the number of situations like the one in the video where same-sex marriage would solve all the problems mentioned are few and far between. A real commitment to health care reform does not lead one to same-sex marriage.
The idea's out there, though, that marriage is the cornerstone of the LGBT community's problems, and it's easy to see how many of us might just think that a Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage all over the country would mean that 90% of the movement is going to pack up its bags, go home, put its collective feet up, and call it a movement.
And most LGBT people, the ones who didn't choose to get married as well as the ones who did, will still have the same problems as before. Thomas Disch still would be living with whatever caused him to want to take his life. People will still be contracting HIV at alarming rates. And the man in that video, or other men like him who didn't go down and get married or couldn't marry whoever needed their help in the hospital, will still not be allowed to visit their partners in the hospital. 48 million Americans still won't have health care coverage.
But, I guess, the benefit would be that we'd stop hearing about how same-sex marriage can solve all of our problems. The downside would be that we, for the most part, will be in the same position as before.