The chicken or the egg?

BTL Staff
By | 2010-04-22T09:00:00-04:00 April 22nd, 2010|Uncategorized|

What’s more desirable: to have full equality in our laws but be hated by our neighbors, or to have social acceptance but no rights? Moreover, what comes first?
“There has to be both,” AL GAMEA President Christiano Ramazzotti said bluntly. “The social acceptance would affect the government, and the government would show support of gay rights.”
He’s absolutely right. The two go hand in hand, and one without the other isn’t worth much at all.
In the United States, social acceptance of the LGBT community is high, relative to many other areas in the world. Although hate crimes and other injustices still happen often, many gay and lesbian Americans can go about their lives without fear of being killed, beaten or falsely imprisoned. And yet our rights are almost non-existent. Hospital visitation rights here. National hate crime coverage there. A few measly states with same-sex relationship recognition. We are handed crumbs in terms of laws, even while our own president voices his support for us continually and LGBT people are able to rise to ranks of media, entertainment and political stardom.
In a country like Israel, the opposite is true. Laws have been handed out seemingly much faster and easier than we are able to gain them here. Whether its due to the strength of the community or the attitudes of elected officials, it’s hard to say.
But here’s the rundown:
In Israel, consensual sex between two adult men or women has been legal since 1988. In the U.S., it took a Supreme Court ruling in 2003.
In Israel, unregistered cohabitation between same-sex couples has occurred since 1994, and in 2006, the country began recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other countries. Here, the Defense of Marriage Act prohibits the recognition of couples in any federal way, including benefits, adoptions and immigration.
In 2005, Israel’s Supreme Court ruled that a lesbian couple could legally adopt each other’s children. Similar rulings in favor of same-sex couples adopting followed. In the U.S., only a handful of states have performed second-parent or joint adoptions, and even fewer have laws assuring that right.
And in Israel, gays and lesbians serve openly in their country’s military, and are ensured that they will face no discrimination for their sexual orientation. If you watch the news at all in the U.S., you’ll know that we are currently waging war against Obama and Congress to achieve that exact right.
Oh, and remember the Employment Non-Discrimination Act that would protect U.S. LGBTs from discrimination in the workplace? Yeah, Israel has that, too.
Does it make you jealous? Not surprisingly, it might.
So why can Jerusalem not hold a Pride event without the threat or occurrence of violence? Why do some LGBT people still leave Israel and come to the U.S.? Why did a masked gunman open fire on a Tel Aviv center for LGBT youth?
As with the civil rights struggle of black Americans (another undeniable parallel), it takes more than laws to change hearts and minds, and it takes more than social tolerance or acceptance to gain equal rights. Whether a country has more of one or the other, and whichever one comes first, there’s no denying: we have to demand both.

About the Author:

BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 25th anniversary.