Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The problem with incrementalism

What's the problem with incrementalism? A new article in Newsweek takes it on. Emphases mine.
But here’s the catch—the bigger issues are consistently on the verge of happening, but never seem to be a done deal.....

Paul Yandura, a Democratic strategist and gay-rights organizer, gives one example of the disconnect. “My trainer, my aunt—everyone called to congratulate me on the end of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” I had to explain to them that the law is still on the books and now it’s completely open-ended as to when it might get repealed. They were appalled.” Even conservatives like Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council have readily admitted in conversations with NEWSWEEK that smaller gains, such as hospital visitation rights, help conservatives fight larger ones like the legalization of gay marriage. “The next time I debate someone on TV about same-sex marriage, that’s exactly what I’ll tell them—I’ll say, ‘The president already took care of that, didn’t he?’ ”

Cathy Renna, an LGBT media adviser, says ...many people think that gays have the right to marry and, for example, that gays are protected from discrimination in the workplace despite the fact that the Employment Non-Discrimination Act has yet to come to a vote on the Hill, ...Polling has shown that 61 percent of heterosexual Americans don’t realize that federal law does not provide protections to employees based on sexual orientation. “The amount of progress we have made culturally has vastly surpassed where we’re at on the policy level. And that can be aggravating.”
So, the slowly-slowly approach may actually solidify our second-class status more than a big change would.And, bills like the pending Domestic Partners Benefits and Obligations (DPBO) act that would give some protections to federal employees might likewise do moreharm than good for the longterm goal of equality. In fact the Obama DoJ, in defending DOMA, points at the DPBO as a reason why marriage equality is not necessary.

WOuldn't that be a supreme irony if our "fierce advocate"'s incrementalism maneuvered us into permanent 2nd class?

1 comment:

NancyP said...

It's incumbent on our community to keep on publicizing specific instances of discrimination, and to state that the victims of discrimination have no legal recourse.

I don't see the DP benefits bill going anywhere. All together now... WHAT ABOUT THE REST OF US, THE MAJORITY WHO DON'T WORK FOR THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT....

I am disturbed that trans-inclusive ENDA has not been made a priority. Potentially, ENDA can be framed as reflecting old-fashioned conservative American work ethic, without having to step onto the "culture wars" territory.