[oasis] [columns]

Blake Kanewischer

October 1996

White Picket Fences

The "white picket fence" dream is now becoming a larger portion of gay and lesbian lives. Gay and lesbian couples want to settle down, raise children, and have the nice white picket fence surrounding a house in the suburbs of a major city. More and more, these dreams are becoming reality.

Gays and lesbians everywhere have had few, if any, role models for a positive commitment to each other. In the past, many gay community leaders and activists advocated the sexual freedom philosophies that died with the 60s. However, with the sudden onslaught of the HIV virus, they started to play a different tune.

This different tune was played throughout much of the late 80s and to this day, but only recently is it becoming more and more possible (and accepted) for gay and lesbian couples to achieve their personal "white picket fence" dream.

Changes in legislation have prevented same-sex couples from being discriminated against in access to housing in the majority of jurisdictions across Canada, which is certainly one of the primary facets of the dream. These same legislative changes, unfortunately, haven't moved quite as fast when it comes to the sensitive (to some) topic of child-rearing by a gay or lesbian couple. Nor have legislators accepted that the nature of a same-sex commitment is much like that of a straight couple's marriage (or even cohabitation). As a result, the important victories are still waiting to be won in the "white picket fence" fight, as I call it.

That's why all gays and lesbians, even the teenagers, must stand up and support the rights of gay and lesbian couples to have their relationships stand on an equal legal and ecclesiastical footing with those of straight couples. This entails recognition of same-sex marriages, absolute recognition that a same-sex couple can raise a child if they so choose, and other assorted matters which contribute to the white picket fence dream.

There are those gays and lesbians who say that marriage is a bankrupt institution, and that by asking for marriage rights for gays and lesbians, that we're actually pandering to the tyranny of a morally bankrupt religious right. Certainly, this may be true, however, I still believe that most people recognize and sanctify marriage as the most appropriate type of relationship. All it takes is one brief look at the number of people who disapprove of "illegitimate" children and of divorce (even in today's divorce-ridden society) to make this clear.

So, what do we gain by fighting for marriage and adoption rights and other civil and legal rights granted to straight married (and common-law) couples? We gain another step towards complete equality. We gain another step towards satisfying the dream that many people have (even gay and lesbian people!) In short, we gain strength, recognition, and pride from this fight. Let's be able to tell the next generation of gay kids (or our grandkids, even) that we made serious strides for them, that we fought for their rights, and that we challenged society for them.


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