How We See Our Relationships
introduction | Your LGBT Family companion | 3 passed laws granting same-sex couples marital rights or family rights equivalent to marriage, while numerous other states have passed laws or constitutional amendments limiting marriage to a legal relationship between one man and one woman. Children and issues of parentage continued to dominate the court proceedings involving same-sex families, with the courts again going every which way in making decisions about the rights of gay and lesbian parents. A Few Words About Words It’s surprisingly hard to figure out what words to use in a book like this. Words have often helped to perpetuate homophobia and hate—“faggot,” for instance, is derived from the French word for the bundles of sticks used at one time to burn homosexuals at the stake. And as Truman Capote said, “A fag is a homosexual gentleman who has left the room.” In the end, we’ve chosen to keep it simple. “Partner,” “lover,” “lesbian,” and “gay” are the words we use most often, and we will refer throughout the book to “same-sex couples.” When full legal marriage is the subject, the word “spouse” may also be appropriate. We also use “LGBT” to refer to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. How We See Our Relationships The LGBT community is not a monolith, and there is still some lingering debate over whether marriage rights should be our highest priority. For many, the right to marry is a basic civil right, and as long as society offers benefits based on marital status then lesbian and gay couples want the same rights that others have to participate in that institution. To others— especially those concerned with what is perceived as the “assimilationist” tendencies of our movement—marriage remains a hetero-normative and patriarchal institution, and rather than seeking to enter into it, same-sex couples should create alternative versions of family and community. We don’t express any opinion on that debate here, but note it for the record.