Incrementalism and Gay Rights

An interesting post from Feministe on the tranny-free ENDA:

I think history also teaches us that it's important to push for the big goals and to promote inclusive movements. The same-sex marriage issue is a pretty good example. Twenty (even ten) years ago, same-sex marriage was pretty much unheard of, and civil unions were a radical idea. The incrementalist approach would have marriage equality activists pushing for civil unions, and dealing with marriage later. And they did, in states like Vermont and Hawaii, with mixed success. But where the movement actually got it legs was when activists pushed for marriage ‹ they succeeded in putting the big goal on the table and in shifting the conversation leftwards so that civil unions, which were previously pretty out there, were suddenly the moderate position. Had marriage equality activists gone the incrementalist route, I don't think we'd be seeing the kind of debate we're having now (a debate that I do think will come down on the side of justice). I think it would have taken another decade to get to where we are today. If Bush isn't going to support the rights of LGBT people, he isn't going to support the rights of LGBT people. Taking the "T" out isn't going to help. But it will further marginalize the transgender community, and remind us all that certain groups are disposable.

Agreed. But we nonetheless accepted civil unions in Hawaii and Vermont, while using the debates to advance arguments about civil marriage. And it took a huge amount of educational work to get the critical case for marriage equality out there. We haven't done enough work on transgender rights yet. We should do more, I think. But holding everyone else hostage in the meantime makes no sense to me.