Are Gay Activists Focusing on the Wrong Issue?

This article is from the archive of our partner .

Gay rights activists have been working hard on the repeal of don't ask don't tell, which they secured for a few brief hours on Wednesday between the Pentagon's announcement it would comply with an Oct. 12 federal court repeal of the policy and the appeals court decision to stay that repeal. Gay rights groups, such as Human Rights Campaign, have perhaps put more energy only toward marriage rights. But libertarian journalist Radley Balko wonders if those activists have been focusing on the wrong cause. While Balko says he agrees that the policy, which bans openly gay men and women from the military, should be repealed, he suggests that other issues might be more deserving of activist attention.

I’d think if I were a member of a group fighting for equal treatment, the right to go off to die in the pet war of whoever is currently occupying the White House would pretty low on my list of priorities.

... Prioritizing gay marriage makes sense. But there’s comparably little coverage, debate, or discussion, for example, about laws against gay adoption, which it seems to me affect a much larger percentage of the gay community, deal with a much more basic right, and are quite a bit more damaging, both to gay parents who want kids and to the kids who legislators have decided are better off in a group home or rotating through foster homes than in stable homes with same sex parents.

... Or how about the fact that federal law basically bars private employers from offering the same health insurance benefits to domestic partners that they do to married hetero couples? Some companies do offer such benefits, but the employed partner is taxed at such an obscenely high rate for the partner’s benefit that the benefit becomes far more expensive than it’s worth.

Balko argues that gay rights groups might derive more good from focusing on the above issues -- gay adoption rights, health insurance rights -- than from repealing don't ask, don't tell.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.