In times like these, when many people’s rights and benefits are shrinking, it’s easy for the Right to set us at each other’s throats, and if the past is any guide, that’s just what we’re in for, as Radical religionists fire up their engines against gay marriage. The arguments will be cast in terms of choices and morality, but what it is, make no mistake, is wedge politics.

As the attack on same sex marriage takes off, we’re likely to hear all about difference: what entitles some people to the rights and benefits offered by the state — and not others. But marriage isn’t about difference. It’s about a common longing to be part of communities that love and care for us. In stressed-out times, that longing for connection — and protection — grows particularly sharp. "Belonging’s only for some," say some. "Let us in!" say scared-to-death outsiders.

Which brings us to wedge politics. It’s great for the state of California to welcome a new group of people into the community of those whose partnerships the state helps and protects. Thanks to the Supreme Court of California and the movements that have pushed this issue forward, the door of belonging has been shoved open a bit. But winning marriage equality in order to access benefits and rights doesn’t mean a whole heck of a lot if those longed-for benefits and rights are gurgling down the economic drain or entering the government’s shredder.

To counter all that rationing of rights, what’s needed is strategic thinking, not just about how to defend letting some in through the benefits-door, but how to throw the door wide open. We could dis-empower the wedge-thinkers, for example, if we started with the premise that we all belong and we all have rights. Have your weddings, but lets wise up to wedges, and defend our rights to communities that love and care for all, married and unmarried.

To counter all that rationing of rights, what’s needed is strategic thinking, not just about how to defend letting some in through the benefits door, but how to throw the door wide open. We could dis-empower the wedge-thinkers, for example, if we started with the premise that we all belong and we all have rights. Have your weddings, but lets wise up to wedges, and work for communities that love and care for all of us, married and unmarried.

The F Word is a daily commentary by Laura Flanders.

Laura Flanders

Laura Flanders

Laura Flanders, author, and host of RadioNation on Air America Radio, has built a reputation for courageous investigative journalism coupled with compassion and a sense of humor. In writing her last book, Blue Grit, she traveled the country reporting on grassroots success stories and broadcast live to over 150 radio stations from community centers in places including Helena, Salt Lake City, New Orleans, Miami, Las Vegas, and Milwaukee. In her television appearances (Lou Dobbs, Larry King Live,) on radio and in her many books (including Bushwomen: Tales of a Cynical Species) and articles (The Nation and others,) Flanders calls for a new politics of fairness, equality and citizen action. Articulating the human dimension of American communities in trouble, her programs have become destinations for those seeking the skills and the will to make a difference. Flanders is a regular contributor to the Nation Magazine and CNN. Before joining Air America, where she was part of the original lineup, and hosted “The Laura Flanders Show” for three years, Flanders was the founding host of the award-winning “Your Call” weekday mornings on public radio, KALW in the Bay Area and CounterSpin, the radio show of the mediawatch group, FAIR.

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