Lesbian Notions - What We Already Know, What They Need to Learn
I?ve always known that we same-sex couples were happier than our opposite-sex counterparts.
Maybe it has something to do with us living up to that ?gay? moniker. Maybe it?s because we come together with such a strong bond that as couples we can weather the possibility of our family, friends, and neighbors rejecting us. Maybe it?s because as youngsters we all played nicely in the sandbox, and as adults we know how to share.
A slew of new studies have come out of late that don?t use my precise analytic reasoning, but they do show the brighter side of lesbian and gay male relationships.
Studies done by academics at UC Berkeley, University of Washington, Colorado State University, and Alliant International University in California were reviewed by Robert-Jay Green, Ph.D., executive director of the Rockway Institute, a national center for LGBT research and public policy based at Alliant.
He concludes that there are two key factors that promote healthier lesbian and gay relationships and that even show straights how to do it better.
1. We?re flexible about our gender roles. (I might be butch, but I certainly don?t mind being a femme in bed and hitting the sheets first.); and 2. We divide parenting and household tasks equally. (My partner Lynn cooks, I do the dishes. She does the laundry, I clean the cat boxes. We both tear our hair out trying to reason with our independent-minded 22-year-old, who has it in his mind that we should go back to the medieval barter system and forgo our present monetary system.)
?It all comes down to greater equality in the relationship,? said Green, who is also a nationally recognized researcher in both family issues and LGBT relationships. ?Research shows that lesbian and gay couples - by virtue of being composed of two partners of the same gender - have a head start in escaping the traditional gender-role divisions that make for power imbalances and dissatisfaction in many heterosexual relationships.?
Over at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, a study comparing same-sex couples with opposite-sex couples was also done. It found that we were similar to straight couples in many ways. All the couples, straight and gay, had positive views of their relationships, but those in more committed relationships (gay or straight) resolved conflict better than straights who were just dating. And, for just a little Sapphic icing on the cake, lesbian couples worked together especially well.
According to the study?s lead author, Glenn I. Roisman, Ph.D., same-sex relationships are not ?atypical, psychologically immature, or malevolent. Compared with married individuals, committed gay males and lesbians were not less satisfied with their relationships.?
OK, so we have a leg up because we gender-flex, don?t mind doing tasks that traditionally the other gender might do, and are generally happy in our relationships. We cherish our families just like straights. We want to protect each other. We value our partners.
Using these studies as context for the presidential race, we definitely see our lives being drawn down party lines.
The Democrats, while not quite ready to say ?yes? to same-sex marriage, do recognize our relationships, our families, and our children, and want to give us the same protections that they enjoy as married straights.
The Republicans? Well, even Rudy Giuliani (who may not even be in the race by the time you read this) is rolling back on his commitment to LGBT rights and domestic-partner protections.
Tell Mike Huckabee that our relationships are just like his marriage and you?ll get the hyperbole of a Southern Baptist minister wrapped in a presidential candidate?s rhetoric. They?re fighting words to Mike, who has built his political career demonizing us, trashing our relationships, denying our families, and signing legislation that refuses us our rights.
When asked in a recent Beliefnet interview about imposing a biblical interpretation on the U.S. Constitution, Huckabee said, ?Well, I don?t think that?s a radical view, to say we?re going to affirm marriage. I think the radical view is to say that we?re going to change the definition of marriage so that it can mean two men, two women, a man and three women, a man and a child, a man and an animal.?
There you have it - Huckabee thinks our lives and love are the same as polygamy, pedophilia, and bestiality.
Show Mitt Romney these studies, and he?ll flip-flop so many times trying to get a positive, negative, and middle-of-the-road take on them that no one will know what he?s talking about - which actually just may be his campaign strategy.
These studies show us in a positive light - perhaps, at times, more positive than our straight counterparts. Our candidates and culture can either learn from these findings and better themselves, or they can be threatened by them and try to clamp down on personal freedom even more.
In the end, it all comes down to how well we will all play in the sandbox that is our nation. Will we throw sand at each other for generations to come, or work together to build something new that shows just how loving, committed, and caring we all can be?
Libby Post is the founding chair of the Empire State Pride Agenda and a political commentator on public radio, on the Web, and in print media. She can be reached at LesbianNotions@qsyndicate.com.