ALA is right around the corner, and as always it’s in a seasonally inappropriate place. Summertime in Chicago is pretty bad. Come to think about it, wintertime in Chicago isn’t that great, either. Maybe ALA should move its headquarters to a more temperate climate.
And ALA means at least one thing: the ALA Council wasting its time discussing irrelevant political issues instead of relevant any kind of issues. This time it seems the hot topic is going to be same-sex marriage, and there’s a "Resolution on Civil Marriage Equality Regardless of Sexual Orientation" being debated on the ALA Council listserv. This should be an exciting one. Let’s take a look at the latest draft I’ve seen.
"RESOLUTION ON CIVIL MARRIAGE EQUALITY REGARDLESS OF SEXUAL ORIENTATION"
Definitely a catchy title. I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m just not sure how it relates to American libraries.
"WHEREAS, civil marriage is a basic human right and an individual choice;"
Well, it’s a basic human right according to Article 16 of the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights, not that anyone pays attention to those. Still wondering about libraries. Do people get married in them? That could be another function of libraries, I suppose.
"WHEREAS, American Library Association (ALA) Policy 1.5, Goal Area III, states that the goals of the Association include increasingALA’s influence in promoting equity of access and fair use, and supporting grassroots efforts to influence local, state and federal policies and standards that affect library and information services;"
Oooh, this one has "library" in it! Let’s see…equity of access…fair use…library and information services…nope, don’t see anything about marriage in that one.
"WHEREAS, ALA Policy 54.3 (Equal Employment Opportunity) states that ALA is “committed to equal opportunity for all library employees or applicants for employment,” regardless of sexual orientation and in Policy 54.16 (Gay Rights) ALA “reaffirms its support for equal employment opportunity for gay librarians and library workers”;"
Ok. No job discrimination for gay librarians and library workers. Check. Still no connection to marriage.
"WHEREAS, ALA Policy 60.3 (Combating Prejudice, Stereotyping, and Discrimination) states that ALA “actively commits its programs and resources to those efforts that combat prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination against individuals and groups in the library profession and in library user populations” on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender _expression_;"
Programs and resources, library profession, wait, I see this one coming. "Library user populations." That’s about the closest connection yet. Does this mean that the proponents of the resolution wouldn’t be for same-sex marriage for people who don’t use libraries?
"WHEREAS, same-sex couples can legally wed in several countries, and six U.S. states and the District of Columbia have legalized varying levels of marriage equality;"
And that has what to do with libraries? This thing keeps shifting all over the place.
"WHEREAS, same-sex couples, including those who are library workers or library users, who live in states where only heterosexual couples may wed legally do not receive the same rights, including library privileges for partners, family and medical leave, tax equity, inheritance rights, hospital visitation, insurance and retirement benefits, family health care coverage, housing benefits, tuition remission benefits, adoption or birth leave;"
My goodness, they’re reaching here. Since there are librarians in every state, then any laws affecting librarians in any way (and not just as librarians) is relevant for the ALA to comment upon. That’s the typical argument of the radicals, the slippery slope that makes everything relevant. Very convenient.
"WHEREAS, legally wed same-sex couples, including those who are library workers or library users, lose rights and privileges afforded to wedded heterosexual couples when they cross borders into states and countries without marriage equality; and"
Once again, if it affects librarians as citizens, it’s relevant for the ALA to comment on. What’s still not clear is how it affects American libraries. This isn’t the American Librarian Association, as they like to point out.
"WHEREAS, the Council of the American Library Association has an opportunity to voice their support to extend full civil marriage protections to all members of the library profession and library user population; now, therefore, be it"
Sure, they always have an opportunity to voice anything they please. This means absolutely nothing. They have an equal opportunity to voice their support for stoning homosexuals and conservatives. A meaningless WHEREAS.
"RESOLVED, that the American Library Association (ALA) affirms that civil marriage and other civil rights protections are essential to making all families safer and more secure;
RESOLVED, that ALA opposes civil marriage discrimination in the federal or in state constitutions; and
RESOLVED, that ALA supports the right of every person to marry, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender couples, wherever they reside."
The resolutions themselves shouldn’t even matter because the case leading up to them is so shoddy. This is a sign of people wanting something so desperately they’ll say anything to make it happen. The ALA supports equal and fair access to information and doesn’t think libraries should discriminate against librarians or library users. Those are the only relevant points, and they just don’t build a case for the ALA Council passing a resolution about something that is so clearly not a library issue.
The sloppy move is from libraries to librarians to librarians as citizens, and the "logic" ends up being that if anything affects anyone in the United States, then it’s relevant for the ALA to pass a resolution on, because there’s nothing that doesn’t somehow affect someone who might work in a library somewhere. That’s it. That’s the entire rationale. Is it a good one? Nope. Not that an abundance of sloppy reasoning will stop the ALA Council. They’ll do what they like regardless.
Click here for more ALA 2009 Conference News coverage from Library Journal and School Library Journal