Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Sally Ride, 1951-2012

"That's what we call discrimination. And that's why we fight against it."



Jeff said...

I'm a little concerned about our colleagues on the left trumpeting Sally Ride's sexual orientation in this matter.

Question: Are they doing Dr. Ride's memory a disservice by doing this?

I've already read a couple of stories saying Dr. Ride was very guarded about her personal life. There is the possibility that she did this by choice, not by necessity. Many people, gay or straight, choose to keep their personal life just that...personal.

And what of her companion? This is obviously an unhappy time for her and she may not want the extra publicity.

As far as money matters are concerned, I'm not up-to-speed on California law in terms of whether Sally's companion is entitled to any state-sanctioned monies (Social Security, etc.), but I hope Sally left a will and made arrangements for her companion to be taken care of.

On a side note: I read you comment in Wednesday's (July 25) LJS about college athletics. I understand your frustration, but I'm not in complete agreement. I'll try to get back to you when I can formulate a strong enough argument.

WCG said...

Heh, heh. I don't know if I was entirely serious about that college athletics comment, Jeff. (And I don't know if I wasn't.)

In this environment, here in Nebraska, I like to poke football fans occasionally, just to see them jump. :)

Either way, if I have something to say worth discussing, I'll post it here, not in an idle comment elsewhere. Still, if you want to respond, that's perfectly fine.

Re. Sally Ride, I have a couple of things to say about that. The first is that the dead have no expectations of privacy. You can't slander the dead. You can't libel the dead. And you can't invade the privacy of the dead.

Her partner, of course, is another story. But I don't even know her name, let alone anything about her. I'm hardly invading her privacy.

Second, I think it goes without saying that Ride wouldn't have been an astronaut if her sexual orientation had been public knowledge. She had to keep it a secret back then, and that's important. That's something that needs to be said.

She might have been a private person naturally, but heterosexual marriages aren't something hidden from sight in our culture, no matter how private you are. They're part of our social network. They're part of who we are.

However private she was, she would have never even considered keeping a heterosexual marriage in the closet. (And after 27 years, it was definitely a marriage.) It's only because of bigotry, it's only because of widespread discrimination, that this part of her life wasn't always in the open. It's simply not a matter of being private.

This was indeed by choice, but it was a choice made under duress. In a different world, the issue wouldn't even have come up.

Finally, I don't know how California's laws are, but in many parts of America, it would be difficult for Sally to legally grant her partner all of the rights of a heterosexual spouse, no matter what she did. Courts often take little notice of such things, especially if other family members protest.

And marriage has protections other forms of legal contract simply do not. As Cenk Uygur says, that's why we call it discrimination. And that's why this is important, whatever Sally Ride may have thought about it.