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Gay Marriage: Not So Great?
August 20, 2010 4:12 PM   Subscribe

Not all queer or LGBT people are for legalizing gay marriage. The Against Equality collective argues that legalizing marriage values one type of relationship over another (.pdf), doesn't do enough for queer people of colour, and plays into the larger class struggle. Beyond Marriage calls for "access to a flexible set of economic benefits and options regardless of sexual orientation, race, gender/gender identity, class, or citizenship status". Queer activists in Maine consider the marriage issue a "distraction from improving the lives of gay people", and Questioning Transphobia argues that "marriage by its very nature is an exclusive practice, its purpose is to ennoble some relationships and by default render other relationships to be less meaningful and less worthy of legal and social recognition". Mainstream queer women's website Autostraddle ponders all this and asks: does gay marriage make gays straight?
posted by divabat (236 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
Well can they just shut up for a while so that those of us that would like it can at least make the choice.
posted by Long Way To Go at 4:17 PM on August 20, 2010 [48 favorites]


Yeah... here's something that some people are allowed to do and that other people, for no good reason, are not allowed to do. Let's work on making sure that everybody can do it, and then we can argue over whether or not anybody should, okay?
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:22 PM on August 20, 2010 [17 favorites]


These groups are pretty different from the ones opposing gay marriage from the other side, but my advice is the same: If you don't like gay marriage don't get one.

Honestly, we make up about 3% of the population. I doubt we're changing the issue of marriage all that much either way.
posted by Dismantled King at 4:24 PM on August 20, 2010 [5 favorites]


I get where they're going with this, but it seems to me that it would be better to push for their own agenda rather than pissing in everyone else's punch bowl.

Personally, I don't support gay marriage because I don't support ANY marriage; it's none of the government's business who I screw or live with or love. But since marriage isn't going anywhere -- and I DO support equality -- you'll find my name on the gay marriage petitions, and they'll have my vote when/if the time comes.

Despite what various militants all over the political spectrum want to believe, revolution isn't coming. The only way to get what you want is to take baby steps. And gay marriage is better than what we have now, even by Against Equality's standards.
posted by coolguymichael at 4:27 PM on August 20, 2010 [7 favorites]


Mainstream queer women's website Autostraddle ponders all this and asks: does gay marriage make gays straight?

No. No, it doesn't. Next question?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:28 PM on August 20, 2010 [14 favorites]


Yup, yup, it's an interesting thought that I really think should be explored more. It sounds a lot like Queer Theory MCMikeNamara (who was a particular type of nasty Barbie doll who was around 15 years ago and he really didn't sell well)

And I really think that the benefits that married people -- or more and more, couples in general -- receive are far more pervasive in society than most people know, and I really wish society would do more to consider this. But I think it's an argument that should be done separately from the gay marriage issue.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 4:28 PM on August 20, 2010


Well can they just shut up for a while

Jesus, telling people from a marginalized group - and a marginalized group within a marginalized group, at that - to "just shut up for a while" is almost unbelievably tone deaf. What a shockingly ignorant and unhelpful thing to say right out of the gate.

Thanks, divabat, this is a really thoughtful post about a complex hot-button topic.
posted by mediareport at 4:29 PM on August 20, 2010 [18 favorites]


So in order to to "ensure equality", instead of legalizing gay marriage, clearly we should just ban straight marriage.
posted by dersins at 4:31 PM on August 20, 2010 [7 favorites]


(oops hit post too soon)

That said, despite the fact that I'm in a long term relationship where forever is the plan, I doubt I'll ever get married for a lot of the same arguments listed here. But I still want the right and think that others should get it.

So despite my disagreement with those at the forefront of the issues, I'm glad to learn more about it, and thanks for the great post.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 4:32 PM on August 20, 2010


If I understand these articles correctly, what a lot of them are saying is that they'd rather have no marriage than to open marriage to homosexuals. I can kind of understand that, although I don't agree with it. But even if I did, the reality is that gay marriage is almost certainly going to happen. It's getting closer (thanks to a lot of hard work by a lot of people, and some-but-not-as-much-as-I-should from me), but it's coming. Getting rid of marriage? Not going to happen in any timeframe I can envision. So while it can be an interesting debate, the practical choice is between hetero-only marriage or open-to-everyone marriage. That seems like a clear cut choice to me.

Asking straight people (like myself) to accept/embrace gay marriage (or more accurately, marriage for all) is 1000x easier than asking them to abolish marriage.
posted by wildcrdj at 4:33 PM on August 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


queer struggles are being monopolized by assimilationist, middle class versions of normality and family: “We are the same as you, except for in bed.”

It's natural for people to try to recruit to their movements. If you're into class struggle, then of course you think that gay rights is a part of that, and you get a little pissed when you find out that actually: The majority of gay people are not interested, they are "the same as you, except in bed".

I see the same thing with the people who insist that environmentalism is really about the abolition of capitalism and/or consumerism. I've heard a number of people complain about particular solutions to zero net carbon energy because they do nothing to end capitalism, or because they don't "force" our society out of consumerism.
posted by atrazine at 4:33 PM on August 20, 2010 [11 favorites]


They're going to beanplate this whole issue right back into the laps of the anti-gay-marriage crowd, if they're not careful.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:35 PM on August 20, 2010


There's a really useful historical analogy for what these groups are doing (deliberately or not), which explains why their actions are so problematic.

Explaining this analogy would otherwise Godwin this thread, so I'll refrain from explaining further, except to say that a core component of the marriage debate involves consideration of the larger suite of rights that we should be enjoying, if we received equal protection under law. It's not just about marriage.

I can't help but think what these individuals are doing, however inadvertently in pursuit of what they think are noble aims, is aid our mutual antagonists in maintaining our second-class status. It really is foolishness of a high degree.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:37 PM on August 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


Stop oppressing me with options I don't want!!!!
posted by nola at 4:38 PM on August 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


For Jeebus' sake, if everyone had the right to be married, then those who wouldn't want to be married could just go on doing what they're doing, with all the legal ramifications.

Straight or gay, it shouldn't matter, we're all just people trying to live our lives.
posted by bwg at 4:40 PM on August 20, 2010


Not all queer or LGBT people are for legalizing gay marriage.

The anti-marriage people are altogether right, but it is a strangely put case that seems to say you shouldn't be able to buy into the system, rather than you should opt not to buy into the system.

If there were no consequences to marriage at all legally or financially, this wouldn't be a problem. But marriage is probably here to stay for a fair length of time and to make it as equal as possible probably involves expanding those rights rather than shrinking the options of an already legally disadvantaged group.
posted by shinybaum at 4:41 PM on August 20, 2010


I think that these people are looking at long-term or philosophical goals, which is great, but those goals are arrived at step by step, and marriage equality is one of those steps. It's not "the wrong goal," it's a blow against a plainly discriminatory law in the country we live in. And if it's "not doing enough," then we'll do more after.

I feel the same way about people voting for no-chance political figures. Yes, it's the right thing to do in some ways, but I disagree that it's the way to change in the real world. Obama is making and breaking promises all over, but I voted for him because I knew he was a baby step in the right direction. Same with gay marriage. I'd love to jump straight to no marriage at all, universal health care, proper taxation, and all that stuff, but we all know it's going to be a long, boring process.

But sometimes after you've spent 50 years making incremental progress, you step back and see rather a pretty picture. But you still have to get back to work, because those dots don't connect themselves.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 4:42 PM on August 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


GLBT people should have equality before the law, and if that means equal marriage rights, then so be it.

However, I think SSM gets attention far too often at the expense of other, equally vital issues (ENDA being the most important example).
posted by jiawen at 4:43 PM on August 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Asking straight people (like myself) to accept/embrace gay marriage (or more accurately, marriage for all) is 1000x easier than asking them to abolish marriage.

Sure, but getting federal job discrimination law enacted would be even easier than that. Sadly, that's not the queer issue on most American's plate right now. Or for the forseeable future. The bizarre touchiness ostensibly "liberal" Americans have on the marriage front is a surprisingly durable obstacle - one we should avoid in favor of first focusing on legislation (that would be ENDA) that helps many, many more queer citizens and has *much* more widespread support in the mainstream population.

That's just smart politics. Pointing fingers at the folks who can recognize this clearly is the real counterproductive move here.

p.s. what I'd really like to see from straight people is a refusal to marry at all until everyone can do it. Every time I get a wedding invitation it's like a little slap in the face. Yeah, I get over it with a hearty 'whatever' but damn, you know, it really would be fucking nice to see some of our straight allies walk the walk on gay equality like that.
posted by mediareport at 4:43 PM on August 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've argued with these people on other fora. Not one of them understands that there are queer people who want things other than what they themselves want. Or possibly they simply don't care. They're the activist-nonactivist divide given flesh.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:51 PM on August 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


what I'd really like to see from straight people is a refusal to marry at all until everyone can do it.

Not really sure what that accomplishes. Working in the political process, donating time/money/etc to efforts to change things, these are much more meaningful (or at least productive) acts than not getting married. If I gave up every freedom that is denied to others I wouldn't have much left, and they're not any better off for me having done so.
posted by wildcrdj at 4:56 PM on August 20, 2010 [6 favorites]


I don't think that many thoughtful people deny the existence of problems within the concept of marriage. Traditionally, many of these problems have played themselves out in the context of gender, as patriarchal western mindsets assume the female is subservient to the male, the male will be primarily responsible for money earning with the female keeping house and raising the children. This extends back into the not-actually-very-distant past with chattel laws, continued on into the 70s and the (futile) struggle to get the Equal Rights Amendment ratified, and continues today with women still struggling to get equal pay for equal work. (This last battle may have been won, but only time will tell whether pay actually does equal out.)

As equality has been fought for between the genders, seeking equality for same-sex couples only seems natural in that context, because if gender role differences truly are going to retreat into the past, then surely it will be the same-sex couples which help pave the way forward, showing that it is the partnership which matters. Life really is easier when you have another person working toward making it comfortable along with you. What each person does within that partnership is much less a function of biological plumbing and much more about the spoken or unspoken negotiation about how the household will function.

Now, do these relationships have to be "marriage"? I've lived in shared households of many sorts nearly my entire adult life, and I don't think that registering a relationship with the authorities is what makes such an arrangement work. But within the context of most (if not all) cultures, the public statement and recognition of people as somehow "belonging together" seems to smooth out a lot of the basic social negotiations needed to cope with daily life. Without getting into complications such as polyamorous households or extramarital affairs, there is something to be gained in having a defined status to refer to one's life partner during daily dealings.

It's a crime that dedicated partners have been denied what should be such basic things as health insurance or hospital visitation in the context of that partnership. (To name only two of the most visible transgressions which are standard in our society.) If same-sex marriage is required to overcome these obstacles to basic decency, then I say we should encourage its acceptance and strive to make it legal.

But working toward marriage equality isn't the be-all and end-all of the struggle for GLBT acceptance. There is much basic bigotry still within the collective psyche. However, I cannot help but believe that having same-sex relationships officially recognized for those who want that will only help to overcome that bigotry.

We have moved, in only about 60 years, from gay men and women living in complete shame and secrecy and being classified as diseased, through times of cautious organizing and outright rebellion, into greater organization and deeper understanding (often in the face of indifference from the government and hostility from the population), and finally toward visibility and acceptance. Yes, these struggles are not yet over. Yes, queer people of color seem to have a whole other set of obstacles in their path. Yes, there are a great many other issues which remain to be addressed.

But to say that pursuing this particular path toward equality is somehow a distraction is as ridiculous as when people say that Obama shouldn't be working on DADT because of the economy, or whatever. There are a huge number of people working on a wide variety of life improvement issues for the GLBT community, and just because this one issue suddenly is gaining traction and moving forward doesn't mean that all other causes are being dropped by the wayside. And it's certainly going to take a lot more than the work of those within the queer community to really iron out whatever troublesome cultural legacies may still exist within marriage as an institution at large.

But small steps. I can only see good things being created within greater society if we allow couples to commit to each other, regardless of gender. There will still be another 60 years ahead of us for those who see deeper needed reform to work toward their vision, whatever that may be.
posted by hippybear at 4:56 PM on August 20, 2010 [19 favorites]


what I'd really like to see from straight people is a refusal to marry at all until everyone can do it.

There are straight people, including some MeFites, who have made exactly that pledge.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:57 PM on August 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


I support marriage between any people because i believe:

1. People shouldn't be denied a right that others have.
2. In a lot of places, its the only way to get access to your partner's health insurance and legal benefits/rights.

So if you don't like marriage, don't it...but advocating that a group...one that you are a part of should not get those rights...is like stabbing one's self in the gut.

If these groups REALLY wanted to make a difference, they could have lobbied against insurance companies and state governments...but no, they just want to make a name for themselves at the expense of people who have a financial need.

I realize it isn't the most productive thing to say "shut up", so instead I'll exercise my government given right to free speech by saying:

Shut the fuck up, you rich bastards.
posted by hal_c_on at 4:57 PM on August 20, 2010 [6 favorites]


I appreciate this post, but I don't think it's news that not all queer/LGBT people are in favor of marriage rights, or that's there's much unanimity among queer/LGBT people about much of anything. I think these activists also miss this fact: the fight for marriage rights isn't just about marriage anymore, if it ever was. It's about not being a second-class citizen. It's about the benefits that accompany marriage -- estate rights, adoption rights, property transfer rights, power of attorney rights, things that all people who have those rights take for granted but which gay people cannot take for granted. It's also a proxy for other issues involving queer people. The anti-queer opponents of marriage rights know this, and they say they know it on their websites and in their fundraising literature -- even if the queer activists who oppose marriage rights don't know it (or don't care).

I want to legally and publicly marry my partner of 10+ years and have the same rights as every other US citizen who's in a heterosexual marriage, and I want to do it without having to re-invent the wheel and getting married in every new state that temporarily legalizes the ceremony (and the benefits that go with the ceremony), or without traveling to foreign countries that have legalized it and where nobody seems to have these activists' qualms (all of which we've done in the past 5 years). I have no friends, gay or otherwise, who begrudge me that desire.

If that makes me ignorant, selfish, a turncoat, a snob, a distractor, an exclusivist, a classist, or even excludes me from being called not really gay ..... well, so be it. I can live with that. I can't live with being a second-class citizen any longer. I've done it all my life. I'm sick of it.

Jesus, telling people from a marginalized group - and a marginalized group within a marginalized group, at that - to "just shut up for a while" is almost unbelievably tone deaf.

I guess I'm unbelievably tone-deaf too, then, because I agree, even though I'm acutely aware that I'm really, really not supposed to have that reaction, or even think it, if I'm a gay person with a shred of interest in politics.

Just add it to the list.

The bizarre touchiness ostensibly "liberal" Americans have on the marriage front is a surprisingly durable obstacle - one we should avoid in favor of first focusing on legislation (that would be ENDA) that helps many, many more queer citizens and has *much* more widespread support in the mainstream population.

I don't disagree that support of marriage rights is, as you put it, a "surprisingly durable obstacle," even among liberals. I just don't think that supporting ENDA or other rights legislation is inconsistent with supporting marriage rights. I also don't think that dropping the fight for marriage rights, even if that were somehow possible after the years and dollars and emotions that have been spent fighting this culture war, would make getting ENDA passed any more likely; in fact it might make it less likely.
posted by blucevalo at 4:58 PM on August 20, 2010 [5 favorites]


*Lobbied against state governments and insurance companies for the rights of non-married couples to get the same rights/benefits as married couples*
posted by hal_c_on at 4:59 PM on August 20, 2010


excludes me from being called not really gay
posted by blucevalo at 5:00 PM on August 20, 2010


If I gave up every freedom that is denied to others I wouldn't have much left

I see it kinda like this: what you're doing is similar to non-racist white folks participating in and enjoying the perks of a country club that refuses to allow non-white folks into the building.

I don't expect it. But like I said, it sure would be nice to see some folks quit the country club as I hold my protest sign outside those locked gates.

and they're not any better off for me having done so.

I definitely disagree there. I find it easy to see how a significant movement of straight citizens refusing to marry until glbt citizens get the same right could leverage a lot of power.
posted by mediareport at 5:01 PM on August 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Not one of them understands that there are queer people who want things other than what they themselves want.

Well, some people believe that the state should not be involved in marriages at all and some people believe that the state should allow any two adults to marry. It isn't really a matter of understanding what other people want, so much as having desires that are mutually exclusive.

Personally, I don't think that the state should be in the business of sanctioning marriages and I think that any tax or other benefits that we wish to confer on people in relationships should be based on observable properties of those relationships, but that doesn't make me opposed to gay marriage any more than it makes me opposed to straight marriage.
posted by ssg at 5:02 PM on August 20, 2010


As long as the state is involved in marriage- and that is something that will not change in our lifetimes no matter what inane fantasies we might concoct- being against marriage equality is being pro-bigotry. Full stop.

These are real people who are really suffering in the real world, and being against the alleviation of their suffering is an asshole move. No exceptions.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:04 PM on August 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


I've read these views before. Today, though, it reminded me instantly of a recent interview on one of my favorite feminist blogs. The woman who was interviewed, Caty Simon, is a sex worker who dropped out of my college and proudly uses heroin recreationally. In her interview, she stated: "I decided I was willing to put myself out there as the undeserving Other, and talk about all the marginalized groups I was a part of at once so that I could make these vital connections."

My reaction to this was just: "Oh, honey." That is why I remember it so keenly; I have the same reaction here. I just . . . oh, honey. Have fun storming the castle.
posted by Countess Elena at 5:05 PM on August 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


They have a point, but in many countries their point is moot anyway.

Many countries relaly see no effective difference between a married couple and a common-law couple -- at least as far as the law around inheritence and such is concerned. In he case of dispute, marriage would only be one factor and not a deciding one, when it comes to children and assets after divorce or death.

The fact is that marriage is a cultural device. An ever-changing and fluid cultural device that has few cross-cultural signifiers, maybe, but one that is important to some folks in some ways.

Shifting the legal bar such that one part of a population has access to the same cultural devices is a good thing, and this is, fundamentally, what many are asking for when asking for legalized fair marriage laws.

Some might be beyond marriage, but many will never be. It's important that those who wish to drive society beyond marriage realize that not everyone appreciates their socio-political activism, even if it is done in the best egalitarian spirit.
posted by clvrmnky at 5:06 PM on August 20, 2010


I find it easy to see how a significant movement of straight citizens refusing to marry until glbt citizens get the same right could leverage a lot of power.

Marriage isn't a product. Boycotts work by depressing supply, which decreases the market price/profits of the producer. Marriage is a type of state-sanctioned contract— which is essentially why the radical anarchists behind the links in the OP oppose it.
posted by Electrius at 5:07 PM on August 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Jesus, telling people from a marginalized group - and a marginalized group within a marginalized group, at that - to "just shut up for a while" is almost unbelievably tone deaf. What a shockingly ignorant and unhelpful thing to say right out of the gate.

Then I'll say it again, roughly 30 posts in:

They need to just shut up for a while.

If you told me that there were a minority group in the 60s who came out against inter-racial marriage, I would have told them the same thing.

I'll put it even more strongly: if you feel you're special enough to prevent other homosexuals from being allowed to get married, you can please just shut the fuck up, because clearly allowing homosexual marriage isn't about YOU who feel somehow above it for one reason or another, it's about THEM, the people who, oh, I don't know, actually want to enjoy the same rights heterosexuals have. Stuff it.
posted by chimaera at 5:09 PM on August 20, 2010 [9 favorites]


Actually, Electrius, it's not just "radical anarchists" who think the state shouldn't be in the business of sanctioning certain types of human relationships over others. It's a fairly mainstream libertarian position (although not one all libs share, of course). And the point of straights not marrying isn't whatever economic harm the boycott may cause. The point is emotional and symbolic.

I don't think anyone can seriously argue there's not real power there.
posted by mediareport at 5:11 PM on August 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Some might be beyond marriage, but many will never be. It's important that those who wish to drive society beyond marriage realize that not everyone appreciates their socio-political activism, even if it is done in the best egalitarian spirit.

No one is suggesting making it illegal to marry. The idea is that the state should not sanction marriages, but that doesn't mean that people can't have whatever ceremony or make whatever promises that they would like to.
posted by ssg at 5:12 PM on August 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hmm, not sure where I sit on this. But it sure does remind me of the awesome song, Ban Marriage.
posted by radiocontrolled at 5:15 PM on August 20, 2010


Jesus, telling people from a marginalized group - and a marginalized group within a marginalized group, at that - to "just shut up for a while" is almost unbelievably tone deaf. What a shockingly ignorant and unhelpful thing to say right out of the gate.

Really? I think it's the only appropriate response here. These people are arguing that all gay people should be martyrs for THEIR cause and you're saying that I should just wait and hear them out? Not only will I tell them to shut up, I'll be pointing and laughing while I do it.

Deeply offensive thread. I do not thank you for posting it.
posted by Craig at 5:18 PM on August 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


the definition of "misguided", everyone
posted by tehloki at 5:18 PM on August 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


When I'm forced into conversation with an Anti-Marriage-Equality type, I use the argument that civil same-sex marriages (no need to EVER be church-endorsed) would push people away from the dreaded promiscuous "Gay Lifestyle" (which I suspect would be what a lot of anti-marriage gays actually believe). Now, I don't believe that, but it does make some Prop H8ers' think.

Personally, as a formerly married straight guy, I oppose all marriage.
posted by oneswellfoop at 5:19 PM on August 20, 2010


I see it kinda like this: what you're doing is similar to non-racist white folks participating in and enjoying the perks of a country club that refuses to allow non-white folks into the building.

No it's not. Joining a particular country club is an endorsement of that club.
Getting married is an endorsement of the institution of marriage but not an endorsement of that right being exclusive to heterosexuals.
posted by atrazine at 5:25 PM on August 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


Most of the queer activists I know - people who were at the leading edge of the struggle 30 years ago or more - really don't have any interest in marriage, and I think a lot of them are pretty sad to see all that struggle end up at a sort of assimilationist endpoint. There's a great book, The Trouble With Normal, by Michael Warner that gives a pretty clear analysis of why the marriage movement was so troubling to queer activists. But Warner, like many others, has pretty much given up arguing against it. The tide has come in. And while the change that has happened means a great deal to many people, from a broader perspective not much has changed at all. It will be interesting to see, twenty years from now, whether gay changed marriage as much as marriage changed gay.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 5:26 PM on August 20, 2010 [8 favorites]


Not that I agree with these people, but "just shut up for a while" was what all us gays were hearing from the Democrats back in the days leading up to the Obama presidency, and during the time just afterward. Would any of what's happening now be happening if we had?
posted by hermitosis at 5:27 PM on August 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


This is a total derail, but this is an anger inducing thread anyway: all the people posting about how they'd like to see the abolition of marriage for everyone... you really have no clue how that would affect many of us embroiled in the immigration system do you?
posted by saturnine at 5:37 PM on August 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


These folks realize that it wouldn't be mandatory, right?
posted by msalt at 5:39 PM on August 20, 2010 [5 favorites]


This is a total derail, but this is an anger inducing thread anyway: all the people posting about how they'd like to see the abolition of marriage for everyone... you really have no clue how that would affect many of us embroiled in the immigration system do you?

How many "abolish marriage!" people do you suppose believe in the reality of nations?
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:41 PM on August 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Not that I agree with these people, but "just shut up for a while" was what all us gays were hearing from

They're welcome to go on and on all they like about how marriage is silly or whatever. But, to use the gay community and the denial of our equality as a means to an end is beyond repugnant.

Most of the queer activists I know - people who were at the leading edge of the struggle 30 years ago or more - really don't have any interest in marriage,

This I respect. However, if you've lived your whole life (or a very large portion of it) without the faintest possibility of that ever happening then how can you expect any different? Your life view has been formed by your environment. I'm not of that generation, I'm younger and I expect this now so that gay people don't have to feel like they're different their whole lives - so they can be recognized as equal. That is more important than anything - even the community itself. If the community evaporates or changes into something completely different than what it was in the "good ol' days" then so be it - that is still preferable to being a community only because we've been ghettoized into one.
posted by Craig at 5:47 PM on August 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


you really have no clue how that would affect many of us embroiled in the immigration system do you?

I think that's actually a good example of where it's questionable why marriage should be privileged over other kinds of connections and relationships.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 5:47 PM on August 20, 2010 [5 favorites]


If I gave up every freedom that is denied to others I wouldn't have much left

I see it kinda like this: what you're doing is similar to non-racist white folks participating in and enjoying the perks of a country club that refuses to allow non-white folks into the building.


No, it's not even close to that.
posted by rocket88 at 5:50 PM on August 20, 2010


what I'd really like to see from straight people is a refusal to marry at all until everyone can do it.


My partner and I have made that pledge. She and I have been together for over five years and have a daughter together. Marriage means nothing to us if it isn't something all our friends can be a part of.
posted by nola at 5:51 PM on August 20, 2010 [6 favorites]


that "marriage by its very nature is an exclusive practice, its purpose is to ennoble some relationships and by default render other relationships to be less meaningful and less worthy of legal and social recognition".

Ha! It's always fun for me when somebody actually acknowledges the fact that a lot of this isn't about whether or not people who love each other can just live their lives. Instead it becomes about a tug of war over whether or not you get to participate in a specific institution that some segments of society do in fact use as a status symbol.

So I think they're right on that front, and I think it's correct to say that it's been a mistake to frame this as a rights-for-a-specific subgroup issue. It isn't that gays don't need legal formalisms that help them take care of each other; they do. It's that everyone could use these and it'd actually be helpful and healthy in a number of ways if they weren't called marriage.
posted by namespan at 5:53 PM on August 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


Not that I agree with these people, but "just shut up for a while" was what all us gays were hearing from the Democrats back in the days leading up to the Obama presidency, and during the time just afterward. Would any of what's happening now be happening if we had?

I don't think the movement of court cases through the timetable of the judicial process has all that much to do with the Obama administration, which is fact on the record as opposing marriage rights and defends that position in court briefs and arguments.

That said, I don't think there's any room for debate that a McCain/Palin administration would have been more hostile than Obama administration to marriage rights and to LGBT issues in general. The Obama administration has done all sorts of things outside the public eye to alter how LGBT citizens are viewed in the eyes of federal law -- and I don't think the president gets enough credit for it (though, truth be told, he probably isn't all that unhappy that he's not getting more credit).
posted by blucevalo at 5:53 PM on August 20, 2010


Marriage means nothing to us if it isn't something all our friends can be a part of.

Hawt.
posted by namespan at 5:54 PM on August 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


I see it kinda like this: what you're doing is similar to non-racist white folks participating in and enjoying the perks of a country club that refuses to allow non-white folks into the building.

The analogy doesn't really hold because the staggering legal and financial benefits that come with marriage are not comparable with access to tee times and fancy sandwiches.

Look, I'm a straight, unmarried person who is totally and completely committed to marriage equality. I'm also a straight person with a partner who doesn't have consistent access to health insurance and doesn't have a retirement plan. Luckily, due to where we live and who I work for, he is recognized as my domestic partner, which is how he presently gets his health insurance and how I sleep a little better at night knowing that he'll have some income coming to him after retirement in the event that I die first.

Now, if we lived in a different state or if I worked for different employer, getting married might be the only way for me to get my boyfriend on my insurance plan or listed as my retirement beneficiary. This is true for millions of couples. Thus the "non-racist white folks at a segregated country club" comparison is not only way off base, it's outright insulting and seemingly blind to the financial struggles that millions of working people -- gay and straight -- face every single day. Being straight certainly confers a lot of privilege in a heterosexist society, but Automatic Lifelong Financial Security ain't one of them.
posted by scody at 5:54 PM on August 20, 2010 [7 favorites]


Heh
posted by nola at 5:55 PM on August 20, 2010


I was laughing with namespan just to be clear
posted by nola at 5:56 PM on August 20, 2010


There's a comparison I read somewhere but sadly forgot the source of. If anyone knows, let me know so I can give due credit.

This is like old school Marxists arguing about whether, after the Revolution, childcare will take place in the home or in community creches.

So: they have a goal. Great. Awesome. There are valid criticisms to marriage as an actually existing institution, some of which I buy and some of which I don't. However: They suffer greatly from what my mother called the derfromheah problem: How do you get der from heah?

Which comes down to the big split it always seems to come down among those who would like the world to be other than it is, and that's between radicalism and incrementalism. But here's the secret, boys and girls: incremental steps yield radical results.

Note that I'm not talking, strictly, about tactics. I think there's a fair bit to the claim that Martin's success came from being able to point at Malcolm and say "There's the alternative."

But incrementalism is what gets us from the Comstock laws to Roe v Wade and Casey. Incrementalism, mostly, is what gets us from Jim Crow to Obama. Incrementalism is what gets us from Bowers to Perry.

Radical goals as far as endpoint? Great. Awesome. Rock on. But you're not going to get there except by incremental steps.

And here's the great irony: I strongly suspect that gay marriage is the next path down the step towards their stated goal. I would be mildly surprised if during the next few decades, marriage's privileged legal and social status failed to come under repeated assaults. Probably not as many as these folks would like; I tend to think pair-bondings a common pattern for a reason. But it'll come down off its pedestal. The last few years are major steps in that direction.

Shorter version: Radical goals good. Incremental steps better.
posted by PMdixon at 6:10 PM on August 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


eh, I read all the links and while I'm sympathetic to the broad "recognition of alternative family models and lifestyles" agenda, the main takeaway I get from these readings is 1) these queer anarchist groups are politically tone-deaf (besides the obvious lack of practical political communication skills... so they presume that those who see themselves as oppressed (Tea Party activists? radical Islamists?) involved in every kind of social/political/cultural struggle anywhere should naturally be lumped together under the queer banner? herm, in some critical-theoretical circles this might be considered a "colonialist" attitude) and 2) they are (perhaps willfully in a stubborn self-righteously idealistic way) naive to the point of eye-rolling absurdity, sometimes crossing over into obnoxiousness. I found the part where one of the Against Equality documents viciously lashes out out at gay parents who have kids (daring to be happy and being seen to be happy) for being traitors to the community/movement and automatically sell-outs who are now supposedly obviously politically soulless to be particularly tedious.
posted by Bwithh at 6:11 PM on August 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


I see it kinda like this: what you're doing is similar to non-racist white folks participating in and enjoying the perks of a country club that refuses to allow non-white folks into the building.

Nope. It's really quite a lot more like asking people to decline counsel after they've been arrested on the grounds that many indigent defendants and non-citizens and "enemy combatants" are denied this fundamental right every day.

You don't need to boycott the constitutional right to "walk the walk". The proper thing to do in both cases is to work tirelessly to rectify the injustice.
posted by kosem at 6:19 PM on August 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


I see this as being two issues. 1) Marriage is a religious institution. It should stay in religions. If two or more consenting adults wish to register a contract of some sort with the State, cool. 2) Gay marriage is what middle and upper class white gays want. It pushes aside trans issues (although I'm not sure why transfolk get lumped in with gays so often), race and class issues and the fight for broader equality.

So, yes, I'm a gay person who thinks SSM is silly and, at best, a distraction. At worst, it is a slap in the face to every gay person who is trying to not get beat up, trying to keep their job, their housing and their sanity.
posted by QIbHom at 6:20 PM on August 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I see it kinda like this: what you're doing is similar to non-racist white folks participating in and enjoying the perks of a country club that refuses to allow non-white folks into the building.

The most obvious difference is that loudly turning in your membership to a particular club because of their refusal to admit non-whites is a hell of a lot more visible than a couple of people telling anyone who cares that they won't marry until gay marriage is allowed. A mass movement of the latter would make a difference, and would be great to see, but the odds of such a mass movement are infinitesimal, and the energy of those who step up is far better spent on initiatives like fighting prop 8.
posted by fatbird at 6:27 PM on August 20, 2010


As long as the state is involved in marriage- and that is something that will not change in our lifetimes no matter what inane fantasies we might concoct- being against marriage equality is being pro-bigotry. Full stop.

Yeah, the whole argument is like being against Universal Healthcare because that would involve paying doctors money and our ultimate goal is the abolition of money, so we can't, on principle, support Medicare. Welcome to crazyland.

Mainstream queer women's website Autostraddle ponders all this and asks: does gay marriage make gays straight?

This is basically a version of the (very marginalized) radfem argument that true feminists are all lesbians because what kind of feminist can sleep with the enemy? It totally ignores the idea that some feminists may want to love men and have sex with them, and that their desires are okay and not a result of internalized oppression or self-hatred.

Love does what it wants, and if it wants you to get married, that's what it does.
posted by Azazel Fel at 6:30 PM on August 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


SSM is silly and, at best, a distraction. At worst, it is a slap in the face to every gay person who is trying to not get beat up, trying to keep their job, their housing and their sanity.

So what other rights do you regard as unimportant?
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:31 PM on August 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


One argument I've often heard in favor of same-sex marriage comes from gays or lesbians whose partner is foreign-born, pointing out that their lover isn't given privileged status regarding immigration like the spouse of a straight, married American would be.

But why should the spouse of an American, gay or straight, be awarded privileged status? My boyfriend is from El Salvador. We have no desire to be married, although we've been together more than ten years and expect we will probably stay together forever. The idea that if he's my husband he deserves privileged status but if he's my boyfriend he doesn't strikes me a perverse and unjust.

I'd like to see queers (with foreign-born lovers or without) fighting for open immigration instead of gay marriage.

So long as married people enjoy rights and privileges not available to others, I think the best expression of the country club metaphor suggested above when applied to the drive for "marriage equality" is like Jewish businessman convincing the country club board to end its restriction based on religion while it maintains restrictions based on race.
posted by layceepee at 6:35 PM on August 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


See? Narcissistic children.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:36 PM on August 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


It (the post) is certainly an important reminder that the framing of political arguments is not just a rhetorical device but has real world consequences. If we are all arguing about marriage then we are not arguing about, for example, why marriage-style benefits are not extended to all persons regardless of marital status.
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 6:42 PM on August 20, 2010 [5 favorites]


Marriage is a religious institution. It should stay in religions.

This is not, and never has been, true.

I'd like to see queers (with foreign-born lovers or without) fighting for open immigration instead of gay marriage.

Right, the abolition of the nation state is a nice idea. It won't happen this century if it ever does.
posted by atrazine at 6:45 PM on August 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Pope Guilty, are you arguing that the gay marriage is a more important right than not getting fired from your job? The latter affects just about all gay people, the former does not.

Pushing for gay marriage rather than, for example, ENDA, means going for the quick, flashy fix over the substantive fix. That is why some of us are lukewarm about the entire thing.
posted by QIbHom at 6:52 PM on August 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


The idea that if he's my husband he deserves privileged status but if he's my boyfriend he doesn't strikes me a perverse and unjust.

"Boyfriend" doesn't demonstrate any sort of commitment beyond the here-and-now. Marriage does, just like other contractual arrangements might. But this seems blindingly obvious to me.

I'd like to see queers (with foreign-born lovers or without) fighting for open immigration instead of gay marriage.

Well you see, I think this illustrates the whole "problem." People fight for what they want. There's no "general" of the "gay movement" sliding pieces around on a board. People are driven by their own hopes and wants. It's the height of arrogance for someone to tell me what I should be fighting for - that's really what elicits the "shut up" responses in this thread, I think. You want that, you fight for it. I want to be married, I'll fight for that.

And some goals are close and attainable, while others aren't. I think gay marriage is a more viable goal than open immigration in the US. As a vegetarian for ethical reasons, I'd love to see everyone stop eating meat, but I don't think that's going to happen in my lifetime - it's not a viable goal. But I AM married - because people like me wanted the same thing enough to fight for it - and I will see federal recognition of that marriage in my lifetime.
posted by me & my monkey at 6:52 PM on August 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


So, yes, I'm a gay person who thinks SSM is silly and, at best, a distraction. At worst, it is a slap in the face to every gay person who is trying to not get beat up, trying to keep their job, their housing and their sanity.

I can certainly see how you would hold that ENDA/DADT are more important. I would agree. Job discrimination is a very pressing issue, no one should have to go through that. However, it's not a one thing at a time battle and certainly people will have their own priorities to fight for. Do you think SSM is silly because those other things are more important or because it's not worth having in the first place? To that I would ask, if your loved one needed health insurance and could get it through marrying you, do you think you would have different priorities? Do you think the gay community acquiring the ability to marry in the united states doesn't go a long way in changing peoples' minds about who we are (just regular folks like them) and that, in turn, helping to stop the gay bashings and firings?
posted by Craig at 6:57 PM on August 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


You want [open immigration] you fight for it. I want to be married, I'll fight for that.

But the way it works, due to the laws we have currently, when you fight for the right to marry, you are fighting for the right to put your husband in line ahead of my boyfriend. I don't get how that's an example of "equality."
posted by layceepee at 6:58 PM on August 20, 2010


are you arguing that the gay marriage is a more important right than not getting fired from your job? The latter affects just about all gay people, the former does not.

I think they're equally important, and I want both of those rights. I don't want to be a second-class citizen in any aspect of that citizenship. But you're wrong about which groups are affected by what. Right now, you are not allowed to marry. Whether you want to exercise that right or not is irrelevant - you don't have it to execute. Right now, I don't have to worry about being fired because I'm gay - but my circumstances could theoretically change.

Pushing for gay marriage rather than, for example, ENDA, means going for the quick, flashy fix over the substantive fix.

Again, this is a question of tactics, unless you think we should never push for gay marriage. And people pursue the things they want. Maybe the fact that gay marriage is such a big deal right now is an indicator that it's more important to more gay people than you think.

Finally, gay marriage is, in a way, a valuable "force multiplier." The reason that gay rights are being debated and ultimately accepted is that we're more visible than we've been in the past. It's a lot harder to demonize a group as "the other" when everybody knows people in that group. Gay marriage will increase the visibility of out, committed couples who are more or less just like everyone else.
posted by me & my monkey at 7:01 PM on August 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


But the way it works, due to the laws we have currently, when you fight for the right to marry, you are fighting for the right to put your husband in line ahead of my boyfriend. I don't get how that's an example of "equality."

Well, no, in my specific case both me and my husband are US citizens already. I would fight for SSM no matter what the immigration laws were, in any case. And if my side wins, at least you'll be able to marry your boyfriend.

And I think hoping for open immigration is a pretty uphill climb - I'm not even sure if I think it's a good idea myself. Good luck with that!
posted by me & my monkey at 7:04 PM on August 20, 2010


No. No, it doesn't. Next question??
Why do the birds go on singing?
Why do the stars glow above?
Don't they know, it's the end of the world.
It ended when you said goodbye.
posted by y2karl at 7:15 PM on August 20, 2010


I'll be damned if I can see a conflict here. Really. Sounds like we're talking about expanding people's rights. That is a worthy cause, and doesn't preclude other worthy causes. SSM doesn't fix everything, it is none the less a step in the right direction, and the right thing to do.
posted by nola at 7:16 PM on August 20, 2010


We could have gotten ENDA with half the effort that has been put in to SSM. So, yes, I question the tactics of going for something that only benefits a small portion of the gay communities rather than something that would benefit nearly all gay and trans people.
posted by QIbHom at 7:23 PM on August 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


So long as married people enjoy rights and privileges not available to others, I think the best expression of the country club metaphor suggested above when applied to the drive for "marriage equality" is like Jewish businessman convincing the country club board to end its restriction based on religion while it maintains restrictions based on race.

Perhaps not the best expression, no.
posted by zarq at 7:35 PM on August 20, 2010


Perhaps not the best expression, no.

When you say "perhaps," you make it very hard to argue with you.
posted by layceepee at 7:42 PM on August 20, 2010


We could have gotten ENDA with half the effort that has been put in to SSM. So, yes, I question the tactics of going for something that only benefits a small portion of the gay communities rather than something that would benefit nearly all gay and trans people.

It only makes sense to discuss strategy or tactics if there's someone in charge who can make strategic or tactical decisions. We aren't a gay army. We're a bunch of people who want different things. But if you really don't think it'll be easier to get ENDA after we've gotten SSM, I can only disagree.
posted by me & my monkey at 7:45 PM on August 20, 2010


When you say "perhaps," you make it very hard to argue with you.

Perhaps he was being a bit sarcastic? But in any case, you'll be free to join the country club whether you want to or not. And the vast majority of rights and privileges that come along with marriage only affect the people in the marriage: joint property, power of attorney, etc, etc. I want the right to visit my husband in the ER, if he ever ends up there.
posted by me & my monkey at 7:49 PM on August 20, 2010


When you say "perhaps," you make it very hard to argue with you.

Perhaps you are simply ignorant of history. Jews were extensively involved in the African American civil rights movement, and your example reeks of bias.
posted by zarq at 7:55 PM on August 20, 2010


I'm a little bit troubled by those people who say that they're not getting married until their gay brothers and sisters can also marry. I appreciate the sentiment, but it seems somewhat hollow to me as a political statement unless you're also going to give up the other benefits that gay/lesbian/etc couples are currently denied. In particular, I think you also need to refuse health insurance for your partner, as well as refuse to have children (because some states still don't allow gays and lesbians to adopt). Until then, you just sound like those couples that say that they don't need no stinkin' piece of paper from the state and they think they're being all radical when really they're just fooling themselves. Some of them end up deeply regretting it twenty years down the line when someone gets sick or gets divorced.

Marriage is a good thing, and I think everyone who wants to, should. Honestly, people.
posted by math at 8:00 PM on August 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'd like to see queers (with foreign-born lovers or without) fighting for open immigration instead of gay marriage.

Creating a new immigration category for domestic partners != open immigration. For very large values of !=.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:26 PM on August 20, 2010


But the way it works, due to the laws we have currently, when you fight for the right to marry, you are fighting for the right to put your husband in line ahead of my boyfriend. I don't get how that's an example of "equality."

You apparently mean the situation is unequal because the two pairs of people aren't identically situated. But equality is intimately linked with freedom. Equality doesn't mean you actually have a husband; equality just means you have the same opportunity to have a husband. Whether you end up following through on this or not is your business and doesn't negate the idea of equality.
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:27 PM on August 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


Pope Guilty, are you arguing that the gay marriage is a more important right than not getting fired from your job?

I'm saying that there are thousands or maybe a million activists working for queer rights. Pretending that everyone has to work for the same goal or that working on anything but the goal which you personally want most or which benefits you is no goddamn different from the fucking assholes who insists that we must never discuss race because class is more important, or that we must ignore class and instead only talk about race. It's narcissistic and childish and it comes out of this inability to see anything but your own desires and your own needs.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:28 PM on August 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


Pope Guilty, are you arguing that the gay marriage is a more important right than not getting fired from your job? The latter affects just about all gay people, the former does not.

If you really believe that, I think you're very mistaken. For all of the reasons I stated above.

The fundies would be glad to hear you say that you think marriage rights are "silly" (and what a silly word to use to describe them) and unimportant. It'll allow them to continue their under-the-radar fundraising to deny LGBT people as many rights as they can and to roll back the ones that have been won up to now.
posted by blucevalo at 8:39 PM on August 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


So, yes, I question the tactics of going for something that only benefits a small portion of the gay communities rather than something that would benefit nearly all gay and trans people.

And yes, I question your dividing the pursuit of rights into those that "should" be pursued and those that should be shelved, marginalized as "silly," or ignored.
posted by blucevalo at 8:41 PM on August 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've only read a couple of the links but I found fault with so much of the logic that it was hard to continue. I've never seen seen so many appeals to tradition by people who are claiming to be progressive. Here's one, with a straw man to boot: "To say that queers have always wanted the right to marry or that all queers want to marry today is a distortion of not only our history but a misrepresentation of our needs as a community." Here's another: "marriage by its very nature is an exclusive practice...." Why she wants us to resist the movement to make it less exclusive is beyond me. It's like saying Tiger Woods shouldn't play golf because of what some country clubs did.

Hard-core orthodoxy will never get the left anywhere, the perfect being the enemy of the good and all that. Legitimizing interracial marriage was a step forward, even though it didn't do anything for gay rights. (Or didn't do anything immediately for gay rights, one could argue.)
posted by hydrophonic at 8:49 PM on August 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I get over it with a hearty 'whatever' but damn, you know, it really would be fucking nice to see some of our straight allies walk the walk on gay equality like that.

My fiancé and I waited, in part, so long to get married (happening this October) for precisely this reason. After eight years together, we decided for personal reasons to get on with things, our political objections notwithstanding. Our compromise / rationalization involves having her out-and-proud lesbian sister officiate the ceremony.
posted by joe lisboa at 9:08 PM on August 20, 2010


Meg Whitman said today that she would do everything in her power to enable the supporters of Prop 8 to appeal the decision overturning it as law in California, including getting behind the appeal herself by giving it state backing to go forward.

So clearly Queen Meg and the California Republican Party don't think that the struggle over marriage rights is silly. That's why they're doing everything they can do to make sure Prop 8 remains the law.
posted by blucevalo at 9:10 PM on August 20, 2010


After reading the arguments by the Against Equality folks, I feel a little dumber for it. I feel like they're just looking for something to rage against, and the machine is ocupado at the moment.
posted by incessant at 9:14 PM on August 20, 2010


But working toward marriage equality isn't the be-all and end-all of the struggle for GLBT acceptance. There is much basic bigotry still within the collective psyche. However, I cannot help but believe that having same-sex relationships officially recognized for those who want that will only help to overcome that bigotry.

This. I sympathise greatly with the people who believe that in America the fight for marriage equality has diverted queer organisations' resources away from other issues that affect less well-off LGBT people -- particularly poor black/latino queers and trans people in general. But I also do believe that with every measure of marriage equality comes a measure of mainstream acceptability for LGBT rights, and that it is a good thing for us as a whole.

The downsides? It's utterly bullshit that the poorest and most vulnerable members of the queer community are waiting for trickle-down rights to fall from what the most well-off members are doing, but that has always been the case and railing against it doesn't change anything. Contributing to queer rights organisations that prioritise, say, gay and trans-safe inner-city hostels over marriage is something you can do if you want to help the vulnerable, though.

A quote from a comment on the QT post: "I tend to think that my right to work, have a roof over my head, and be safe from violence are more important than my right to marry."

So please don't characterise the people who don't agree with the push for SSM as just sourpusses who should STFU.

I wish it wasn't 5am (hi insomnia!) so I could scare up some links to support this, but really: there are gay and trans people suffering right now, and many people in the movement believe that the push for SSM has hijacked money, time and organisations that could otherwise help these people.

In the end, I guess, well-off gay people are contributing more to the cause because they hope to get marriage out of it, and that's something; maybe some of it can be used to help those most at risk.

woah, that was hella disjointed. apologies: I can't brain right now.

I should probably sum up: I support SSM. I also think that poor and minority gay and trans people are ignored by the big marriage-focused gay rights groups, but it was ever thus.

Reading on down the thread...

I'm not sure why transfolk get lumped in with gays so often

We've been part of the movement since Stonewall and, to be honest, prejudice against us comes from the same place as prejudice against gay people. Plus a lot of us are gay too. And as a minority within a minority, we don't have the numbers to go it alone even if some might want to.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 9:31 PM on August 20, 2010 [7 favorites]


In the end, I guess, well-off gay people are contributing more to the cause because they hope to get marriage out of it, and that's something; maybe some of it can be used to help those most at risk.

The assumption that those who support marriage rights are mostly "well-off" is deeply insulting, as well as the assumption that they are only supporting marriage rights because it's something that they, as well-off gays sneering at the lower castes from their condos and palaces in the Hamptons or Martha's Vineyard, want for themselves.

It's really not much different from the homophobic argument that all gays selfishly want any LGBT rights (including marriage rights) only because all gays are affluent and selfish and have the needed disposable income and the time on their hands to agitate and fundraise -- something that anyone with half a brain knows is not accurate.

I'm not well-off. I don't think my desire to get married to my partner trumps the responsibility to support and fight for other gay rights, including the right not to be get fired from my job for being gay, the right not to be evicted from my rental housing for being gay, and the right to press hate crime charges against anyone who, heaven forbid, should ever beat me up for being gay.

But I also don't think it makes any sense, logically or otherwise, to cordon off the marriage rights struggle as though it is separate from all of these other fights. It is supposedly one of the abilities of the politically aware and engaged that they can see the forest for the trees. In this case, that's not happening at all. It's a form of blindness that is not only incomprehensible, it's completely corrosive.
posted by blucevalo at 9:47 PM on August 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think the thing we shouldn't lose sight of is that we are all on the same team here. We support equal rights for everyone, and many of us do care about the needs of those that don't have anything. We've got to make progress where we can, or we'll never get anywhere.
posted by nola at 9:52 PM on August 20, 2010


The assumption that those who support marriage rights are mostly "well-off" is deeply insulting, as well as the assumption that they are only supporting marriage rights because it's something that they, as well-off gays sneering at the lower castes from their condos and palaces in the Hamptons or Martha's Vineyard, want for themselves.

I intended to imply neither of those things about all gay people who support SSM; "well-off gay people" was supposed to indicate a subset. I apologise for being unclear. I merely meant to say that the fight for SSM is attracting money to the LGBT-rights cause, and I hoped that some of that money could be used for more basic rights and safeties. In no way do I believe that all people who support SSM and contribute money or time to the cause do so for selfish reasons.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 9:57 PM on August 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


are you arguing that the gay marriage is a more important right than not getting fired from your job? The latter affects just about all gay people, the former does not.

Well, if you find someone who somehow believes homosexuals should have the right to marry, but should not enjoy freedom from job discrimination based on sexual orientation, your question will give them a lot to think about.

A lot of stories are circulating right now claiming that Black and Latino voters are to blame for Prop 8 passing. Beneath this claim is an uninterrogated idea that people of color are "more homophobic" than white people. Such an idea equates gayness with whiteness and erases the lives of LGBT people of color. It also erases and marginalizes the enduring radical work of LGBT people of color organizing that has prioritized the most vulnerable members of our communities.

Such an idea does none of the things listed. Really hard to take the conclusions seriously when the premise is that if you note that a higher percentage of minorities voted for Prop 8, you don't value the activism of gay people of color.

Let's take the energy and money being put into gay marriage and put it toward real change: opposing the War on Terror and all forms of endless war; supporting queer prisoners and building a movement to end imprisonment; organizing against police profiling and brutality in our communities; fighting attacks on welfare, public housing and Medicaid; fighting for universal health care that is trans and reproductive healthcare inclusive; fighting to tax wealth not workers; fighting for a world in which no one is illegal.

Yes, how dare you gay people try to improve your lot while there are still so many platitudinous slogans you have yet to embrace to our satisfaction.
posted by spaltavian at 10:04 PM on August 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


The other thing I'll add before shutting up is that it's profoundly demoralizing to know that not only do I have to fight to convince people who viscerally hate me and whose minds will never be changed that I should have the same rights as other US citizens, but that I have to do the same (and at the same time) with people who are in the same boat as I am and who should ostensibly have my back. It's like being with a friend, backed into a corner in a dark alley, confronted by thugs, and watching your friend turn around and join the thugs in whaling on you.

It makes me wonder what the point is of continuing to hope against hope that someday I'll be able to say I'm no longer a second-class citizen.

I merely meant to say that the fight for SSM is attracting money to the LGBT-rights cause, and I hoped that some of that money could be used for more basic rights and safeties. In no way do I believe that all people who support SSM and contribute money or time to the cause do so for selfish reasons.

I didn't mean to imply that you in particular were saying that. If I did, I apologize.
posted by blucevalo at 10:06 PM on August 20, 2010


I'd like to see queers (with foreign-born lovers or without) fighting for open immigration instead of gay marriage.

Why would they do that? You seem unable to recognize that you can be for gay marriage and not for open borders. In fact, you could be for gay marriage, but against the marriage qualification for immigration entirely. Just because the two issues are linked in your specific situation, it doesn't make them logically related, doesn't give you cause to question someone's support for gay marriage because they haven't signed on to another tangentially related issue on your personal Lefty laundry list.
posted by spaltavian at 10:15 PM on August 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


I also don't think it makes any sense, logically or otherwise, to cordon off the marriage rights struggle as though it is separate from all of these other fights.

I think the position of some people is that many fighting for SSM have already done that, and they are trying to pull the balance back a bit. I don't necessarily agree 100%, but it's undeniable that "gay marriage" has a bigger political mindshare than "gay-friendly hostels for homeless youths" (or similar issues), and yet the absence of both causes suffering.

On preview, blucevalo, I think that not only is the anti-marriage movement incredibly splintered, but that the people who just want a different distribution of activist resources vastly outnumber those who are against marriage for ideological reasons (and if I'd written this FPP I probably would have presented the case for the former group first, and included the latter as a footnote). Most within the movement (if you can even call it that) may have different priorities to you but in that dark alley they'd have your back.

I wouldn't count myself as part of that movement -- being a) trans and with my own priorities and b) in Britain, where the feel of the debate is a bit different -- but I read a lot of US queer and trans blogs. I'd still have your back, though :)

I didn't mean to imply that you in particular were saying that. If I did, I apologize.

*slightly embarrassing bear-hug*
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 10:17 PM on August 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


1) Promoting deep economic and social relationships between groups of consenting adults is a social good. This doesn't need to be two people and doesn't need to involve sex (though people being people a lot of its forms would have to do with sex).

2) Marriage has all kinds of problems related to its legacy as a way of entrenching gender, class and heteronormative privilege, among other things.

However:

3) People have a terrible track record when it comes to creating these institutions from scratch, and it cannot be said that all marriages are about #2.

So:

4) If we are to expand opportunities to engage in this social good, to benefit from it, it must integrate, expand and correct prior attempts, not just toss them on the trash heap.

Now you may be thinking, "I am a loner and don't want to be a part of any arrangement even in a theoretical future where I could have the benefits of marriage or its broad-based just by hanging out with my best buddy, or my two regular lovers, whatever." Chances are high that you will be out of luck forever.

You also may be thinking that this gets you off the hook if you can make marriage work for you as is. It doesn't. You have a powerful responsibility to fight for widening the committed relationships consenting adults can engage in. You must do this while understanding that there is a historical context laying out interests and tactics beyond the theoretical, in that the concept of marriage has fucked people up, and that it intersects with queer culture in particular ways.

Married people should be first to fight.
posted by mobunited at 10:19 PM on August 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


*slightly embarrassing bear-hug*

Back at you! /hugs
posted by blucevalo at 10:23 PM on August 20, 2010


I sympathise greatly with the people who believe that in America the fight for marriage equality has diverted queer organisations' resources away from other issues that affect less well-off LGBT people -- particularly poor black/latino queers and trans people in general.

Where do those resources come from, anyway? Money doesn't come from a vacuum. If more affluent people are concerned with marriage right now, and they're providing those resources for that very purpose, what makes you think the resources would even exist otherwise? And poor people don't get married? Or don't want to get married?

there are gay and trans people suffering right now

I don't think it's very useful to have a "who's suffering more" fight, do you? I think I'd find being denied visitation rights just as bad as being denied a job.

So please don't characterise the people who don't agree with the push for SSM as just sourpusses who should STFU.

I characterize them as telling me what my own priorities should be, and STFU is a legitimate response to that, I think. I feel the same way about the constant tendency on the left to tell me that GLBT issues should wait until some other issues get sorted. If I don't fight for what I want, who will fight for me?

I merely meant to say that the fight for SSM is attracting money to the LGBT-rights cause, and I hoped that some of that money could be used for more basic rights and safeties. In no way do I believe that all people who support SSM and contribute money or time to the cause do so for selfish reasons.

Let's pretend for a minute that those reasons are entirely selfish. So what? If the fight for SSM is attracting money that wouldn't be there otherwise, doesn't it make sense to spend that money for the cause of the donors? Isn't that how advocacy is supposed to work? Wouldn't you be kind of pissed if lots of people donated money specifically to fight for ENDA, and these organizations turned around and spent it on something else before getting ENDA passed?
posted by me & my monkey at 10:24 PM on August 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


but it's undeniable that "gay marriage" has a bigger political mindshare than "gay-friendly hostels for homeless youths" (or similar issues), and yet the absence of both causes suffering.

One has a straightforward political/legal solution and one does not. Conflating an issue that can see progress in a courtroom or voting booth with one that cannot not simply delays advancement on either.
posted by spaltavian at 10:25 PM on August 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


2) Marriage has all kinds of problems related to its legacy as a way of entrenching gender, class and heteronormative privilege, among other things.

I don't think it's clear or obvious that those problems are intrinsic to marriage, though, and it's hard to see what gender or heteronormative privileges will be further entrenched by my gay marriage.

Married people should be first to fight.

Oh, we do, we do. But that's neither here nor there.
posted by me & my monkey at 10:29 PM on August 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Incremental steps can only make things better within the system that already exists. While I have spent much breath and many miles of motion on keyboards arguing that disregarding the betterment of the world that is in favor of the world that might be is a bad thing, I'm not going to pretend that incrementalism becomes radicalism in any meaningful sense.

You can't get there from here, but that doesn't excuse you for not walking.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:37 PM on August 20, 2010


I don't think it's very useful to have a "who's suffering more" fight, do you?

I never said anyone was suffering more than anyone else. That not being able to marry causes suffering is undeniable and I absolutely believe in SSM. But there are people who believe that the SSM cause, while it probably is drawing money into gay activism that otherwise might not be donated, is drawing money, mindshare, and time away from other problems they believe activists should also be addressing.

Hostels close; people get fired or denied medical care for being gay or trans; all kinds of personal-level injustices occur against poor and minority gay and trans people. I'm only trying to make the point that there is another reason, beyond the ideological, for some people to be resentful of the push for SSM.

"Hijacked" was probably too fighty a word for me to use, but at that point the thread was all "STFU you dumb fucks" and I may have come wading in a little too hard.

Honestly, I personally think the rift is caused more by larger LGBT rights groups dropping the ball in their support for poor and minority queers than by SSM.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 10:41 PM on August 20, 2010 [5 favorites]


But there are people who believe that the SSM cause ... is drawing money, mindshare, and time away from other problems they believe activists should also be addressing.

You could replace SSM with almost any cause ever championed by anyone. Someone else always believes their own priorities are more important. But that's not how activism works. SSM didn't become a big issue because some guy at HRC decided it was going to be the sole focus of LGBT rights. It became a big issue because lots of people started complaining, and trying to get married, and suing. I remember interviewing a couple here in DC who sued the city to get married, I think in '93. I remember attending "mass weddings" in '95 or so - I have the "certificate" somewhere, but am not sure about the date. This is how we got where we are - not because rich people gave money, but because couples agitated for the right to marry.
posted by me & my monkey at 10:59 PM on August 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


That's kind of what I mean about the rights groups dropping the ball -- there are people who are simply unable to make that kind of fuss (whether through lack of numbers, lack of money, lack of transport, or lack of time; and part of it is undoubtedly that the issues affecting poor and minority gay people aren't as "newsworthy" as SSM) who would be greatly helped by others making that fuss on their behalf.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 11:11 PM on August 20, 2010


Honestly, I personally think the rift is caused more by larger LGBT rights groups dropping the ball in their support for poor and minority queers than by SSM.

I think the relative momentum of same-sex marriage vs. ENDA or DADT in the US is at least partly because of the larger LGBT rights groups dropping the ball in general when dealing with federal issues (e.g., HRC has a reputation for being more interested in who comes to their cocktail parties than in endangering the guest list by actually putting lobbying pressure on anyone). A lot of SSM progress was made by state groups, often in lawsuits that the larger groups publicly worried about and discouraged. (Not to disparage all nationwide LGBT organizations -- Lambda Legal and the National Center for Lesbian Rights are a couple of the good ones!)
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 11:14 PM on August 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


I should say, "the issues affecting poor and minority gay people in addition to SSM," since I don't mean to say that no poor and minority gay people want to get married and I should totally stop speaking for them and I'm tired.

I have been cleaning compulsively since 4am. HALP.

on preview, Blue Jello Elf, that sounds familiar to a UK-ite like me. Stonewall (a national LGB rights group here -- and specifically LGB; no T) have become notorious for that kind of thing recently.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 11:19 PM on August 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


i am a queer radical, and i am v much against the state intervention in the private lives of its citizens.

I will most likely never be married. But my best (straight) friend ray--he and i do not cohabit, often we have lived in different cities, but he has visited me in the hospital and been told to leave because he was not family, he has been left off of next of kin forms, not allowed to sign joint bank accounts, not had information i wanted him to have be passed on to him, all of the night mares that gay folks think they can change with marriage.

i want to (and have discussed this) with ray, he will be at my bedside when i die, if he is allowed in, he will help raise my children, if i have them, and i will help raise his, if he has them. he knows my mother, and i know his mother. we love each other, deeper, longer and stronger then anyone else.

queerness didn't used to be about playing house according to the hegemony's rules--queerness was about choosing the family that loves you and who you love. if marriage passes--it will reinforce straight defintions of family, and make queer definings--realtionships outside of traditional gender or sexual boundries outside the norm. this includes leather, trans, working class, polyamourous, polygamous, sex workers, t hose who will never get married--but it also includes ray and i.

people who want to get married keep yelling that we should respect there right to chose their families--but i continually feel 0 amount of respect for mine.

(btw: what ever happened to smash the family/smash the state?)
posted by PinkMoose at 11:35 PM on August 20, 2010 [9 favorites]


if marriage passes--it will reinforce straight defintions of family,

So homosexuals must continued to be denied a civil right because of your nebulous concerns about "reinforcing" a "definition"?

If same-sex marriage becomes legal throughout the United States any time soon, it would be an amazing advancement and a shocking turn of events from where the country was just 20 years ago. It would represent a fundamental change in how the law and country see the issue. And yet, you somehow think this demonstration of the capacity for change and progression would preclude a growing awareness and changing perception of other lifestyles? Does that really make any sense to you whatsoever?

queerness was about choosing the family that loves you and who you love.

I don't think anyone is suggesting arranged same-sex marriages.

(btw: what ever happened to smash the family/smash the state?)

People like families and states smash back. But that's kind of like asking "Whatever happened to Zima?". It made a lot of noise, but there weren't ever a lot of people who actually liked it.
posted by spaltavian at 12:01 AM on August 21, 2010


im not american--im canadian. we have had same sex marriage for 6 years now. other families have continued to be margnialized while most people assume the queer work is done because we have marriages, while i live in a city where almost 25 per cent of men who have sex with men have hiv or aids. (to name one example, there are others)

and no one has yet convinced me that marriage is a civil right. it is not, at least--conscious, assembly, speech, safety, due process, or against cruel and unusual punishment to name any number that have been gutted in the last decade while everyone was registering for matching china patterns at ashleys.
posted by PinkMoose at 12:09 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


though i was amused by the zima reference...but it needs to be said--that control of the family, and control of the state are intertwined into an all consuming hydra that swallows dissenters whole.
posted by PinkMoose at 12:12 AM on August 21, 2010


Actually, I would consider marriage to fall under the right of association.

Sorry if I gave the impression that I assumed/implied your were American. I was just using it as an example of a place that does not have gay marriage currently, but where it is politically feasible in the near future.
posted by spaltavian at 12:20 AM on August 21, 2010


this issue has been weighing heavily over the last couple of weeks, with prop 8, the shutting down of opposition to marriage, the rise of hiv/aids in young adult populations, rob ford here in toronto, and other work i have been doing with family. i think that what happens when marriage is on the table, is the idea that

a) nothing else is legit.
b) now that we have this, we dont need anything else.

the progressive narrative of inclusion is often a myth. i am strongly against marriage for a number of reasons, that i have carefully thought out, but mostly revolve in how i am unable to chose which family is the best for me.

i am sorry if i was sharp.
posted by PinkMoose at 12:26 AM on August 21, 2010


(btw: what ever happened to smash the family/smash the state?)

I'm down, but most people aren't, and anyone who's been an anarchist long enough should figure that out. Getting upset at non-anarchists for not being anarchists, well, to quote a great philosopher, you're not wrong, you're just an asshole.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:33 AM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


and no one has yet convinced me that marriage is a civil right. it is not, at least--conscious, assembly, speech, safety, due process, or against cruel and unusual punishment to name any number that have been gutted in the last decade while everyone was registering for matching china patterns at ashleys.

If the rights that are conferred with marriage had anything to do with picking out china patterns, you might be right. Instead, your argument reflects one of the more infuriating lines of thought in the FPP- that the right to marry is merely another example of bourgeois self-indulgence. The very real issues at stake-- access to health insurance, survivor's benefits, the ability to make medical decisions for your partner if they are incapacitated-- aren't the pet causes of the privileged. They have very real life-and-death consequences for gay people, and to pretend that they are frivolous is what's truly self-indulgent. Those without high-priced lawyers and loads of disposable income to buy private health insurance and set up directed trust funds-- and that includes poor people and people of color-- don't have the luxury of dismissing marriage as simply an opportunity to get that espresso machine they've had their eye on.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 3:30 AM on August 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


Pope Guilty: "I'm saying that there are thousands or maybe a million activists working for queer rights."

Really? I see a couple hundred activists pushing it, a few thousands going along with it and, as usual, the vast majority of gays having nothing to do with the few, elite gay activists who are pushing this thing.

Most gays are too busy living their lives, doing the hard work of convincing people, one at a time, that gays are just like them. This is the hard, unglorious groundwork that allows those few hundred activists to push their agendas.
posted by QIbHom at 4:53 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Perhaps you are simply ignorant of history. Jews were extensively involved in the African American civil rights movement, and your example reeks of bias.

zarq, I didn't mean to imply otherwise with my hypothetical example. What the history of Jewish involvement in the civil rights struggle shows is an instance of an oppressed group fighting for rights in solidarity with others. I should have been more clear that my analogy was meant to show how offensive it would have been if it had been otherwise, if what Jews were working towards was the opportunity to claim privileges for themselves that were still denied to others rather than and end to discrimination generally.
posted by layceepee at 5:29 AM on August 21, 2010


The very real issues at stake-- access to health insurance, survivor's benefits, the ability to make medical decisions for your partner if they are incapacitated-- aren't the pet causes of the privileged.

One problem with identifying gay marriage as the solution to these very real issues is that it reinforces the notion that these arrangements are not choices that individuals should be able to efficiently create in a number of different ways but that they are rights that come as a result of being married. As Pink Moose noted, gay marriage doesn't help him solve the problem of giving his straight friend ray the ability to make medical decision for him if he's incapacitated. And as far as access to health insurance, it might actually make it harder for people in relationships of their own design (but not marriage) to secure that.

There was a case in New Jersey when a company extended health care coverage—which had previously been restricted to the spouses of employees—to the domestic partners of their gay and lesbian workers. An unmarried straight employee sued, saying that if gay employees were entitled to secure coverage for their unmarried domestic partners, then straight employees should enjoy the same option. The court ruled against the employee, reasoning that the coverage was only appropriate for gay employees because they were legally not legally entitled to marry. Anyone who did have the right to marry, he found, could be denied the right to access health care for a non-married partner.

The problem is that part of the “right to marry” is the right to access a bundle of privileges (not rights, privileges) that are denied to single people. If, as many supporters of same sex marriage argue, denial of marriage rights to gay citizens divides the populace into first class and second class citizens, the solution they are suggesting is not to erase the line and treat all citizens equitably but to allow gay people to move into the privileged class—but only if they agree to marry, and implicitly endorse the idea that married people deserve favored status and singles do not. That's not only an act of discrimination against the unmarried, but an insult to gays and the culture and models of relationships we've created for ourselves. “You can have your equal rights,” it says, “but only if you are willing to act like straight people.” (Only, as Michael Warner might say in the excellent book referenced earlier, if you are willing to act “normal.”)
posted by layceepee at 5:46 AM on August 21, 2010 [7 favorites]


Only, as Michael Warner might say in the excellent book referenced earlier, if you are willing to act “normal.”

Surely, it is not surprising that the State wants people to act "normal." Which includes a wide range of behavior from getting married (eventually) to not murdering people or stealing stuff. What the people who live in the State must do is define what is "normal." At the moment, only straight marriage is "normal" (or, at least "universally normal") and therefor allowable. Since the vast majority of people seem to want to form personal partnerships driven by romantic/emotional/sexual attraction, it seems a worthwhile goal to define as many of those people as "normal" as possible, to allow the maximum number of people to enjoy that institution. Yes, there will be people who do not wish to be married (or even partnered) and a larger number of people who wish to, but cannot because of some life circumstance, but you can't legislate that away -- the first group wouldn't welcome it, and how would you deal with the second? Marriage conscription?
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:02 AM on August 21, 2010


It only makes sense to discuss strategy or tactics if there's someone in charge who can make strategic or tactical decisions.

That's silly. Every movement - chaotic as it can be - discusses strategy and tactics, even as it keeps in mind the often-random events that can overtake planning. There are organizations that work every day on gay issues, and as Army of Kittens noted, there's lots of obvious evidence that marriage has taken up significant time and resources that could have been better put towards the much more widely relevant issue of job discrimination for all queer citizens, single or not.
posted by mediareport at 6:06 AM on August 21, 2010


Surely, it is not surprising that the State wants people to act "normal." Which includes a wide range of behavior from getting married (eventually) to not murdering people or stealing stuff. What the people who live in the State must do is define what is "normal."

I'd argue with your basic premise here, because I don't see evidence that either murder or theft is abnormal.

Since the vast majority of people seem to want to form personal partnerships driven by romantic/emotional/sexual attraction, it seems a worthwhile goal to define as many of those people as "normal" as possible, to allow the maximum number of people to enjoy that institution.

Marriage is not the only institution that allows people to form personal partnerships driven by romantic/emotional/sexual attraction. Their has been in the U.S. a very strong assumption that marriage is the "normal" form of these partnerships, and that those who agree to bend their personal partnerships to align with this normal model should be rewarded with a bundle of legal, social and financial privileges. It seems to me that the campaign for gay marriage reinforces this assumption rather than challenging it, and I don't think that's a good thing.
posted by layceepee at 6:19 AM on August 21, 2010


And you'd rather people continued to suffer so that you can have your moral purity instead of alleviating their suffering and having to accept that this world isn't perfect.

Narcissistic children.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:43 AM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Mo: I miss the good old days. Smash the family! Smash the state!
Sydney: What about Clarice and Toni and Raffi? D'you want to smash their family?
Mo: Please, Sydney. I'm expressing an ideological conviction, not talking about real people.
-Dykes to Watch Out For, #305, Alison Bechdel
posted by Snyder at 7:30 AM on August 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


i am a queer radical, and i am v much against the state intervention in the private lives of its citizens.

I will most likely never be married. But my best (straight) friend ray--he and i do not cohabit, often we have lived in different cities, but he has visited me in the hospital and been told to leave because he was not family, he has been left off of next of kin forms, not allowed to sign joint bank accounts, not had information i wanted him to have be passed on to him, all of the night mares that gay folks think they can change with marriage.


I don't think those things will change, I know they will. That's kind of the point. Marriage enshrines a whole bunch of relationship rights in law. That's why we want it in the first place. But I don't really understand your complaint - you don't want state intervention, and you and Ray have the result of that absence of intervention.

queerness didn't used to be about playing house according to the hegemony's rules--queerness was about choosing the family that loves you and who you love. if marriage passes--it will reinforce straight defintions of family, and make queer definings--realtionships outside of traditional gender or sexual boundries outside the norm. this includes leather, trans, working class, polyamourous, polygamous, sex workers, those who will never get married--but it also includes ray and i.

Those relationships are already out of the norm. And not everyone wants those relationships. I think the popularity of SSM as an LGBT cause indicates otherwise. And SSM is a winnable cause in the short term, while yours ... is not. And frankly, if you simply don't want the state to recognize the relationship between you and Ray, you have your wish! You can go acquire durable powers of attorney, etc, like gay couples used to have to do.

what ever happened to smash the family/smash the state?

For most gay people, this idea never even existed. Most people, gay or straight, aren't radicals.
posted by me & my monkey at 7:33 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Every movement - chaotic as it can be - discusses strategy and tactics, even as it keeps in mind the often-random events that can overtake planning. There are organizations that work every day on gay issues, and as Army of Kittens noted, there's lots of obvious evidence that marriage has taken up significant time and resources that could have been better put towards the much more widely relevant issue of job discrimination for all queer citizens, single or not.

So, in theory, the heads of HRC, etc could have gotten together and decided to push ENDA over SSM, and just said "make it so" regardless of the fact that people all over the country, on the ground, were suing and pushing for SSM. I don't think so.

I'd also take issue with the use of the word "better" there. There's lots of obvious evidence that those resources could have been put towards other issues, but "better put" is an opinion, not a fact.
posted by me & my monkey at 7:39 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Most gays are too busy living their lives, doing the hard work of convincing people, one at a time, that gays are just like them. This is the hard, unglorious groundwork that allows those few hundred activists to push their agendas.

Lots of us will, by living our lives as married couples, do that hard work a bit easier.
posted by me & my monkey at 7:41 AM on August 21, 2010


I was being wry about the smashing family--and thank you snyder for qouting bechdel, who might be the person to best express this interior struggle of the glbtq community.

layceepee makes the point i want to make, and asks the question i want to ask: in my immediate circle, i can think of a dozen kinds of familial realtionship:

a) the family i have made with ray
b) my mothers realtionship with some other elderly women in her church, which have the same compoenents of me and ray, but with some v. real health problems
c) my mother and my father who never divorced, but are not offically married, but see each other four times a week
d) a mother and a father and a kid
e) my elderly uncle who finally married his lover in his 60s and is now a widower.
f) a male couple who is not married
g) a gay male friend in his 40s, who has had the same friends and the same community for more then a decade, but who is not married.
h) a man and a woman who are not married but have been living together for 20 years
i) two genderqueer people who refuse to identify by gender, who occasionally live with a third or a fourth, and consider hospitality a virture in their home and sex lives
j) a working class sex worker who has idelogical problems wiht marriage.
k) people who live full time in religious orders, or intentional communities, including convents and some who live on radical faeire land full time in oregon.
l) a single mother who is raising her children by her neighbourhood.

and i think is anyone else sits down and thinks about (in the words of sesame street) the people of their neighbourhood, they can list a similar collection of families they know. now, a,b,g, i, j, , and l have no protection of the state what so ever, and c, h, k, have limited connections to the state.

people who are so adamant about gay marriage, who think this is the next big civil right struggle--how will the right to get married for a limited number of people, going to help most of the families i have elucidated above.
posted by PinkMoose at 7:55 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


(Disclaimer - not LBGT)

Gay marriage is simply one step towards the removal of all barriers and discrimination against LBGT people, but it's an important one because the acceptance (or 'normalization' -heh) of same-sex couples in long-term relationships and families will have a whole host of spinoffs.

Whatever you think of it, marriage and family-raising are at the center of the sacred inner circle of most societies, so winning this battle goes a long way towards striking down both government-imposed barriers (rights within marriage, etc) and social ones. When the state and most organized religions accept or are at least neutral towards same-sex marriage, those opposed will be the marginalized ones.

I've only read a few of the provided links but this stuck with me, from the second:
Marriage is an institution used primarily to consolidate privilege, and we think real change will only come from getting rid of a system that continually doles out privilege to a few more, rather than trying to reform it

Oops, your agenda is showing. Someone's confusing their dreams of radical change with LBGT rights. People do have the right to NOT protest every single real or percieved slight or problem. I don't see any betrayal of the queer cause just because someone would just like to settle down with someone else, maybe raise some kids, and NOT be manning the barricades daily.

Yes of course marriage is not some biologically-ordained or god(dess)-given essential sacrament, it's a social construct that has changed through history, and has different expressions in different societies and religion. Nonetheless, in the mostly secular western world we have the freedom to assign whatever personal significance we want to marriage, whether we stumble blindly into the social/religious norms of our families, or create a new and special kind of union.

I'm very OK with people exploring and celebrating the different sorts of "family" arrangements possible. It takes a village to raise a child, etc. Nonetheless... c'mon, a stable two-person household has proven to be a pretty good system for mutual support (partners in committed couples live longer and happier, on average) and for raising and supporting kids.

I managed to meet someone, live with her for a bit, and find a love and friendship so strong that that I wanted to announce to the world that I felt I could commit to a life-long relationship with this person. So we had a wedding and got married. It's taken work, commitment, and a little self-sacrifice to stay together. Our 20th anniversary is next week, and the relationship continues to be loving, strong and nurturing. So I have little patience with the assholes who are trying to tell me that we've just blindly "conformed" to a social norm.
posted by Artful Codger at 7:57 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


And you'd rather people continued to suffer so that you can have your moral purity instead of alleviating their suffering and having to accept that this world isn't perfect.

If this is directed at me, I don't think it's an accurate description of my position. Do you think it's impossible to have a principled opposition to marriage privilege? Is it wrong in a discussion of gay marriage to introduce that opposition as one of the factors that should be considered?


Narcissistic children.

Like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton when they argued for support of universal suffrage rather than the 15th Amendment, which gave non-white men the right to vote but did not extend it to white or black women.

There are hard questions involved in dismantling discrimination, and I think there are people on both sides of them motivated by concerns other than narcissism.
posted by layceepee at 8:05 AM on August 21, 2010


Their has been in the U.S. a very strong assumption that marriage is the "normal" form of these partnerships, and that those who agree to bend their personal partnerships to align with this normal model should be rewarded with a bundle of legal, social and financial privileges.

Lots of gay couples don't see this as "bending." I know I don't. I've been living with the same guy for 20 years. We want to marry (and are married here in DC). We didn't have to bend anything. We live together, we've bought a house together. It's what we want. I think it's pretty arrogant for people to tell us we don't really want that, or we should be fighting instead for some vague, larger definition of relationships and family.

people who are so adamant about gay marriage, who think this is the next big civil right struggle--how will the right to get married for a limited number of people, going to help most of the families i have elucidated above.

Your definition of family seems far broader than most people's. Where are the familial relationships in a, e, g, j and k?

In any case, SSM might not help any of them, although c, d, f and i could possibly take advantage of it. But neither would any other civil right currently being pursued by, well, anyone other than you and other "radicals."
posted by me & my monkey at 8:12 AM on August 21, 2010


having a wider defintion of family is the point of queer life, or one of the points, others include sex, and wearing fancy hats.
posted by PinkMoose at 8:18 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm really interested in what systems people want to give legal rights outside of (gay or straight) marriage - the closest I saw in one of the articles was a mention of the French system that gives legal rights to unusual pairs such as siblings that live together.

Its interesting to think what limitations and challenges there would be to that sort of system - a lot of the examples thrown around in this thread are groups who actively do no want legal recognition, or partnerships where the members might not want to give complete control to the other members - for example, you might want to include church friend on your insurance, but not split your finances 50/50 with them if you dissolved your partnership after 20 years. Especially with insurance, if everyone was given an arbitrary +1 for registered nonromantic partners, fraud could become a big issue.

Additionally, there would have to be some sort of hierarchy set up, because there are things like restricted hospital wards where it isn't feasible to have multiple registered partners entering. Oh, and I can only imagine the AskMe's - my sister is pressuring me to legally partner with her so she can get on my insurance!
posted by fermezporte at 8:29 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


layceepee, Pink Moose - am I correct in concluding that you think that SSM is some sort of false or inappropriate goal because it does not provide any assistance/privilege to the other sort of family arrangements you list out?

If that's true, then you're really championing some sort broader social issue, not necessarily a LGBT rights issue, yes? And ones that primarily apply to low/no income people.

Our plain vanilla boy-girl marriage has not really provided much economic advantage. It was fairly easy to get a mortgage as co-owners of a house, but any two people could do the same with the appropriate contract. To be middle class in a big city in North America, you need two salaries, so we both work; there again marriage has conferred no financial benefit. On insurance and retirement benefits, we're listed as each other's beneficiary, something that any two (or more) people could do. Same for most personal finances - the options exist.

My point is that for most people a government-recognized union actually confers little economic advantage. It does confer more advantage for child rearing, sure... but I kind of think that it isn't too much for society to ask that people be serious and responsible about planning and organizing for the raising of children.

PinkMoose, you and I may recognise that your listed relationships are also "families", but from the government's point of view, how the heck can this be formally defined and recognised, in order to confer "benefits". Again, assuming the benefitsyou refer to are mostly financial, you're really not talking about LGBT issues, you're talking about poverty. This has about nothing to do with the rights to SSM, sorry.
posted by Artful Codger at 8:30 AM on August 21, 2010


Lots of gay couples don't see this as "bending." I know I don't.

Point taken, which makes it easy to understand that it isn't obvious to you that, given the right to marry legally, you are being given access to privileges that aren't available to others unless they are willing to bend, twist and contort their relationships to fit in to the institution of marriage. Or privileges that aren't available to lots of people on PinkMoose's list whose chosen relationships are impossible to bend far enough to fit. I would hope though, on reflection, you would understand why some of us feel that gay marriage isn't the solution for everyone and in fact creates problems for some who end up on the wrong side of the married (and privileged) vs. unmarried divide.

But neither would any other civil right currently being pursued by, well, anyone other than you and other "radicals."

Perhaps that's why we're trying to attract more people to the struggle for civil rights currently being pursued only by radicals.
posted by layceepee at 8:35 AM on August 21, 2010


PinkMoose: You're right. Gay marriage and people buying "china patterns at ashleys" is most assuredly not the next big civil rights struggle. And saying it isn't, and rolling it back, and insisting that other struggles are infinitely more important and deserving of attention, will of course help the causes of all of those other people you mention -- especially in the eyes of those who are fighting to roll back all LGBT people's rights and the rights of other marginalized people.

The fight over gay marriage didn't start with Gavin Newsom flinging open the doors of City Hall in San Francisco and screaming "Let the queers get married!" It began with Lawrence v. Texas, which decriminalized sodomy across the US. In his dissent to that opinion, Antonin Scalia wrote that legalizing sodomy "dismantles the structure of constitutional law" by privileging homosexual relationships on an equal basis with heterosexual ones. Jerry Falwell said that the ruling was "capitulation to the gay and lesbian agenda whose ultimate goal is the legalization of same-sex marriages." Rick Santorum, who will probably be running for president in 2012, said that the "greatest near-term consequence of the Lawrence v. Texas anti-sodomy ruling could be the legalization of homosexual marriage." That's part of what's at stake here, not a handful of gleeful rich white queers buying tickets for celebratory summer B&B tours of Niagara Falls followed up with winter trips to the White Party in Miami for on-the-side sex romps.

If you're so keen on stamping same-sex marriage into the dirt, you might follow that up with resuscitating laws that criminalize sodomy as well. It's the same path.

I'm partnered. My partner and I are US citizens. Our partnership is not federally recognized and is not accepted in the laws of all but six states, and we do not currently live in one of those states. I had to go to with my partner to the city you say you're from, Toronto, just to pick up a piece of paper that said our marriage was legitimate, even though that piece of paper means nothing in the US.

No, let me rephrase that -- I didn't have to, we didn't have to, we chose to. Not because we don't think all of the causes and grievances that you list are legitimate and worthy. Not because we could ever legally "register for china patterns" (as though that were the only thing important about marriage -- what horseshit) in the US, even with a Canadian marriage license that hangs on our wall. But because we want to strike a blow, however futile, for legal acceptance and legitimization of our relationship and all LGBT relationships, and indeed all relationships that are not recognized by the state that are based in love and familial belonging.

If you think that's worthless or misguided or wrong-headed, so be it.

And if that makes me "adamant," again, add it to the list. I'm beginning to get used to that lengthening list of horrible things that I am for wanting to fight for marriage rights. It fits rather comfortably with the list of horrible things that I am that the fundies and bigots brandish on TV every night.
posted by blucevalo at 8:35 AM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


no, i'm not talking about poverty--i am talking about this continual desire to give up the struggle of expansion and deconstruction of societal expecetations the minute the state offers heternormative carrots. it's the attitude of, we'll be good, if we can just have what the straight folx have. as someone who is queer, i did not sign on to having the same things as you.
posted by PinkMoose at 8:37 AM on August 21, 2010


and Valo--I hope to god that you did not get married in the city hall chapel, it is worn out and kind of ugly. I am glad that we as Canadians helped you with the choices you made. Those choices have consequences, some great and some problematic. I do not think that the slippery slope argument ever works, and I think that one of those problems is that you refused to do the work in the town you are in.
posted by PinkMoose at 8:44 AM on August 21, 2010


that was kind of harsh--i do not know what queer work you do, and maybe it is unnessc. cruel of me to assume that marriage work is not queer work, but i have yet to be convinced that it is.
posted by PinkMoose at 8:45 AM on August 21, 2010


this continual desire to give up the struggle of expansion and deconstruction of societal expecetations the minute the state offers heternormative carrots.

I fail to see where eventually winning marriage equality will mean the end of any other struggle by any other persons. Where do you get that idea?
posted by hippybear at 8:46 AM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


because we settle for what ever daddy gives us, regardless of wether it is good for us or not. marriage is us rolling over
posted by PinkMoose at 8:52 AM on August 21, 2010


Wow. Just wow. If that's really how you view the past 60 years of struggle by the GLBT community... I'm at a loss here.
posted by hippybear at 8:53 AM on August 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


PM: no, i'm not talking about poverty--i am talking about this continual desire to give up the struggle of expansion and deconstruction of societal expecetations the minute the state offers heternormative carrots. it's the attitude of, we'll be good, if we can just have what the straight folx have. as someone who is queer, i did not sign on to having the same things as you.

Um, look I tried my darndest to argue that "heteronormative" marriage doesn't really convey much economic benefit, over and above cohabitation or civil union, to the majority of its practitioners (who are not in poverty). So, yeah your issues is about poverty - or can you convince me otherwise?

I also tried to convey how wonderful it was to be able to make a public commitment to the one I love, and I think any two people who are in love and willing to make a public commitment should have the right to have that commitment recognized. Trying to diminish this as a "heteronormative carrot"... makes you kind of an asshole. Or have I misunderstood this too?
posted by Artful Codger at 9:02 AM on August 21, 2010


Formalizing a relationship with a member of the same sex is SO het.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:05 AM on August 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


I've stayed out of this thread for the last little bit just reading and trying to grasp the core of this disagreement. At this point I'm not sure which way is up anymore as it involves SSM. I like to think I'm keeping up with issues which while not mine, are important human-rights issues. PinkMoose, you've effectively blown my mind. Good luck getting anything done, ever.

1) You have not laid out an explanation for your position that I can follow (other people seem to know what you're talking about, but I don't).

2) What are you talking about?

3) Seriously, what the hell are you talking about?

4) Is your goal to make the world a bette place for people to live in, or are you just jerkin' it?
posted by nola at 9:09 AM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Do you think that Boise in the 50s, or the Homophile Leauge meetings in Chicago and Kansas City in the 60s, or Stonewall, or any of the gay sex in the 70s, or ACT UP or Queer Nation or the Lesbian avengers in the 80s, were working towards marriage?

Do you think that the attempts to legitimatize queer sex people thought was automatically about legitimatizing gay marriage. Marriage has come late to GLBTQ struggle---long after any number of issues, and it has demanded the biggest piece of the pie. Not only has it demanded the biggest piece of the pie, it continually delegitimatizes the struggles that have connected to queer liberation.

If you continue the narrative that was suggested from the 50s onward, one of community building, protection against the intervention of a hostile government, health care, the collapsing of family categorise, the defense of gaymale sexual culture, and the like...you are assumed to some kind of traitor.

I am 29. I have been out since I was 14. I work professionally in the glbtq community. I work with sex workers, young folks, rural communities, theological cultures, and leather. None of those communities has ever prioritized marriage, but the money goes into the preserving this under the name of rights. We are not safer because of marriage. In the last year, b/w Toronto Pride, the rise of gay bashings in Vancouver, the lack of resources in Northern Alberta, to name three of communities I care about, has all gotten worse--and gotten worse as at least an indirect result of marriage. And marriage still refuses to extend families to where they are part of the lived experiences of many people.

Plus, they really do need to fix the wedding chapel at Toronto City Hall.
posted by PinkMoose at 9:12 AM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


nola.

my argument is thus:

marriage, while viewed as a civil rights issue, is part of a conservative instinct to assimilate a long standing queer culture, and used as a distraction to avoid discussing issues that people find distasteful. The liberal American arguments about what happens after marriage are not held up by evidence. Also, I think that the wedding chapel of Toronto City Hall is ugly.
posted by PinkMoose at 9:15 AM on August 21, 2010


PG Formalizing a relationship with a member of the same sex is SO het.

I'm sort of hoping that SSM will cause some of the more enlightened sexual attititudes of the gay community to rub off on the het set, so that my wife won't automatically get upset if I choose to spend the evening in a steambath full of cheerleaders. ;-)

(Ow. stop hitting me hunny, I was kidding!)
posted by Artful Codger at 9:18 AM on August 21, 2010


Sorry I was to harsh. I'm out of my depth here and I let my insecurities about this get the better of my tone. Sorry. Looks like I've got some reading to do.
posted by nola at 9:18 AM on August 21, 2010


i am most likely being an asshole here.
posted by PinkMoose at 9:22 AM on August 21, 2010


blucevalo: The fight over gay marriage didn't start with Gavin Newsom flinging open the doors of City Hall in San Francisco and screaming "Let the queers get married!" It began with Lawrence v. Texas, which decriminalized sodomy across the US.

Actually, it started 15 years earlier when conservatives started pushing anti-marriage laws as a legal justification for blocking piecemeal insurance, custody, and private domestic partner benefits. The strategy behind Proposition 8 has never been to protect heterosexual marriage or to attack gay marriage. The strategy has been to get statutory and constitutional grounds for declaring a broad scope of gay rights illegal.

Which is where I think most of these activists are well-intentioned but misguided. These amendments are not really about the institution of marriage, which wasn't even on the agenda in most of the states where they were passed. They were about getting a wedge that could be used to challenge a broad spectrum of gay rights law and legal decisions.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:40 AM on August 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


and i think peicemeal insurance is the best way of going about things.
posted by PinkMoose at 9:42 AM on August 21, 2010


Prop8 supporters: Marriage is between a man and a woman! It always has been, so gays shouldn't get married.

Anti-marriage radicals: Marriage is between a man and a woman! It always has been, so gays shouldn't get married.
posted by hydrophonic at 9:42 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


PM, I think I understand a bit better where you are coming from.

In the last year, b/w Toronto Pride, the rise of gay bashings in Vancouver, the lack of resources in Northern Alberta, to name three of communities I care about, has all gotten worse--and gotten worse as at least an indirect result of marriage.

These issues are mostly broad economic/political issues. Things have gotten tougher all over, and you don't have to be a psych major to see how the North American headspace has taken a particularly nasty, bigoted right-wing turn. You would know better than I whether SSM has affected the use of money donated/given to the queer causes... but blaming SSM as the cause, indirect or otherwise, of these problems... not buying it.Things are... just worse for most everybody.

And marriage still refuses to extend families to where they are part of the lived experiences of many people.

...that is a different issue than SSM, and at its core, economic, because you're really discussing funding of these other family types. Plus you haven't suggested how this recognition and funding would even be possible.

This discussion makes me believe more that SSM is the border between "generally discriminated against" to "generally accepted". Which means that gay couples will be part of normal. And radicals hate us normals - we're just too preoccupied with living our lives to man the barricades anymore.

Seriously, PM I suspect you're doing great work in, and for, your community, but your attitude seems to be that of a soldier who's unhappy because a major campaign has been won and you still wanted to fight. Not everyone wants to be an activist...

All communities should be banding together to reduce the economic hardships that afflict your constituency, but attacking/blaming the visible and very important goal of SSM is not productive.

(we're in Toronto too, btw)
posted by Artful Codger at 9:45 AM on August 21, 2010


GenjiandProust: Surely, it is not surprising that the State wants people to act "normal." Which includes a wide range of behavior from getting married (eventually) to not murdering people or stealing stuff. What the people who live in the State must do is define what is "normal."

layceepee:I'd argue with your basic premise here, because I don't see evidence that either murder or theft is abnormal.


Yeah, they are. They aren't as uncommon as they should be, but they are abnormal. Most people get through their lives neither murdering nor being murdered. A lot more people commit and are affected by various kinds of petty thefts, but large-scale theft is also pretty rare (well, where it isn't sanctioned by law). In contrast, most people either aspire to or achieve some kind of long-term partnering. So, yeah, that's "normal," and I would like to see that "normality" extended to same-sex couples.

layceepee: Marriage is not the only institution that allows people to form personal partnerships driven by romantic/emotional/sexual attraction. Their has been in the U.S. a very strong assumption that marriage is the "normal" form of these partnerships, and that those who agree to bend their personal partnerships to align with this normal model should be rewarded with a bundle of legal, social and financial privileges. It seems to me that the campaign for gay marriage reinforces this assumption rather than challenging it, and I don't think that's a good thing.

Yeah, there are other family formations, and they should be looked at to see if their is a way to legally formalize them (for the purpose of benefits, taxes, child care, inheritance, etc). Since you are in favor of this, I would think that any effort to crack open the narrow definition of marriage would be to your advantage. It seems like you have a desire to see other people's dreams deferred until yours can be realized, which isn't the best strategy to gain allies. I expect some of this is from a reasonable fear that, once SSM is achieved, that the coalitions that worked for it will dissolve and go on to brunch without thinking of your coals at all. Which is probably true in part. But, if you were spending time making allies rather than enemies, you'd probably get more support.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:48 AM on August 21, 2010


PinkMoose: Sure, but the problem is that with the anti-marriage amendment on the books, many organizations can't offer piecemeal insurance because you can't recognize a same-sex or alternative family as equivalent to marriage on even the most trivial of levels. These amendments were passed and used in Michigan and Ohio to attack piecemeal benefits without SSM ever becoming an agenda item. DOMA is used by the federal government to deny piecemeal rights to federal employees.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:51 AM on August 21, 2010


i would say that you were right codger, if i thought there was one war, i think that the war took a sharp right turn about 5 years ago.
posted by PinkMoose at 9:51 AM on August 21, 2010


I'm amused that you're writing this from Canada, where gay marriage already exists, and are taking such a strong stand against the US working toward a similar right. I don't think that anyone here in the States has any illusions about how quality of life will improve overall if it is finally won, but I think all of us are pretty aware of what the stakes are if it is decided against marriage equality -- continued legal second-class status.

I do think that any and all struggles by the GLBT community have been working toward making the world a less hostile, more accepting place for people who have non-standard orientation. This has taken a lot of forms over the years.

At first, it was a fight simply against being demonized and arrested and institutionalized and given shock therapy in the name of "decency". We've moved far away from that at this point, at least from a legal standpoint. (Society, of course, hasn't moved in attitude as swiftly as the laws have, but that's pretty standard for human rights issues.)

A lot of the community building which took place over the decades was a deliberate refuge from outside hostility. It was (and continues to be) a marvelous asset to anyone who participates. But participation in such structures is far from universal. And those communities were (and are) largely self-sustaining. They don't expect "official" support. They do it on their own.

You've stated more than once that you see queer as somehow being defined by interest in non-standard families. At its basic level, this is true. If you want to build a family out of two people of the same sex, this has been seen as non-standard for a long time. We're finally moving out of that mindset as a culture. A lot of the community webs you list in a much earlier comment have already been sanctioned by society for quite a while -- church group communities, parents with children, cohabiting heterosexual adults, religious orders, single parents, friendship circles... All these have been part of the scheme of life for centuries in various ways. There is no need to formalize these types of families of choice, because they're already universally recognized as existing and having some value.

But the idea that two men or two women who love each other might actually be formally recognized as a couple in the context of "official" social structures... This IS something which has been fought for all along by the GLBT community, in various ways. It hasn't always been a pursuit of marriage, per se, but the right to love who one chooses in the manner they desire HAS been, and continues to be.

Even within the list of communities you provide as part of your bona fides, I'm sure there are people who have sought to formalize a relationship with another person they love. There are married sex workers, married young people, married rural people, married (non-catholic) priests, and married leather people. I've attended ceremonies where the entire crowd was decked out in enough cowhide to start a Texas ranch. I've attended ceremonies at Faerie sanctuaries. Sure, none of these groups prioritized marriage, but that's because the commitment of two people to each other in such a manner is, at its core, a private affair.

The struggle currently taking place isn't one which I ever really dreamed would happen in my lifetime, certainly. I'm a bit shocked when I look back across the past 20 years I've been out and working toward GLBT equality to think that there might actually be official recognition of same-sex couples on par with heterosexual marriage. THAT'S A MAJOR ACHIEVEMENT IN THE WORK TOWARD RECOGNITION AND EQUALITY. It certainly wasn't something that even occurred to me back then, but now that it's here as a fight, I think it's one that is worth winning.

But that certainly won't mean that the gay and lesbian community will feel that the struggle toward acceptance is over. There are factions which work on a regular basis to dehumanize queers, both organized and diffused. Pastors will continue to preach hateful sermons, rednecks will continue to chase queers with baseball bats, business owners will continue to make up reasons to fire someone... LGBT community centers will continue to exist, continue to host various groups, will continue to provide safe havens for those with hostile families... The work isn't going to end simply because same-sex marriage is suddenly legal. There's simply too much work to be done on a cultural level.
posted by hippybear at 9:59 AM on August 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


But that work that needs to be done on a cultural level is not being done because the energy, money, and finances are being used for this one thing.

Look, if you and yr same gender partner want to get married, however you want to get married, it's not my choice but fine--get married any damn way you want. But don't make it the priority for the rest of us, and don;t assume that it is progress.

Also, when you get married, realise that you get entangled with a state that has been hostile and that hostility will not magically go away because it has been made legal.
posted by PinkMoose at 10:08 AM on August 21, 2010


If you continue the narrative that was suggested from the 50s onward, one of community building, protection against the intervention of a hostile government, health care, the collapsing of family categorise, the defense of gaymale sexual culture, and the like...you are assumed to some kind of traitor.

And you assume that I am a "traitor" for fighting for (in addition to all of the above) marriage rights/benefits in a nation that does not yet have them (as Canada does, and has had, for years). I guess we're both traitors then. Hooray.

Also, when you get married, realise that you get entangled with a state that has been hostile and that hostility will not magically go away because it has been made legal.

Do you seriously think that not being married does not also "entangle" you with a hostile state? I'm entangled with the state whether I like it or not.
posted by blucevalo at 10:14 AM on August 21, 2010


Also, when you get married, realise that you get entangled with a state that has been hostile and that hostility will not magically go away because it has been made legal.

But, by living in a state, you are already entangled with it, subject to its laws, its society, its mores, etc. And, for a lot of people, that means living in a hostile place. For same-sex couple who want to be married, this struggle will make that place slightly less hostile, and gives them a variety of legal protections that are otherwise unavailable. No, winning the SSM battle is not going to magically fix everything, just like the way the US is, decades after significant Civil Rights legislation, still struggling with the legacy and current practices of racism. But, for all our failures and general racial fucked-uppedness, there are very few people with a shred of progressive desire that want to go back to the 1950s racial environment. In 50 years will we be living in a glorious and welcoming USA of same-sex-affectionalism? I doubt it. But I bet it will be a damn sight better than it is today, and worlds better than 50 years ago.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:21 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


PM, you have yet to say how your alternative families can be formally defined, recognized and supported. What's the plan in terms of concrete goals?

Also, the fact that so many of the straight community are in support of SSM - isn't this "free" support for the queer cause? It's not as if the straight community would suddenly think about the plight of transgendered sex workers if SSM was off the table.

SSM is totally progress. It's as close to a single formal recognition of homosexuality as normal human behaviour as you're likely to see. I'm sorry you can't agree, or enjoy the victory with those of your community who do.
posted by Artful Codger at 10:23 AM on August 21, 2010


But that work that needs to be done on a cultural level is not being done because the energy, money, and finances are being used for this one thing.

And here is where I think you're being a bit blind. There is so much work going on in the US on behalf of GLBT people... Perhaps this marriage thing is the most visible at the moment, but work is being done in communities all over the US, at this very minute, which has nothing to do with marriage equality. Gay-only AA meetings are taking place. Queer youth are playing basketball at their center. AIDS patients are receiving help with their medicine and living expenses. Art shows are being exhibited. Counselors are taking phone calls from troubled and suicidal people. The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence are holding fundraisers. Speakers are giving talks on various topics. Gay books, both fiction and non, are being written and read. I mean, I could continue coming up with examples of things I'm certain are happening RIGHT NOW in some part of this expansive country which are not about same-sex marriage but which are beneficial to the gay community.

Nobody is making anything a priority for you. You seem to feel that you're somehow being recruited into a fight that, actually, you're not even a part of because you don't live in the US to begin with. Marriage equality is a priority for people who want to get married, and for groups which support them being able to make that choice, which right now they mostly can't. Period. If you have a battle you feel needs to be waged alongside that, then work toward winning that fight. There's no assumption that everyone under the big rainbow umbrella has the same concerns about life. There's only the recognition that the culture at large has treated us very badly for a long time and we're stronger together than we are apart.

(And I do believe that having legal protections are better than not having them. They provide a context for citizens to fight against a hostile state, because once it's a law that some part of that hostility is no longer to be practiced, there is actual context in which to challenge any continuation of the hostility.)
posted by hippybear at 10:29 AM on August 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


Two years ago, a Florida hospital denied private power of attorney to a woman because recognizing private power of attorney for same-sex couples was unconstitutional under Florida's marriage laws. These laws don't just say you can't have marriage, those laws explicitly and implicitly say that you can't have anything else either.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:43 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


The problem is that part of the “right to marry” is the right to access a bundle of privileges (not rights, privileges) that are denied to single people. If, as many supporters of same sex marriage argue, denial of marriage rights to gay citizens divides the populace into first class and second class citizens, the solution they are suggesting is not to erase the line and treat all citizens equitably but to allow gay people to move into the privileged class—but only if they agree to marry, and implicitly endorse the idea that married people deserve favored status and singles do not. That's not only an act of discrimination against the unmarried, but an insult to gays and the culture and models of relationships we've created for ourselves. “You can have your equal rights,” it says, “but only if you are willing to act like straight people.” (Only, as Michael Warner might say in the excellent book referenced earlier, if you are willing to act “normal.”)

Gays in the US are already possibly looking at a decade or much more of fighting for full same-sex marriage rights throughout the country, especially if court cases don't go their way. For something that won't affect anyone else's marriage. Your advice is to argue for something that actually radically changes the status and benefits of marriage? If every LGBT group in the country had been pushing strongly for that I still don't think it would be anywhere near as far along as SSM is now.
posted by Dismantled King at 10:56 AM on August 21, 2010


i don't know how families are recognized, and i might be a bit blind about this. this might be a malcolm vs martin situation, mostly because i do not understand why you would keep wanting to further and futher engage with any institution that has caused so many problems. i am not a realist, i need to work on that.

from some one who has lived under gay marriage, the energy and resources that are used to continue this fight maybe perhaps could be used for other things. i see two things happen after same sex couples was allowed

a) people who were disenfranchised continued to be so.
b) the fissure b/w middle class gay and lesbian folks and working class queer folks widened so that they are basically no longer talking to each other. (see the HRC)

if i could change anything--i would make benefits work like a chinese menu, a set amount of cash depending on circumstances, that could be used or transfered to a certain number of people--plus the usual anyone can visit you in the hospitals and anyone can be named as custodian of kids, for example.

but this is my point, instead of sitting down and constructing a strategy for the biggest amount of families having the biggest amount of resources, there is the assumption that once this one fairly reactionary "right" is acheived then others will be achieved for other people. i mean that worked for inter racial marriage, if you believe one narrative, but i am cynical about this--
trickle down economics failed to function for economics, i am not sure that it will work for social policy.

this is not me being disingenious--marriage geniunely confuses me, i have no idea why anyone one would want to be married, and i have no idea why it has been proven to fail so often in straight couples we would want to ape that construction--it's the arguement that laura kipnis makes in against love and for me, queer liberation is about sexual liberation, and marriage does not liberate one sexually. it is more about fucking and less about love.

(i also, frankly, like the john water line about how it used to the only two advantages of being gay were not joining the army and not getting married)

and about not being an american--maybe this suggests more about my politics then i think it is, but this issue for me seems to be post national.
posted by PinkMoose at 11:11 AM on August 21, 2010


this is not me being disingenious--marriage geniunely confuses me, i have no idea why anyone one would want to be married

Well, why didn't you say so? Obviously homosexual people should be forbidden from any conduct that confuses you.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:26 AM on August 21, 2010


i am not sure that this is fair. i am trying to genuinely engage with the argument, and be reconciliatory. i think also that yr use of the word homosexual in that context, is problematic, a little bit.
posted by PinkMoose at 11:28 AM on August 21, 2010


this is not me being disingenious--marriage geniunely confuses me, i have no idea why anyone one would want to be married, and i have no idea why it has been proven to fail so often in straight couples we would want to ape that construction--it's the arguement that laura kipnis makes in against love and for me, queer liberation is about sexual liberation, and marriage does not liberate one sexually. it is more about fucking and less about love.

So, being queer is all about fucking and has nothing to do with love? Or am I reading this paragraph incorrectly?
posted by hippybear at 11:31 AM on August 21, 2010


being queer is more about fucking, sometimes, delightfully, gracefully, generously, love slips in, but fucking never recesses.
posted by PinkMoose at 11:33 AM on August 21, 2010


Yeah, I think that is where you depart from a good portion, possibly the majority, of the population. Not that fucking isn't great, but most people seem to be looking for love. And certainly there are plenty of love relationships where fucking has receded but the love continues to hold the relationship strong.

But knowing that about your worldview does help me understand where you're coming from with what you've been writing in this thread.
posted by hippybear at 11:43 AM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


hippybear: So, being queer is all about fucking and has nothing to do with love? Or am I reading this paragraph incorrectly?

Easy questions to answer! No and yes.

Good grief, it's not like criticisms of marriage as a political institution are at all new, and the notion that people just are not cut out for long-term monogamy is a running cliche on ask mefi, with Dan Savage as the perennial pundit on this topic.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:44 AM on August 21, 2010


but i do love people, and i love my family, and i have loved my partners--there are two issues here, that those i love are not automatically those i fuck, and that for those who have a closer match about that make choices and priorties that deny how much queer liberation has been sexual liberation from the 19th century onward.

a
posted by PinkMoose at 11:50 AM on August 21, 2010


queer = fucking, no exceptions? (you young people are so cute). This kind of clashes with the expanded family examples you were fighting for upthread. (particularly b) my mothers relationship with some other elderly women in her church - heh. Oh the visuals...)

I sort of see love as transcendent, something that can occur regardless of age, race, religion, sex, physical ability, fuckability... marks me as old, I guess. I would forego any amount of fucking for genuine love. Sex is trips to the dessert bar, real love is solid nourishing, satisfying food, day after day after day. Since I was older than you are now when we got married, your views on marriage may yet change.
posted by Artful Codger at 11:54 AM on August 21, 2010


i dont only see queerness as sexual.

a) family is not all about sex. marriage posits that family is connected with sex.
b) a queer deft. of family is one that does not forget sex but acknowledges the wide spectrum of affection.

marriage, for me, attaches forever the connections b/w sex, family, the state, and property. i do not consider sex, the family, the state, and property as one. so i am not in favour of marriage
other things i am in favour of:
a) puppies
b) sunshine
c) ice cream
d) hugs
e) unicorns
f) the cartoons of chuck jones.
posted by PinkMoose at 12:00 PM on August 21, 2010


marriage posits that family is connected with sex
Nobody in the west, outside of the strongly religious or the mentally weak, seriously believes anymore that marriage is the necessary precondition for sex.

You'll find much more division about what structure is desirable for the raising of kids. Currently, a 16 yr old guy can knock up his 14 yr old cousin, and that satisfies most legal and religious requirements for a family, but if a same-sex couple of professionals in their 30's want to adopt a kid... this is wrong? This for me is a big reason why I am strongly in favour of SSM - it will enable a whole new group of loving responsible people to be parents.

I've previously agreed with your list of groupings that can function as families, but the problem remains for the government to legally identify and fund them as such, and what should society's position be, anyways? I don't believe that cohabitating for a month automatically deserves recognition and funding as a family unit that is capable of raising a kid.

We both know that as long as they have the income to support their choice, any sort of family can constitute themselves and have and raise kids. Adoption, not so much, but there are still ways. So, the only people you're really fighting this fight for are the poor. As such, it's primarily a poverty issue, like I said...

btw Unicorn poo may look like licorice gumdrops, but it still tastes like poo.

and Chuck Jones' animation rocks.
posted by Artful Codger at 12:47 PM on August 21, 2010


as someone who is queer, i did not sign on to having the same things as you.

Not only has it demanded the biggest piece of the pie, it continually delegitimatizes the struggles that have connected to queer liberation.

marriage, while viewed as a civil rights issue, is part of a conservative instinct to assimilate a long standing queer culture, and used as a distraction to avoid discussing issues that people find distasteful.

i have no idea why anyone one would want to be married


PM, I think you're missing something big: neither you nor some fundamentalist homophobe has the right to tell anyone how to be gay, how to live their gay life, or to have their gay relationships, whether the queers in question are a man-on-man pair of corporate lawyers in Greenwich CT or a radical faerie polyamorous anarchist collective in the Mission.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 12:53 PM on August 21, 2010 [9 favorites]


I absolutely want the equality of marriage for same sex couples...

...but the fact is, these people have a point.

The real freedom shouldn't be defending the right of two people to form a special legal and societal bond. It should be defending the right of the individual to form special legal and societal bonds with any and everyone that they want who is able to legally consent, so long as no harm can be shown... and for people who choose not to get married to be treated equally in regards to the benefits of marriage, even if they're single.

And yes, this should mean bisexual families, leather families, poly families, Muslims with multiple wives, Mormons with multiple wives... so long as the opportunity isn't given for kids being abused or married within such groupings, it should be allowed.

The exact same legal arguments that were so convincing for allowing same sex marriage in the recent California decision are just as convincing for the families out there with three loving partners and children. If gays deserve equal rights under the law, without having that equal right being the right to marry a woman, then why should bisexuals be considered "equal" just because they have the choice of two equally inappropriate family structures for them?

It shouldn't be the state's business to impose or encourage structures on families... or even encourage families... unless real harm can be shown by not doing so which justifies stripping others of their equal rights. That's not the case for same-sex marriage, whose families are healthy places for children to develop.... and it's not the same for poly marriages either.

If there is any child abuse -- something which primarily exists in heterosexual marriages, or really in any family structure when one person imposes inappropriate levels of power over others -- then the state needs to focus on the abuse and the abusers... but not the family structure or its particular orientation.
posted by markkraft at 1:00 PM on August 21, 2010


this is not me being disingenious--marriage geniunely confuses me, i have no idea why anyone one would want to be married

See, proving me right. You don't want it, so you object to other people wanting it. You're a natural ally to the Christian right.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:05 PM on August 21, 2010


Pope Guilty: "And you'd rather people continued to suffer so that you can have your moral purity instead of alleviating their suffering and having to accept that this world isn't perfect.

Narcissistic children.
"

Odd. I see going for alleviating the suffering of a minority of a minority rather than going for alleviating the suffering of the majority of a minority as being narcissistic.
posted by QIbHom at 1:07 PM on August 21, 2010


Also, there is a difference between saying "other things should be a priority besides SSM" and "SSM should never happen."
posted by QIbHom at 1:15 PM on August 21, 2010


MarkKraft The real freedom shouldn't be defending the right of two people to form a special legal and societal bond. It should be defending the right of the individual to form special legal and societal bonds with any and everyone that they want who is able to legally consent, so long as no harm can be shown... and for people who choose not to get married to be treated equally in regards to the benefits of marriage, even if they're single.

Not sure whose side you're on. You're basically making the slippery-slope argument that if we allow same-sex marriage then we've opened the door to okaying and sanctioning every conceivable human grouping.

First of all, anyone can already form any relationship with anyone else they want... as long as it's consensual, they can afford to and (if it's particularly nasty/immoral/illegal) if the neighbours don't find out. So, in this situation... what is prohibited that you would now permit?

Same-sex marriage is about extending the EXISTING recognition and benefits of marriage to same-sex couples. Granting SSM is the same as acknowledging that homosexuality is natural and not unhealthy or immoral, they are desiring and capable of the same lifelong relationship as heterosexuals, and that they are equally suitable for raising children.

If you're advocating for social recognition of other relationships (open, polyamorous, multiple wives/husbands, etc) - hey, go for it. This would be creating new recognition; this is not the same thing as the battle for SSM which is about showing how same-sex couples already meet the moral and sensible definitions for marriage.
posted by Artful Codger at 1:33 PM on August 21, 2010


Odd. I see going for alleviating the suffering of a minority of a minority rather than going for alleviating the suffering of the majority of a minority as being narcissistic.

So it is your position that queer people who want to be married are in the minority? That radical anti-marriage positions are the norm among queer people?
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:36 PM on August 21, 2010


markkraft: The exact same legal arguments that were so convincing for allowing same sex marriage in the recent California decision are just as convincing for the families out there with three loving partners and children. If gays deserve equal rights under the law, without having that equal right being the right to marry a woman, then why should bisexuals be considered "equal" just because they have the choice of two equally inappropriate family structures for them?

Yes, I'm not sure what side you're arguing either, other than the perverse devil's advocate side, because this is exactly why Rick Santorum and his ilk feel that it's logical to say that the legalization of same-sex marriage opens the door to the legalization of men marrying their dogs.

PinkMoose: so i am not in favour of marriage

Fine. You don't understand marriage; you're not in favor of it. That much is crystal clear.

Don't impose your morality on me. Stay out of my business. And I'll stay out of yours.
posted by blucevalo at 1:46 PM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


blucevalo: Yes, I'm not sure what side you're arguing either, other than the perverse devil's advocate side, because this is exactly why Rick Santorum and his ilk feel that it's logical to say that the legalization of same-sex marriage opens the door to the legalization of men marrying their dogs.

Yes, because polyamory really is equivalent to bestiality. (Setting aside the problem that monogamy is "inappropriate" for bisexual people.)

Artful Codger: Yes, the moral case is being made that legal battles over SSM do not go far enough to recognize other relationships that should be equally sanctioned. Is that really a problem?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:57 PM on August 21, 2010


Yes, the moral case is being made that legal battles over SSM do not go far enough to recognize other relationships that should be equally sanctioned. Is that really a problem?

SSM is about showing how same-sex couples meet, fall in love, and want to stay together in ways that are not materially different from heterosexuals getting together, therefore their relationship should be accorded the same recognition.

If you want to open new frontiers for the other relationships, go right ahead. It's plowing new ground, you won't have an easy equivalence to make.

In the meantime, that's still no reason to put the brakes on achieving SSM.

Also, c'mon, it's already possible for polyamorous or bisexual people to be married and still enjoy their diversity. It's all in what arrangement you strike up with your partners.
posted by Artful Codger at 2:16 PM on August 21, 2010


The exact same legal arguments that were so convincing for allowing same sex marriage in the recent California decision are just as convincing for the families out there with three loving partners and children.

Wrong.

(Mom-link.)
posted by Jaltcoh at 2:21 PM on August 21, 2010


SSM is about showing how same-sex couples meet, fall in love, and want to stay together in ways that are not materially different from heterosexuals getting together, therefore their relationship should be accorded the same recognition.

Yes, and how is that different from other forms of relationships?

In the meantime, that's still no reason to put the brakes on achieving SSM.

Sure, but I'm not advocating that as I stated clearly above. I don't agree with marriage radicals, but when the argument is put forward that radical criticism of marriage shouldn't be entertained because it freaks Rick Santorum, disagreement has gone beyond the pale of what's reasonable.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:28 PM on August 21, 2010


Yes, because polyamory really is equivalent to bestiality.

To the determined people who oppose it -- it sure as hell is.

I don't agree with marriage radicals, but when the argument is put forward that radical criticism of marriage shouldn't be entertained because it freaks Rick Santorum, disagreement has gone beyond the pale of what's reasonable.

That's not what I'm arguing.
posted by blucevalo at 2:35 PM on August 21, 2010


blucevalo: To the determined people who oppose it -- it sure as hell is.

Sure, and the response to those people is, "pardon, but you're wrong."

That's not what I'm arguing.

Then you're not doing an especially good job of it.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:42 PM on August 21, 2010


Then you're not doing an especially good job of it.

You're probably right. I've let myself get carried away by my emotions, it's been a long and nasty and acrimonious thread, and I'm tired of beating my head against the wall. I'd best bow out.
posted by blucevalo at 2:52 PM on August 21, 2010


Thank you, I think I'll do the same.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:09 PM on August 21, 2010


Do you think that Boise in the 50s, or the Homophile League meetings in Chicago and Kansas City in the 60s, or Stonewall, or any of the gay sex in the 70s, or ACT UP or Queer Nation or the Lesbian avengers in the 80s, were working towards marriage?

My goodness. I know Frank Kameny, and you're no Frank Kameny.

Those things grew from the rejection that gays met from society. Had that rejection not been there, there would have been no protest of that rejection.

I am 29. I have been out since I was 14. I work professionally in the glbtq community. I work with sex workers, young folks, rural communities, theological cultures, and leather. None of those communities has ever prioritized marriage, but the money goes into the preserving this under the name of rights.

I am 43. I have been out since I was 18. For 20 years, I've been in a mostly-monogamous relationship with the same guy, and I married him a couple of months ago. Many people my age seek the stability of a committed relationship recognized by the state, for various reasons. Most of the money you're talking about comes from people my age - not because we're more generous, but because we're more likely to have it to spend, having had years to save money.

when you get married, realise that you get entangled with a state that has been hostile and that hostility will not magically go away because it has been made legal.

"The state" is not some magical, discrete entity - it's made up of people. Every step we make towards acceptance brings us to a less hostile state.

The real freedom shouldn't be defending the right of two people to form a special legal and societal bond. It should be defending the right of the individual to form special legal and societal bonds with any and everyone that they want who is able to legally consent, so long as no harm can be shown... and for people who choose not to get married to be treated equally in regards to the benefits of marriage, even if they're single.

I agree ... in theory.

I'm a vegetarian, because I believe killing animals is wrong. I would be ever so happy if, tomorrow, everyone realized I was right and we stopped doing it. Unfortunately, no matter how much money I give to various organizations, or how much time I spend at animal rights rallies, etc, I think this is not going to happen within my lifetime. I think it will happen eventually, but absent some Futurama-style freezing I'm never going to see it.

So, I'm in favor of things that can be done here and now to reduce animal suffering. I'm in favor of family farms over factory farming, I'm in favor of finding ways to reduce suffering at slaughterhouses, etc.

According to your line of thought, these are all distractions. But to me, incremental progress that I can observe is better than no progress at all.

For so many of you protesting this, your position to me boils down to "the perfect is the enemy of the good." Forgive me for not wanting to wait that long.
posted by me & my monkey at 3:23 PM on August 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


As a queer (bisexual, if you want to get all "labelly" about it) woman who has been married to a man and is very soon about to be married to another man, marriage is a thorny issue for me. Yes, I have the privilege of marrying my partner because we just so happen to be of opposite sexes. Yay, I guess. I wouldn't have the same privilege with some of my former partners, or if in some future reality I end up in a LTR with a woman.

So, I totally see the value in saying "I'm not going to get married until SSM is legal." I do. I can get married now, based on the chance fact that the gender pairing in my relationship is condoned by society. For me, that's chance. I'm not straight. Being married doesn't make me any straighter.

Which... puts me in a difficult spot in the GLBT community. I can marry my current partner. A lot of my queer friends can't. And I hate that. But at the same time, I can't reasonably sacrifice my own personal rights until they get theirs - for many reasons. It's just not reasonable for me to do so. If I could, I would. Absolutely. I can see how in some people's eyes, this makes me a traitor, but it's the farthest thing from my intentions.

I live in a country without socialized medicine and I'm going to have a baby in March. For some pretty valid financial reasons, I need to get covered on my partner's insurance before then and the only viable way of doing that is via marriage. I wish it weren't the case, honestly, and I know my partner would equally prefer that our lifelong commitment to each other did not need to be sanctioned by the state.

Anyhow, it's a really tricky position to be in. I've had people who didn't know that I'm queer tell me that I'm not enough of a supporter of gay marriage because I've been "straight" married. That hurts. I've taken my lumps that the queer community does not welcome me into it now if I'm married, but I would like to reiterate that my marriage has not in any way shape or form made me less passionate about GLBT rights or less queer in general. I'm a woman who is going to be married to a man, but I am not, nor have I ever been, straight.

I totally respect all people in opposite-sex relationships who have chosen not to marry until SSM marriage is legal. I think it's an awesome choice, it's one I've considered, but it's ultimately not right for my family. I'd like to just put that out there and leave the discussion to the issue rather than people telling me, oh I can choose not to marry. It's not a decision my partner or I have taken on lightly, and we wouldn't be entering into it if we thought that we could have the same protections as a family without it.
posted by sonika at 4:00 PM on August 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Sorry, this all reads as third-rate Marxist backwash. Might as well say that only heterosexuals should get drivers' licenses because everyone should bike.

(And just as a note—The organization that I canvass for uses same-sex marriage as the hook, but the contributions not only go to that but also to things like the legislative agenda, which for this session has prioritized extending housing and employment anti-discrimination laws to include gender identity and presentation. Which means that a fuckton more straight folks have gotten involved with a more "radical" agenda than they would have otherwise BECAUSE they support same-sex marriage.)
posted by klangklangston at 6:17 PM on August 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Sorry, this all reads as third-rate Marxist backwash.

Leninist, surely? Or is this something other than heightening the contradictions?
posted by PMdixon at 7:44 PM on August 21, 2010


thank you for everybody having a difficult, and i think nessc. conversation. i have said my peice here, and i have read and thought about yr arguements.

i am in the middle, i think, of moving rightward, and maybe i don't want to give up what i have worked for.

i still have not heard a solid, easily digestable arguement in favour of marriage.
posted by PinkMoose at 8:55 PM on August 21, 2010


and to make a point, i have said repeatedly, that i am okay with people getting married, what i don't understand is state intervention, and expressly that if we are going down the road of state intervention, why marriage continues to be priveleged over other rships.

i am not sure those two questions have been answered. but this thread has made me sit back and significantly think about my position.

any one want to come to TO and get hitched?
posted by PinkMoose at 8:57 PM on August 21, 2010


i am not sure those two questions have been answered. but this thread has made me sit back and significantly think about my position.

I'm not sure if I understand your position at all. Do you want no legal rights for any sort of partnership? Do you want full marriage rights for any group of people? Do you want everything offered piecemeal, so you could have Ray appointed to make decisions about your medical care, but to be able to adopt a child with another friend? What about the people on your list, what do they want?

I think marriage requires special legal protections because among other things, marriage can cause complicated legal situations, such as the untangling of assets after a divorce.
posted by fermezporte at 9:31 PM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Being told how to be queer--and, more to the point, that I must not be queer since I married my same-sex partner in 2008--is actually deeply painful for me.

Because I do get the argument, and I do actually agree with it, but it comes packaged with these assumptions about what my class background must be and what my ambitions must be and what kind of person I must be that is the same kind of policing of my gender and identity from queer people that I get from a non-queer world anyway. That irony is really, really painful to me. So am I not supposed to call myself "queer" anymore? Or do I not get to be a lesbian anymore?

The decision to get married wasn't about the philosophical meanings of the choice--how many of our choices are, when it comes down to it? (They should be, I get that, but let's be real.) It was a punch-in-the-gut reaction to the stories that have shaped my own life.

We got married when we had the chance, in part because when we have children? I DO want them to be protected legally in the most comprehensive way possible. And in part because I wanted to say NO to the models of marriage that we were presented with as children: the dysfunctional, temporary, heterosexual models i was presented with in the form of my mom’s 5 (count ‘em. 5) marriages; something similar for my wife’s parents (one of whom is queer). In part because, honestly? The middle class folks are WRONG. It doesn’t assimilate me. Everyone is thrown when the word “wife” comes out of my mouth, so I say it as often as possible. In part because I grew up poor and if there’s a shelter of economic security, Imma duck under it. (Actually right now it’s a disadvantage because the way in which we file taxes is pretty fucked up.) And because in a life beset by instability and abuse and serious, serious brokenness, it offers a security i have never, EVER gotten from “chosen family.” Never. Not ever. And I have tried.

And because I think it IS possible to envision a day in which it IS an option equal to others. And because I think there IS this assumption that queers are supposed to be one way or the other–and the way you suggest is just as monolithic as the queer-dad-with-the-baby-bjorn-and-the-station-wagon alternative. I don’t wear silly hats or fuck, so where the fuck is my place in the queer community? Because what you’re describing, in both ways, isn’t me.
posted by liketitanic at 9:40 PM on August 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


I honestly think that the prime wedge between the positions here is between queer being a heavily or primarily political identity, and queer as simply a sexual identity that is apolitical, and any political meaning is just a reaction to the dominant political discourse.

I see my sexual identity as an apolitical thing. I imagine that as a straight person that is my luxury, and many queers feel differently, but I also see that many queers, probably the majority, feel similarly to me, that their identity is only political because others make it so.
posted by Snyder at 9:44 PM on August 21, 2010


liketitanic

thank you for that comment.

what i want is no marriage at all for anyone under any set of circumstances. but i also want a pony.
posted by PinkMoose at 10:08 PM on August 21, 2010


Caucasian, please...
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:23 AM on August 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't care a fig whether someone's married. But I do care that -not- to marry is to lose hundreds of privileges accorded to the married.

So that noone is kept from a dying lover's beside, that noone can cheat a loved one out of an inheritance or the children they've helped raise. The flood of injustices like that must stop. If a piece of paper can remedy that without costing anyone their culture or community ... then whoever can embrace it, I support.
posted by Twang at 12:26 AM on August 22, 2010


what i want is no marriage at all for anyone under any set of circumstances.

But you haven't explained what benefit this would bring. Is the point supposed to be that everyone has visitation rights for anyone? Or than no-one can have any visitation rights for anyone else?

When same-sex and different-sex marriage are both legal, then you have a situation where any two people whatsoever who wish to share visitation rights, child custody, bank accounts, inheritance, etc. are free to do so -- they simply have to go through a simple formal procedure -- that procedure is called "marriage". If you want your friend Ray to have visitation rights, you can marry him. No-one cares whether or not you're fucking him or buying him flowers or whatever else. If your mother and some other elderly church lady want mutual visitation rights, they are free to acquire those rights any time -- they just have to get married. Working class people are also free to formalize these rights and always have been. Where exactly is the problem?
posted by creasy boy at 1:39 AM on August 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Additionally, without any legal protection decisions like hospital visitation rights are left up to the value judgment of those present - even without any legal marriage an ICU nurse will probably let a distraught "spouse" (ceremonial marriage isn't going anywhere) through, but might not let a friend through, and rightfully so in most cases (your relationship with Ray being an outlier here). It opens the door to even more discrimination - if there is no legal protection, there are only social mores, so there would be no recourse if the ICU nurse decided that a same-sex spouse is too icky to let through.
posted by fermezporte at 8:04 AM on August 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


or we could find a system that worked for everyone, that let people get married, that allowed ray and i those benefits w/o getting married, and the like--arent we supposed to be creative types.
posted by PinkMoose at 8:08 AM on August 22, 2010


My partner and I (him straight male, me queer female) are not legally married for utterly personal reasons (that have nothing to do with gay anything), we consider our relationship to be a marriage. I use "partner" and "husband" interchangeably, he just calls me his wife.

I recall having a sort of a breakthrough moment with a friend of mine in his mid-60s who is trying to parse the changing attitudes about marriage. It's the "marriage" vs. "civil union" thing that's the hangup, it's easy for him to understand why gay couples want legal rights. I find that the "access to the hospital" issue especially resonates pretty strongly with older people, even those who are uncomfortable with homosexuality. So, anyway, he asked me if I was concerned about my SO being allowed in to my hypothetical hospital room. Umm, no, why would I be? Because we're not legally married? Oh my, they don't check credentials at the door, there's no reason for anyone to question that he's my husband. Do you carry your marriage certificate as proof?

And wham, the scales fell from his eyes for a moment and he understood heterosexual privilege and how much straight folks take for granted the widespread acceptance of their relationships. Not just the enforceable legal rights, but the relationship itself.

I feel that the real underlying reason to fight for same-sex marriage isn't gay weddings, it isn't even the benefits to couples (in the long view), it's an ideological victory in what is a long road toward mainstream acceptance of same-sex relationships as legitimate. (I'm confused by the "aping heteronormativity" slam repeated in several articles. Acceptance is tainted by proximity to breeders or something?)

Marriage is a familiar and understood ritual, it gives people something concrete to understand about gay folks, it's keeping a dialogue about ordinary gay people at the forefront.

But it's not the only issue, gay rights aren't a done deal once we've got gay marriage, it won't eliminate homophobia, it won't guarantee equal rights for queer people by everyone, it won't make gay or straight people care about race or socioeconomic status any more than they already do. But...who said it would?

These articles seem to boil down to "your big gay cause won't solve my problem, so we'll complain about another issue by arguing with yours, and by the way you don't understand or speak for all gay people." Okay. And also, that doesn't explain opposition to marriage rights. Why shouldn't anyone fight for the issue about which they feel strongly?

I Officially Declare the Following Things as Givens:
1) It's totally okay to be queer and be more personally focused on a human rights issue that you consider more important than same-sex marriage.
2) Anyone claiming to speak for all queers is misguided.

Corollary:
Advocating for an area of concern by tearing down someone else's area of concern is not effective.
posted by desuetude at 10:30 AM on August 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


I find that the "access to the hospital" issue especially resonates pretty strongly with older people, even those who are uncomfortable with homosexuality. So, anyway, he asked me if I was concerned about my SO being allowed in to my hypothetical hospital room. Umm, no, why would I be? Because we're not legally married? Oh my, they don't check credentials at the door, there's no reason for anyone to question that he's my husband. Do you carry your marriage certificate as proof?

This is powerful. Thank you. Because after that horrible debacle in Florida, it's become very clear that in the case of same-sex couples there are instances in which they DO check credentials at the door. But for opposite-sex couples, the assumption is made from moment one that they have the right to visit. As the New Jersey Civil Union Commission found in their final report (pdf link), separate but equal is not equal, especially in cases like this. That's a "heteronormative" bigotry I will be happy to see disappear.
posted by hippybear at 11:21 AM on August 22, 2010


Grrrr. the New Jersey Civil Union Review Commission.
posted by hippybear at 11:42 AM on August 22, 2010


hippybear: What's disturbing about the Florida case to me was the rationale used by the hospital. The hospital took the position of not only denying out-of-state SSMs, but of denying any alternative civil union as well.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:57 AM on August 22, 2010


The hospital took the position of not only denying out-of-state SSMs, but of denying any alternative civil union as well.

That's not really the hospital's fault. The Florida Marriage Protection Amendment states pretty clearly:
Inasmuch as marriage is the legal union of only one man and one woman and husband and wife, no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized.
So all those powers of attorney and other documents which might somehow give rights to same-sex couples outside of the institution of marriage are null and void in Florida. Makes me think twice about ever traveling there.
posted by hippybear at 12:33 PM on August 22, 2010


It's also important to remember that activism isn't a zero-sum game. Just because one person's issues aren't those you'd prioritize doesn't mean that they're actively detracting from your issues.
posted by klangklangston at 12:56 PM on August 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


or we could find a system that worked for everyone, that let people get married, that allowed ray and i those benefits w/o getting married, and the like--arent we supposed to be creative types.

But you're arguing in a circle here. I can't create a whole new system to meet your needs until I know what your critique on the existing system is. This is why I'd asked where the actual problem with marriage is supposed to be. You'd suggested that marriage as an institution is somehow exclusive because it prevents you from giving Ray visitation rights. But it doesn't -- in the place you live you're clearly free to marry Ray, hence giving him visitation rights. So again: what is it you want that marriage can't give you?

Ultimately there are many, many practical reasons why one person and one person only has certain rights and obligations as next-of-kin and life-partner. If someone has to make a medical decision for me because I'm in a coma, it can't be two people, because what if they disagree? It can't be three people, because what if only two can be reached, or someone has died and I haven't updated the documents, and those two people disagree? And I can't imagine the hell a three-way custody dispute would be. So the state seeks to assign one person as next of kin/life partner/such-like. Marriage is just the procedure by which you specify who that person is. That's all there is to "understand" about marriage -- that you assign a packet of rights and obligations to one particular person.
posted by creasy boy at 1:00 PM on August 22, 2010


why can one not assign to any paticular person, why do we need to get married to do that assigning?
posted by PinkMoose at 1:12 PM on August 22, 2010


whatever gay person said that was just kissing the butt of the straight person in front of them so they'd like them. Those pieced together comments, BTW, made no sense.
posted by donaldjans at 1:18 PM on August 22, 2010


why can one not assign to any paticular person, why do we need to get married to do that assigning?

Because that's not the way it is now, and we're not going to get there by just all collectively deciding to do it that way.
posted by fatbird at 1:26 PM on August 22, 2010


why do we need to get married to do that assigning?

Is there no Canadian equivalent of things like power of attorney or legal caregiver or anything like that? Surely you can piece together for yourself and your partner all the legal equivalent documents to assign Ray as being the person who outside agencies should consult if you become incapacitated and they require guidance...

Marriage is a bundled form of all these legal things, but I don't think there's anything holding you back from designating anyone you wish in these roles. Start creating documents and getting them notarized and put on file if necessary. These are protections in place to keep unscrupulous persons from giving consent in your stead for reasons which may vary from financial to revenge. But if you truly want to, you can go a long way toward creating exactly what you desire outside of marriage. (Just don't go to Florida.)
posted by hippybear at 1:29 PM on August 22, 2010


part of the problem is that marriage is already packaged like a value meal at mcdonalds, i am not sure its a feature.
posted by PinkMoose at 2:03 PM on August 22, 2010


hippybear: Is there no Canadian equivalent of things like power of attorney or legal caregiver or anything like that? Surely you can piece together for yourself and your partner all the legal equivalent documents to assign Ray as being the person who outside agencies should consult if you become incapacitated and they require guidance...

Marriage is a bundled form of all these legal things, but I don't think there's anything holding you back from designating anyone you wish in these roles. Start creating documents and getting them notarized and put on file if necessary. These are protections in place to keep unscrupulous persons from giving consent in your stead for reasons which may vary from financial to revenge. But if you truly want to, you can go a long way toward creating exactly what you desire outside of marriage. (Just don't go to Florida.)


Or any other state with statutory or constitutional "defense-of-marriage" laws and amendments on the books. Again, I feel the need to make the point that those laws and amendments had nothing to do with SSM originally in spite of their language. They were passed in response to domestic partnerships, legal powers of attorney, voluntary custody arrangements, and piecemeal insurance benefits, and in a legal environment in which marriage of any flavor is favored, those legal arrangements can be legally challenged as not equivalent to the same rights held my married persons.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:28 PM on August 22, 2010


True, it is a package bundle. But it sounds like you are wanting to have full partnership rights bestowed upon anyone that can claim they deserve them without any real structure at all. That simply isn't going to work, based on the facts of human nature and how such claims can be abused in any number of ways. I'm sure even a little creative thinking about the dark recesses of human nature can help you come up with scenarios where it's not wise to simply allow someone to claim decision-making rights over others without some kind of pre-planned verification that they are allowed to do that...

If you don't want marriage, if you resent that bundle, then you have to be willing to go through the necessary steps to create your own a la carte bundle to provide the kind of partnership you desire. Do you also resist taking these necessary steps in order to gain the kind of legal standing you desire?
posted by hippybear at 2:30 PM on August 22, 2010


what do you think the abuses are, and do you not think that the only way to have these benefits is marriage also allows for a wide variety of abuses?
posted by PinkMoose at 2:53 PM on August 22, 2010


You're really not reading what I wrote if you think what I just said is that marriage is the only way to have these benefits....

But that aside... do you really want me to spin yarns about devious humans trying to game a system which requires no proof of legal standing for their personal gain or petty emotional games? We already live in an age where you can't send a neighbor to pick up children from school without first having that person on record as being allowed to do so... If you can't extrapolate from that basic safety procedure how medical or monetary decisions made for another person should also be made by someone with legal standing to do so instead of just any random person who claims to have that right, then I really don't know what to say.

I think the discussion would be better served if you actually answered my question -- do you also resist taking necessary steps, outside of marriage, to gain the kind of legal standing you desire?
posted by hippybear at 3:07 PM on August 22, 2010


do you think that marriage protects against fraud, and how do you define fraud?

i am nessc. cautious about how citizens engage with the mechanics of the state, and would make choices that would suggest greater freedom, knowing fully the problems that would occur if we had none.
posted by PinkMoose at 4:42 PM on August 22, 2010


none being no interactions with the state
posted by PinkMoose at 4:44 PM on August 22, 2010


Still no answer to my question, so I'm bowing out.
posted by hippybear at 5:00 PM on August 22, 2010


i did answer yr question, i think. i am not sure you answered mine.
posted by PinkMoose at 5:12 PM on August 22, 2010


If you don't want marriage, if you resent that bundle, then you have to be willing to go through the necessary steps to create your own a la carte bundle to provide the kind of partnership you desire. Do you also resist taking these necessary steps in order to gain the kind of legal standing you desire?

One of the whole reasons we're having this debate is that there is no fucking way at this time to create an "a la carte" bundle with the same kind of legal standing.

A la carte rights are extremely vulnerable to challenge on the grounds that they are not equivalent to marriage or other interests.

A la carte rights don't transfer across jurisdictions either.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:23 PM on August 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


So, just to get some clarity for myself here, PinkMoose, is your problem with marriage just that it's a package deal? You'd like to be able to assign Ray visitation rights and nothing else just by a contract? Because that sounds like a decent idea but a) it's not an argument against gay marriage, b) it's not a radical critique of the family, c) it has nothing to do with the problems of working class people in particular. So it's hard to jibe that with the way you entered this thread.

But you also keep implying that you have a deeper critique of marriage, but I think no-one here really knows what it is yet. Is it just the name that bothers you? Is it the traditional marriage ceremony that bothers you? The idea of monogamy? Nowadays as far as I can tell two straight women who saw themselves depending on each other for the rest of their lives could go get married without a ceremony, without vows, without exchanging rings, without wearing white, without monogamy...they would merely have formalized their partnership -- whatever the private nature of that partnership is -- and agree to be treated by the state for a bunch of legal and administrative purposes as a couple. I'm not sure why this would need any justification.

And as to assigning piece-meal rights: suppose we have some sort of contract that allows a specific person to make medical decisions for me when I'm unable to. I'm 17 and madly in love with a girl and for some reason or another we end up contracting this. Then at 18 we have a messy break-up and I just move on with my life entirely -- I just get in the car and drive across the country and try to forget the whole thing entirely. Then at 23 I meet someone else and we end up making the same contract in a different state. Maybe I've forgotten the previous contract, maybe I've chosen to forget, maybe I'm just flaky. Now there could be enormous legal problems. There are mechanisms in place to ensure that no-one marries two different people; if you break marriage down into 20 or 30 different rights and obligations, you've radically multiplied and legal and administrative chaos. If I've assigned 20 different rights to 20 different people, am I supposed to have all 20 documents in my wallet at all time in case something should happen? It's just not practical. Hospital administrators must make decisions quickly sometimes. Tax law is complicated enough already. Etc.
posted by creasy boy at 11:29 PM on August 22, 2010


I agree with a lot of what (I understand) Pinkmoose as saying.

Married couples get many privileges that should not be restricted to couples in state-approved sexual romantic relationships.

(and yes, marriage is still a sexual romantic relationship as long as it's systematically not available to people with close biological relationships to each other).

If straight romantic sexual relationships are state approved, then gay ones must be as well.

But I think the concern that Pinkmoose pointed to is real, a lot of gay people whose work has in the past benefitted other none-approved relationship configurations will no longer be doing that kind of work.

Fair enough, gay people don't have more inherent obligation than straight people to support non-discrimination based on relationship status, but I don't see why it's so hard to see how losing past allies, when those allies finally get the system to work for them and their personal life situations, is disheartening.

Yes, a system that facilitates piece meal assignment of rights is more complex than a simple marriage system. A marriage system that recognizes the members of the marriage as two fully enfranchised individuals is also more complex than one that doesn't. That doesn't say anything about what the right thing to do is.

My belief is that increasing rights and freedoms for anybody ultimately moves us towards increasing them for everybody, so at least indirectly gay marriage will have benefits for non-married people. But to be honest, some of the responses in this thread don't exactly buttress that optimism.

The response that single people should do it with (expensive, unpredictably enforceable) contracts isn't a better response to single people than to gay people. The fact that same sex friends could marry each other doesn't support legal equality for single people more than the fact that a gay person could access marriage benefits by having a formal marriage with an opposite sex friend.

And yeah actually, I CAN imagine what a 3 way custody fight might look like, and I don't see it as inherently worse for anyone than a two way one. The idea of 3 people sharing and perhaps ultimately fighting over parental responsibilities is no more patently absurd than the idea of two moms or two dads having that issue (ie, not absurd at all).
posted by Salamandrous at 7:51 AM on August 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


(and yes, marriage is still a sexual romantic relationship as long as it's systematically not available to people with close biological relationships to each other).

Not directly germane to your point, but blood relations do confer special legal privileges, e.g., inheritance and medical decision-making.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:38 AM on August 23, 2010


Oh my, they don't check credentials at the door, there's no reason for anyone to question that he's my husband. Do you carry your marriage certificate as proof?

And wham, the scales fell from his eyes for a moment and he understood heterosexual privilege and how much straight folks take for granted the widespread acceptance of their relationships. Not just the enforceable legal rights, but the relationship itself.


This is such a fantastic point I wish I could favorite it more than once. The same argument applies to a lot of other double standards, too (SB 1070, etc).
posted by Drop Daedalus at 11:02 AM on August 23, 2010


A comment from the Autostraddle article that illustrates the importance of SSM for working class couples:

My girlfriend and I have been together for 13 years and I am very proud of our relationship for having endured discrimination this long. We’re not upper-middle class, we’re not even middle class. We’re rural and live on 15,000 a year…two of us. We’ve endured winters without heat, rice and stuffing dinners, having to hawk my guitar so we could buy food.

And we have been in a very vulnerable position because we can’t afford attorney’s and crap for the alternative Power of Attorney contracts. If my partner lands in the hospital, and they don’t let me in, I don’t have the money to ring up an attorney to litigate for me.

posted by Drop Daedalus at 11:44 AM on August 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


She also says, very eloquently:

This is what success looks like. Right there in Judge Walker’s decision it says there’s no reason to bar two people of the same sex from getting married because our understanding of gender has changed and there are no state mandated gender roles. We didn’t win because gays are considered equal (quite the contrary) but because women are considered equal. So two women must be equal to two men must be equal to 1 man and 1 woman.

You know what this feels like? It feels like I’m being marginalized by privileged, college graduate, white collar, feminist lesbians who are totally ignoring what marriage means to rural or working class gays. It’s like we’re not even on your radar and maybe never were.
(Emphasis mine)
posted by blucevalo at 12:08 PM on August 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


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