Sunday, July 10, 2011

Marriage over life

OK. This has been a nagging irritant for me for months -- actually years. The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trangender leadership in the U.S. have made the determination that marriage equality is the most important battle in the gay rights movement. To show that support, the leading groups like HRC and NGLTF has sunk millions into marriage equality in a variety of states that have not suffered the evil effects of so-called "Marriage Protection Amendments" to their Constitutions.

But I find it not only troubling but more than a little offensive that these states where that money is being spent are either on the East Coast, or California. They are generally states and locations that have done amazing things to protect the basic human rights of LGBT people. And that is the problem.

A marriage license is not going to literally save a life. Nor is Bloombergs agreement to marry his gay staffers on July 24. Marriage is a symbol. While I will not argue the import of the symbol on a variety of psychological levels for LGBT people, I will note that a great many of us in the community do not necessarily see the monogamy of Marriage as a goal for ourselves or our lives.

And why is it we are so eager to join the failed institution of marriage? I am not a big fan of participating in something that has a 50% failure rate. I am not interested in participating in this farce of a "sacred" institution that can be bastardized by Brittany Spears in a jaunt to Las Vegas where she marries a man (likely consummates the marriage) then divorces the man in 55 hours. Exactly HOW is that a sacred, lifetime commitment?

I would also argue that a great many in the LGBT movement want this symbol so desperately as they think it will suddenly stop homophobia. Sadly, it won't. We will have marriage equality, and we will see two women or two men married. But in the end, while Ken and Barbie America can say "Oh I just love those two women down the street, Jane and Eve. They are married you know." It won't stop the Americas from unconsciously reverting to sexualized images of Jane and Eve doing what lesbians do (at least as far as middle America is informed about what lesbians do -- that is they saw it once in a porno targeting straight men with the two women at once fantasy.) And with Adam and Steve down the street, marriage and all, the Americas will also see them as sexual barbarians (as Marcus Bachmann hubby to Michele Bachmann the GOP candidate for President). They will think about what Adam and Steve do with their dicks.

Ultimately, the goal to create this normalized "Leave It To Beaver" mirage of same-sex marriage will fail.

In the movie "Sex Is" a man I cannot for the life of me remember the name of, looks into the camera and says "If they are going to define us by what we do with our dicks, then we are going to tell them what we do" or something to that effect.

And that is the failure of focusing on marriage equality to exclusion of policies and legal issues which will have far more direct, powerful impacts on the lives of LGBT citizens in the entire country.

Imagine if HRC, Get Equal and NGLTF (and others) focused that money into fighting to get the Employment Non-discrimination Act (ENDA) passed into laws. Or if they fought to pass national standards to combat bullying and to create truly safe schools. Or if they spent that money fighting to protect the health insurance sharing providing to queer relationships in many states by public employers.

A marriage license isn't much help if for having it I can be fired from my job, lose my housing and find that I am unable to visit my partner in the hospital after his brutal beating in a gay bashing incident.

It is time to stop allowing the right wing bigots define our needs and our agenda. It is time to say to the right wing that we are American citizens who deserve equal protections in employment, housing, insurance and dozens of other way. Marriage is only one, very small part of that.

Let us call on the right wing bigots who are so worried about protecting marriage to actually protect marriage. What is NOM doing about the divorce rate? When they propose a ballot initiative to prohibit marriage equality, let us propose and pass a ballot measure eliminating divorce except in situations of violence and abuse. Let us call the right wing bigots out for what they are -- bigots targeting queers because they haven't the gumption or the care to call out their own friends for the failure of marriage in America today. If we are unwilling to have that fight, to show that we are talking about life time commitments for our community, and we call on our heterosexual friends to do the same then marriage equality should be off the table. Period.

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