Is Marriage Liberation?
Its a Queer Thing Now!
Make no mistake, the queers have come to seize the institution of marriage.
What choice do we have? Heterosexual stewardship has been abysmal. As
any broadcast of ET or Inside Hollywood clearly
demonstrates, straights debase, corrupt, de-sanctify, trivialize
and distort marriage with appalling regularity. Our folks are vilified
for presuming we are entitled to full marriage rights, while the nightly
television entertainment magazines and reality
programs mesmerize audiences with a vulgar parade of heterosexual marriage
debacles. Meanwhile those queers who work hard to raise healthy kids in
loving same-sex households are charged by papal utterance with committing
domestic violence against them!
John Paul II, George W. Bush, the Southern Baptist Convention, and hordes
of other self-righteous marriage defenders posture in rage
to protect the sanctity of marriage from queer demands for
justice while their own houses fester with disorder, hate, cover-ups,
deception, and incompetence. If they actually gave a f__k about the sanctity
of marriage, then they would cease their groundless demonization and bend
every effort to cultivate the conditions that nourish and sustain loving,
emotionally supportive life-long stable partnerships and families among
all people. They would be fighting for human survival in a livable environment,
for universal health care, for education, for seeing to it that folks
have housing and a living wage.
Instead, they support policies that are blind to love and are spiritually
and financially disastrous for real families struggling to survive. Their
self-righteous certitude has a corrosive influence on the need for folks
to think freely and live honestly. They patronize those whose vision of
marriage embraces something more than a gender defined exercise in patriarchal
hubris. Of course, marriage has never been an exclusively heterosexual
possession. We queer folks have embraced it for centuries, hiding the
reality of our marriages and the true nature of our living and loving
out of fear of societys wrath. Times have changed. After Stonewall,
weve stepped out of the shadows. We have found our voice and we
will no longer be victimized.
On the straight watch, marriage too often appears to be a
relationship of jocks and bunnies. Hetero marriage culture seems to flourish
less on honesty and mutuality than on this twisted understanding
that Dude, the MAN rules! but the little woman,
by stealth, cunning, and feminine charm gets her way!
Smiling, colorful, and courageous queers now stand in the public eye
to inform the world that there is another vision for marriage. Despite
minimal support from church and state, weve been bonding successfully
in marriageas diverse and mutually respectful individuals without
the burden of gender expectationsfor centuries. We have a lot of
positive marriage lore to share. Lets be clear that we want MARRIAGE!
By denying us full marriage rights legally and culturally, critics expose
their complicity with demonization and oppression.
Civil unions are a facetious attempt to veil deep-seated contempt with a veneer of liberal intentions. Queers are claiming our right to an institution we understand and respect. By experiencing obscene injustice, we have apprehended the importance and value of a basic human contract. Our choice to participate in marriage represents a redemptive mission that strengthens the fabric of human society. It is a gift to be cherished by all who understand the rich possibilities of committed human love.
Harry is an artist and activist whose first marriage in Bostons Old West Church in 1973 helped launch the movement for same-sex marriage rights. He resides in Syracuse with his life partner Henry Yokel. This month they celebrate 26 years of marriage.
Beyond the Rite: Gay Marriage Yes
or No is the Wrong Question
I continue to ask myself why two people having sex (or not) with each
other should garner special rights or protections. While I understand
why citizens would want to share some legal rights and responsibilities
with others with whom they have intimate and caring relationships, asking
the state to recognize marriage is the wrong route. It doesnt make
sense to me to struggle to have increased government intervention in the
most intimate aspects of our lives. The Pro-Choice movement has long chanted,
Keep Your Laws Off My Body! and Im wondering why queer
folk are not chanting, Keep Your Laws Out of Our Intimacies!
Our neighbors to the north addressed the question of gay marriage and
gave themselves the opportunity to legislate it in a more intelligent
manner. In January 2002, the Law Commission of Canada published their
findings of a two-year study, Beyond Conjugality: Recognizing and Supporting
Close Personal Relationships Between Adults. Rather than limit their thinking,
and thus also their findings, by the simplistic question of Gay
marriage, yes or no? they asked what role the state should play
in the intimate lives of adults (regardless of their sexual orientation
or whether or not theyre having sex).
Their answer was as minimal a role as possible. The state should stop
trying to define our most meaningful personal connections. In their own
Canadians enjoy a wide variety of close personal relationships
that are important to them. Many marry or live with conjugal partners.
Others have emotional and economically important relationships outside
of marriage and conjugality. They may share a home with parents, grandparents
or a caregiver. Sometimes it may be sisters. Other times, best friends.
Making choices in ones personal relationships is among the
most cherished of values in Canadian society....The state cannot create
healthy relationships; it can only seek to foster the conditions in which
close personal relationships that are reasonably equal, mutually committed,
respectful and safe can flourish.
This requires a fundamental rethinking of the way in which governments
US Americans are no different than their Canadian neighbors in these
matters. Legal protections and economic benefits should be extended to
individuals who maintain a primary supportive relationship with each other
regardless of sexual orientation. The state should ensure equal distribution
of rights and privileges to all citizens and should stay out of the business
of defining relationships established in spiritual institutions.
For at least three decades now, gay issues have served as a litmus test
of liberalism. Knee jerk reactions against gay issues were an indicator
of social and political conservatism. Currently, the gay marriage debate
deploys the lives of LGBT people and the rights of everyone as pawns in
the latest republacrat political debates. Under the guise
of liberalism, republican/democratic politicians take a stand on gay marriage,
the extension of an institution in a system of privilege, in order to
display a surface level of liberalism that we all know will not carry
over to issues of foreign policy or militarism.
Beneath its liberal veneer, fighting for marriage rights is a fight on
the right: a struggle for the power backed by state power
to define a conservative institution. It is a fight over which of our
richly varied relationships deserve legal recognition and which do not.
Nothing about it is liberating. Despite glowing mantras Equality!
Dignity! Choice! avid demands for gay marriage have little to do
with substantive equality, true choice, or dignity rooted in personal
autonomy, freedom of conscience, and wider human justice.
Karen relied on queer radical Canadian Rick Bébouts website to write this article. Check out Gay Marriage? Wrong Question at <www.rbebout.com/getfree/index.htm>.