We’re queer. We’re here. And we don’t want “marriage equality.”
It’s not that we have anything against people getting married, if that’s what they want. But for us, as for many many of the queer (and straight) people we know, the issue is marginalizing in a million ways.
The people who are fighting so hard for marriage rights represent it as “the new civil rights movement.” But the Civil Rights Movement of the 1940s-1960s was about securing equal rights for everyone. No, the Public Accommodations Act and the Voting Rights Act did not magically produce racial equality, but they did establish that everyone is equal under the law. Marriage rights, on the other hand, are about extending unequal benefits under the law to more people.
Every benefit that is used as an argument for same-sex marriage could be and should be achieved by extending civil rights to every person living here. Everyone should have guaranteed health care, not just people who happen to be married to people who happen to have employer-paid health insurance. Every person should be able to live where they want, not just people who happen to be married to U.S. citizens. Everyone should be able to have the visitors they want if they have to be in a hospital, and even if we were married, there are a lot more people we would want to be able to visit us than our spouses. We’ve all been part of loving support communities for people who were critically ill, and we expect to do it again. We didn’t need and don’t want any state interference in the creation of those supportive communities.
“Marriage equality” institutionalizes an ideal of social conformity that we want no part of. We want to acknowledge and love and recognize and validate the range of relationships that most people have, whether we define them as “family” or “friends” or “armies of lovers.” It’s a way of devaluing and marginalizing relationships, and people, who are seen as countercultural or based on unsanctioned forms of love. But we don’t want the state or the church sanctioning our loves. We want to expand the ways people can love, not further entrench archaic values that don’t work for most people (married couples, with and without kids, have been a minority of U.S. households since 2005).
Marriage rights are largely property rights – who gets your stuff when you die and how much tax do they have to pay on it? We don’t want equality in a society that is built on such rampant inequality. We want to tear it down. Not so long ago, being queer meant transgressing in a host of wonderful and creative ways, built of necessity but transformed into a liberatory vision of a better way to live.
When we gain marriage rights, what will we have lost?