Thursday, May 10, 2012

Marriage isn't the answer ... and I'm not the only one who thinks that

I'll never forget where I was when Nelson Mandela walked to freedom on February 11, 1990, after 27 years behind bars.  That was my idea of an historic event.  I cannot equate Obama's support for same-sex marriage to anything like that, which I suppose puts me in the minority of gay rights activists today. But I'm not alone.  This morning's Washington Post blog contains an excellent entry from Lauren Taylor (full disclosure:  she's my friend!) with many supportive comments.

Equality is an important value, but so is justice.  It's a lot simpler to be for equal access to marriage for same-sex couples than to craft law and policy that supports all the ways in which gay -- and straight -- people form families.  I raise these issues in my blog posts whenever they arise.  Sometimes it's actually harder to make these arguments after same-sex couples can marry, because so many people think that's the whole ball game.  Fortunately, Lauren Taylor isn't one of those people...

1 comment:

Mary said...

I completely agree with you and with Lauren. I think that we need only look at the way that pernicious racist rhetoric has been deployed against single African Americans-particularly single Black women to see that marriage is a loser of an issue if we are seeking something called equality or justice or freedom.

However, as a lesbian mom, I find myself in the uncomfortable position of fighting for marriage and deploying my lovely and respectable family in the fight for marriage. Marriage may be the low road to certain rights, but at least it has some momentum. In order to function in this world as queer people we need to scratch up whatever rights we can by whatever means available.

My partner and I had a baby who came 10 weeks early. And my fears at the time were: What if I die and they send her to foster care? What if they don't let my partner into the NICU? What if serious decisions have to be made while I'm still out cold? We deliberately chose a progressive hospital that treated us well. And I know that marriage isn't actually the thing that gives a second parent standing (although with Gansler's rule marriage means a little more). Whatever marriage doesn't do legally, for the deeply uniformed American public (that includes receptionists, health care workers, and other people we need to deal with)marriage means a lot. That person who decides whether you can enter a hospital room may not know jack about civil unions, but he or she knows marriage. Marriage is so culturally powerful in this country that it is hard to deny. And marriage is something you can get with $30 and a train ride to DC, rather than having a lawyer on retainer. I don't like that fact. I don't like the fact that I'm choosing the interests of my family over a broad fight for the best interest of all oppressed people, but I don't think I can turn away from marriage in the world we are living in now.