GLBT 1001 18 November 2008 Marriage FOR GAY MARRIAGE 1. It provides gays and lesbians with legal rights that civil unions or domestic partnerships cannot. The question for me is no longer one of lifestyle but rather of civil rights. Lesbians and gays should have all the same rights as straights. Some of the rights we gained earlier were peripheral (and often reversible), whereas marriage goes right to the heart of national concepts of community and the future. Civil unions are not as good as marriages precisely because they lack the quasi-mystical symbolism (and many of the rights of inheritance and adoption) (White, 18). Marriage is the only way Americans can designate a new adult next-of-kin. Civil marriage is a shared legal mailbox, a shorthand that tells institutions such as hospitals, jails, public housing officials, insurance companies, banks, probate courts, cemeteries, county coroners—and more— that you two have designated each other as primary (Graff, 24). 2. It would help restore the institution, strengthen gay relationships and reinforce family values. …perhaps the ardor and zeal that gays are bringing to marriage may renew the prestige of the institution even in the eyes of straights. And maybe the gay male couples—who aren’t subjected to the compassionate, civilizing influence of women—need marriage to soften them, bring a note of humanity and kindness to their relationships (White, 18). In fact, heterosexual Christians should applaud the desire of gays and lesbians to seal their sexual and spiritual solidarity with a nod to traditional family values (Dyson, 24). 3. It will radically alter the institution, making it more equal. And yet, just as the right wing claims, winning same-sex marriage will be a radical feminist victory. By gender-neutralizing marriage’s entrance requirements same-sex marriage will more deeply inscribe our culture’s legal endorsement of spousal (and sexual) equality (Braff, 24). 4. Marriage and being able to marry whom you choose are fundamental human rights that should be granted to everyone. Marriage is the institution that conveys dignity and respect to the lifetime commitment of any couple (http://www.noonprop8.com/about/what-is-prop-8) 5. The government should not be allowed to dictate who can get married. In fact, the government has no business telling people who can and cannot get married. Just like government has no business telling us what to read, watch on TV or do in our private lives. We don’t need Prop 8; WE DON’T NEED MORE GOVERNMENT IN OUR LIVES (htty://www.noonprop8.com/about/what-is-prop-8) 6. It is a radically subversive performance that can have great cultural impact. Gay marriage ceremonies call attention to the nonuniversality of the institution. They force reactions in setting where the scripts are not yet written. They turn banal privacy into public- sphere scenes (Warner, 133). 7. It is a way for gays and lesbians to publicly affirm their love and have that love recognized and valued by others. AGAINST GAY MARRIAGE: 1. It reinforces inequality between married and unmarried people. It will force homosexuals, as it now forces heterosexuals, to sign on to a particular state- sponsored, religion-based definition of their relationship if they want full rights as parents and members of households. The desire for recognition and “normality” that motivates many of its proponents inescapably implies that the relationships of the unmarried and those that do not conform to conventional “family values” are less worthy of respect (Willis, 16). Gay marriage sets up a hierarchy between so-called legitimate intimate associations and those that would remain closeted, shamed or stigmatized (Butler, 21). Marriage sanctifies some couples at the expense of others…if you don’t have it, you and your relations are less worthy (Warner, 82). …the image of Good Gay [the one who gets married] is never invoked without its shadow in mind—the Bad Queer, the kind who has sex, who talks about it, and who builds with other queers a way of life that ordinary fold do not understand or control (Warner, 114). 2. Heterosexuality is central to marriage as an institution. Heterosexuality is not merely incidental to the institution of marriage. A one-man, one-woman definition of marriage is integral to the patriarchal conception of the family as a hierarchy with father ruling over dependent wife and children (Willis, 16). 3. It represents the most conservative parts of the gay movement, ignoring the radical (and queer) parts. Whereas the only visible gay leaders in the 1970s had been the leftist liberationist crowd, AIDS in the 1980s flushed out of the woodwork conservative, middle-class men, the ones who’d had not stake in coming out previously but who now were forced by disease out of the closet. Once out, these middle-class men seized power and knew how to wield it. They brought to the gay movement their own conservative values—including a respect for the family and for marriage (White, 18). Gay marriage became a national priority only after the AIDS crisis, despite its persistence in communities of color, was prematurely declared over; and a new, cleaner, whiter image of the gay movement was promulgated by the Human Rights Campaign and others (Butler, 21). Currently, thousands of gay people, exhilarated by the thought of legal recognition, forget their prior political commitments and their hopes for a social movement that exceeds the demand for this one legal right (Butler, 21). 4. It focuses on the individual and their responsibility to their own family instead of communities and collective responsibility to all families. Individual responsibility is misleadingly simplistic and inaccurately reflects the reality of our lives as members of society interacting with various institutions beyond the family. On a political and symbolic level, the concept fails to represent our society’s collective dimensions; one in which we have values that reach beyond the merely individual demands that we pay attention to our general well-being (Fineman, 18). 5. Modern marriage regulates our behavior and limits our freedoms. …modern marriage has transpired into a social institution devoted to maximizing obedience and the work ethic while minimizing freedom and mobility, to renouncing excess desires (and whatever quantities of imagination and independence they come partnered with) in exchange for love and companionship (Kipnis, 19). It brings the machinery of administration to bear on the realm of pleasures and intimate relations, aiming to stiffly variety among ways of living. It authorizes the state to make one form of life— already normative—even more privileged (Warner, 112). 6. Fighting for the right to marry is about individual choice and doesn’t address larger structures of inequality. Yet individual choice, no matter how heartfelt, can never get at the deeply entrenched structural nature of American social inequality. Interracial marriage has hardly made a dent in intergenerational black poverty (Hill Collins, 20). 7. It dominates the gay rights agenda at the expense of other, equally as (or more) pressing for GLBT communities. What would the priorities of a radical movement for sexual minorities be right now if gay marriage were not monopolizing the forefront of the political agenda (Butler, 20)? It does not address our community responsibilities toward those who live, love, suffer, thrive and die outside the conjugal frame (Butler, 21). We would be better off forging broad-based coalitions and supporting social agencies that seek to prevent suicide among gay and trans youth. We should be thinking about collective housing arrangements for aging queer and trans people for whom the wider community constitutes their main emotional and economic resource. We could be forging a new global coalition of AIDS activists, allying queers and communities of color, to combat the rise of HIV among people of color, especially women of color in the urban United States and in the global South (Butler, 21). …marriage seems both less urgent and less agreed upon than such items as HIV health care, AIDS prevention, the repeal of sodomy laws, antigay violence, job discrimination, immigration, media coverage, military anti-gay policy, sex inequality, and the saturation of everyday life by heterosexual privilege (Warner, 84). 8. It is less about freedom and more about consumerism. From my vantage, the fight for same-sex marriage is as much, if not more, about the brainwashing of Americans by the $70-billion-a-year Wedding Industry as it is about equal rights (Bronski, 22).