Spring Is A Time For… Politicking?
I love this time of year.
Don’t get me wrong. I love winter. I love the cold, the dreariness, the rain. I love the occasional snow here in Seattle. I love the blustery days and curling up under a fuzzy blanket to read a book (or curl up with someone else, for that matter). I am a good Pacific
Northwesterner and I have no problems going for months without sun.
Still, when spring hits and the world wakes up again it’s a little exciting, right? The sun comes out, the trees start blooming, you get your first sunburn of the year (ouch), and maybe you start thinking cutesie little romance feelings for your fellow man. Or woman. Or genderqueer. As the days get longer and the weather warmer, hearts tend to go pitter-patter and I’m not exempt from the excitement.
Everyday folks aren’t the only ones who think about romance. As we head into spring and a new election cycle, legislators and advocates are getting excited themselves. Get ready for your rights to be in the spotlight again. Marriage equality may just be around the corner.
Except I don’t care.
Marriage Mania Makes Me Manic
Here in Washington, marriage equality was approved by the legislature and a pushback to collect signatures to repeal the measure has started. In Maine, NOM has pledged large sums of money to combat the current push to allow queer weddings. Millions of dollars are being used to fight these political battles all over the country… and I’m stuck wondering “What’s the big deal?”
You see, even though I’ve been engaged and might lose my mind later on in life and decide that I want to try having a fiance again, I honestly don’t think marriage affects my life in large ways. Getting married isn’t important to me and having my relationship validated by the state seems ludicrous. Why does it matter so much to other people?
I ask these questions frequently among my cohorts. I have the privilege to be on speaking terms with a lot of awesome people in LGBT activism and advocacy, and frequently my questions have the ability to rankle those that like other ideas I spew. “What?!” they gasp. “Marriage equality is the most important battle facing LGBTs today!” This confuses me. Utterly.
You see, I don’t care if you want to achieve marriage equality. Please! Fight for that. But why, why, WHY is that the most important LGBT dialogue of our generation?
EVERYTHING Sucks. Not Just Marriage Inequality.
The benefits of getting married in the US are legion. If you’re married you can put your spouse on your health insurance. Is your lover a foreign national? No problem! Marry them and they can stay. Inheritance rights are wrapped up in the issue of marriage– afraid your family will steal the estate that should go to your partner? Get hitched! These reasons, and many more, are the ones that get thrown against my disdain for spending resources on marriage equality.
And they’re great reasons! I hope that people who love each other have the ability to live in the same country together. I don’t think someone’s asshole family should be able to intervene in someone’s will. And health care, obviously, is very important to me and the way ADAP defunding is going I might someday have to consider a marriage of convenience just to get my HIV meds.
But is marriage really the way to accomplish those goals? Think about it. Should we really be telling people that the only way they can be with their loved ones is to enter into a binding, state-validated contract?
Isn’t the real problem there that we need immigration reform?
Health care is an obvious one. I had a prominent blogger actually say to me that she was working for marriage equality so that she could get health care through her wife’s plan. Ok. It’s legit to need health care. However, I can’t help but think that in of itself is silly. The only way for us to get medical care is to… romantically commit to someone for life? What?
Isn’t the real problem that we need universal health care?
I could go on and on. Homeless queer youth! Suicide! The scalping of AIDS patients by big pharmaceuticals! And yet the conversation is centered around how soon I could potentially throw a bachelor’s party.
That’s not right.
No! No Benefits For You Until You Get Yourself A Man!
See, the problem with marriage is its exclusionary nature, as the queer community has clearly taken note of. We’ve been excluded from it for so long perhaps the majority of us have not realized that we’re not the only people who go without these benefits bestowed upon those who choose to marry.
I, for instance, don’t particularly care to marry. I can just as easily be with a man in perpetuity (if he can stand me) without having a county clerk rubber-stamp my relationship. Also, I may just be unlucky or bad at relationships (probably the second) and I may never find the One.
I find it disturbing that our society is willing to deny me health care, immigration rights, and hospital visitations just because I choose to not marry.
Pay No Attention To The Fat Cat Behind The Curtain
Why are we, then, so focused on marriage? It’s not immediately clear… until you look at LGBT leadership. Or rather, gay white male leadership. In our vast, diverse group of individuals that touches every single culture on this planet there seems to be a dearth of “commoners” who rise to positions of power and authority in the organizations who are supposed to be advocating for our interests. Instead we have white collar gay men calling the shots, and why? Because they had money. Or because they made money representing our interests (how much does the Executive Director of the HRC get paid?).
If you look at the leadership of most major organizations, it’s pretty homogeneous. Rich white gay men are calling the shots. What do they care about universal health care? They have their own. Income inequality helps them stay ahead and they are no more likely to assist the common queer in being successful, healthy, and happy than Mitt Romney. All they will give us will be marriage.
Marriage isn’t enough. There are people dying on waiting lists to get funding for their pills and the Joe Solmoneses of the world would rather that you think about striking it lucky with Missus Right.
In fact, you might even say that these rich gay white men and the corporations that fund their organizations don’t want true income equality and universal health care. After all, that might require they pay more taxes.
Shhh. Just think about getting married instead. Isn’t that nice?
Another World Is Possible! I Think I’ll Live In It Without Marriage.
So we’ve established I don’t care about marriage. I also don’t mind that someone else does. But the idea that we must pursue this one goal to the exclusion of other things is outrageous. Why is this much money going into marriage? Millions that could be spent in restoring proper ADAP funding and re-establishing the tax rates on corporate America that will make that funding possible is getting burned up in a race revolving around who gets to have a wedding photographer.
In the end, ask yourself, dear reader, which matters to you more? The fact that you can’t pay your bills?
Or the fact you don’t have a wedding ring on?