Links: Marriage equality on the margins

Here are some links more or less about the effects of same-sex marriage on various marginalized people. I'm going to start with an introduction, but feel free to skip past it and go directly to the links.

I've been a supporter of marriage equality since February 2004, for a simple reason: I saw a bunch of people who had never thought they could get married, and who were getting married, and who were gloriously happy about it. Increasing happiness, when it can be done without harming anyone else, is one of the things I value most in life, and after seeing those happy couples I could no longer take the stance that I had taken previously, that we needed to move slowly and be wary of potential backlash.

But even in 2004, I knew that there was another angle on this issue, one that was hard to even talk about without potentially sounding like a traitor to the mainstream queer cause:

Not everyone wants to get married, and not everyone thinks marriage is a good idea.

It's all too common for a group to become socially acceptable by further marginalizing the people who don't fit that group. I think the first time I noticed this was reading an op-ed piece in a queer paper in the '90s, in which a gay upper-middle-class white guy was upset that people like the Lesbian Avengers were getting weird non-mainstreamness all over his nice clean guy-next-door Pride parade. Saying to Middle America “We're just like you except gay” is a great strategy for gaining acceptance for some people, but not a great strategy for gaining acceptance for everyone.

In 2009, I finally tried to write a blog entry talking about this and other related concerns, but I never got it into publishable shape. But recently, as marriage equality has become a mainstream position in America, some people are beginning to more publicly voice the nuanced caution and concern that I've been wanting to see. (Others have been voicing these concerns all along, but I think usually in lower-profile venues.)

So here's a collection of links, mostly from the past couple months, looking at same-sex marriage from various marginal positions. The first couple are fully supportive of marriage equality, but the later ones get at some concerns and issues.

Almost all of the ones expressing concerns, though, start with the position that I too want to make clear I still hold: letting people who want to get married do so is awesome. Making people happy is awesome. I just want us not to lose sight of the potential problems with basing so much of our approach on a specific mainstream institution that doesn't work for everyone.

Queer African American Women and the History of Marriage, by Cookie
“long before the recent struggle for marriage equality began, African American women who love women have engaged with the institution of marriage and have fought to make it their own.”
Will changing your Facebook profile picture do anything for marriage equality?, by Melanie Tannenbaum
“We don’t really care so much about what we should do. We care about what other people do. And then we really, really care about not being different.”
What's Behind Criticisms of Those Red Equal Signs in Your Facebook Feed?, by Derrick Clifton
“Scrutinizing marriage as an institution and acknowledging broader community issues while supporting marriage as an option for all couples are not mutually exclusive ideas or actions.”
What Comes After Gay Marriage?, by Richard Lawson
“While the gay marriage movement has of course been widely important and effective and involved people from myriad walks of life, aspects of it have, at times, ignored certain people in favor of others.”
Minnesota, Marriage and Me, by Coya White Hat-Artichoker
“To an extent, as a Lakota person, I view marriage and the idea of the nuclear family as an extension of the colonization that my people have experienced.”
S.E. Cupp is wrong on marriage, but not why you might think, by Sally Kohn
“I don’t want to move 'beyond marriage.' I simply don't want to be limited to marriage, for marriage to constrain the rights and equality of the wide variety of American families.”
Are GOP gay marriage supporters hurting the cause?, by Sally Kohn
“[The activists] argued [that] in a perpetual us-versus-them political paradigm, the solution to the systematic 'otherization' of the gay community could not be found in joining the ranks of privilege through marriage while reinforcing the continued exclusion of other families.”
Seeing Edie Windsor, by Madwoman with a Laptop
“I cling, proudly and stubbornly, to my own position as a queer against marriage for marriage equality[...]. And yet Wednesday afternoon, I, too, found myself fighting tears as I stood in the sunshine.”
Take the Oath: A Critic of Marriage Gets Teary, by Laura Flanders
“I’m for marriage equality and I also still think marriage is a patriarchal plot, a way to replicate the capitalist status quo, deeply rooted in creepy conservative values and an obsession with control and property.”
Beyond Marriage: Democracy, Equality, and Kinship for a New Century, by Lisa Duggan
“There are legions of people—straight and gay, bisexual or transgendered, and others—whose lives are intertwined in ways that do not fit with one-size-fits-all marriage.”
Feather and Tar Me, But Get Me To The Court On Time
The argument goes like this: marriage narrows, rather than expands, the framework within which social justice and economic rights can be delivered. Why does it do this? Because marriage then becomes the normative condition for delivering social justice, it further marginalizes alternative forms of kinship and mutuality, and it confines the delivery of economic/social rights to those in state-sanctioned unions. [...But] I have precisely been able to avoid all balls and chains because of my economic and social privilege.
Terps Against Marriage for Marriage Equality (1.0), by Madwoman with a Laptop
“As feminists, however, we have tended to view marriage skeptically, as an institution that oppressed women and shored up the social and economic powers of patriarchy and heterosexuality. [But] Marriage equality is a matter of civil rights, plain and simple, and as such I am committed to fighting for it, heart and soul, without a shred of doubt or ambivalence.”

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