Eric Leven

Same-Sex Marriage: Be Careful What You Wish For

Filed By Eric Leven | October 17, 2007 11:34 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, The Movement
Tags: LGBT civil rights, same-sex marriage

I was having a conversation with a friend of mine last night and we got to talking about same-sex marriage. First and foremost I am a huge supporter of same-sex Marriage. But what does this mean? Does it mean I support same-sex marriage because it stands for equality? Yes. Does it mean I support same-sex marriage because two consenting adults have the right to do what they want? Yes. Does it mean I support same-sex marriage because it validates the next progression of love and understanding? Yes. Does it mean I support same-sex marriage because it injects moralistic norms within the gay community. NO!

I only support same-sex marriage as an additional option for the lifestyles of gay men and women. There is a fear I have pertaining to my support for same-sex marriage that, if and when we ever get it passed on a national level same-sex marriage may create an "us vs. them" complex amongst members of the gay community. That is to say that those who get married or find relationships are "right" and those who choose to stay single, exercise sexual freedom and/or have multiple sexual partners are "wrong." Same-Sex marriage should only be used as an additional aspect in our freedom to choose and should not be mistaken for the future shaping of gay life. The worst thing that could possibly happen would be for same-sex marriage to pass, people pair off, and those who remain single or even choose to not get married suddenly get served with a backlash of judgment and criticism for not doing what the new cultural moralistic norm demands of them. The statement should be: If you choose to get married, fine. If you choose to not get married, fine. There is no right and wrong regarding gay marriage; it is only an additional option to the lifestyles we already lead. Let's fight for same-sex marriage because it stands alongside equality and our freedom to choose, not because it's the new standard for who we should be and how we should act.

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I agree with you Eric. Being a queer person who opposes same-sex marriage, but supporting equal rights at first seems slightly oxymoronic. I have a lot of reservations about supporting a cultural move that would benefit only some of our community. I think the question of same-sex marriage is really a question of what we believe constitutes a family. One of the things that queer culture gave us pre-the same-sex marriage push was the idea of chosen families. Queer people started to create kinship systems that weren't based on marriage (an exclusive institution, any way you slice it), and rather chose kin based on love (romantic and platonic). Queer friendships that are intense, passionate, and unconditional, but not romantic are, I believe, the most queer thing we can do.

I think we should strive to create equal legal rights for families, biological or chosen.

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | October 17, 2007 4:39 PM

Hmmmm...I never even thought of this possible outcome. But you're right, Eric, whether or not you get married should have nothing to do with "morality".

beergoggles | October 17, 2007 5:25 PM

You do realize this us v. them split already exists right? There really is very little community within the gay population. It's composed of the nannies, the moralizers, and everything else that every other population consists of.

There has always been the gay moralizers who have viewed the paired monogamous gay couples as somehow superior to the single, the polyamorous and all the other variants inbetween.

Then there are the gay opportunists who side with the moralizers because they think it makes us look better to the heteros as being more like them. Just as bad as the homos who try to hide all the naked boobies and assless chaps and drag queens in the pride parades because it freaks out the heteros.

You know there are plenty of other sub-groups within the gay population that get their panties in a bunch about something or another - like the gay parents, who, now that they're parents want the naked people advertising gone from gay mags and tourist brochures, who want the sex positive displays in storefront neighborhoods in the gay ghetto changed so it doesn't warp their child's fragile mind.

We've always been bickering and mark my words, we always will.

How about looking into a group of us both lgbt and allies who have "a new strategic vision for all our families and relationships" rather than confining yourselfs to the narrow idea of marriage. You may be glad you did.

Do you see that split in straight society, Eric? That being married is worth more somehow? That's my only issue - that somehow being married entitles you to more benefits from the government in the first place...

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | October 18, 2007 7:35 AM

As an open advocate in Indiana working against SJR7 (the so-called "Marriage Amendment" that would write the denial of marriage equality for gays and lesbian couples into our Constitution), I'm also interested in achieving such rights for myself and my partner. That having been said, I agree with Eric concerning the fact that to do so is espousing an option that heterosexuals have. I don't particularly buy in to the notion that to want marriage rights is somehow a surrender to an oppressive relationship, both before and after/without any legal recognition bears no resembelence to any stereotyped oppression (except when he keeps the TV on too loud after I go to bed sometimes). To us, a long term committed monagomous relationship by whatever name or whatever degree of legal recognition provides us with a high degree of happiness, contentment, and fulfillment in our lives, and I think many in our community feel likewise. But I certainly don't think that ought to convey a sense of smugness or superiority. I've seen my share of older single gay folks who are lonely and sometimes I wish for them my situation. But I've also seen plenty of folks who are really happy as they can be in whatever relationship, family definition, etc., or perhaps lack of it, that they are in. I suspect that despite all of that humans in general will always figure out some new way to create "Us versus Them" categories.....hopefully this isn't one of them, but I suspect it may be to some degree.

I thought about your post while I was going to bed last night, Eric. Here's all I came up with though (hey, I was tired!): The best family I have I made for myself.

I agree w/ BG, this divide already exists. The moralizers are already there and have published books that were read a long time ago - Andrew Sullivan and Gabriel Rotello among them - saying things like how being married is the "highest form of dignity" for people and that it "inherently punishes" non-normative sexuality and promiscuity in a good way. It was a big ol' debate back in the 90's that seems to have disappeared. Except on Bilerico!

And it's there in other ways, like those parents who now want everything to be fall under a strange definition of "family friendly", when I thought that was the whole point of being queer was to tear down such constructions. I guess I was wrong.

That's not saying that the institution of marriage is wholly responsible for such a divide, just that it's been the subject where a large part of this debate has formed.

Oh, well.