Since I've written about it before in different places, I wanted to come at it with a fresh mind, and seriously look once more at the elements that make up my views.
I like the older one's better, but here goes:
Bricks & Mortar
It is often said that family is the foundation of society. The UN itself described it that way after several studies.
In the US, family is described by talking about people who are related to each other. We have lots of ways of being related to each other, but since we are talking about marriage equality and therefore some aspect of law, we are going to narrow it a bit.
People in the US are related to each other through something called kinship. Kinship is a pretty fundamental idea - its something that even has a strong emotional connection with people. "You can pick your friends but you can't pick your relatives" people say to talk about the power of this bond of kinship. Kinship, then, is most basic part of what it is that makes family.
Kinship is established in a few different ways, but rather than bore you with terms like consanguinal and conjugal and bourgeois and all the related charts and such to explain them, I'll just simplify it: marriage, birth, and adoption.
Now, I'm talking about legal kinship here, not the kinship of affiliation and friendship. This is important, as the government has to have an interest in all of this.
That means that the building blocks of family are marriage, birth, and adoption. They are all held together by the mortar of kinship - of being related to someone in the concept as the State sees it.
The state has a need to know on the basis of citizenship. Basically, we need to know who is a citizen and who is not for various governmental obligations to its citizens. We establish citizenship in several ways, one of which is kinship to another citizen. A child born to a citizen, for example, becomes a citizen. Marry a citizen, and you become one (well, at least, that's the idea if not the practice). Adopt someone, and they become a citizen (again, that's the idea if not the practice).
So kinship is important. Indeed, kinship is critical to the idea of marriage equality.
The Perry Trial has made a great show of talking about various aspects that all of this touches on. They've talked about family, and how it would benefit the children of gay couples. They've spoken on basic concepts and talked about how the history of oppression against LGBT people has involved dehumanizing them on an institutional scale.
They flirted with the thing that underlies my personal reasons for supporting marriage equality, though.
Our opponents have, for literally hundreds of years, sought to deny us that very basic and fundamental thing that marriage is the point of focus for:
Although many of us can testify to what happens when we come out, in the earliest years of this country, it was pretty much automatic that if you were gay, you were excluded from the family. There are tales from the 1800's that still serve as fodder for the episodic dramas we watch on TV about how the bachelor son or self willed daughter of so and so is estranged and cut off from the family fortunes and estates. In most cases (but not all) they were LGBT folks. It's something that has gone on for generations, a family secret or a skeleton in the closet, and while there are plenty of spinster Auntie Clara's and eccentric Uncle Douglas' in families, the norm is that those sorts where written out, dropped from family records, never spoken of.
For many today, it's often hard to think that people could do such a thing, but for centuries that was what you did. Being disinherited once meant you even had to surrender your name, so that you could not be bound to that family.
It was, in other words, commonplace for LGBT people to be stripped of their family ties, to be cast off to fend for themselves, for in those days, your family was all you had. There were few charities, and no social services. It was often called "shunning", a turning of one's back.
This meant that we had to find our own ways. Many of us today have had to do that - found ourselves in a new place, and moved off and on over the years, struggling to find work, and keeping our secrets, and seeking out people who were like us - sometimes not even really aware of it. There have always been such places. And we would meet and socialize and develop friendships and then we would take our poor paying jobs and move into places where it was cheap to live and where others like us had moved and the next thing you know, there are these gay ghettos - areas scattered throughout cities, usually in places that were difficult to make due in, and we lived out lives and more people would come, filtering in from different places, separated from their family, from their kinfolk.
This let us live together, and when you take people and you put them in spaces where they can interact on a close basis and over time, they will have relationships. And they will form families.
By the 1940's, we had formed up in small enclaves where we were "safe" by comparison to the years and decades and centuries before. And, as human beings will do we developed our own codes and practices, and even a kind of trade of various sorts. Some of the still threadbare information when you dig into this stuff is really incredible. And from these groups came the various attempts (both before the 1940's and after) to secure some sense of social justice, but, nevertheless, we were still shunned, still cast out, still without kinship except of the sort that we claimed, usually fiercely, for ourselves.
And we did in fact do that. Strongly and often, and while many of us, including myself, will point out that marriage equality is not our priority, the idea of being able to form kinship bonds is indeed in our lists of what we want as a whole, because we too are human, and we want family ties.
And as the times changed because we worked hard at it, fewer people were thrown out of their families, fewer people were shunned. Fewer people had their family taken away from them.
A family is headed - it has some person who is "in charge". Grandparent or Parent, usually. In a patriarchal society, that person is usually the Patriarch, so its often the grandfather in the past, and more usually the father today. They have the name - the surname, which is the social mark of this family or that family, the means through which lineage is tracked (one of my tracks is Wykoff, for example, a name that has a great deal of history in the US - enough that it gets its own encyclopedia article all by itself and not about a person).
It has lost a great deal of its powers over the years, obviously.
By the 1960's, there were a lot of us in them. They were larger than before. We took these shanty towns, these relics that were cast off to the dregs of society and we retook them and made them better and now they even sell homes based on it, so they can push us out to some new place, like manure being spread on a garden.
Find the ugly spots, drop 'em there. We were ignored, castigated, tossed out and forced to live in the worst locations imaginable in the largest cities possible. We founded our own nation, basically, within those ghettos. "oh, they have no families, let them live in those nasty places."
And we took them, and we created families, and neighborhoods, and changed entire cities in the process.
Then we thought we'd be smart, and take those families into the open - just like anyone else.
We wanted to get married.
We wanted to adopt.
And they looked at this and they thought or felt or recognized in some way, maybe not even in a way they were aware of, that what that meant is that we would have what they had taken away from us.
When people take something from others, its generally because they don't want them to have it, or they covet it for themselves, or both. There are other reasons, but on a social scale, it's for those reasons.
By shunning us, they had taken from us our kinship. And so after having made these places hospitable, after having fought our collective way to a point where they wanted what we had built, when we wanted what was taken, they reacted.
They looked at us funny when we tried to marry. "You can't do that."
Then they started passing laws about it, and about adopting, and God forbid that two gay men ever even think about having kids. Especially in California.
When two people marry, they do something magical: they create a family. Marriage, as I noted above, creates kinship. It creates a form of kinship that overrides the other kinds the two people might have, and there are strong social taboos about that already.
There is no other way to create the particular form of kinship that marriage creates.
Adoption creates a hierarchy - parent-child, usually. Birth crosses one of the strongest taboos, and can be parental or sibling.
Nothing else makes two unrelated people kin on an equal level. Just marriage.
And, as we know, kinship creates family. And being part of a family means that you are part of the building blocks of society. Not just an outcast, shunned and nameless.
That simply won't fly with them. To our opponents, regardless of their words and their careful arguments, what gets to them is a sense of unease that is triggered by the idea of us having families, That somehow, some way, they could suddenly be related to us one day, once again.
After having gone to all that trouble to make sure that we had no family, they weren't going to let us just have one.
So for me, personally, marriage equality is about a long history of people trying to deny us our right to kinship - our ties that bind, our troth and our children. It is about Family, not the paper.
DP's do not grant kinship. Even in California. You can tell because they have to spell out things like visitation in the law - where that's not spelled out otherwise. It's customary, commonplace, typical. If a couple who has a partnership has a child, that child is not *both of theirs* automatically. They have to go through process and steps and hoops to "coparent adopt" for one of them.*
Kinship is what would bring the thousands of couples who have one person that is a citizen and another who is not together - all they need to do is recognize the kinship. But to do that, they must recognize the marriage.
Who's in your family? How many times in your life have you or someone you known described family not in terms of blood or marriage, but in terms of affection and common experience?
The US draws much of its custom and language from England. In days long past, a couple would gather before their "cyning" - their kindred, the extended kith and kin.
Their families. And they would pledge their troth to one another before their family. It might have a priest in attendance. It might not. They did that, though, to say "we bind these families into one", or, just as likely, one member is given to one of the families (or sold, if you account for the whole dowry thing) and becomes part of it.
And the kindred was there to witness and see and know that these were members of the family - citizens of the Clan, the State.
That's what we seek now. To stand before our State and have it witness and see and know that we are family, and that we pledge our troths.
And I can't wait for us to get it.
Then we can see if what far too many people say is true: that once marriage equality is in place, the LGB will suddenly decide they can abandon the trans folk.
I'm a skeptical optimist, though -- I don't think it'll be all that easy...