An Anti-assimilationist’s Quandary
I begin a well-paying, fulltime job next week. I will soon have subsidized health insurance that also includes dental and vision coverage (both of which I need, badly). The company I am going to work for offers domestic partner benefits, too. My girlfriend doesn’t have health insurance and hasn’t for many years. What do to?
Simple answer? Register as domestic partners in New York City and put her on my insurance. Not so simple, however, because neither of us believes in marriage (or its bastard cousin domestic partnership), as feminists or as lesbians. And this so-called marriage equality business is making me angry and frustrated of late and I need to spell it all out.
As a community, as a nation and as a world in the year two-thousand ten we have people going homeless and hungry. Racism and sexism still prevail everywhere I know of (please write to me if I am wrong), so-called “ethnic cleansing” is happening in more countries than I have fingers to count on, there are two US-led wars (we know of) that have been going on longer than any other of “our” wars, girls and women (and boys and men) are being raped, trafficked and murdered all over the world, and all the mainstream LGBT community can find to rally ‘round is gay marriage? Really? That’s the best they can do?
Geez, how I long for the days when women would sit together to plan courses of action to take down, breakdown, destroy and dismantle the woman-oppressive institutions of marriage, the dysfunctional nuclear family, the military and the corporate/prison-industrial complex.
It’s 2010 and the gaystream is begging for marriage rights. This is how “far” we’ve come…from Selma, from Seneca, from Stonewall, from Solidarność, from Soweto…? This is unimaginably disappointing and devastating.
I’m getting a case of the vapors just writing about the backwards thinking and wasted energy in the community that I must repeat here just one of lesbian-feminist Audre Lorde’s most insightful and prophetic quotes: “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.”
Gaining access to marriage will NOT make us equal. This archaic institution founded by men to own women, children, land and animals simply cannot be reformed.
The so-called marriage equality movement is snowing a whole lot of lesbian and gay folks into thinking they will somehow be more acceptable or legitimate if they achieve the milestone of marriage. Even as marriage is a failing institution in the heterosexual community (depending on where you find your statistics, between 7 and 57 percent of marriages end in divorce) and straight people are re-thinking ways to form families and celebrate relationships, the mainstream lesbian and gay community is steadfast and staunch in their belief that state-sanctioning of our intimate relationships is the answer to all the wrongs against us.
On the contrary, gay marriage will only result in more discrimination, and this time it will be within our own community. Yes, it is true: just as keeping marriage for heterosexuals privileges heterosexuality above homosexuality, lesbians and gays of the marrying kind will, where and when same-sex marriage is available, be privileged over single and non-married queers.
The cry that marriage is a civil rights issue is not founded on anything but emotional appeal. In fact marriage is not a right, but a privilege. And, being a privilege means marriage (of all kinds) privileges some people other others: rich over poor (or rather those who have subsidized health insurance and the wealth to insure, house and feed their spouses over those who do not), couples over single people, people who want to marry over those who do not believe state-sanctioning of their relationships is necessary, people with non-immigrant partners over those with partners in other countries, etc.
The real shame is what is blatantly overlooked: singles, widows and widowers, and other non-married individuals need healthcare, access to affordable housing, food and all other basic needs just as much—or more—than their married counterparts.
Marriage “equality’ can never be equal.
Blogger Bio: Stephanie Schroeder is a dreamer, wanderer and writer based in Brooklyn, NY. She likes to exchange apartments with artists and other interesting folks from around the globe and travel in search of new friends and singular experiences. She makes purple a way of life and also fancies green, purple’s complementary color on the color wheel. (stephanieschroeder.com)