BiblioBitch: Against Equality: Queer Critiques of Gay Marriage
The first time I read of a queer critique of gay marriage was in the article "Queers on the Run" in Bitch #47, the Action issue. Maybe this position has not gained much media coverage (or maybe I was just guilty of not thinking critically of the movement around gay marriage) but activist filmmakers Eric Stanley and Chris Vargas's argument that same-sex marriage should not be the ultimate goal for the queer community was deeply illuminating.
This purposefully pocket-sized anthology contains eleven whip-smart but accessible essays outlining various arguments against gay marriage from an impressive list of various authors and activists, some of whom you may already know (e.g. Kate Bornstein, editor of Gender Outlaws).
Although I can not explain the overall critique and its nuances anywhere near as eloquently as these authors, the basic idea is this: The push for gay marriage has led to the false notion that "full citizenship" for gays and lesbians is just one step away. Marriage is an assimilation strategy into a fundamentally capitalist, racist, and patriarchal structure—one in which queers will never be truly accepted. The argument for the right to marry because of its 1,000+ legal benefits is faulty and begs the question: Why is it only married people who are deserving of rights and benefits like health care? Shouldn't rights and care be given to all, regardless of their marital status? Same-sex marriage is perhaps a way of taming the gay community and the power they could contribute to revolutionizing our political and cultural structure.
I recognize that this is a complicated issue that is pertinent—if not crucial—to many, and passionate opinions naturally abound. Which is why I appreciate one of the goals of this anthology: To bring to light that a venomous black-and-white rhetorical split has developed on gay marriage. The dichotomous engagement with the issue is damaging to the cohesion of the GLBTQ community and stops discussions short. This collection offers valuable, if controversial, much needed nuance to a radically fractured debate.
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