Random small thoughts

9 Aug

Desiring feedback on them, though.

1. I’ve noticed, at least a few times, that when person A disagrees with person B online, and expresses their disagreement by responding to person B’s original blog post/comment/etc, person B has a tendency to get very offended and say things like “you don’t even know me, how can you say anything about me?” I have a serious problem with that argument. I think that when you voice your opinion anywhere, including online, you are opening yourself up to a debate of the issue. If I (or other people) respond to your views/position, we are not attacking you, but we are attacking your opinion. I get that there are some beliefs/opinions/ideas held so dearly to someone that any disagreement with them might feel like a deeply personal attack, but that’s not what it is. I’d like to be able to hold a healthy debate (online, or anywhere) where people don’t automatically assume that just because I disagree with one belief they hold means I disagree with their entire existence. I am not disregarding a person’s experiences or life choices because I disagree on one idea. It’s not personal.

2. There are a lot of people who believe that we (LGBTIQ and allies) should be spending less time on gay marriage and more time on other pertinent LGBTIQ issues, like trans rights. I don’t disagree with that. I think there are a lot of things that need to be addressed, both within the LGBTIQ community, and with the way that community relates to society at large and vice versa. But I hesitate when people justify this by saying “why are we always trying to match up our values with straight values, and trying to lead the same kinds of lives straight people lead? that’s not what’s most important.” I don’t believe that marginalized groups should have to adapt to the majority’s lifestyle in order to gain rights, but I do believe that, in some instances, especially in the short-term, it can be a good idea. For example, although I believe that people who aren’t married should be allowed to do things like visit a sick familiy member in the hospital, or share healthcare benefits with their long-term partner, I don’t think those things are likely to be available to non-married people anytime soon. So shouldn’t we, in the mean time, make sure that someone (anyone) who wants to get married should be able to in order to be afforded those rights? In other words, many gay couples wouldn’t be able to have those rights unless they were married, so while we’re waiting for those outdated ideas regarding the necessity of marriage to fade away, shouldn’t gay people be allowed to (work for the right to) get married?

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7 Responses to “Random small thoughts”

  1. deedeegee August 9, 2010 at 5:24 pm #

    I totally agree. I think that marriage has become a sort of cornerstone for the movement simply because 1) it’s a concrete, well-defined, achievable issue-area and 2) it encompasses so many more rights than just federal recognition of unions. In addition to hospital visitation rights and shared benefits, there are more than 1000 other rights that straight couples receive by virtue of marriage, including the right to citizenship for a foreign-born spouse, the right to live together in nursing homes, the right to family leave, the right to inherit a spouse’s property without falling subject to estate taxes, etc etc etc. But I don’t think that marriage should necessarily be thought of as representative of straight values, nor do I see it as an adaptation to the majority’s lifestyle. Marriage is a universal symbol of commitment that transcends sexual orientation and gender identity, and just because it has been largely restricted to heterosexuals in the past doesn’t mean that it needs to be considered a straight institution in the future. I’d like to think that the stigma surrounding marriage inequality as it exists today won’t discourage potential same-sex couples from tying the knot in the future simply because they want to avoid buying into the “majority’s lifestyle.”

  2. molly August 9, 2010 at 5:59 pm #

    In response to #2:

    I’m not entirely sure where to begin, but…here goes.

    In terms of /what/ to focus on for the LGBTQIA community, I wouldn’t say it’s more or less pertinent to focus on trans rights over marriage. To me, fighting for trans rights covers more ground in terms of accessibility and what it addresses in terms of gender identification, presentation, a sexuality. It covers a wide range of ages and backgrounds, whereas marriage is often times most attainable for older (ish) people who can back themselves up financially. Marriage is also narrow in its focus in terms of relationships. It only addresses monogamy. What about polyamorous people? The benefits of marriage only extend to one partner, if I am not mistaken.
    Again, it certainly is not /wrong/ to address the issue of marriage in a positive manner. I feel there is a huge generation gap between the politics of the first crowd to fight for gay marriage and our current 20-something generation. The older generation has probably fought for marriage for YEARS, and I think it would be goddamned slap in the face for younger people coming out of the closet, who don’t want to get married, to deny their fight.
    Still, I think it’s important for those people not as “gung-ho” about gay marriage to put their efforts and energy into whatever cause they feel is more important–like trans rights, poverty, hate crimes, relationship violence, or what have you. I don’t think it’s right or even smart to throw a curve into a fight that that your “own” community has been fighting for a long time. I say this as someone who doesn’t feel like getting married, but would love for it to be legal for all people, just to see progress in a decades long fight. I say this, also, keeping in mind that allies might get confused as to what to support and why. It’s important that we all be allies for each other’s causes in the queer community, but without the fear of critiquing. As you can see, I said marriage is fine, but I have my problems with it because it’s not accessible to all, and doesn’t address that much in terms of how society views the LGBTQIA community. Marriage does hold “normalizing” qualities to it that do no progress the more radical ideas of gender and relationships that might work better for some people than marriage would.

    I would hesitate to call adapting to the majority view of society a “solution,” even if just “short term.” Assimilation never really goes away.

  3. Dan August 9, 2010 at 9:01 pm #

    I think the fight for marriage equality is an important one on a symbolic and political level, even if in the broader scheme of things it’s a small problem compared to other issues facing the infinitelyexpandingacronym community. First off, it’s just such a blatant and relatable injustice – there was a great anti-prop8 (may it rest in the eternal fires of hell) ad showing a woman walking down the aisle on her wedding day and getting forcibly stopped. It’s easily explained to non-members in ways that trans rights aren’t.

    On a political level, it’s a goddamn slam dunk. It’ll be resolved primarily in the courts because there is absolutely no legitimate constitutional argument against it. Public opinion isn’t quite at the point where equality is possible through a popular vote, but in 20 or maybe even 10 years, everyone’s going to wonder what the big deal was. Marriage equality, purely as a political issue, is a chance for the LGBTQIA community to show the country and the government that they have brass balls and steel labia and other various metallic genitalia. When Perry v. Schwarzenegger is over and done with (I’m pretty optimistic that it’ll find any ban on gay marriage unconstitutional), pro-marriage equality groups aren’t just going to pat themselves on the back and close shop. They’ve got email lists and donors and an infrastructure set up, and now with a bigass victory they’ve got at least the appearance of some clout. Movements are successful when they are perceived as being successful, and marriage is a place where we can fucking WIN.

    I also think that it’s an important step in the degendering of public policy, something that was reflected in the recent ruling. Once it’s firmly legally established that under the eyes of the law there is no distinction between men and women, the arguments of every issue of concern to the LBTQIA community will be that much stronger.

    • Dan August 9, 2010 at 9:05 pm #

      after “no distinction between men and women” I meant to add “and everything in between or to the side or not even on the spectrum”

  4. Jessica Annabelle August 9, 2010 at 10:09 pm #

    yeah. shrugsicles. i would vote for gay marriage, and i am happy about prop 8 failing, to be clear.

    given the chance though- i might vote against marriage, generally.

    marriage is one of the ways we idealize nuclear families, and i don’t think we should view any sort of family as greater or lesser than others.

    it’s a sexist institution- governments/democracies/the us push/ed marriage because it organizes the population into households headed by a male citizen/breadwinner/decision maker. this sort of population breakdown enable/s a lot of the other issues feminists are working to overcome to this day, like the wage gap (men have historically been paid a ‘family wage’ to support all of their dependents including the wife and women have historically been paid jack because their incomes were seen as supplementary and nonessential. which is racism and classism enabled by marriage too, actually)

    even if marriage itself was totally equitable and didn’t have the tumultuous history that it does, i still don’t see why people in partnerships (as opposed to triads, community living groups, single people/parents) should get financial breaks and special privileges. again with the idealizing one sort of (frequently heterosexist, sexist, sex negative) relationship

    marriage also obviously has a history as a religious tradition and i genuinely believe in a separation of church and state- people shouldn’t be getting civil benefits because of their ability to feel welcome in religious spaces or desire to fulfill religious obligations

    i personally wouldn’t want our racist, sexist, warmongering, classist, exploitative, state validating any relationship i enter into anyhow.

    i think people have an option every once in awhile to abdicate the privileges their heterosexuality (+palatable, typically desexed homosexuality), socioeconomic status, cissexuality, whiteness, monogamous inclinations, etc shovel at them and not getting married is doing just that.

    so, like, gay, lesbian and bisexual people in mostly monogamous decidedly two person partnerships can totally push to also be allowed to get married and therefore validate all this state power, excuse marriage for the people it historically excluded and still excludes, and suddenly look just like their neighbors and let go of what they used to have in common with anti-establishment queers and other activists…but i don’t personally care to do that or even support it that much.

    last thought: greg’s brother cant live in the states because his husband is german and their marriage wouldn’t be legal in any of the states he’s been offered jobs (he’s a professor). so this is like an argument for gay marriage, on the surface/immediate horizon. but when all the GLB people and their intl partners can live anywhere in the states, we will still have a crisis on the US/Mexico border. so i would personally choose to understand greg’s brother’s predicament as an immigration and nation state problem, not a marriage inequality one. because then i would be talking about everyone suffering from these issues as opposed to a privileged subset.

    ❤ my tone is deadpan cuz im sleepy and well, am really not sold on marriage. thanks for understanding, wd love to hear your thoughts back here or in person ❤

  5. Jessica Annabelle August 9, 2010 at 10:15 pm #

    i like the bit about degendering of pub policy.

    marriage momentum mixed thoughts: eh. yeah, it looks good and will lead to other policies which will hopefully trickle down to more acceptance

    but like, the civil rights movement and the strides that were made did not end racism. racism today is obviously still present, sometimes far less visible and still decidedly harmful. there needs to be some bottom up shifts in understanding alongside top down legislation changes to effect the sort of change that i think is needed…one way for that to happen may be to have more black panthers or radical queers around educating and critiquing stuff.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. my friends are brilliant « Never Kept Quiet - August 10, 2010

    […] in mainstream media (e.g. marriage equality, DADT, etc.). This ties in wonderfully with my post, Random small thoughts, and all the responses from Jessi, Dan, Molly and D’laney. Stay tuned for my responses to […]

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