Monday, August 15, 2011

Dealing with a few secular arguments against same-sex marriage (second of however many posts it takes)

Back to dealing with secular arguments against same-sex marriage. This is my second post on this subject. **EDIT: The first one is here.** When researching this topic (thanks again adam), it came as a slight surprise to find that there are gay people out there who don't actually support the fight to provide marriage equality. Upon reflection, it shouldn't have come as a surprise, given how diverse people are, but it did.

In 2009 a group of people identifying itself as "Queer Kids of Queer Parents Against Gay Marriage!" wrote a single blog post speaking out against the fight for legal same-sex marriage. For the most part, they seem to be against it because there are other issues that they feel are more important, but they also believe that queers and queer families are different as a class from everyone else.
Having grown up in queer families and communities we strongly believe that queers are not like everyone else. 
That's from the last paragraph, and in fact, I'm going to start with that idea first, because it seems to underlie much of what they say.

I am not sure if the term "queer" is meant to represent only gay, lesbians and transexuals (they mention "trans" at a couple points) in this case, or if bisexuals and others who's gender expression is outside the norm are included as well. I'm going to assume that they're including everyone. And that's exactly what's wrong with that statement. It's a blanket statement, an over-generalization, that by its sheer breadth ends up excluding people.

For many, their sexuality really is the only difference between them and mainstream society. I don't know how common that is, and frankly, it's irrelevant how common it is for purposes of this issue. Neither the authors of the article, nor anyone else, get to tell them that they are wrong to desire and seek what they could have had, but for the accident of their sexuality and gender expression. Not without making a serious effort to back it up, which the authors have utterly failed to do. The authors speak from personal experience when they say
Believe it or not, we felt incredibly safe, happy, taken care of, and fulfilled with the many queer biological and chosen parents who raised us without the right to marry.
Wonderful. I truly am glad that you had that experience. That doesn't mean that marriage is bad, or that the LBGT people who want marriage, legal marriage, are wrong to desire it. At various points the authors wax poetic about how wonderful and diverse their community is, claiming that as a strength (as well they should), only to turn around and try and stifle and squeeze others into their particular mode. It does not work that way.
We think long-term monogamous partnerships are valid and beautiful ways of structuring and experiencing family, but we don’t see them as any more inherently valuable or legitimate than the many other family structures.  We believe in each individual and family’s right to live their queer identity however they find meaningful or necessary, including when that means getting married.
I agree. So why do you want to stop people in the LGBT community from getting married, directly contradicting what you say here? Oh, right. The other stuff.
We believe that the argument for gay marriage obscures the many structural, social, and economic forces that break families apart and take people away from their loved ones.  Just for starters, there’s the explosion in incarceration levels, national and international migration for economic survival, deportation, unaffordable housing, and lack of access to drug rehabilitation services.  The argument for gay marriage also ignores the economic changes and cuts to social services that make it nearly impossible for families to stay together and survive: welfare cuts, fewer after school programs, less public housing, worse medical care, not enough social workers, failing schools, the economic crisis in general.
Every single one of these issues is important. Every single one of these issues needs to be dealt with. And every single one of them is, has been and will be discussed, and hopefully, dealt with properly. It's true, or at least appears to be true, that politicians sometimes bring up same-sex marriage in an effort to distract the populace and their opponents. Unfortunately, it's usually the conservative right introducing legislation to block the right to same-sex marriage. When someone proposes to enact into law discrimination, it must be challenged. To let it go unchallenged simply because there are other issues on the table only perpetuates the attitudes behind that discrimination.

When we fight for same-sex marriage, it is not just the right to marry that is being fought for. We're also fighting to be accepted, to have the culture as a whole, and people as individuals, recognize us as equals. As we make our arguments for the legalization of same-sex marriage, we are making the argument that it's ok to be gay, bisexual, or trans. When we make that argument, we're standing up against the bullying that has led to many LGBT teens taking their own life, or being kicked out of their homes because mommy and daddy couldn't deal with their child being a sissy. That acceptance makes it easier for our voices to be heard on every issue, including all the ones the authors mentioned.

Isn't that at least as important as all those other issues? (Hint: yes)


  1. I realize there were a few other issues brought up in the linked article, but they mostly seemed to fall under the umbrella of "same-sex marriage is a distraction from X, Y, and Z." Still, if there's an issue the authors brought up that you want me to address that I haven't already, let me know here. I'll respond in these comments, unless it seems worth a post of its own.

  2. From their perspective I got the feeling that discrimination will always be around* so why bother as long as the family is happy.

    One can also state that if it is not stopped that there will always be some other issue *more important. And, in my opinion, the other "X, Y, Z distractions" have nothing to do with LGBTQ equal rights, so WHY should they be distracting at all?

    Love your writting Nathan and hearing your thoughts!

  3. "From their perspective I got the feeling that discrimination will always be around* so why bother as long as the family is happy."

    I didn't really get that sense from them, and I really hope that's not their perspective. That would be a very disheartening point of view. The more I think about it, the more I think that many of the issues they named all have similar roots: lack of empathy, compassion, and respect for the rights of others. I wouldn't say that's the case in every individual who is against some of those issues, but I think it may be a general problem.

    In many cases, that's also the problem at the root of opposition to same-sex marriage.

  4. This is not an attack on their argument - I realize.

    However, whenever anyone bitches and moans about how something is "distracting" from something else and furthers conflict due to asserting that other people are being "distracting" - it's completely counterproductive.

    If they feel strongly about any of those issues, they should be active in dealing with those issues. Attacking other people who have their own issue to fight for - ironically - is a DISTRACTION.

  5. Excellent point, sinmantyx. I suppose there might be times when something really doesn't rise to the level of things that others are fighting, and maybe could be considered a distraction, but for the most part I think I must agree with you.