It is very difficult, from a queer perspective, to argue against Same-Sex marriage. I am met with reactions ranging from bewilderment to outright hostility, from gay and straight alike. So this is an attempt to outline, hopefully in simple terms, why exactly I, and many others in the queer community (perhaps more than you think), would take such a seemingly contradictory stance on what has become the hottest “gay rights” issues of my generation.
Firstly, I am writing about this as an Australian. We have equal rights under the law (with the notable exception of adoption in NT, VIC, SA and QLD). We have, for now, universal health care and a comparatively sufficient welfare system. We are very lucky. The basic, material human rights that are denied to American citizens based solely upon their marital or employment status, and the way in which this impacts upon the queer community, is not being discussed here. If you would like to read more about this topic, I highly recommend you read Gay Marriage Hurts My Breasts by Yasmin Nair.
When I say to my queer friends that we already have equal rights, they exclaim “but we do not have the right to marry!!!”. Is marriage really a “right” and if so, should it be? Well, have you heard the term “marriage licence”? Tell me this, if you could drive a car without obtaining a licence, would you fight for the “right” to pay for your driver licence? Let’s take the analogy a bit further… Say you argue that driver licences are a good thing for the safety of the driver and the community. I wouldn’t disagree. However, what is the benefit of a “marriage licence”? …. think about it…. what does it mean to licence a relationship? It implies that there are good relationships that meet the standards of the state, and that there are bad relationships that do not. We are saying that it is the role of the state to decide who gets the tick of approval to be in a relationship and who does not. Marriage is not about love, it is about the state defining and sanctioning something as personal and arguably indefinable as human relationships.
My point is, that the state should stay out of our bedrooms/lounge rooms/kitchens or wherever it is that you do whatever it is that you do with your partner/partners/friend/friends/companions/undefinedhumanrelationofsomedescription etc. I am being completely serious. I am not saying that there is no place for legal arrangements, but I am saying that these arrangements do not have to take the form of a life-long commitment between two monogamous lovers. Life is far too complicated for that. It works for some, but is it really the way in which we should be basing the organisation of our society? Surely it is the nuclear family ideal that we, as queers, should be rallying against, not campaigning for, and thereby solidifying.
To Be Continued when I can figure out exactly the what it is I want to say and how to say it.