Don’t get me wrong. I love weddings. I love big parties full of food, happy people, and hopefully, an open bar. I love it when the gays, the homos, the queers, the fags, the queens, the dykes, and the feisty bisexuals are all working it out on the same dance floor. I love hearing two people (or three people for that matter, or four) standing up in public and proclaiming before their loved ones in the front row and the whole wide world their everlasting, deep-as-the-sea, high-as-the-hills, tougher-than-nails, sweeter-than-honey love for one another for ever and ever, amen. I hope this article doesn’t get me un-invited to any of the fabulous weddings that may be about to ensue. But I do not think that gay marriage is the pie in the sky we’re all making it out to be.
There are several reasons why the liberal feel-good sensation sweeping my Facebook wall in the form of Valentines-y HRC equal signs is freaking me out. First of all, being paternalistically allowed to participate in a sexist institution that privileges some families over others is not my definition of equality. No matter how much glitter you have at your wedding, marriage has never been, and will never be, an institution that fosters equality in our society. It is shameful that the same 1,400 or so rights and privileges that come with legal marriage are not extended to single parents, that some children are afforded that protection and others aren’t. In fact, all people should have those rights.
Second of all, I don’t want a stamp of approval from the government on my relationships. Uncle Sam doesn’t get to tell me who I get to be best friends with, so why should he have any jurisdiction over who I parent with, who I love, or who I choose to grow old with? If we have given in to the idea that the government should get to decide which families are legitimate and which people are valuable to society, we have already lost.
I want freedom from the idea that two-parent families are the best way to raise children. I want liberation from the creepy, old-school gender norms that breathe down my neck when I walk down the streets of Charleston (“Hey! Are you a fag or a dyke?”). I want to participate in loving, committed relationships with the people I care about that are not designated “real” or “fake” by some government entity run by a bunch of straight white dudes. I want the queer and trans-youth of Charleston to not have to sleep on the beach or in abandoned laundromats when their parents kick them out for being queer. I want queer couples (and triples and quartets) to be held as valid, legitimate, precious, and beautiful by everyone in our communities, whether or not we get gay married. I want everyone in this world to be freed from the constraints of the flattening gender rules that convince girls as young as five that they should be on strict diets. I want my kids, if I choose to have them, to grow up in a society that asks them what their gender is instead of telling them. I want everyone to be blessedly, creatively, and completely self-determined when it comes to gender and sexuality. I don’t think the legal right to get gay married is going to give me or anyone else any of those things.
If what we really want is justice for all of our people, gay marriage is just not going to cut it. I believe in all the different ways people find to be family to each other. And I believe that everyone should be taken into account when we ask ourselves what we are fighting for.