Saturday, July 18, 2015

Marriage and privilege

I've seen some queer commentators complain about the recent legalization of same-sex marriage in the US.  I will comment only briefly.

First, I am entirely sympathetic to a lack of enthusiasm and celebration, and understand why people might be annoyed by other people's enthusiasm and celebration.  Man, whatever, what about employer discrimination and poverty and suicide?  If anything I'm glad it's over so that the big activist organizations will move on to more important things.  I'm worried that they will lose donors and momentum.  More trans advocacy please.

Second, I am honestly puzzled by the racial dimension.  For instance, Darkmatter said, "The institution of marriage has and continues to exacerbate the (racial) wealth divide in this country," but does not explain how that works.  I've also heard that marriage imposes a nuclear family structure, which is colonialist/capitalist.  Some of the connections here are difficult for me to understand, since I come from a wealthy extended Chinese family that basically makes its money by renting out capital.

Third, people argue that marriage privileges certain kinds of relationships, and disprivilege others.  This is true, although I think it is right for government to grant privileges to grant rights to some pairs of people and not others.  I don't want strangers to have hospital visitation rights for instance, even though strangerships are the most important relationships.  Therefore I support even more kinds of "relationship contracts" for more kinds of relationships, without the romantic/sexual assumption.  More, not fewer.