Monday, August 1, 2011

How I feel about same-sex marriage

Some time ago, Hemant wrote this:
If I asked you what came to your mind when I said the word “homosexuality,” what would you think of?
The Illinois Family Institute's answer is "sodomy".  Hemant's answer is his gay friends, pride parades, and the lack of marriage equality.

My impression is that this is representative of the range of reactions I get from straight people.  Sodomy, and gay marriage.  (It's really same-sex marriage, since it applies to some bi and trans people, but this is frequently forgotten.)  Sodomy and gay marriage.

For some reason, same-sex marriage has become the issue of gay rights.  It's the focus of most of the major gay rights organizations.  Millions of dollars are spent on it.  It's what makes the big news.  It's one of the first things straight people think about when they hear the word "homosexuality."

But I can think of more pressing issues.  Homelessness is really common among youth.  Employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is still legal in most states.  Suicide is much more common than a few well-known cases; according to a statistic I once cited, gays and lesbians are three times as likely to consider suicide as compared to straight people, and bisexuals five times as likely.

And marriage?  Marriage is only accessible to people who are doing well enough for it (I include myself in this category).  And the laws don't really stop people from marrying anyone of the same sex, by the way, they just stop it from being recognized by the state.  And legalization doesn't really stop individuals from seeing the marriage as invalid.

Not that same-sex marriage is bad to have or anything.  On the contrary, it's something that is very obviously good.  In fact, it's ridiculous that same-sex marriage gets opposed at all.  I believe that opposing marriage equality simply does not belong in the Overton window.  It would be better if we were arguing over whether government should be recognizing all marriages or none.

How did it come to be this way?  Among my queer friends, the cynics say that it's because same-sex marriage concerns the affluent, and it's the affluent who provide campaign funding.  The others say the issue was forced upon us by the opposition, or that it's a necessary political strategy.  Nobody I know thinks it's an ideal situation.

I don't know whose fault it is, if anyone.  I don't know that knowing whose fault it is would help solve the problem.  I don't know if it would be any better if it were some other issue that dominated the gay agenda.

So how do I feel about same-sex marriage?  I wish it were legalized already so we could move on to more important things.