Same sex marriage has become the ultimate concern of gay political and social advocates; the goal of the gay rights movement. All over the country campaigns are waged, votes cast, and appeals lodged both in support and in opposition to same sex marriage.
As a gay man, my entire out life, I have been told, by EVERYONE (straight and gay alike) that marriage equality is the holy grail. Without it, gay people, gay families, and the gay community can never be equal to that of the rest of society.
While I don’t necessarily disagree with this, the next assumption has always rubbed me the wrong way. Not that the absence of gay marriage means that gay individuals are unequally treated, but that, somehow, should same sex marriage be legal, that equality will somehow fall into our collective laps.
I have my own problems with same sex marriage, it’s normalizing, and by that I mean heteronomalizing. The affect on the gay community confounds me.
The constant refrain that we as gay people are unique, different, distinct, and diverse, and profoundly radical is somehow cheapened by an almost frantic race towards sameness, to be the perfect, and more importantly acknowledged, nuclear family.
Regardless of that, this is my choice and I believe that everyone should have the right to choose whether they want to get married or not. But let’s, for a moment consider what we, as the gay community, have given up on in our focus on marriage.
When was the last time anyone’s heard of the all but defunct legislation called ENDA, or the Employment Non-Discrimination Act?
This bill, which hasn’t had much movement in recent years due to the massive political, advertising, and ground campaign focused around same sex marriage, would address laws in the 38 states in which gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered individuals can be fired, demoted, not promoted, or not hired due to their sexual identity or practices.
What about the nation wide ban on gay blood donations during a time of an unprecedented blood shortages because of a fear that gay blood has a higher propensity for HIV and AIDS?
Lets not also forget that the kinds of acts we attribute to the past, Matthew Shepard and alike, are still very much alive in the murders and suicides we see across the LGBT landscape.
So whether you are registered in Maryland this election cycle or one of the four other states considering marriage equality bills, I encourage you to vote in favor of doing what is right; recognizing that all people are created equal and should be afforded equitable rights.
Religious disagreements are fine but these referendums are about civil rights in a civil context, the rights of a citizenry, not a congregation.
Last century, the subservience of black Americans had a religious justification too, however perverse, but as a nation we recognized that equality in civil liberties are not religious, merely right.
But when you pull the lever, punch the card, or tap a screen on November 6th, I encourage you to remember, the fight does not end in marriage equality, it’s barely even begun.