Posts tagged commitment

my thoughts on the whole gay marriage issue

ok. since i essentially get my only advertising from friends’ posts on facebook, i’m a little out of touch with election-mania.  but i’m finally starting to get a taste of just some of the insane prop 8 propaganda that’s out there.

this morning i received an email asking to donate to the no on 8 campaign because the yes on 8 campaign is trying to raise $2 million to pass the proposition because they think that armageddon will actually arrive if 8 gets defeated and gays are [still] allowed to marry (in CA). apparently some people on the right are actually calling the prop 8 campaign more important than the presidential election.  i might be inclined to agree with them, but only because i don’t think the presidential election is all that important.

at any rate, hearing such things (“armageddon”, etc.) inspired me to actually poke around a bit and check out some of the propaganda on both sides of this proposition.  ok i didn’t go too far – mostly just to facebook posts;)  there were plenty there already.

one of the crazy things that caught my eye was this scary yes on prop 8 video using kids to sing about how confused they would become if prop 8 passes:

how does allowing queers to marry suddenly turn these kids’ dad into a woman, and their mom into a man?!

so my opinion on the gay marriage issue has evolved a bit over time.  on marriage in general, i was always opposed from a pretty young age – always saying i would never get married (making my parents think that i would become a nun at one point), that i didn’t need a piece of paper from the state to sanctify any of my relationships.

then in college in oregon, when portland passed what became only a temporary right for gay marriage, i as the leader of the gay-straight alliance at a pretty conservative small-town private liberal arts college, suddenly felt compelled to advocate for marriage rights as a way to promote gay rights and call out homophobia on campus.  i was even a bride in a mock wedding we produced in a fraternity basement, marrying my [straight] best friend.

i admit my politics on marriage issues got thrown for a loop when the whole gay marriage issue hit the front page.

but then moving to the bay area in 2004, within my first two weeks here, i was introduced to gay shame’s end marriage campaign which was probably the most radical thing i had ever seen in my life, and made me quit advocating for gay marriage in any small way (it’s not like i was lobbying or anything).

for awhile i was adamantly opposed to gay marriage (and all marriage).  and it’s another one of those debates i’ve been in with progressives where they tend to find me totally callous and think i’m preventing “progress”.

since then i feel like my thoughts have become a little more flexible on the issue.  unlike some of the radical arguments against gay marriage, i don’t fully buy into the assimilationist argument – ie all queers should fundamentally be non-conformist and stand against all that heterosexual monogamy stands for.

i do absolutely oppose the origins of property co-optation that marriage is founded on, and believe that marriage is inherently discriminatory – why should only monogamous “couples” have the kind of legal rights that marriage allows?  what about non-monagamous relationships and people who choose to remain single?

i believe that legal rights like tax breaks and property rights for married couples are essentially capitalist financial incentives made to encourage individuals to couple, marry, and produce children – more workers to exploit.

and it’s this issue of money around the marriage issue – both the discriminatory financial incentives, and the gross consumerism of the wedding industry – that makes me remain opposed to all marriage.  lisa jervis captured some of my thoughts on the sickening consumer market for gay weddings in her “assorted thoughts on pride weddings and capitalism” article.  it’s been ridiculous to see just how much money there is in the wedding industry, and now that the market for wedding clientele is growing to include gay and lesbian couples, it’s raking in even more profit.

in spite of all this, i do acknowledge the private/public ritual aspect of commitment that some people choose to make through marriage.  i don’t deny non-monogamous relationship’s validity, but i do recognize that for many people, some form of a formal commitment can be a very beautiful step in their relationship and in their lives as an individual.  i have absolutely nothing against this.  and i admittedly tend to enjoy weddings.

so let me make myself clear:  even though i’ve been using the word “oppose” throughout this post, i do NOT wish to deny anyone the right to marry if they so choose.  i will vote NO ON PROP 8, to be sure.  but i do think that the issue of fighting for gay marriage has taken up tremendous amounts of resources in our political climate, when there are so many other injustices with much more dire consequences (war, environmental racism, economic exploitation, to name a few) that should be getting much more attention.

so, i’m not going to spend my money or time on fighting for gay marriage, but i will certainly do nothing to deny anyone equal rights under the law.  and i will happily continue to attend friends’ and family’s weddings when given the opportunity, and support the people in my life to live happy and healthy relationships, no matter what state of “commitment” or state-recognition.  but ultimately, i will continue to work towards a just and sustainable community where state-sanctioned marriage is irrelevant.

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on learning to bend

i am a rigid person.  i hold fast to my opinions, and am difficult to persuade otherwise.  my tenacity is one of my strongest assets, but there is a certain brusqueness that seems to be coupled with my unyielding nature.  it’s a package deal (a hereditary gift).  it’s not that i don’t care – i am a deeply compassionate person – but a certain warmth in communication gets sacrificed in my pursuit of simply getting shit done. it’s one of those things i can recognize i’m doing, but i can’t seem to change the behavior.  i grew up in the midwest and consciously worked to drop my midwestern accent upon moving to the northwest for college.  but my true roots betrayed me every time i spoke on the phone with family or friends from back home.  i could immediately detect the long vowels of my hometown slipping back into my speech, but i was powerless to stop them.  now that i’ve long since lost my ability to employ my old midwestern accent even if i try, i can see the sadness in my active eradication of something that was central to my upbringing, simply out of a misguided embarrassment.

whereas in the case of erasing my accent i was trying to rid myself of evidence of my small-town roots – an innocuous though regrettable endeavor – my brusque behavior is one that i believe is actually impairing my happiness, and the happiness of those around me.  it’s like i bring one of those little storm clouds around with me everywhere i go and end up sharing a bit of it with everyone around me, against their will.  some call me pessimistic, negative, whatever it is – but the less-than-positive energy i exude is just something i can’t accept anymore.  i’m trying to learn to bend and yield – to maintain the positive aspects of my realistic and practical nature, but learn to communicate more warmly, in a manner congruent with my values.

i suppose this blog is sort of a public declaration of this commitment, in an attempt to hold myself accountable.  my hope is that focusing my energy in a more creative way, occupying myself with things that make me happy, rather than dwelling on the things that stress me out, will start to simply increase my level of positivity.  therefore, my intentions for this blog are to chronicle any projects i undertake, give me incentive to create more, and share my endeavors with friends and family.  there is no question that i will also post just random links and things that i’m thinking about or cool things people around me are doing or things in this world that simply outrage me.  i can do whatever i want!  but anyway – those are my overarching intentions.  please feel free to comment!

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