So What About the Gay People Who Don’t Want to Marry? | VALID | #TWIBnation

So What About the Gay People Who Don’t Want to Marry?

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The marriage equality movement has changed the face of “gay culture”, and not entirely for the better. “Gay life” might have been derided as tawdry and dangerous by onlookers for decades, but it was also long on fun and short on rules for people who actually participated. Now, when many straight people hear “gay”, they imagine the elderly, sweet-looking Edie Windsor describing her victory over DOMA, or politically aware middle-aged folks in street clothes making it legal with their partners of twenty years at city hall. Nobody (LGBTQ individuals) thought it was okay that we were shut out as a group from the protections and respect of marriage, but some gay people questioned the value of creating an assimilation-oriented public image. What about gay people who don’t want to get married? Are they and their relationships worthy of respect, or will they soon, like their straight friends, discover that only one specific legal designation makes them “really together”?

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Rad-Femme Lawyer

Rad-Femme Lawyer is a practicing litigator living in Chicago, and a contributor of legal information and opinions to #TWiBNation, Her professional concentrations are commercial and securities litigation, and she also does pro bono work in special education access and employment discrimination.

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  1. Randle Aubrey September 23, 2013 at 5:36 pm

    Great post, Ms. Lawyer. I’ve always had mixed feelings about the gay marriage issue, and the strive for legitimacy via assimilation, but more so from the privilege standpoint than anywhere else. It’s always struck me as a bourgeois, white privilege issue, low-hanging fruit, easy to package for mass consumption and acceptance. Consider the following from a post I wrote back in March for TWiB!:

    “There’s no denying that marriage equality is a fundamentally important issue. The right to have your love recognized by the state (and more importantly, the right to receive the legal advantages that love entails when registered with said state) is something that should not be denied to anyone. And every movement for equality needs its rallying point, something simple, powerful and as universally appealing as possible. For the LGBT community, it’s marriage equality: the Right To Love, and be loved. But for those LGBT peoples across the nation who barely have the Right To Live, let alone the ability or the will to marry, the Right To Love is a joke. Drug abuse, homelessness, and suicide plague the LGBT community, particularly among the youth. The marriage equality debate has sucked up all the oxygen from these issues; they don’t offer the same ‘poetic justice’ appeal that the Right To Love does, so they got left on the cutting room floor.”

    As always, poverty isn’t sexy, especially in macrocosm. But everyone can get behind a tragic love story. Meanwhile, LGBT people for whom marriage is a foregone conclusion are dying every day either at their own hand, or from the callousness of human nature as it turns a blind eye to real suffering.

    Also, at the same time that DOMA got struck down, workplace discrimination protections were drastically weakened, putting an even greater burden of proof on the plaintiff to demonstrate the discrimination. So, yay…gay people can get married, but still have to stay in the closet if you don’t want to get harassed out of your workplace. In the end, which one’s more important? Or is that a false choice, even? #pickyourbattles

    With all this, DOMA feels like a hollow victory to me even now, especially since so many of the intersecting allies around gay rights seem to have given themselves congratulatory pats on the back for their Samaritanism in advancing marriage equality, and then gone home to humblebrag about their contributions to the struggle.

    But hell, a victory is a victory, and if there’s one thing liberals suck at, it’s celebrating when we win, lest we appear to be sore winners. So fuck it: Nanny nanny boo boo, conserva-jerks. If cats and dogs start shacking up as a result of the DOMA decision, I have not a single fuck to give about what you think.

  2. ElkaJ September 25, 2013 at 6:14 pm

    RadFemme, EXCELLENT post, as always! Randle, great reply!

    I too have mixed feelings about the whole marriage equality battle. On the one hand, as an ally, I want to follow the lead of the community I advocate for. In this case, the current tides are flowing firmly in the direction of marriage equality (rather than where they should be as far as I’m concerned: toward getting ENDA passed!),so I follow that tide and do what I can to support LGBTQ folks in their movement to gain the right to marry whomever the hell they want to, just as I supported them in their fight to reverse DADT, even though I could NOT understand why anybody would be fighting so hard to be a part of the military industrial complex/killing machine.

    But as a straight woman with the straight-privilege to marry whomever I want, join Uncle Sam’s army if I want to, etc., it’s easy for me to sit back and be critical. I often have to remind myself that for me this needs to be a fight about civil and human rights and access to society’s institutions for ALL Americans, whether I personally agree with those institutions or not.

    Ultimately, I completely agree with you both that marriage equality is a very white, very privileged issue that only folks with the desire to conform to societal standards (acceptance through assimilation) are interested in.

    So…yeah…marriage equality. A tough one. By the way, if you haven’t already, check out the position statement released by “Beyond Marriage” at

    Fort Wayne

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