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Blog Against Homophobia Day

Posted by pocochina on May 17, 2008

Normally, I’m really, really bad about blogswarm days.  I just forget, and they’re always the same day I have to hand something in, and I’m not very good at doing what I’m told.  That said, thanks to Her Majesty, I’ve just heard about Blog Against Homophobia Day, and it’s a Saturday in the summer, so I only have one major project to be working on.

I could write about the hate and ugliness of homophobia.  I could write about how it’s tied inexorably in with hostility towards reproductive rights and women’s equality because someone who is gay and out is flouting conventional gender roles, and refusing our puritanical shame and loathing towards sexual pleasure.  I could write about our long and horrible history of hate crime towards LGBTQ individuals, a history that continues to this day.  I could write about the utter shame and horror of executions of gay individuals, of the American government’s failure to even recognize this problem, and of European countries turning an uncaring eye and refusing asylum.

But this is a joyful week, made bittersweet both by how far we have yet to go, and by those fighters and allies along the way who did not live to see the California Supreme Court take a stand for justice and equality and human rights and we fighters and allies who are here must scream at the top of our lungs that these are true American values.  So I’d rather reflect on victory, right now.

I know there’s a perception that gay marriage is a middle-class issue.  I want to be on the record as saying I appreciate the importance of other queer rights issues – ENDA, hate crimes legislation, pay equality for women (which has twice the impact on lesbian couples) – but that this could not be farther from a distinctly middle-class issue.  Those rights and benefits which come with marriage are most important for couples who are not wealthy. Your partner’s social security means more when neither of you has a 401(k).  Those benefits  and responsibilities that couples get by way of marriage can be poorly imitated, but only by long  hours by a diligent and talented – and therefore expensive – attorney, as well as a probably-expensive move to a state where even those second-class rights are available.

The reason middle-class couples are the ones filing marriage equality suits isn’t that it’s some vanity issue.  It’s that gay rights organizations are strategic, and thank God they are, or we wouldn’t have even made the progress that we’ve made so far.  Two people who cohabitate and can’t afford to have jumped through the hoops granting power of attorney, or who don’t have assets to write into a will, might not be considered as committed to each other as couples who have done those things.  They know, in short, that they need a paper trail to prove their love.  Het privilege lets some observers ignore this aspect of the marriage equality battle, but I don’t think we should.  Yes, it is classist, but that doesn’t mean that the marriage equality movement is classist, it means that gay rights groups are attempting to gain rights for everyone are doing the best they can within a classist court system, which considers expensive legal expressions of commitment to be worth more than private but unpriced interpersonal commitment.  I don’t like it, of course not, but I also will not blame the marriage equality movement for the injustices inherent to the American legal system, because that’s fucking victim-blaming, to expect a marginalized group to fix everyone’s problems before getting any sort of chance to fix their own.  I’m always grateful for intersectional criticism of the progressive movement, I just don’t think it’s on point here.

What I am not saying is that marriage is necessarily for everyone.  I am not saying there is not merit in radical queer theory – this couldn’t be farther from the truth.  I am saying that equality under the law – the choice to get married – ought to be available to gay and lesbian Americans, and that this choice is especially critical for working-class couples.

While I’m here, I want to say, I am terribly glad I took Pizza Diavola’s suggestion to read the stories of the CA plaintiffs.   They have shared stories of better and worse, of sickness and health, of thinking daily of the deaths of themselves or their loved ones; they have told their utterly human stories to the world, and to a courtroom, so that others might have less fear and more joy.  They are heroes.

This is how we fight homophobia.  By celebrating the humanity and courage of the gay rights movement; by taking this moment to take some heart and move forward.

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