Saturday, October 24, 2009

Marriage Mine Field

Comments on my latest Washington Blade post highlight how fraught marriage - the word, the act and the institution - is to LGBT individuals. For some, marriage has come to symbolize the cause of our marginalization and oppression. It embodies heteronormativity, how being straight is the right and "normal" way, as well as heterosexual hegemony, how everything is dictated by the lives, mores and norms of the straight majority. It also stands for a patriarchal system that vastly favors heterosexual men and disadvantages women and sexual minorities.
MRD: It's funny how much the gay marriage movement people sound like the conservative marriage movement people.

veeblefetzer: This marginalizing of anything other than a hetero nuclear family is ridiculous. Traditional families are multigenerational, with child-rearing responsibilities shared by grandparents, older siblings, and perhaps a gay uncle and a bisexual aunt or two. The nuclear family is a recent invention, and its glorification as the ideal arrangement for raising children is pure mythology.

stephenclark: Interesting topic, but the conclusion was trite and flippant. Are heterosexual norms so superior in every respect that the wholesale adoption of them by gay couples is unquestionably good? Funny, heterosexual marriages hardly seem like the ideals of love and stability that you romanticize them to be. Can't we have equality yet preserve some of our own norms if we think they're superior? I personally find lots of straight relationship norms dysfunctional, starting with the gendered division of labor.
Marriage is loaded. But it can mean what we'd like it to mean. It could simply be a legal arrangement that ensures privileges and protections the straight majority already enjoy. It could signify a relationship based on love, commitment and mutual respect where no one dominates.

And it could also be a choice not made. But a choice that should be available to all.

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