Friday, April 5, 2013

Marriage Equality is Not Victory

Lately, there's been a lot of talk about marriage equality. The legal right of same-gender couples to get married and receive government recognized benefits would be wonderful, and I sincerely hope it happens. But that's not it. That's not victory.

According to many straight people, same-gender couples are just like straight couples, with the single exception of their ability to get married. So obviously, marriage equality is the last step of "the civil rights movement of our time," which is problematic for many reasons.

First of all, gay men, lesbian women, bisexual people, and queer identified people still have to deal with a lot of bullshit that many straight people don't even know about. Bullshit from family members who want us to stay in the closet, bullshit from people on the street who stare if we're holding hands with our partner, bullshit from having to pretend to be straight at work or risk being fired, bullshit from not being able to get hired in the first place, bullshit from public schools who shame same gender couples, bullshit from sitting in church and listening to our preacher talk about our sins, bullshit from strangers who think it's okay to analyze what in our life "made" us queer, bullshit from men who tell us that we just haven't had a "real man" yet, bullshit from men who tell us that we're not "real men," bullshit from people who use our identities as slang for stupid/ugly/wrong, bullshit from doctors who won't understand our needs, bullshit from teachers who have never taught our history, bullshit from our parents who kicked us out to the streets because we won't keep pretending to be straight, bullshit from the guy who serves us coffee but spills it because he won't stop staring at us, bullshit like not being able to feel safe downtown because we've been targeted before for looking different, bullshit from strangers who think we're bad parents just because, bullshit from nurses who won't let us see our partner when they're in the hospital because we're not family, and even more bullshit that I don't feel like typing right now.

Equality is when all of that bullshit disappears and we're just people. Marriage equality is great, but it is not true equality and we will not stop fighting for our true equality and we would love for our straight allies to open their eyes and keep fighting with us. What good will being married to my wife do if we're both unemployed? Come on!

It was interesting to see all the red HRC equal signs as Facebook profile pictures this past week. That support for marriage equality does tell us that mainstream America has come a long way, and that is good news. That being said, there were huge holes in parts of the country where the lack of support for LGBTQ identified people is painstakingly obvious (hello deep south, we get it).

When all the marriage buzz was buzzing, what did we miss though? The fact that we still don't have a non-discrimination law that protects LGBTQ people, and that this bill was first introduced almost twenty years ago. Why don't we have a profile picture for that? Or how about recent studies that show 1 in 4 gay and lesbian teens are homeless? Or the more broad issue of daily discrimination?

Allies, thank you for standing in support of marriage equality, but don't forget that there's still a lot of work left before we are equal.

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