Friday, July 1, 2011

Marriage Eh?

Dan Waters is a snarky 22 year old queer biracial wonderment who is part White, Portuguese, and Native American (Wampanoag-Kiowa). He currently lives in Massachusetts, and plans to become a Lawyer. That is, if he can survive Algonquin language classes and polyamorous dating right now! He also identifies as Two Spirit, and prefers male pronouns, but cherishes his female body that he was given graciously by the Creator. He blogs at Identity Exposure.

So while talking with one of my friends over some famous (and real) New England Clam Chowder, they brought up New York passing gay marriage. They then asked my opinion about it.
Honestly, I sort of choked on my spoonful of chowder. After settling, I sort of raised my hands up in a very meek raise the roof.

"Yay?" I said.

My friend was less than convinced and with good reason. I have a hard time mustering up fake feelings, unless I am getting paid or something. The jig was up, and I had to explain myself.

I'm not a downer on marriage. I am however a downer on the constant campaign for gay marriage (thus ignoring more pressing issues like suicide rates, transgender healthcare, etc). Instead, I think people should be going for a marriage reform, or to end marriage as a legal status in anything. Wait, wait, I can explain! So before you jump down my throat, hear me out. Marriage has, and always will be, used as a tool of othering and status symboling. Let me break it down in bullets.

1) Marriage was a right given to those who could afford it. Meaning, folks who could pay for the license fee, the venue, the priest or judge, etc.

2) Marriage was a right given to white able-bodied people (in America). Marriages amongst Native Americans and Black/African-American slaves were not legally recognized, so separation of families and kin were deemed acceptable. Those deemed mentally incompetent were not allowed to marry (and in many cases, still can't today).

3) Marriage can give you citizenship (in a straight relationship), but your relationship/validity will be questioned. IRS, NSA, CIA or whoever, will be on your ass 24/7. It is the cheapest way to obtain citizenship, and this gives precedence to single people entering America, not to families wishing to relocate.

4) Marriage still is discriminating transgender people. Transgender individuals who are in gay relationships, or straight relationships, still have to go through hoops and often end up not married, due to not being able to change the sex on their birth certificate.

5) Marriage provides tax and insurance benefits. This again feeds into the larger capitalist scheme of restricting access to insurance, and favoring some people over others in terms of tax exemptions. You should be able to add/remove anyone to your insurance policy.

6) Marriage will always be a religious thing. I am a firm believer in the separation of church and state. That means, the state has no right to say whom you can get married to, or the number of times, or the amount of people you marry at a given time. Marriage cannot garner legal benefits because it is a religious/spiritual act.

I am not dogging on people who are married now, planning on getting married, or marriage as an ideal. I am just saying that how marriage is currently run, will always disenfranchise individuals, so even though the state of New York has gay marriage, it still disenfranchises people with disabilities who are refused the right to marry, or transgender people, or poor people, or immigrants. I also believe that it is a religious ceremony, and not one that can be legalized if one truly wants separation of church and state. Allowing gay marriage isn't going to magically change all the bad things about marriage and somehow make the pursuit of equality a step closer.

In full disclosure: I do plan on getting married someday. Not in the going to city hall, getting the license sort of way, but my own religious event. If you are a constitutional follower, then you will certainly agree that because we are allowed religious freedom, (and most recently, Native American spiritualities, but that is still being fought against in places) that means any religious ceremony is binding and valid.