I am so fucking tired of shit like this:
[Cartoon of gay and straight couple doing normal things like cuddling and shit, with caption “Gay Marriage: Why The FUCK Is It Illegal?” Commentary on side: “Let’s queer this shit up. If equality = assimilation count me OUT. I am NOT normal. And I am fucking proud. Rad queer pride. Gay marriage: Why the FUCK is it the priority?”]
[Protest sign that says “Sleeping on the streets or walking down the aisle? It’s time to start prioritizing LGBT youth.”]
Obviously, I’m not saying that LGBT youth homelessness isn’t a serious issue; it is. So are employment discrimination against LGBT people, violence against LGBT people, access to trans health care, and HIV/AIDS. But there is this bizarre tendency among some people to believe that marriage only matters to rich cis gay men who want to have a giant floofy wedding and be just like everybody else. That being pro-equal-marriage is a “privileged” position and people who are really aware of social justice issues don’t care about it.
Noooooope. Let us review some of the advantages (for Americans; non-Americans will have different advantages) of marriage!
- If your same-gender spouse dies, you can’t get Social Security survivor benefits; if you are not the biological or adoptive parent of your child and the biological parent dies, you don’t get Social Security survivor benefits to take care of the kids. This disproportionately affects poor people, since rich people are less likely to need Social Security benefits to make ends meet.
- The government gives tax breaks to couples who are raising children. If your child isn’t your biological kid or adopted by you (and adoption by an LGBT person can be hell in a lot of states), you don’t get those tax breaks, which means you have less money to take care of your kid. Again, affects the working poor a lot more than it affects the rich.
- Employers are not required to offer family leave to people so they can take care of a sick, injured, or disabled domestic partner or family member of a domestic partner. This disproportionately affects disabled people, since– hey– turns out we need more caretaking than abled people do!
- Spouses of people in the US can immigrate to the US. Your same-gender lover? Doesn’t count as a spouse! Like a lot of immigration issues, this disproportionately affects the poor (who can’t afford lawyers to work through the immigration bureaucracy) and people of color.
- Employers who offer health care for domestic partners get taxed more than those who just offer it for spouses, which makes them less likely to offer health care to domestic partners. They’re also not required to offer former employees continued coverage for domestic partners the way they are for spouses. While you’re pretty privileged if you have employer health care, this still hurts the middle class more than rich people. Not to mention how necessary health care access is for disabled people!
- Turns out you can get a lot of the same rights as a married couple if you hire a lawyer to draw up the contracts. Guess who can’t afford a lawyer? Poor people!
I realize that social justicey people don’t like talking about disability and poverty, because poverty and disability aren’t cool and sexy issues that you get all kinds of cool points for talking about. But they matter. It matters when you run the risk of never seeing your life partner again because neither of you can immigrate and you can’t afford a plane ticket. It matters when you can’t get leave to take care of your partner who’s dying of cancer or just out of the mental hospital. It matters when your partner dies and while mourning them you have to find some way to make ends meet without the Social Security checks you’d been relying on.
It also helps that a lot of the people criticizing “assimilationism” are young. A lot of the benefits of marriage are things like Social Security and parenting and family leave, things that young people usually have no lived experience with. It’s easy to think that marriage is just about “being the same as the breeders” when you’ve never experienced any of the ways it isn’t.
Furthermore, if you talk about the end of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell as a concern of super-privileged queers, and don’t talk about how the military is one of the few options for poor, rural people to make a middle-class income, I will fart the word “intersectionality” in your face.
P. S. First dude! As a polyamorous nonbinary queer sex worker who has a lot of Words to say about the way our culture constructs relationships, very few of them kind, I am probably as “anti-assimilationist” as you. But you know what? I want to get married, I want to help raise children, and even if I didn’t I stand in solidarity with those who do because there is no fucking wrong way to be queer. I refuse to limit other people’s choices so you can feel super-special and revolutionary because of whom you want to bang.