It’s a question that I ask on a daily basis. The responses I get range from cries for acceptance, to pleas for benefits, to Hallmark Card nonsense about love and ever after. It’s a question that we do not ask enough and I am starting to understand why we are not asking this question more often. This is a scary question to ask because the answer might mean that we have wasted the monetary, intellectual, and physical resources of the last 20 years in a fruitless effort to gain something that looks like “equality” when what we wanted was liberation. How can such a simple question garner such fear? The answer to how will marriage save us is so vital to how we progress as a community that is must be asked. The answer (sadly) is very simple: Gay Marriage cannot and will not get us what we want.
Its really not Gay Marriage’s fault, it tries to be the tie that binds us together but it falls noticeably short in this regard. The thing about Gay Marriage is that is cannot give us the theoretical freedoms that we want because nothing about our participation in it elicits these freedoms. I mean sure, it will give one couple, one at a time, access to death or hospital or workplace benefits. But does even the supposed freedom this offers to one single couple seem like a marker for progress? For something to be liberatory it must by definition act for the extension of the common good. If our goal is one couple at a time then we must change the rhetoric of our community. Marriage is not the great equalizer; it is merely the doorway for freedoms for a limited few, while leaving a majority of others out in the cold with no freedoms at all.
So now comes the impossible situation many of us face. Every day it seems there is some celebration as yet another local municipality strikes at the theoretical discrimination of marriage. As I was typing this an announcement about Florida scrolled across my screen. We are suppose to cheer with raised hands about a “victory” for our collective freedom and yet I sit here without access to any of these future freedoms because I have the audacity to be single, or Poly, or not interested in state sanctioning of my relationships. And if I have the audacity to complain I am suddenly a hater of love, a person who wants children to be without protections, or worse yet, bad at being Gay. I was in fact TERRIBLE at being Gay, which is why I went to Queer in the first place.
You cannot simply call something “progress” and expect it to be true. You cannot blindly follow the plans of others, no mater how much visibility they have, and expect a clean result. You cannot proclaim connections to earlier movements, declare yourself the next recipient of a legacy, or speak with sweeping generalizations and expect everyone to simply move aside. And yet that is what's happening in the Queer community. Real liberation lies within critical thinking, compassionate outreach, and reconnecting to grassroots networks. It is here that perhaps our fear of marriage’s limitations will dissipate and when we hear “it can’t” we will ask, “Well then what’s next?”