Saturday, May 12, 2012

A dialogue on Gay Marriage

I turned off the TV in disgust on Sunday night.  I knew it was going to be a week filled with a subject I can't stand talking about.  But you can't fight a rising tide ... I had an interesting email discussion with some friends (one here, one in India) -- see below -- and found a few interesting things to read.

I made this poster decades ago, but
it just never goes out of style.
-----Original Message-----
From: Preeti
Sent: May 11, 2012 12:46 AM
To: Lisa, Kate
Subject: so what do you two think about this? Kate I expect you will blog about this :)
President Obama Supports Same Sex Marriage
Yesterday, during an interview with ABC News, President Obama said, “I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”
On May 11, 2012, at 11:06 AM, Kate R. wrote:

I'm sure it is a good thing in general.  There's no upside to some people not having equal rights.  The problem is that people keep talking about it as "the last bastion" and even pretty savvy African Americans like Cory Booker talk about how racial inequality is now unacceptable in this country, and no one in the mainstream is talking about the massive racial inequality that exists and persists and is getting worse.  (The Oakland cops just killed another kid in East Oakland the other day.)

From what I heard, it's all about money.  I heard someone say, "Gay money has replaced Wall Street money," meaning that as Wall Street has abandoned Obama, even though he's been great for them, gay fundraising has stepped up to fill the voice with big bucks.  And that is just so depressing.  It's very much like the Jews, not at all like African Americans, who never had that ability.  It's proof that you can get the equality you can pay for.  But as I say, it makes no sense to lament equality.  I can lament that people want to be equal in an unequal society, but they do.
What do you think?

-----Original Message-----
From: Lisa
Sent: May 11, 2012 11:49 AM
Subject: Re: so what do you two think about this? Kate I expect you will blog about this :)

I actually think gay marriage has helped to kill  gay community.. and the more people are being pushed into making a single relationship paramount and primary the less people make  friendship and community important..  or perhaps the opposite that the less community has met people's needs the more they have turned to primary relationships to do so.. personally i feel gay marriage has been a detriment to all lgbt people and is just a symbol of how far we are from creating a vision of  what we want that is separate from the mainstream society.  i would like  to talk more openly about what  our real needs are and what kind of society or  community we want to meet them   and whether marriage or  raising a one on one relationship over other relationships is really going to meet our needs and desires..

On May 11, 2012, at 12:40 PM, Kate R. wrote:

But you can't fetishize gay marriage for that.  It's not that people made a choice to push for marriage and that killed community, it's that as gay people became more accepted -- and acceptable -- in mainstream society, they felt less need for community with one another.  That happens with all marginalized groups in this society.  You see it with the Jews -- I keep bringing that up because I know it intimately -- as we got more social power and experienced less discrimination, people stopped living and socializing in predominantly Jewish communities and started intermarrying in much higher numbers and Jewish communities got weaker.  And sadly, the two main forces against that have been the rise of religious fundamentalism and Zionism, and the third has been white flight to parochial schools.
Gay people are not more pro-marriage or less communitarian than straight people.  It's just that not having access to the nuclear family for a while forced queer people to look for alternatives, but it's always easier to fit into mainstream society than to fight it.  If there's one thing that I think is responsible for the hegemony of marriage and the nuclear family -- in the face of the fact that most people are not living within them -- it's the death of the women's movement.

At May 11, 2012 11:34 PM
Preeti wrote:

I think listening to the news on radio and tv stations here outside the US makes it seem much more larger and historic than it probably is within the US, as this article attests. It is definitely a boost for gay groups  working in very marginalized, homophobic context to get this affirmation from the US govt. I heard some really interesting debates and discussions on BBC radio here in Muscat where I am now (visiting my parents) and to be able to talk about/hear about gay rights being discussed so openly is quite liberating.

May 12, 2012 12:30 AM
Lisa wrote
i appreciate everyones input on this..  seems like we all are really agreeing that marriage is a problem that needs to be re-examined whether we are gay or straight. and   while we may differ on some of the specifics i think what is important is what is our common vision and how we can articulate that and implement that vision. 

one thing i would phrase differently is that I don't see gay marriage as about equal rights.. rather as creating benefits for another small privileged group of people.  statistically those in long term relationships in the queer community are most likely to be well off white people and least likely to be poor african americans.  so it is just creating another privileged class and to me is much more about class privilege.    

while i can't read people minds it does indeed seem like the emphasis on marriage is  about the desire to assimilate whether that be for parental approval or for economic benefits or societal approval.. i don't know if it is  about feeling more assimilated and thus feeling less need for community or a feeling that there is no community that is providing the emotional support people need and turning to marriage to provide it.   maybe it is both and for those who are feeling privileged they feel less need for community.  and for  poor queers, queer foster youth,  etc  i think there is a feeling of  a lack of community and family and they are desperately looking for that.  . either way the emphasis on marriage seems to  ultimately lead to less community  both for queers and straights and generally in my experience seems to  lead to people devaluing their other relationship for a relationship and institution we  know is an illusion.. just as the whole romantic myth of forever after  is a myth  that we are feed from childhood and just  seems to end up leaving people feeling bad about being single or divorced or confused why they haven't found happiness in their marriage.  …


Is It All About Money?

Yasmin Nair
I have no partner and have been against all kinds of marriage, gay or straight, since the age of 8. If I were to die or even begin to do so, most of my friends would not be able to come and take care of me simply because their ultra-progressive workplaces have policies in place for “partner/family leave” but none for friends, no matter how close. I can see R., flying into the U.S from Montreal, confronted by a US customs officer who smirks with one eyebrow raised, “You're here to take care of... a sick friend?” Or K. going to her department for leave and being told, “But you already live with a partner and S. isn't sick. Whom do you need to take care of, again?”
Ralph Richard Banks
The title comes from a young African American boy in Washington, D.C.. When a journalist visited his 6th grade class, one of the other boys said he wanted to learn about being a good father. The journalist volunteered to bring some married couples to talk about child rearing, but the boy said he wasn’t interested in learning about marriage. Then his friend interjected, “Marriage is for white people.”
The title asks not only whether marriage isn’t for black people, but also whether it isn’t for white people. An understanding of the marriage decline as a society-wide development is a central point of my book.
“African Americans are the most unmarried group of people in our nation. Black women are more than three times as likely as white women never to marry. And when black women do marry, they are more likely than any other group of women to marry a man who is less educated or earns less than they do. In fact, more than half of college educated black wives have less educated husbands who are not.
While Banks highlights the implications of the black experience for people of all races, he also explores a puzzle particular to African Americans: Why, amid rising rates of interracial marriage, so few black women wed someone of a different race. Successful black women typically remain unmarried or marry down; they do not marry out.”

Leanne Italie
Marriage Rates Declining in the Developed World
"Men's real wages have fallen and they face a lot of job insecurity, so a woman who would have found a high school graduate a pretty damn good catch in 1960 now has to say to herself, `Would it really be smart of me to marry this guy?' She's choosing to focus on her own earning power."
A separate Pew survey released last year found that while nearly 40 percent of respondents said marriage is becoming obsolete, 61 percent of those who were not married would like to be someday.
"I need to support a future family," said Vince Tornero, a 23-year-old senior at Ohio State University in Columbus. "I want to have kids but I can't have kids if I don't have money."
Pew also found that marriage statistics vary by race, with 55 percent of whites, 48 percent of Hispanics but just 31 percent of blacks married.

MSNBC’s Chuck Todd then shared a story about Biden having been moved after attending a fundraiser at the home of a gay couple with a child.
“Well, is that the first time he’s ever been around a gay couple?” joked Scarborough. “‘Oh, my gosh, they did not eat the child’s head! Maybe this is ok.’”
“This is the story they’ve cooked up to explain the evolution?” he added.
Explained Todd:
They are so sensitive to Biden doing this because, number one, gay money in this election has replaced Wall Street money. It has been the gay community that has put in money in a way to this President that is a very, very important part of the fundraising operation for the President Obama campaign. 


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