Sunday, April 7, 2013

Gay Marriage, or why I hate the equals sign

We need to ask ourselves why same-sex marriage is building support, even among conservative Republicans, at the same time that:
  • Tennessee is about to punish poor kids who don’t do well in school by starving them.  
  • 16-year-old Kimani Gray has become the latest symbol of the non-stop assassination of young people of color by police
  • 41 states have introduced 180 laws to restrict voting rights in the last two years.  A majority of African Americans in Michigan are living under unelected leadership appointed by their governor through emergency powers.
  • William Bratton, who brought “Stop and Frisk” to New York and Los Angeles, is on the march in Oakland.  Bratton says that cities who don’t use stop and frisk are “doomed.”  In New York, over 85% of those stopped and frisked were Black or Latino, and over 90% were not breaking any laws.
  •  At least 41 of the prisoners in indefinite detention in Guantanamo are on hunger strike; some advocates say it’s more than 100.  Ten of them are being force-fed, in violation of international law.  Most of them were cleared for release years ago.  The military is refusing to give press access to the hunger strikers.
  • Obama and Kerry are poised to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, despite the major spill when a pipeline broke in Arkansas last week.

Street art from a few years ago - some things never get stale
Whatever else it is or isn’t, the marriage rights movement is not the “new civil rights movement.”  Civil rights are for everyone.  Marriage is about broadening the class of people eligible for certain privileges, most having to do with who gets your stuff when you die, and how much they get taxed for it.  Every possible benefit of marriage – health care? immigration? could be more effectively established by demanding genuine equality for everyone.

The marriage cases are also not comparable to Loving v. Virginia.  Loving decriminalized relationships between whites and non-whites.  It was more analogous to Hardwick v. Georgia than Hollingsworth v. Perry.

I don’t have anything against people getting married – hey, I’m going to a gay wedding later this month.  But what does it mean to demand equality in a country that is so fundamentally unequal?  Once you have your equality, what are you going to do with it?  Buckle down to abolish the prison state and raise the minimum wage?  Fight for teacher unions and against high-stakes testing?  Don't you see that they're just trying to buy off those of us they think are acceptable, to recruit us into the war against people who aren't? 

The Human Rights Campaign just had to apologize to one of the speakers at the rally on the Supreme Court steps last week.  Just before Jerssay Arredondo went on stage, a staff person told him not to say he was Undocumented, because it would "hurt their image" and "distract from the issue."  Might want to take that equal sign off your facebook profiles.

My friend Elana says:  “Sometimes there's a neon sign: if this is the result of your actions, you better rethink those actions.

Come on, my queer people – start rethinking!

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