Same-sex marriage. You normally only hear 2 sides to this debate. Either you’re for it because you think everyone should have the right to marry the one they love or you’re against it for religious or bigoted reasons.
It wasn’t until I was in college and took a queer history class with a famous gay historian that I learned of another reason people were against same-sex marriage. Everyone in the class had wrongly assumed this great activist gay man who was in the White Night Riots and protested with ACT UP was for same-sex marriage. He was not.
He wasn’t against the idea of people of the same sex getting married, although he did feel to a certain extent that it violated the queer culture that rejected society’s norms; he was against the fight for marriage. As he pointed out, there were many more important fights out there. Marriage was just going along with the status-quo.
Marriage, the pairing off of two people in a monogamous relationship under legal sanctions, was what straight people did. Instead we should be fighting for radical change. We should be fighting for the rights of all types of relationships to be accepted in whatever forms they took – conjugal or not. We should be fighting for family rights, universal healthcare, and non-discrimination. We should be fighting the status-quo, not fighting for it. He pointed out that all the countries that had legalized same-sex marriage already had universal healthcare and that there weren’t really any other countries that gave so many rights to married couples. In these countries, marriage was just a certificate. It was just a recognition by the government.
He opened my mind that day. He opened the minds of many of the students.
But I can’t help but be selfish. I’ve been with my wife for 4.5 years. And, 1.5 years ago we got married. Our marriage is not legal. I don’t have a job that affords me health insurance and she has to pay taxes on the money that is used to provide my health insurance. Legally married couples don’t have that burden. Their health insurance is tax free. Whenever I fill out a form that asks me if I’m single or married I have to think about where this form is going and how it will affect me. I consider myself to be married, but will the form I’m filling out end up invalid because I “lied” on it?
Had I ended up with a man I probably would’ve done a quick wedding at city hall or maybe even flown to Vegas. It wouldn’t have been a big deal. I’m not big on spending that kind of money for a one day event. Because I married a woman we had to make a show of it for our friends and relatives. And yet, I still was told by my father that no one would consider my marriage real even if they did witness the ceremony. I of course responded by asking him if he made a habit of asking the newlyweds for their marriage licenses to make sure that the marriage was actually really real.
I’m selfish because I want my relationship to be recognized. I’m selfish because I’m tired of always having to explain my relationship to everyone I meet. I want same-sex marriage, but I realize that there are more important battles to be fought.
For more information I highly suggest checking out BeyondMarriage.org.
MSP is taking a closer look at sex and politics this month.
Picture: My wife and I on our wedding day.