[Headfirst Slide Into Cooperstown On A Bad Bet (Does Your Husband Know?) – Fall Out Boy]
So here’s an unpopular opinion that I only recently came to start mulling over: why bother fighting for gay marriage?
Most of my arguments here will be based on reading of Michael Warner’s The Trouble With Normal (The Free Press, 1999), especially Chapter 3: ‘Beyond Gay Marriage’. Yes, it came as a result of my paper for Sex and the Screen, and I might be reiterating many of my arguments from the paper, but at least here I’m not restricted from rambling.
To very much summarize Warner’s points, the crux of the argument is that marriage itself is an exclusive and discriminatory institution – that it exists purely because it needs something to be compared against. By having a “married” status, there is automatically a “not married” status, because otherwise what separates a married couple from an unmarried? So, right now there is much campaigning for equal rights, such as the right to marry for gays, but Warner points out that if these campaigns were ever met, another group of “unmarried” would appear to contrast the new “gay and married”.
And then we’d go through it all over again. Equal rights for the “new gay”! Maybe they’re sexual dissidents; standing outside of whatever the new sexual norm is – maybe they like tying each other up. And why does that make them illegible for marriage? They can tie each other up in the privacy of their own home, they’re consenting, right? It’s not like they’re tying you up or teaching your kids how to tie each other up. Every year they’ll have a pride march where all these people who are tied up roll down the street, and they’ll pass by the front lawn of this lovely and upstanding lesbian couple, who would subtly try to cover their sperm-donor kid’s eyes because they’re secretly ashamed of what society has become these days. Ugh, can you believe that my child’s teacher was caught with bondage equipment in the trunk of his car? Parked in the very carpark that Jimmy walks through! The nerve!
So right now we’re all fighting for equality – to be equal, or the same, as all these lucky heterosexual people. We’re trying so freaking hard to clamber onto that same step so that we can see the same view and have the same tax breaks, but boy is that step small; boy is that step a fragile and, well, intangible ideal. The very institution of that little step will be destroyed if we let too many people step on it, so we can’t possibly let everyone step on it – someone has to be left on a lower landing so that we can look down at them and say, hey, you should probably try to reach where we are because up here it’s so much better.
Is it really better up there? You look down at your feet and realize that you’re not actually standing on a step, you’re standing on the expense of someone else.
Wow, you’re wearing a ring on your left ring-finger, when did you get married?
Oh, no, I just like wearing a ring on this finger.
Hmm, maybe you should change fingers, after all, we don’t want someone to think you’ve achieved a right when really you haven’t.
But I just like wearing this ring on this finger, my girlfriend gave it to me and I like it.
Oh, so you’re gay? You really shouldn’t wear the ring there, then, lest someone mistakes you for being straight and married. Only they get to wear the ring like that, you know.
So what is my ultimate point? That gays should stop wanting to get married and get equal rights? Kind of, but not really. Call me crazy, and I’m sure I won’t be able to stand my ground should floods of critical comments pour in, but I feel like the whole idea of marriage should just be demolished with a jackhammer and chalked up as a really bad phase that humanity went through. Lots of people say that the reason they choose to get married is because they love each other – and that’s perfectly fine and romantic, but do you really need a piece of paper to remind you that it’s true? You love each other so love each other together, ceremony or not. Oh, right, but you need it to be official and permanent, because if it’s not, the law doesn’t see you as one entity. That’s why I say scrap the whole marriage thing – if two people actually love each other enough to not want anyone else, they should just start loving each other together whenever they feel like it, and banks and courts and schools and hospitals should just say “oh, cool, good for you”.
Oh my, look how I’ve simplified this argument. But where is the religion in all this mix? Marriage is an institution based on the fundamental beliefs of…that’s great, I’m slightly envious that you can have so much faith in something you cannot perceive. If you believe so firmly that a ceremony is the way to officiate your love for each other, then by all means get a bunch of your family and friends together, dress up, say a few words, and have a mad party afterwards where everyone makes speeches. But let’s not make that ceremony the necessity for two people to be recognized as a legitimate couple, okay?
I think I’ve been sufficiently sarcastic and condescending. I’ll stop now.