[Image: A rainbow flag partially covering an American flag.]
Welcome! This blog is a new home for my writing and photography, superseding my blogs on LiveJournal and Tumblr, as well as my longer posts on Facebook and Google+. Unlike those sites, this web hosting (at pair Networks) is paid for and controlled by yours truly, and will contain no advertising. (Though I will be exploring a new crowdfunded model to support my photography expenses; I’ll post about that separately.) My primary focus is currently disrupting the kyriarchy, including but not limited to cissexism, heterosexism, racism, and speciesism. So let’s jump right in.
Last Friday, June 26, marked a historic U.S. Supreme Court ruling: Nationwide recognition of same-sex marriage. As I chronicled the fight for marriage equality in California for years, and later (thanks to gender transition) wound up in a same-sex marriage myself, this was big news to me. I wanted to celebrate, but my feelings were tempered by those (correctly) pointing out that same-sex marriage is only one part of the struggle for LGBT equality, particularly for trans people like myself. Some felt that a disproportionate amount of resources were poured into gaining access to an oppressive institution, that allies will now abandon the LGBT community, and that marriage equality primarily benefits privileged cis gay men.
I share the first two concerns, but not the third. I do now agree that too many resources were focused on gaining marriage equality, though I didn’t realize this before my transition. (My spouse and I donated a significant amount of money to HRC back in 2008, when I was still gainfully employed; I now regret supporting this problematic organization.) And I agree that married couples should, ideally, not have benefits over unmarried people, particularly with regard to health care. I sympathize with those who feel that the legal institution of marriage should be abandoned entirely, as personal relationships should be none of the government’s business. (Though as an atheist, I would also not want religious marriage to be the only publicly recognized form of romantic commitment.)
I also recognize that many straight cis people will mistake marriage equality for full equality, much as many white people decided that electing a black president meant that racism is no longer an issue in this country. Such people are not actually allies, as far as I’m concerned, even if they might grant themselves that title.
We cannot do much about money and resources already spent. But as a queer black nonbinary trans person, I am highly motivated to make sure the myriad other issues facing LGBT people – including but not limited to violence, homelessness, employment discrimination, and inadequate healthcare – are not ignored, going forward. Indeed, that is a large part of the purpose of this new blog.
When it comes to the claim that marriage equality primarily benefits cis gay men (and some have qualified that even further to white cis gay men), however, I cannot agree. I refer to “marriage equality” rather than “gay marriage” or even “same-sex marriage” for good reason. This decision means that people in the United States can get married independent of gender or sexual orientation. Lesbians, bisexuals, pansexuals, asexuals (yes, some asexuals have romantic partners), queer, and transgender people (regardless of legal sex) all benefit, in addition to cis gay men.
Regardless of race or income level, many couples now have rights that were previously denied to them. Marriage isn’t just about fancy weddings or tax write-offs; legal marital status conveys hundreds of benefits. Yes, many of these benefits should be available to all people regardless of marital status. But it is simply unfair to grant these privileges to some couples and not others, and that particular aspect of discrimination has now been formally addressed in this country.
To my mind, the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling is as significant as Loving v Virginia, which legalized interracial marriage nationwide. My parents were married in 1969 and I was born the following year, a mere three years after the Loving decision. In many states, my parents – a black/white couple – could not have been legally married before that time. They were young college students, and not well-off financially. Many same-sex couples today, including interracial couples, are in a similar situation. These couples may still struggle financially and be oppressed in countless other ways, but at least now they have the option to marry, anywhere in the country, and not have an existing marriage invalidated simply by crossing state lines.
So I do celebrate marriage equality. And I continue the struggle for true equality for all.