Why I Could Give A Rat's Ass About Gay Marriage
Thursday, August 23, 2007
It's true. I really don't care whether the "State" or the "States" give me the "right" to join my soul with the soul of my beloved . . . . because I don't think that this power rests with them, anyway.
See, that's the whole problem with the concept of "marriage" as a legal institution, as far as I'm concerned -- and why the arguments, both for (and against) gay marriage, need to just be shot out of the sky with one big, enormous gattling gun.
If you ask this question of every citizen in the USA: "What is marriage?", you'll get a as many different answers. If you ask further, "What is marriage for?" . . . . well, don't say I didn't warn you about the dangers of cognitive dissonance and information overload.
I honestly DO NOT CARE whether I have the right to "marry" my life partner.
I do care whether I have the right to:
- Transfer money to her bank account without paying gift tax
- Visit her in the hospital and/or emergency room without having to pay a lawyer to draw up papers to this effect
- Take out joint insurance with her without paying extra premiums
- Have her covered by my health insurance and disability benefits
- Own common property and run a joint business with her without having to pay the State an annual fee to form a Limited Liability Partnership
- Take advantage of any tax breaks available for those who share income as committed partners
- Have her inheritance rights to our joint property be automatic and unquestioned
- Rent or buy a house with her without being discriminated against
- Adopt children with her, if I wanted to
- And on, and on, and on
a) Get the fuck out! of the marriage business altogether and require everyone who wants to make the legal agreements required to allow another human (yes -- everyone -- even blood relations) to visit them in the hospital, own common property, etc., go through the same legal steps that I have had to go through to secure my own and my partner's rights (hire a lawyer, make out a power of attorney, a will, create a legal business partnership, etc.)
b) Grant the rights and responsibilities currently protected under the state-legislated marriage laws to any adult citizen who wants to get legally "married", and who agrees to adhere to the legal responsibilities that are attendant to marriage.
These days, it really cracks me up any time I read the "special rights" crap that homophobes spew. When the whole "special rights" thing was first invented in the 80s, I used to get all inflamed and upset. I would say "No! I don't want special rights! I want equal rights!" -- in other words, I totally fell for their manipulative, crappy, hateful political tripe -- I honored this absolutely absurd rhetoric by giving it a response.
These days, I just laugh -- because the people who are all cranked up about how gays will destroy marriage if they are allowed "special rights" don't realize that every heterosexual couple who is married is already receiving more "special rights" than I will probably see in my lifetime as a queer.
In my state, married people automatically hold all property in common -- no need to hire an attorney ($120/hour+) and/or pay more than $100/year to form a legal partnership. They receive their partner's pension and social security benefits if their spouse dies, automatically. They have the right to make medical decisions for their spouse, and they are automatic inheritors of one another's assets, whether or not a legal Will exists.
I consider these rights "special" because they are entirely based on a choice -- the choice to marry -- a choice that is denied to at least 10% of the population of my state who might want to marry someone of the same gender.
Marriage isn't something you're born with. It isn't dependent upon your race, creed, or nationality. The right to marry the person of your choice (and therefore partake of the special rights afforded to married people) is currently available to every citizen in only two of the 50 states in our nation (and is being hotly contested in both of these states).
If we ever needed an example of a completely arbitrary, unreasoning, and capricious legal intervention in the private lives of citizens, I think it would be marriage law. By providing special status and rights to married people, government mixes up what I think is essentially a metaphysical state (concerning the blending of two individual human lives/souls/hearts/whatever you're comfortable with) with a legal state (concerning the disposition and status of real property, contact rights, etc.).
One of the most puke-some phrases that I've heard recently (and all too often, recently) is this: "Well, I believe that marriage has traditionally been between a man and a woman".
Yes, and slavery has traditionally been between a dominant-culture master and a cultural minority as slave, (which speaks to some aspects of the "tradition" of marriage between a man and a woman that I'm not going to go into in great detail in this post . . . . unless I do).
If you've ever done any research on the history of marriage in Western Culture, you're probably familiar with the fact that, when we talk about the "tradition" of marriage, what we're really talking about is "Teh Property". Essentially, the legal concepts of marriage began in a non-civil agreements whereby a man purchased a woman from her father, and the recording of such agreements were really only important to establish "legitimacy" of offspring and rights of inheritance.
You might say "Yeah, but that's ancient history!"
Until 1848, married women in the US had no right to own property -- they were, essentially, property themselves. Think about that for a minute -- that's only 150 years ago (a little more than 6 generations). Until 1978, it was legal for a man to rape his wife in every state of the Union, and in Ohio, it's still legal to drug your spouse and have sex with them, unless your spouse lives separately from you.
You may ask why I'm bringing rape into this post, but what I want you to look at here is the concept of "wife as property", which, to my mind, has nothing whatsoever to do with the blessed state of joining in sanctified partnership with the object of your affections, or assuring the vitality of the "family", and everything to do with concerns about property.
Which is one of the reasons that I don't give a rat's ass . . . . . .
I want two things:
- I want to live with my partner in a thriving, sustainable, growing intimate relationship (which, I believe, no state license, or religious sanction can assure to me).
- I want to have all the options and rights that hetero citizens have in terms of how I choose to share my finances, my property, decisions about my health-care, retirement fund, life-planning, and family choices.
So, in that sense, yes, same-sex unions could seriously fuck up the foundations of "traditional" marriage, where Adam gets to own Eve, and all her offspring, and all the other fruits of her labor, forever and ever, amen.
Hmmm. Now fucking up that paradigm -- that sounds interesting. Maybe I DO give a rat's ass about this, after all.
Posted byPortlyDyke at 9:30 PM