Wednesday, 4 November 2009

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

So once again the masses have voted. Once again we’ve been made to feel like second-class citizens.

I don’t even know what to say at this point.

On the upside, early reports indicate we’ve ‘won’ in Washington. The good people of Washington have voted to uphold domestic partnership laws, meaning that gay folks now have everything but the word ‘marriage.’ Um, yay?

I’ve already blogged about the semantic bullshit these sorts of laws are based on, and while I should be happy that gay folks are making any sort of strides towards equality, the fact is I’m pissed off.

Why should my right to marry be voted on by someone who has never even met a gay person and believes every scare-mongering horror story the religious right comes out with?

“It’s about protecting traditional marriage!” Which tradition exactly? The tradition of treating your wife like property? The tradition of not being allowed to divorce? The tradition of black people not being able to marry white people?

“If gay people get married, pretty soon a man will be able to marry his dog!” Well no actually he won’t. Ignoring the fact that I’m pretty sure you just compared a queer relationship to bestiality, and that slippery slope arguments are hyperbolic and often ludicrous, the main issue here is one of consent; both parties are able to consent to a queer relationship/marriage whereas the dog can’t. Plus bestiality is illegal in the majority of the US; ‘sodomy laws’ were struck down as unconstitutional by Lawrence v Texas in 2003.

“If gay people get married, it’ll affect my marriage!” How? I’m genuinely curious. Does your neighbour getting married affect your marriage? Did black people getting married affect your marriage?

“The purpose of a marriage is to provide a stable unit to have and raise children!” And yet there are many single parent families, step-families, and gay families that all have children. Oftentimes the person advocating this view will then go on to clarify that they mean have children ‘naturally’ or that are biologically related to both parents. So infertile heterosexual couples who adopt shouldn’t be allowed to get married then?

And finally, my favourite argument: “Gay people getting married undermines the sanctity of marriage!” Really? The near 50% divorce rate didn’t do that already? A rate which rises with every subsequent marriage, I might add. Do I really have to mention Britney Spears’ 55 hour just-for-fun marriage at this point?

I don’t want to put my life to the popular vote. Governments are supposed to protect their weakest citizens, not incite a hostile majority to vote them down time and time again. In the space of a week LGBT Americans have seen The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Hate-Crimes Prevention Act pass - a law that finally offers legal protections for victims of hate crimes and their families - and then today another vote repealing the laws granting gay marriage rights in Maine.

For every step forward, we take two towards the back of the bus. We’ll keep fighting, but this war won’t be won in referendums or propositions. It’ll be won through legal battles and court decisions, like African-American civil rights were. While we wait for that one Supreme Court decision that will turn the tide in our favour we have to keep coming forward so the steps back don’t seem as far back as before.

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