I proposed marriage to a girl not long ago. In fact, I did more than propose; I begged for marriage. I was naked and full of cocktails, and, in retrospect, I think in that moment I finally came to an understanding of and full embodiment of the current and troubled state of the blessed union. I should really be more selective with my words in those vulnerable moments. Any state of being that includes the word “lock” in it is definitely not for me.
Now that I live in California again, my own personal right to engage in the ancient institution with someone of my same birth sex is on the line for continued legalization and acknowledgment by the state and (some, not all) church. I know that many gays and queers think legally binding and historically religious and ritualistic marriage is a beautiful thing and want it now. And that’s interesting.
A coworker of mine invited me the other day to volunteer phone bank for “No on Prop 8” and I was momentarily excited about the opportunity. After all, equality is equality, regardless of personal preference. I personally never want to actually get married; I know it’s not for me (although I think Gloria Steinem might have once used that same “never”), but those who want it should have it. Right? And I should do what I can to help them. Right? I pictured myself sitting in a room with a bunch of other people on phones asking strangers for their hard-earned dollars to support us in the battle of equality for all. Then in the next moment I saw myself again begging people in San Francisco’s Mission District to please, please, please help bring a Wal-Mart to the corner of 18th and Valencia because, well, they have several in San Jose, so we should too. I didn’t end up doing any phone banking.
Marriage is as antiquated as cars and trucks are. Just because we haven’t thought of anything better doesn’t mean we should pump all of our gay dollars into them. Or does it? Should we take a day trip and go drive on the freeways in L.A. because some of the wealthiest, most entitled people in the world do it, so it must be the smartest, best way to get to be treated as their equals? Too loose of a metaphor? I think not. Marriage, as a statistic (cellular level of institution) in America, doesn’t actually work. In the introduction to the 2nd edition of an essay collection called That’s Revolting, Queer Strategies for Resisting Assimilation, editor, essayist, and Gay Shamer Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore writes,
“Willful participation in U.S. imperialism is crucial to the larger goal of assimilation, as the holy trinity of marriage, military service and adoption has become the central preoccupation of a gay movement centered more on obtaining straight privilege than challenging power.”
In this so-called “Time of Change,” is shoring up the institution of marriage with gays really a part of the solution? Brad Pitt gave $100,000 to the cause so that we can be more like him and Ang. That’s sweet. Really, it is. Have you donated your dollars or hours to the cause where you live? Would you? Why?