Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Rules, choices, and marriage equality.

Susie Bright has some lovely thoughts here on California's gay marriages. Bitch, Ph.D. and Feministe also weigh in, with pictures. And Jack at Feministe notes that even with marriage equality, certain things are shoved in the closet.

Me, I'm more excited about other people's marriages than my own, which at this point I certainly don't have plans for. I almost got married once upon a time, but it was because the person I loved wanted to, not because I did.

A friend asked me yesterday if I was even interested in the life-partner thing because I don't want kids. As if that really is the only reason to get married/be with someone long-term. As we should've all learned from the not-even-close-to-over fight for marriage equality, that is hardly the only reason.

In a comment at my blog, Dw3t-Hthr noted that:

My religion thinks that the appropriate form of marriage is to sort out the contract status (with a lawyer if necessary). Marriage is not intrinsically a religious thing; the fact that Christianity has hegemonial status means that there’s a cultural assumption that it’s religious, but … t’ain’t so.

What marriage is, intrinsically, is a social contract recognised by the community.

That’s why people are much happier to let same-sex couples have “civil unions” than marriage access — there’s no unspoken social contract that the community has to recognise a “civil union”.

Of course. And those legal rights have to do with much more than raising kids. I know plenty of people raising kids in all sorts of situations, some married, some not, and each of them has their own rules for how that works out.

That's why I was saddened to read Jack's post about the way "mainstream" lesbian and gay relationships are being encouraged in this latest round of weddings in California. Because while marriage equality has become the public face of the gay rights movement the way pro-choice activism is the public face of feminism for many, there's a whole world of issues out there that get ignored.

And do you truly have equal rights if you can't wear what you damn well want to your wedding?

I've been writing about personal thoughts, sex and sexuality at my blog for a little while. And I've felt guilty that I've let larger issues lapse a bit. But the truth is that when we fight for social justice we do fight for everyone's right not only to live but to live well and fully. And your living well and fully doesn't just include having legal rights to your partner's things and the ability to call them your spouse. It includes being able to celebrate your love however the hell you choose.

And Jack and Susie are right that quite often that doesn't come in easy to define packages. It doesn't always fit the rules of what 'marriage' equals. And opening up marriage to 'acceptably' queer folk doesn't help a lot of others.

As I mentioned before, my friend asked if I was interested in a life partner type thing because I don't want a traditional family. But I would love someone crazy enough to run off to strange places with me, to hide out from the world with when it all gets too much, to tell me I'm beautiful and read over what I'm writing, and who can leave me alone when I need being left alone. I don't know if I will ever find that, or if what I do find will fit my rules.

There are no rules when it comes to love and relationships. That's probably where my disillusionment with marriage comes from--I see people, including my ex, who think that if they can just follow these rules everything will be OK. Doesn't work out, of course. There will always be wrenches in your plans.

It's how I see people who react with horror to the idea of gay marriage, as well. They think that suddenly their rules are broken and they have to be aware of other possibilities out there for everyone. That the rules really don't mean anything at all.

So while we celebrate for those couples finally able to have the marriage they want after all these years, let's not forget the others whose desires aren't so mainstreamable.

I take love wherever I can find it, rules be damned.