A(nother) Modest Proposal
While many LGBT advocates assuaged North Carolina’s “Um, no” response to their “We’re just like you–except gay” claim by calling Obama’s tepid #formemyselfpersonally support of same-sex marriage “brave,” as if they had never seen Pretty in Pink, I chose to keep my eye on Carolina. (Seriously, if you think the POTUS’ interview wasn’t some bad boyfriend, er partner, game, you should date more. Or watch the first 20 minutes of a Tyler Perry movie. Or listen to Drake. Take your pick.) Not distracted by Obama’s latest Al Green-esque antics, I learned about the potential (unintended) consequences Amendment One’s passage has for straight couples who aren’t legally married, such as loss of employee benefits and other protections including those that help those who have experienced intimate partner violence. I imagine that perhaps this was simply the result of North Carolina’s zealousness. Instead of being upset about their crunkness, however, I think the LGBT contingent should capitalize upon it.
Anyone who has played pick-up basketball has encountered the bratty, non-balling dude who will leave the court and take his ball with him if things aren’t going his way. I suggest that LGBT advocates take a lesson from that guy, and adopt a new campaign slogan: If we can’t get married, nobody can. That’s right. Instead of working to be included in the marriage ritual, make real, non-assimilative gestures. Channel that energy for same-sex marriage towards abolishing the institution–for everyone. Marriage rights for absolutely nobody. No more getting them to like us. No more forwarding a heteronormative and respectable notion of same-sex encounters in an effort to get them to see that we’re not all that different. That didn’t work for black people. No more with this love talk. Although that may have seemingly worked for interracial couples, those who pay close attention know that such language cannot completely undo hundreds of years of socialized, race-based fetishism. No more discussions of Ellen and her wife or thinking of convincing Time-Warner to remove Bravo from Tobacco Road cable packages. Tokenism does nothing but justify the rule. Just say nothing, leave the court, and take your ball with you.
It may suck at first, but hey, it gets better. You may even find something better to do. Like think about the ramifications of marrying in the first place. (As someone who identifies as a woman, I can’t say I’m all that excited about signing up for it, and I’ve seen plenty of romantic comedies.) Or, perhaps we’ll figure out a way to get rid of marriage and maintain the ritual. Even I get warm inside battling with my sister on the dance floor during a wedding reception. (And the cake!) All of this to say that I’m sure there are other, better, and perhaps less problematic ways to spend our time and actually serve more than a sliver of those who identify as gay, lesbian, and/or queer. Or we could continue to smart from these wounds by believing that there is someone in the Oval Office (acting as if he just recently began to support same-sex marriage, by the way) providing words that cannot really work as ameliorative salve.
Let me know what comes of that.