One of the things I like most about our friendship is that we don’t always agree on issues, but we are always able to have lively, civil conversations with each other when we disagree on something. Civil discourse is something lacking in our current political and social environment, isn’t it? Teabaggers, Mosques and Gay Marriage, oh my!
First off, I think I see where you are coming from on the gay marriage debate. I interpret your post as suggesting that if we are going to allow for gay marriage, then maybe we should take time to really look at what the institution of marriage represents and consider removing some of its discriminatory values and boundaries. In many ways, I don’t disagree with that. To use your example, why should single people be penalized for not being ‘coupled’? Why does the act of marriage suddenly entitle people to rights that they would otherwise not have access to? I think those are very good questions worth examining and debating. If redefining our marriage helps dismantle some discriminatory power structures in our society and allow more people to share a piece of the wealth, I am all about it.
That said, the biggest issue I have is that you argue that LGBT people should fight for the establishment of a separate institution, the civil union, rather than marriage. Now, given that we are Americans, our country has a long history with the issue of separate but equal institutions. In 1964 , ‘Jim Crow’ laws that promoted segregation in our society were deemed unconstitutional by the Civil Rights Act. Since then, segregation of schools, public transportation, public facilities, etc has been illegal. I think creating a separate but equal institution for gay marriage is equally unconstitutional and violates the Civil Rights Act.
Moreover, if we create a separate institution for marriage, are we not ‘othering’ ourselves? Was not the Civil Rights Act a pivotal moment in the dismantling of white power structures for the betterment of all people? Do we not create a marginalized community by creating separate but equal institutions? Do we not cave to religious institutions that are all too happy to deny LGBT people rights simply based on who we are? In my mind, we do. I am not sure I willing to take any of those risks.
Tiffany, I think your views on gay marriage should be part of our current debate. But, I think working within the framework of the marriage institution we currently have is more effective than creating a separate institution. Besides, as long as any old frat boy can fly to Vegas, get drunk and marry any woman he wants by some cheap Elvis impersonator, I’m not giving up the fight to slip a ring on my partner of nine years and live together in wedded bliss!
Kind regards as always,