In the passed five years, 17 US States legalized same sex marriages. Many would argue that, in regards to the rest of the nation, it is not a matter of if but when the remaining 33 states will follow suit. Marriage equality is huge these days. A number of public figures–including a few Republican law makers–have spoken in favor of it. During the SCOTUS deliberation on the DOMA and Prop 8 cases, social media was overflowing with red equal signs–a symbol of support for gay marriage–as profile pictures, avis, etc. While this does indicate a level of progress, it does not mean that the LGBT community has gained an influx of TRUE allies.
First and foremost, let me fill you in on what has, in recent years, become one of my most monumental pet peeves. That is the reduction of LGBT folks to the SINGLE ISSUE of marriage. Often times, in conversation with heterosexual people and/or those that identify as such, I find that marriage occupies a massive space in their thinking about gay, bi, and or trans people. Never mind the facts that, in America, most places do not prohibit discrimination against people based on sexual orientation or gender identity; the fact that the possibility of being discriminated against by a property manager is very real for anyone who is not cishet; the fact that school districts in several areas are pushing back against the idea that anti bullying legislation should include sexual orientation; the fact that black gay men still have the highest infection rate of any other demographic or the fact that same gender loving and/or trans teens are more likely to end up homeless than their cishet counterparts. I think this occurs for two reasons. First, it is because mainstream LGBT organizations as well as the media characterize the desire to get married as the rallying cry of the LGBT community. Secondly, it is something simple to think about and talk about. Being “for” or “against” gay marriage does not require a great deal of thought or research. Because of the way the LGBT movement has been largely painted, ALOT of people sincerely think they are doing something by sharing a pro-gay marriage meme on Facebook or Instagram.
Some may wonder how is it possible to support the legalization of gay marriage but still be homophobic. It is quite simple. There is not one argument against it that can withstand scrutiny. Even a Louisiana legal scholar with strong ties to the Louisiana Family Forum(that should be called the Louisiana anti abortion and anti gay club), had to admit that, though he opposed same sex marriages due to his religion, there was no legal foundation for opposing it. In a recent fb thread–the kind that I always manage to get sucked into–there was this guy who was going IN about how the thought of gay sex grossed him out and, though he supports individual liberties, he doesn’t “personally agree” with it. After I took him to task on several things that he said, he dropped the f bomb. You know. The one that rhymes with maggot. When I went through his profile pics, what did I find but one of those red equal signs?
At the end of the day, I think support for marriage equality by straight people is a great thing. I think that it is helps to move the cause forward. However, what many need to realize is that is a single cause. A nuanced approach to LGBT justice is the only one that I am checking for. Bubbling in a survey saying you support gay marriage–or even marching on your state capitol for gay marriage–is not enough. It simply means that you support the legal rights of individuals to have their relationship be state sanctioned. However, what good does that do if you refuse to have dinner with your lesbian cousin and her girlfriend? Also, think about this. How does your support of gay marriage stop an effeminate fourth grader from being beat up on the play ground? How does your being in favor of marriage equality console or provide assistance to a transgendered or same gender loving teen who has been put out of his/her father’s home? How does you sharing a marriage meme for the Human Rights Campaign guarantee a gay man won’t be let go from his job because he never talks about a wife or a girlfriend? Moreover, what about the members of the LGBT community who could either give two fucks about getting married or simply have no one to marry? In a nutshell, it takes a lot more than celebrating the weddings of a few white couples in New England to prove that you are down for the diverse array of people that make up the LGBT community.