Archive for March, 2011

To gaily marry

Argh. Anti-gay-marriage argument!

There are some arguments worth considering against the gay marriage movement — for instance, whether it’s the best strategic focus. Is queer liberation best achieved by conforming to dominant practices and institutions like marriage, or is there a better means and focus of struggle? And of course, there are long-standing arguments, especially those made by feminists, made against marriage itself, as a patriarchal, hierarchical, and historically oppressive social institution. Since I am not gay, though, strategy for queer liberation is less a question for me, and one on which I defer to the people who are most affected.

However, these arguments against gay marriage are not the ones one tends to come across in the mainstream. Such as our sample here.

Let’s put aside Akerman’s more hilarious notions. Gay marriage is “inconsequential”, so that queer people and their concerns are of no consequence — recall, the first step in hatred of the other is to deny the humanity of the other. On the other hand, doing something about climate change is “demonic” — I wonder what is of consequence then? The queer community “loses” Akerman because they called for non-discrimination in donating blood — can he possibly be serious, and even if so, can he possibly be serious using this as a reason to oppose the queer community’s call for gay marriage rights? Is a more complete non sequitur posible? He even appears to regret the legalization of gay sexual acts, and he propagates stereotypes of queer people as attention-seeking and sexually obsessed. This particular article seems determined to offend anyone who cares about climate change, discrimination against gay people (even in donating blood), deficit spending, internet infrastructure, the environment in general, and more; including anyone who knows a non-hetero person. Being so ridiculous, it’s more of a laugh, and probably won’t convince many people.

But let’s put this aside and get to the one argument he does make.

“[M]arriage is the union of a man and a woman. That’s right – it is the practice of individuals of opposite sex joining in a recognised civil or religious bond. That is the definition of marriage. Anything else is not marriage.”

A standard tactic to shut down debate about marriage is to make it a matter of definition. Having made the definition, if you don’t satisfy it, you are excluded.

The problem is that social issues are not mathematics, and words of social description do not have mathematical definitions.

Language does evolve over time — and, thankfully, a single person can’t control it. You cannot stop a political movement by reading a dictionary at them.

(Case in point: Akerman’s usage of “homosexuals” for queer people gives him away as a fossil.)

I’ll be happy to use the word “marriage” loudly and clearly to describe married gay couples, and will repeat, and repeat, until this argument sounds as antiquated, as obscure, as esoteric, and as irrelevant as the overzealous grammarian decrying a split infinitive.

Marriage is a social practice that evolves through time in any society; and social struggles do involve changes in language. It may be a good or bad institution. But love is love, and stable, loving, life-long relationships are entitled to the same legal and social status regardless of sexual orientation.

To marry, to marry, to gaily marry, adverb and verb, woman and man, man and woman, woman and woman, man and man, and everything in between.

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Written by dan

March 4th, 2011 at 6:08 pm