I hope they lose the legal fight for marriage equality rights.
There! I said it, and I’m glad I got it off my chest.
I hope, I profoundly hope, that gays and lesbians are never allowed to marry in Canada in the same way that straights can marry. I don’t want to have even the option of doing that in my life. I don’t want you to have the option of doing it in your life. And I don’t want those couples who are taking the issue to the Supreme Court Of Canada to win their case and have
Not that they aren’t good people. Not that I don’t admire their spunk, their willingness to stand up for what they believe in. But I think their argument is wrong, contrary to what our movement has always been about, and will cause permanent damage to gay culture.
In the last year, this paper has repeatedly brought you arguments on both sides of the issue of queer marriage. In the last couple of issues, local queers — including lesbian icon and author Jane Rule — have spoken up clearly in opposition to a legal fight for queer marriage.
Everyone has their own reasons for opposing marriage rights. I have a couple of major bones to pick, but shall concentrate on only one in this column.
As the legal fight was being organized, a most revealing incident occurred right here in Vancouver. One couple, who had been together for three decades, and lived in the same home and built a life together, was upset that another BC couple was about to become the vanguard of the legal challenge. The second couple had been involved for only a few years and didn’t want to live together after getting married.
The case wasn’t even formally launched and some in our community were already mouthing the same old hierarchical crap that social conservatives have always shoved down our throats: length of involvement is some sort of gauge of commitment, or purity, or love, or respectability, or “marriage-like” state; living together is better than living apart and marriage requires people to live together.
And that, dearest readers, is the main reason why I hope Egale and the queer litigants lose the court case: it boils down to culture.
In our culture, we havent created the same hierarchy as has heterosexual culture. We know that love has many faces, and names, ages, places to fuck, positions to fuck in, and so on.
We know that a 30-year relationship is no better, no better, than a
nine-week, or nine-minute, fling — it’s different, but not better. Both have value. We know that the instant intimacy involved in that perfect 20-minute blowjob in Stanley Park can be a profoundly beautiful thing. We know a two-year relationship where people live apart is as beautiful, absolutely as beautiful, as a 30-year relationship where people live together. We know that the people involved in an open relationship can love each other as deeply as the people in a closed relationship.
We know that sometimes it’s best for a relationship to end, that it’s a terrible shame to throw away the love we invested in that lover, and that ex-lovers can make the best “sisters.” We know that you can become closer to your best friend than your 30-year lover, telling that friend things you’d never tell your life partner.
All these things are part of the spectrum of love. And love, in gay culture, is a spectrumnot a hierarchy. That’s our culture.
In much of straight culture, love is stuck in a hierarchy. The ceremony, the piece of paper, the government recognition, the tax benefits, the high cost of exit — all these are intended to create an aura around marriage that suggests it’s better than the alternatives.
Marriage belongs to heterosexual culture and we should respect that. It’s a ceremony tying a woman and a man together (though I would argue that marriage inherently puts the woman in a subservient position).
Not that marriage works, of course. It is a morally bankrupt institution (I’d argue that the special recognition by the state and the church on marriage encourages people to marry who should not be doing so) where people lie and cheat, fight over the remains, and damage their children while battling it out before the courts.
Straight culture encourages its members to find all their emotional needs (lover, best friend, confidante, roommate, vacation partner, parent of their children), in one personwith predictable strains and horrible endings. Gay men and lesbians tend to divvy out the emotional ties between different people — lover(s), roomies, fuck buddies, best friends, “sister(s)”, and
ex-lovers who become key members of our support network.
Valuing honesty and honouring lust, we almost always open up our relationships to sex with other people after a few years. A recent federally funded health study of Vancouver gay men found that only two percent were in long-term relationships. A similar study of straights would, no doubt, have found some 80 percent or more were in long-term relationships.
If we win access to this marriage snake-pit, it will begin the erosion of the culture that we’ve worked three decades to build.
We’ve spent so long building our culture, and fighting for the freedom to live our lives as we really are, that we sometimes forget to pause to savour what we’ve made. And, though it has its flaws as do all cultures, it really is quite beautiful.
If we win the right to formal marriage, it won’t be long before some in our community start behaving as though they’ve got something better than the rest of us. That they’ve got a more meaningful demonstration of love and commitment, and other such nonsense. This cancer will grow and attack our fundamental values celebrating diversity of sexual expression and love. Queers form loving relationships, that’s for sure. But they’re not the same as the marriage relationships that so many straights form. We should celebrate that instead of trying to pretend that were just like them.
Instead of demanding that the courts and government lock us into the same straight-jacket that so many straights are in, we would do better to notice that so very many straights are learning from our culture, are rejecting and leaving marriage.
Why would we want to join a club that celebrates something that doesn’t work for many of the participants when we already have something better? It’s absurd to push for equal treatment under the law when it would mean settling for something that is inferior to our own arrangements and yet suffers a serious superiority complex.
The lawyers and politicians in our community have run amuck on this one. They need reigning in. I, for one, will not donate a single penny to any fight for marriage recognition. The provincial NDP governments support of gay marriage won’t play a role in helping me decide who to vote for in the upcoming election. And I plead with the nation’s politicians and justices to turn away from these people. They don’t represent the reality of what our
relationships are about. And they’re out of touch with what our movement is about at its heart — freedom, not equality. Building a better world, not settling for equal treatment in the same world. Loving relationships, not hierarchy.
Gareth Kirby is Managing Editor for Xtra West.